Does Eating a Free School Lunch Give Kids “an Empty Soul?”

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Just about everyone admits the importance of eating lunch – especially for growing kids in school.

But if you get that lunch for free, does it leave you with “a full stomach and an empty soul”?

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan thinks so.

He famously made these remarks at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference:

“Take Obamacare—not literally, but figuratively here OK? We now know that this law will discourage millions of people from working. The Left thinks this is a good thing. They say, ‘hey, this is a new freedom—the freedom not to work.’ But I don’t think the problem is too many people are working — I think the problem is not enough people can find work. And if people leave the workforce, our economy will shrink—there will be less opportunity, not more. So the Left is making a big mistake here. What…

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Texas Testing Confusion

Schools across Texas have been re-testing student that did not pass their STAAR exams on previous attempts. My confusion comes from looking at grade level in which many of our students take the test for the first time.

At the high school level students are administered five tests required to graduate. The tests consist of English-Language Arts 1, English-Language Arts 2, Algebra 1, Biology, and U. S History. In most high school the students are required to take the Algebra I, ELA I and Biology Tests as Freshman. Sixty percent of the tests required to graduate from high school are administered at the Freshman level. WHY? If sixty percent of the tests are administered to students as Freshman, then does it really make them “exit level” tests?

I have asked why the initial administration of the biology test cannot be pushed back to their sophomore year resulting in two tests as a freshman, two tests as a sophomore and one as a junior. The answer I have received more than once is “so that they have the maximum number of opportunities to retake it”. HUH? Isn’t that a very negative approach to student learning. Before class even begins the leadership is planning for their failure and the need to retake the tests.

I am proposing that biology, as a course, be pushed back to the sophomore year for most students. This will relieve the stress of taking three exit level test in the first year of high school. Secondly, it will allow students to focus their attention on ELA I and Algebra I rather than splitting their attention in three directions. It will also allow some of the students to mature and develop prior to taking the Biology test. Strictly from an observation point, the students that are not passing the Biology test as freshman are not developmentally ready to be successful, they need to grow up some more.

While I’m at it, there has to be better way to administer the retests. In my current building we have been “shut down” for the entire week because the extremely large number of students retesting. A week of “babysitting” the students that are not testing. There is so much wasted time surrounding state required tests. It is time to progress to a new paradigm in testing. If you are not testing, then you are not required to be at school that day. It does not count as an absence or present. This will allow the teachers and administrators to focus on the students that are testing.

As far I can determine at this point, we should lose 15-20 of instruction while “shut down” for benchmark tests, practice test, checkpoint test and the actual tests that count. 180 days of instruction are required by law. Many school districts receive waivers for 3 days a year for additional training, taking the instructional days down to 177. If you take away 20 days for STAAR related testing, then that takes it down to 157 days possible for instruction. Subtract another 12 days for semester finals reviews and finals (at the high school level) then 145 days of instruction.  Just for fun throw in the Friday of Homecoming, the last Friday before Thanksgiving, the last day before Christmas and the Friday before spring break as days that minimal instruction is taking place we are down to 141 days of instruction. Wow, when you factor all those “wasted” days then we are below the number of days in the “old days” when school ran from Labor Day to Memorial Day.

If we really want to improve education, the let teachers teach and stop wasting so much time testing that a bunch of reach guys can make more money off the test.

David R. Taylor

29 Year Teacher, Coach and Principal

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Politico: Michigan is a Horrible Model for U.S. Education

Diane Ravitch's blog

Caitlin Emma, Benjamin Wermund, and Kimberly Hefling, staff writers at politico.com, took a close look at Michigan and answered the question, what hath Betsy DeVos’s obsession with choice done to the schools of Michigan?

Unless you are a choice fanatic like DeVos, the answer is not encouraging.

Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states: Michigan ranks near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading on a nationally representative test, nicknamed the “Nation’s Report Card.” Notably, the state’s charter schools scored worse on that test than their traditional public-school counterparts, according to an analysis of federal data.

Critics say Michigan’s laissez-faire attitude about charter-school regulation has led to marginal and, in some cases, terrible schools in the state’s poorest communities as part of a system dominated by for-profit operators. Charter-school growth has also weakened the finances…

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Andre Perry: Reformers Should Not Criticize Trump When They Support His Policies

Diane Ravitch's blog

Andre Perry was one of the earliest charter school leaders in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and one of the few leaders of color. He became disillusioned with some parts of the reforms, especially the marginalization of local community voices.

In this article, he calls out reformers who feel they must distance themselves from Trump because of his comments that stirred racism. Perry said the same reformers are quietly pleased that the incoming administration will enlarge and enrich the charter sector.

He writes:

“Playing the politics of niceness has never been so convenient for the Dems of education reform. DeVos’s belief in limited state oversight, for-profit charter management and vouchers didn’t give Democrat proponents of charter schools any pause in the past. And for many it doesn’t now.
“As the chief architect of education reform in Michigan, DeVos should take blame for doing no favors to struggling public schools in Detroit…

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The Dangers of Addiction to Video Gaming

I have a feeling that this is just one example of what will become an epidemic. Kids are so addicted to their technology that they are unable to be away from it for more than a few minutes without suffering the early signs of withdrawal.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Washington Post ran a deeply disturbing story about a boy who became addicted to multi-player video gaming on the Internet. His life was consumed with gaming. His parents were distraught. When they tried to get him to turn off the computer, he had outbursts of rage.

His mother asked him, please, turn off the computer. It’s late.

Their voices got louder. She doesn’t remember exactly what made him reach for the glass on his bedside table. He threw it with such force that it spun across the room and shattered against his closet door, carving a two-inch gash in the white painted wood. Tiny shards glinted on the striped rug.

By then, the family’s stately home in New York was riddled with such scars — nicks in the walls, scratches in the floor, a divot in the marble countertop lining the kitchen sink. All remnants of the boy’s outbursts…

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William Doyle: Please, Mr. Trump, Put Betsy DeVos on a Plane to Finland ASAP

Diane Ravitch's blog

William Doyle is living in Finland as a scholar-in-residence at the University of Eastern Finland.

In this post, he describes what Betsy DeVos would learn if she visited Finland.

He writes:

Donald Trump is promoting “school choice” as he vows to improve the American education system. To achieve this vision, he should start by putting his incoming Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on a plane to world education superpower Finland to see what school choice means in its most powerful form — the choice from among numerous, great, neighborhood schools anywhere in the country.
Just ranked by the World Economic Forum as the No. 1 primary school system globally Finland shows us, that true educational choice means holding politicians accountable to provide families the choice between safe, well-resourced, high-quality local schools, especially in high-poverty areas, schools run by teachers trained at the highest levels of professionalism and supported by a…

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Trump’s Choice for Secretary of Labor Loves Charters Schools, Hates Unions

Diane Ravitch's blog

To learn more about Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor, read what he wrote about how to reduce poverty in California. 

In Andy Puzder’s worldview, when government tries to ameliorate poverty, it only makes it worse.

A simple solution: free enterprise, less government regulation, more charter schools, no tenure for teachers.

That’s it, folks.

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CURMUDGUCATION: New Test Rules: Old Baloney

Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning"

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: New Test Rules: Old Baloney

New Test Rules: Old Baloney

Yesterday, John King unveiled the Department of Education’s final rules for testing under the Every Student Succeeds Act, aimed at spinning the continued emphasis on the Big Standardized Tests. Jennifer C. Kerr of the Associated Press signals that she bought the PR and fumbled the story with her very first sentence:

Aiming to reduce test-taking in America’s classrooms, the Obama administration released final rules Wednesday to help states and school districts take a new approach to the standardized tests students must take each year.

If the Obama administration has ever done anything that was truly aimed at reducing test-taking, I have apparently forgotten all about it. The Obama administration increased the weight of standardized testing by using Race…

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Beyond the Classroom and School: District Technology Integration

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Over the years, I have written about differences between complicated and complex (see here). I pointed out the differences in those top-down, command-and-control organizations that launch rockets into space and keep cities safe and those open, loosely-coupled organizations that provide health care, administer criminal justice, and offer public schooling that are vulnerable to their political and social environments,  heavily dependent upon relationships, and individual discretion.

For the past year, I have described best cases of classrooms that I have visited where technology integration was in the background, not the foreground (see here, here, and here). I have also posted descriptions of schools identified as exemplary in integrating technology across all of their classrooms such as the Summit network of charter schools.

But I have not yet profiled districts that have integrated technology on a systematic basis. In Silicon Valley, including most of the Bay area, there…

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What Trump Could Learn from Bobby Jindal’s Failed Voucher Program

Diane Ravitch's blog

Robert Mann, professor of journalism at Louisiana State University, hopes that Donald Trump will pay attention to the disaster of former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s failed voucher program. Open the article to read the links.

“This is where the disappointment of Jindal’s voucher program enters the picture, as policy makers and the media will inevitably examine its dismal performance. At Jindal’s urging, in 2008 lawmakers created the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), enabling some disadvantaged students to leave public schools graded a C or lower and enroll in a participating private school. By 2014, more than 6,000 public school students attended one of 126 private schools.

“In 2015, Jindal bragged about his program. “For students attending private schools on public dollars, almost all of whom arrived several years behind, their lives are being turned around,” he wrote in a column on CNN’s website.

“If only that were true. In a paper…

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