Laura Chapman: Ohio Believes That Education=Preparation for the Workforce

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this comment, posted not long ago, reader Laura H. Chapman describes the Ohio view of education as workforce preparation. The pioneers of education had nobler goals. Above all, they considered the purpose of education to be preparation for citizenship in our emerging democracy. That meant literacy and numeracy but also character development with the hope of cultivating a commitment to democratic values and a readiness to participate in improving society on behalf of the community, not just oneself.

A resident of Ohio, Chapman describes the state’s narrow, utilitarian view of the goals of education. She notes that this goal was announced without any public discussion.

Several days ago, she wrote:

Today March 30, 2019, several Ohio newspapers had variations on the same announcement of a new non-profit headed by Lisa Gray, a long standing point person for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gray is now the “founder” of…

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DeVos Funnels $116 Million to Open 20 Charter Schools in El Paso, Which Will Devastate Public Schools

Diane Ravitch's blog

Should Amy O’Rourke, Beto’s wife, send a thank-you note to Betsy DeVos?

Betsy DeVos has awarded a huge grant of $116,755,848 to the IDEA charter chain to open 20 new schools in El Paso. IDEA opened its first El Paso charter last fall.

In 2017,  DeVos gave $67 million to IDEA.

IDEA has received a grand total of $225 million from the federal Charter Schools Program.

The size of this grant is unprecedented, so far as I know.

Congress should ask DeVos why she gave such a staggering amount of money to the IDEA charter chain.

This rapid charter expansion is likely to swamp the underfunded El Paso public schools, if not eliminate them.

The grant will be funneled through CREED, where Amy O’Rourke plays a leading role. Amy is Beto O’Rourke’s wife.

CREED’s charter program, which is part of a larger gentrification project, has previously been supported by the Dell Foundation…

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Congress Should Defund the Charter Schools Program and Invest the Money in Title I and IDEA


The Network for Public Education published its scathing report on the federal Charter Schools Program three weeks ago, but as time passes, I continue to reflect on its conclusions. The report, Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for a Ride, is packed with details about failed or closed or never-opened charter schools.  The Network for Public Education depicts a program driven by neoliberal politicians hoping to spark innovation in a marketplace of unregulated startups underwritten by the federal government. The record of this 25 year federal program is dismal.

Here is what the Network for Public Education’s report shows us. The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) has awarded $4 billion federal tax dollars to start or expand charter schools across 44 states and the District of Columbia, and has provided some of the funding for 40 percent of all the…

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Schools That Hinder Opt Outs Are Participating in Their Own Demise



You can’t be a public school and still ignore the will of the people.

That’s the problem at too many districts across the country where narrow-minded administrators are waging an all out war on parents opting their children out of standardized testing.

The federal government still requires all states to give high stakes tests to public school students in grades 3-8 and once in high school. So states require their districts to give the tests – despite increasing criticism over the assessments’ validity, age appropriateness, racial and economic bias and the very manner in which the scores are used to justify narrowing the curriculum, school privatization, funding cuts, teacher firings and closing buildings serving the most underprivileged children.

In response, parents from coast to coast continue to fight the havoc being forced upon their communities by refusing the tests for their children.

Yet instead of welcoming this rush of…

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Low Salaries, High Rents, Poor Teaching Conditions Create Widespread Shortage of Qualified Teachers


You’d have to be pretty out of touch to have missed that teachers, who have been striking all year from West Virginia to Kentucky to Oklahoma to California, have been showing us their pay is inadequate and their working conditions are horrible. Schools in too many places feature huge classes (too few teachers) and an absence of counselors, social workers, librarians and nurses. All this ultimately signals a school finance problem stemming from the Great Recession a decade ago and state legislatures and governors determined to cut taxes.

All this is well documented in academic research. Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss recently released the first in a series of studies from the Economic Policy Institute, a report they summarize in a short, policy piece: “In our report we argue that when issues such as teacher qualifications and equity across communities are taken into consideration, shortages are more concerning than we…

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Kansas: Students, Parents Rebel Against Mark Zuckerberg’s Summit Learning

Diane Ravitch's blog

Today, the New York Times posted a story about a rebellion in Kansas against Mark Zuckerberg’s Summit Learning platform. 

They said NO to Facebook’s “personalized learning,” which replaces teachers with Chromebooks.

Good for the students of Kansas!

WELLINGTON, Kan. — The seed of rebellion was planted in classrooms. It grew in kitchens and living rooms, in conversations between students and their parents.

It culminated when Collin Winter, 14, an eighth grader in McPherson, Kan., joined a classroom walkout in January. In the nearby town of Wellington, high schoolers staged a sit-in. Their parents organized in living rooms, at churches and in the back of machine repair shops. They showed up en masse to school board meetings. In neighborhoods with no political yard signs, homemade signs with dark red slash marks suddenly popped up.

Silicon Valley had come to small-town Kansas schools — and it was not going well.

“I want…

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Phoenix: BASIS Charter School Teacher Humiliates Black Student


Diane Ravitch's blog

A teacher at a BASIS charter school shamed a black student by teaching a lesson about the civil rights movement by inviting the class to isolate him.

BASIS is known for its high test scores and its exclusionary practices.

“A Phoenix mother says her 9-year-old son was forced to walk through his class as his teacher and fellow students yelled at, humiliated and berated him during a lesson on school segregation.

“Claudia Rodriguez posted on Facebook that a third-grade teacher at BASIS Phoenix Central singled out her son, who is black, as the class was learning about the civil-rights movement.

“The Head of School had the nerve to tell me that there was some educational value in this incident because it started conversations in the homes of the other kids,” Rodriguez wrote. “I felt the need to speak up so that no other child ever has to feel what my son…

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Ohio: LeBron James’ School Demonstrates that Money and Kindness Matter

I think it would be interesting to see Lebron team up with Ron Clark and open a school

Diane Ravitch's blog

LeBron James’ new public school in Akron, Ohio, but it’s already showing remarkable progress by the only metric the public understands: test scores.

Readers of this blog understand the deficiencies of standardized tests. But in this case, they are bringing attention to the most interesting and high-profile effort in the nation to reform education for the city’s neediest children. 

Bill Gates has thrown billions into failed reforms, like Common Core and teacher evaluation by test scores. Perhaps he should invite LeBron James to advise him.

LeBron James is proving that money makes a difference, when it is used wisely, for example, on small class size.

He has created an innovative model within the public system. His school is not a charter. It is a public school. It purposely chooses the kids least likely to succeed.

Ohio presently spends $1 billion on charters, two-thirds of which are rated D or F…

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MetWest Internships (Part 6)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

As in all Big Picture schools, MetWest has structured the academic year to have students search for and enter into two-day a week unpaid internships during school hours. Called Learning Through Internship (LTI), there is a coordinator that oversees the entire program. Michael Cellemme heads this part of MetWest’s program. He is the only staff member that also worked as a Teacher/Advisor at the first Big Picture school (The Met) in Providence (RI). He is responsible for finding sites for internships, interviewing potential mentors, making matches between individual students and mentors, and monitoring what goes on in the internship.

Local mentors take on the responsibility of helping a student acquire the work and social skills necessary to succeed in a business, government agency, educational and health organization, and similar Oakland groups. Since 2002 when MetWest opened, the school has placed students with more than 500 organizations, including local hospitals, radio…

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Louisiana’s Apex Collegiate Charter School to Close; Website Still Encourages Enrollment


On April 10, 2019, Apex Collegiate Academy charter school CEO Eric Lewis told parents that the school would close at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Apex Collegiate is one of  number of charter schools contributing to instability in the K12 school landscape in Baton Rouge. From the April 10, 2019, Baton Rouge Advocate:

In yet another shakeup for the Baton Rouge charter school world, Apex Collegiate Academy broke the news to its parents Wednesday that it will close its doors on May 31 when its school year ends.

“Academically, the pace at which our students are moving is not fast enough,” Eric Lewis, Apex’s founder and school executive director, told The Advocate.

The charter school’s board of directors voted late last week to close the school, which has an F academic letter grade, after three years in operation. Lewis said he sent a…

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