Steven Singer: Are Unions the Enemy of School Reform?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Steven Singer writes here about the corporate reformers’ war against teachers’ unions. In the comfortable, well-heeled world of hedge fund managers, they have every right to lead the fight to reform the public schools, but the unions do not. The unions don’t care about kids; teachers don’t care about kids. Only hedge fund managers really truly care about kids. Why should teachers or their unions have anything to say about their working conditions or their pay? Are they just greedy and selfish. So what if teachers earn less that the hedge funders’ secretaries?

Singer says the battle over the future of public schools has reached a critical juncture. The corporate reformers have lost control of the narrative. They want to hide behind benign names, like “Families for Excellent Schools,” hoping to hoodwink the public into thinking they are the families of children who want charter schools, when in fact…

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Nancy Carlsson-Paige: The Error of Killing Play in Kindergarten

Diane Ravitch's blog

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an expert on early childhood education, has been an outspoken opponent of the trend to push academics into kindergarten, and even preschool.

In this post, she explains how play has been banished from many kindergartens by the misguided belief that starting academics early will close the achievement gap. It doesn’t help kids of any origin. The children hurt most by this pressure are children of color.

She writes:

Soon many of our nation’s young children will be starting school for the first time. What they will likely find is something dramatically different from what their parents experienced at their age. Kindergartens and pre-K classrooms have changed. There is less play, less art and music, less child choice, more teacher-led instruction, worksheets, and testing than a generation ago. Studies tell us that these changes, although pervasive, are most evident in schools serving high percentages of low-income children of…

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Florida Teacher to School Board: Why My Daughter Will Not Take the State Tests

Diane Ravitch's blog

Andy Goldstein addressed the school board of Palm Beach County, where he teaches, at a recent meeting:

Why My Wife and I Are Opting Out Our Daughter From Third-Grade High-Stakes Testing

Transcript of the original text:

Good evening. My name is Andy Goldstein. I’m a teacher at Omni Middle School and the proud parent of an eight-year-old daughter who attends one of our public elementary schools.

It seems like it was just yesterday when my daughter entered kindergarten. At that time, I talked about her at our August School Board meeting in 2013.

I said that my hopes and dreams for my daughter were that she would develop a lifelong love for learning that would serve her well as she learned to construct a life that would serve her and serve others as well.

I told this board that my wife and I were not particularly interested in having her…

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State Judge Will Rule Soon on Florida’s Third Grade Retention Law

Diane Ravitch's blog

A state court judge in Florida will soon issue a ruling that will either validate or refute parents’ right to opt their child out of state testing. The specific issue is the high-stakes third grade reading test; if students don’t pass it, they may be held back, even if their teacher says they are proficient readers.

A state judge is weighing a decision that could shake Florida’s education-accountability system following a marathon hearing Monday in Tallahassee.

After nearly nine hours of testimony and arguments, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers wrapped up a hearing on state and local policies for allowing students to move to the fourth grade but did not rule on a request that would allow about a dozen students across Florida to advance.

The practical effect of Gievers’ decision, and the appeals that are almost certain to follow, could either validate or shatter the “opt out” movement…

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Help Florida Parents Fight the Absurd Third Grade Retention Law

Diane Ravitch's blog

I am sorry that I frequently ask for your financial support, but crowd-sourcing is the best way for parents and public education activists to make their case. Unfortunately, we do not have the deep pockets of the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, or hedge fund managers. If 1,000 people who read this appeal and others each send a gift of $10 or $20, it will make a difference.

Colleen Wood, a parent of students in Florida public schools and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education, asks for your help for parents who are in court fighting the state’s third grade retention law:

Friends – I know we are pulled in so many different directions, but I’m asking for your help in Florida.

Florida has a mandatory retention policy for 3rd graders who do not pass the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment). Statute spells…

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What Do Children Hope For When They Return to School?

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Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform?

gadflyonthewallblog

ct-chicago-teachers-rally-met-0610-20150609

In the fight for public education, the forces of standardization and privatization are running scared.

They’ve faced more pushback in the last few years – especially in the last few months – than in a decade.

The Opt Out movement increases exponentially every year. Teach for America is having trouble getting recruits. Pearson’s stock is plummeting. The NAACP and Black Lives Matter have both come out strongly against increasing charter schools.

So what’s a corporate education reformer to do?

Answer: Change the narrative.

They can’t control the facts, so instead they try to control the story being told about the facts.

It’s a classic propaganda technique. As Malcolm X put it:

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Their story goes like this – yes, there is a battle…

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Summer is Over, School Begins in August

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

At this time of year, journalists and bloggers write about the new fact of schools starting before the first weekend of September, the traditional start time for U.S. schools for nearly a century.  A few writers (and parents also)  ask why the date for the end of summer vacation keeps creeping backward into August (see here, here, and here). Answers include increased teacher efficiency  (more time to prepare students for standardized tests), catering to students and families (smoother closing of first semester before Xmas and getting out of school in late May which reduces graduating seniors’ shenanigans in last few weeks of school), while preserving other vacations during school year such as in February and April.

Current talk about shorter summers, however, is empty of the highly-charged, crisis-ridden vocabulary of 30 years ago about U.S. students spending far less time in schools than international peers who were…

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Economic Policy Institute: Teacher Pay Gap Grows Larger, Especially for Experienced Teachers

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Economic Policy Institute is one of the few D.C.-based think tanks that is not indebted to billionaires. It is decidedly liberal and supports workers, fairness, equity, and unions.

Its latest study, by Sylvia Allegretto and Lawrence Mishel, shows that teacher pay has fallen behind comparable workers.

Here is the summary:

What this report finds: The teacher pay penalty is bigger than ever. In 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994. This erosion of relative teacher wages has fallen more heavily on experienced teachers than on entry-level teachers. Importantly, collective bargaining can help to abate this teacher wage penalty. Some of the increase in the teacher wage penalty may be attributed to a trade-off between wages and benefits. Even so, teachers’ compensation (wages plus benefits) was 11.1 percent lower than that of comparable workers…

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Kristina Rizga: Why Did Black Lives Matter and the NAACP Call for a Moratorium on Charter Schools?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Kristina Rizga, staff writer at Mother Jones, wrote about the decision by Black Lives Matter and the NAACP to call for a moratorium on new charter schools. Their statements agitated Democrats for Education Reform, and its executive director Shavar Jeffries expressed his disappointment, as did the Black Alliance for Educational Options, which supports both charters and vouchers. US News & World Report treated the disagreement as a fissure among communities of color and asked (in the link, if not in the article), “who speaks for communities of color?” A provocative question since DFER is comprised of white hedge-fund managers, who hired Shavar Jeffries–an African-American lawyer, as its spokesmen. It would be a reach, if not a bad joke, to say that the hedge fund managers of DFER speak for communities of color. BAEO is headed by Howard Fuller, an articulate African American who was trained as a social worker…

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