Ethan Siegel: How to Break Public Education

Diane Ravitch's blog

Astrophysicist and author Ethan Siegel writes in Forbes magazine about the way that federal policies have disrespected and demoralized passionate teachers. No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act have been disasters for teaching and learning.

Every sentence in this short article is priceless, and I hate to abridge it. You will have to open the link and read it yourself in its entirety.

He writes:

The ultimate dream of public education is incredibly simple. Students, ideally, would go to a classroom, receive top-notch instruction from a passionate, well-informed teacher, would work hard in their class, and would come away with a new set of skills, talents, interests, and capabilities. Over the past few decades in the United States, a number of education reforms have been enacted, designed to measure and improve student learning outcomes, holding teachers accountable for their students’ performances. Despite these…

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Is YES Prep Failing Its Black Students?

Gary Rubinstein's Blog

YES Prep is a charter school network in Houston with very close ties to Teach For America.  It was founded in 1995 by Chris Barbic, a 1992 TFA corps member.  Many of the teachers at the YES campuses are from TFA as is the current head of schools, Jeremy Beard.  Jeremy Beard is also the husband of Elisa Villanueva-Beard who is the CEO of TFA.

In 2010, YES was awarded a million dollars by Oprah Winfrey, in part because of their incredible record of getting 100% of their 12th graders to be accepted into college.  This was before people knew to ask, “But what percent of your 9th graders remained in the school to become 12th graders?”

Regardless, YES continued to grow into what is now 12 middle schools and 5 high schools.  The success of YES helped its founder, Chris Barbic, to get a job as the…

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New Orleans: Researchers Find That Charter Schools Dropped Pre-K Because of Cost

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans issued a report about Pre-Kindergarten in the nearly all-charter district. It found that the growth of charter schools had a negative effect on pre-kindergarten because of the lack of funding.

In this study, we examine how the growth of charter schools in New Orleans affected pre-kindergarten (pre-K) program offerings as the school system transitioned from a centralized school system to an almost-all-charter district. In Louisiana, charter schools can opt into offering state subsidized pre-K for low-income and special-needs students, but the per pupil funding level is far below the average cost of educating a pre-K student. In New Orleans’ decentralized setting, schools offering pre-K must cover this funding gap from other sources of revenue.

School districts and charter schools have different incentives for offering optional educational services, such as pre-K. In order to better understand school-level decision making, we interviewed school leaders about…

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Delaware: Charter Leader Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzlement

Diane Ravitch's blog

The former leader of Family Foundations Academy was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for embezzlement. He confessed that he was suffering from “‘a severe level of sexual addiction and shopping addiction.’” Yeah, that’s a pretty good reason for embezzlement of public funds.

It is almost as good as my favorite from the founder of the Lion of Judah Charter School in Cleveland, who was indicted for diverting $1.2 million to his personal businesses and was ordered to pay restitution of $195,000. His lawyer said it wasn’t right to blame him because he saw easy opportunities to make money and he got greedy.

Excuses, excuses! Greed, shopping addiction!

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Kansas City: The Stealth Plan by Walton to Turn Kansas City into a Portfolio District

Diane Ravitch's blog

As this article by Matt Barnum in Chalkbeat shows, Kansas City did not want to hand its public schools over to the corporate reform movement, and it kicked out the privatizers a few years ago.

But the privatizers are back, with a new name, and a local native-born leader touting the virtues of the “portfolio model” and a “common enrollment application” for public schools and charter schools. The new approach is funded by the privatization-loving Walton Family Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation. OneApp, the common enrollment system is intended to confuse parents about the differences between public schools and charter schools, and give the appearance that they are the same. They are not. Charter schools choose their students; public schools do not. Charter schools may close without warning; public schools do not. Charter schools are not willing to take the students with the greatest needs; public schools are required to…

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The “Portfolio Model” of Schools: The Trojan Horse of Privatization

Diane Ravitch's blog

Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat here describes the spread of the gospel of the “portfolio model” of schooling.In his article, Barnum shows how Indianapolis has fallen hook, line, and sinker for privatization of its public schools.

I first heard the term used by Paul Hill of the Center for the Reinvention of Public Education at the University of Washington, a leading thinker in the privatization movement.

The basic idea is that school boards should treat their schools as if they were a stock portfolio. Some will be public schools run by the district; others will be privately managed. If a school gets low scores, close it and open a new one. If a school is not performing well, turn it over to private management. Buy and sell schools as you would buy and sell stocks in a portfolio. Disruption? No problem. Chaos? No problem.

That’s the basic idea.

For this…

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Did U.S. Performance on PISA Decline Because of Common Core?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Every time that international test scores are released, there is a predictable clamor to “do something.”

President Obama said that our ranking on an international test was “a Sputnik moment” and reason to push harder for the “remedies” in Race to the Top. We now know that Race to the Top was a failure that had no positive results. Schools were closed, teachers were fired, many new charter schools opened, and performance on the NAEP in 2015–five years after the launch of Race to the Top–went flat.

Now we have the results of the latest international test, the Progress in International Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the news for fourth graders in the U.S. was not good.

The United States tumbled in international rankings released Tuesday of reading skills among fourth-graders, raising warning flags about students’ ability to compete with international peers.

The decline was especially precipitous for the lowest-performing students…

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Jeannie Kaplan: Denver and the Election That Was Lost Unnecessarily

Diane Ravitch's blog

Jeannie Kaplan tells the story of the recent election in Denver and explains what might have been if the friends of public education had stuck together.

Parent and community activists backed a slate of four candidates for the seven-person board.

The union backed only two candidates, including a “reformer.”

Only one pro-public education candidate won.

This was an unnecessary setback.

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Andrea Gabor: Why We Should Be “Terrified” of Eva’s Success Charters

Diane Ravitch's blog

Andrea Gabor is the Michael Bloomberg Professor of business journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York. She is also a deeply knowledgeable scholar of corporate education reform. She debunked the alleged “New Orleans miracle” in the New York Times.

In this post, she expresses her concern about the fawning praise for Eva Moskowitz’s charter schools and explains why Eva’s charter schools are not a model for public education.

She writes:

It is we—that is American citizens—who should be terrified because Success Academy is entirely in-sync with the Trump era. It is unapologetically anti-democratic, anti-union, segregated and relentlessly test-driven. And, it should be noted, the CMO has not yet graduated a single high school student.

At a time when we are facing an existential threat to our democracy—one enabled by a decades-long obsession with standardized tests that narrowed curriculum and helped kill off civics education—the championing of…

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Michael Johnston Tells Mile High Tale In Campaign Video

Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Michael Johnston is one of the highest profile ed reform heroes in the country.  As a state senator in Colorado his teacher evaluation bill SB-191 mandated that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation would be based on standardized test ‘growth.’  The continues to be the highest percent in the country with even Washington D.C. lowering it to 35%.   Johnston was even an education advisor to Obama during the 2008 campaign.  In 2014 he was featured in a New York Times article called The Trouble With Tenure.

Michael Johnston, or Mike, is also someone that I have known for 20 years.  I first met him in 1997 when he was training at the TFA summer institute.  His trainer was a good friend of mine that I had worked with the summer before when I was on staff at TFA.  Over the years I would see him at TFA alumni summits and…

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