Texas: SPEDx Whistleblower Laurie Kash Was Right, and She’s Been Paying for It Ever Since.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

In August 2017, Laurie Kash was hired by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as its director of special education.

Her immediate supervisor was Justin Porter, who was then the executive director of special populations. (One year later, in August 2018, Porter assumed Kash’s job, which sat vacant for nine months following Kash’s firing in November 2017).

On the day after Kash filed a complaint with the US Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) against TEA, Kash was fired (date of complaint: November 21, 2017; Kash’s firing: November 22, 2017).

Kash’s complaint (see above) concerned a no-bid contract for special education services by a then-newly-created vendor, SPEDx, whose founder, Richard Nyankori, had a personal connection to Porter’s immediate supervisor, Penny Schwinn, TEA’s chief deputy commissioner of academics.

So, right off the bat, this situation became dicey for Kash, for she was concerned…

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Biden’s Proposed American Families Plan Would Revolutionize Life for Poor Children


When public policy has been entirely inadequate and misguided for decades, it is difficult to grasp the full implications of the beginning steps for reform. Such is the case with President Joe Biden’s proposal last week to respond to our society’s outrageous level of child poverty. The development of coherent, efficient policy to ameliorate the overwhelming and complicated problems of America’s poorest families will take a long time, even if Democrats continue to occupy the White House and sustain Congressional majorities.

But on April 28, President Biden introduced a plan to begin the journey to remedy fiscal austerity when it comes to our society’s poorest families and children. We can turn to some experts to put the significance of President Biden’s proposed American Families Plan in perspective.

California’s EdSource quotes Deborah Stipek, a professor in the Stanford University Graduate School of Education: “Biden’s proposals, so far, will go further…

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The Testing Game, Louisiana-style

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

Let’s say that I am at the end of my freshman year of high school in Louisiana. I must take two Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) exams: English I and Algebra I. So long as I minimally pass these exams (“approaching basic”), I am good for graduation three years from now. Furthermore, my state exam score counts as my final exam in the class (between 15 and 30 percent of my fourth quarter grade, according to state specifications; see below).

If I score the highest level on my LEAP exams (“advanced”), then I get an A as an exam grade. If I score the second highest level (“mastery”), I get a B. The third level, “basic,” gets me a C, and the fourth (and lowest passing) level, “approaching basic,” earns a D.

Given that the state exams last between 225 and 260 minutes each, I might zoom through…

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Authentic Education Reform Based on Diversity Research


By Thomas Ultican 5/7/2021

“Dedicated with admiration and respect to public school teachers who opt-out of commercial standardized tests.”

These are the words of dedication for Garn Press’s new book in their “Woman Scholars Series,” Diversity Research in Action. In this book, lengthy excerpts from published research by three PhD’s in education Anne Haas Dyson, Denny Taylor and Catherine Compton-Lilly are introduced and woven together by a forth doctorate of education Bobbie Kabuto. It seems like decades since this kind of authentic thinking about how to improve education and equity in our schools has been widely shared.

On a personal note, I began my masters of education program in 2001 and found the kind of pedagogy being advocated by these women very appealing. Unfortunately, that was precisely at the time when Ted Kennedy and George Bush teamed up to smoother it. It was obvious to me that we needed…

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Will Staff Returning from Obama/Duncan Years Compromise Biden’s Public Education Promises?


At the end of his first hundred days, President Joe Biden deserves credit for taking important steps to help public schools serving children living in communities where family poverty is concentrated.

First, the President promised during the campaign to triple funding for Title I schools, and the federal budget he has proposed for FY22 would accomplish two-thirds of that promise by doubling the federal investment in Title I, whose funding has lagged for decades behind what is needed for equity.

Second, in the American Rescue Plan federal stimulus passed in March, the President expanded and made fully refundable the Child Tax Credit. In his new American Family Plan he has proposed to extend these urgently needed changes in the Child Tax Credit until 2025.  The expansion of the Child Tax Credit will make it possible for America’s poorest families with children to qualify for this program for the…

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Texas: Stand Together Against the Voracious Charter Industry

Diane Ravitch's blog

PTC is joining with many parent groups and school boards to fight this direct assault on local control and democracy.

Pastors for Texas Children is a staunch ally of public schools and of separation of church and state. They have vigorously fought vouchers and now they are fighting an all-out attempt by the yet the aggressive charter industry to open wherever they want, without the approval of local elected officials. The lobbyists also want to slash the state board of education’s power to veto new charters.

PTC is working with parent groups and other activists to stop this direct assault on local control and democracy.



The public education advocacy community–which includes YOU–has had some great success despite this being a very difficult legislative session.

First of all, one piece of legislation that PTC is hoping to see made into…

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Once Upon a Time in the Hub City

With about 6 weeks remaining in the 1988-1989, the school year, spring sports had mostly concluded and football offseason was in full swing.

There were these two young coaches, both in their first year at the school. Coach One is 6’3” and near his playing weight from college and he has recently left the Australian Special Forces. Coach Two is 6’1” and 195lbs.

Coach One is in the gym conducting mat drills with about 35 athletes. Coach Two walks in from outside without Coach One noticing. Coach Two walks up behind Coach One and reaches around Coach One’s neck like a choke hold. In the blink of an eye, Coach Two is sitting in front of Coach One, laughing hysterically.

With 35 athletes are standing there in disbelief as to what they had just witnessed; Coach One had just flipped Coach Two over his shoulder like a rag doll. In Coach One’s defense he had told Coach Two not to ever walk up behind him because he was a little reactive. Of course, Coach Two had to test the theory which proved to be true.

Oddly enough, the remainder of the school year, neither coach had a single disciple problem in their class. The rumor around school was that they were both crazy and not to mess with either one of them.

The story you have just read is a true and accurate account of the events in the spring of 1989.

NOTE: The two coaches have been best friends since then. It will be a moment in time that they will always remember.

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Axioms… (at 40)


So I turned 40 a few weeks back and decided to make a list of axioms that I’ve picked up, stolen, or discovered in these few decades of being here. Some of these I could of made up or just forgotten their source, but they are mine in the sense that I belief them enough to guide my thoughts and actions.

I’ve thought about spending some time (possibly in the future) on expanding what I mean, but I will share the list and let those that read them, steal and interpret their own understanding.

The “you” is these statements are directed at “me” when I wrote them.

  1. Wisdom comes from 2 sources: Stupidity or Suffering.
  2. Peace and Happiness comes from 2 sources: Gratitude and Humility
  3. Sweat everyday
  4. Accept entropy and work to rebuild that which you want to prevail
  5. Discipline = Freedom
  6. There are no such things as “adults”
  7. Pride…

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Standardized Testing During a Pandemic is Stupid. And Cruel.


When the Biden administration announced that schools across the nation would have to give standardized tests during the global Coronavirus pandemic this year, America’s teachers let out a collective sigh of disgust.

If it had to be put into words, it might be this:

“I can’t even.”

Imagine a marine biologist being told she had to determine if the water in the dolphin tank is wet.

That’s kind of what the demand to test is like.

Determine if the water is wet and THEN you can feed the dolphin.

Imagine a person on fire being told to measure the temperature of the flames before you could put them out.

Imagine a person staving in the desert being required to take a blood test to determine previous caloric intake before anyone would offer food or water.

It’s literally that dumb.

No, it’s worse.

The reason the Biden administration gave for requiring…

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Diane Ravitch Offers Pithy Prescription to Help Secretary of Education Cardona Remedy Education Policy


By 2010, there were a lot of people who had grown very concerned about the No Child Left Behind Act and the use of annual high-stakes testing to identify so-called “failing” schools. It was a federal education scheme that imposed punishments on public schools serving America’s poorest students instead of providing help. The movement to condemn No Child Left Behind didn’t crystalize, however, until Diane Ravitch, the education historian and former school reformer, published a book about why she had been wrong.

Here is how she confessed her sins on the first page of the first chapter of that book:  “In the fall of 2007, I reluctantly decided to have my office repainted… At the very time that I was packing up my books and belongings, I was going through an intellectual crisis. I was aware that I had undergone a wrenching transformation in my perspective on school reform. Where…

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