Ohio: Superintendents Blast School Grades 

Texas is implementing the same stupid concept. Thanks, Lt. Dan (Dan Patrick, Lt. Governor of Texas)

It was a bad idea before it was passed, it was a bad idea after it was passed and it will remain a bad idea from this point forward.

A few more of my feelings are below:


Diane Ravitch's blog

The state’s grades for school districts in Ohio were released, and they were mostly awful. The idea for giving letter grades originated with Jeb Bush, and no one has ever produced an iota of evidence that they lead to school improvement although they surely produce teaching to the test and misplaced goals.

Charter school grades were even worse than public schools. 75% of charter schools ranked D or F. Two-thirds of charters ranked F, compared to 25% of public school districts. I don’t think this is what Jeb Bush had in mind. More than half of public school districts rated A, B, or C.

Two experienced superintendents decried the farce of school grades, which are a holy grail to those on the right who are intent on defaming public schools and pushing privatization.
But, not surprisingly, the spokesman for the right wing Thomas B. Fordham Institute (Where I was a…

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Charles Foster Johnson: Why Texas Pastors Oppose Vouchers

Diane Ravitch's blog

In the annual fight in Texas over school vouchers, one of the strongest, most consistent defenders of public schools is an influential group known as zpastors for Texas Children. They believe in the importance of public education as a democratic right and they strongly support the separation of church and state.

At recent legislative hearings in Austin, their executive director Charles Foster Johnson testified against a voucher bill that was passed in the State Senate. This battle occurs every year. Thus far, a coalition of rural Republicans and urban Democrats has managed to defeat vouchers in the House. Pastor Johnson and his colleagues have been a powerful group in staving off privatization.

[If you want to watch Pastor Johnson’s testimony, which was “from the heart,” and diverged from his written statement, watch here:

[Start the video at the 3:50 mark– that’s 3 HOURS and 50 MINUTES– move the cursor just…

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Carol Burris: Why the Shine is Fading from the Charter School Movement, Part 4

Diane Ravitch's blog

Carol Burris concludes here her fourth installment of the sad story of the charter school movement in California. What once was a movement intended to help and collaborate with public schools has been taken over by the power-hungry and the greedy, intent on displacing and destroying public education.

California is now the “wild west of charter schools” because of the state’s refusal to oversee the operations of these schools. Public money is handed out to almost anyone who wants it, and supervision is almost non-existent.

Burris writes:

The shine is off the charter school movement. Freedom from regulation, the sine qua non of the charter world, has resulted too often in troubled schools, taxpayer fleecing and outright fraud. Charters have become material for late-night comedians. That is never a good sign; just ask the proponents of the Common Core.

The greatest blow to charter momentum, however, was delivered by the…

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Wisconsin’s Special Needs Voucher Program Only Fills Half the Available Seats; Many Go to Existing Voucher Students

Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

Note the reporting on St. Marcus (highlighted in report).

Date: October 24, 2016 Stop Special Needs Vouchers <stopspecialneedsvouchers@gmail.com>

Greetings from Stop Special Needs Vouchers!  Please feel free to forward widely, and be sure to VOTE!

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has released the 2016 enrollment figures for the “Special Needs Scholarship Program,” which was passed in the most recent Wisconsin state budget without a public-hearing opportunity for families or community members to express our concerns. Families who accept the special needs vouchers must give up their rights and protections under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including the right to a free appropriate public education, the right to have disability considered when it comes to suspension and expulsion, and the right to recourse in case of a dispute.  Public schools, meanwhile, must follow the full IDEA and educate all students regardless of disability.

The DPI…

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Why the History of School Reform is Essential for Policymakers, Practitioners, and Researcher

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read.  And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past.  On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.  It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.

James Baldwin, 1965

The quote from essayist, novelist, and civil rights activist James Baldwin captures the essential truth about the importance of the past in our living each day of each year and making sense out of what we encounter. As it (was) and is true now about white-black relations, so it is true of coming to grips with the history of school reform in…

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Where Does Clinton Stand on Charter Schools?

Does anyone have any numbers regarding the number of Charter Schools that are truly being successful?

The more that I read, the more skeptical I become.

Diane Ravitch's blog

At a policy forum in Miami before the Council of the Great City Schools, surrogates for Trump and Clinton clarified their views, sort of.

Carl Paladino, remembered in New York for his racist and sexist emails during his campaign against Cuomo, promised that Trump would not put an educator in charge of the Education Department. That’s no surprise. In other settings, both Trump and Paladino have promised to turn all federal funding over to charters and vouchers and to abandon public education.

Clinton’s surrogate said that she is a “big backer” of charter schools, but not for-profit schools. That is not at all reassuring, since some of the most rapacious charter schools are technically non-profit but are managed by for-profit EMOs. And some rapacious charter chains are non-profit but pay their executives obscene salaries. And some non-profits are agents of privatization, even when the profit motive is absent.

The article…

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Who will vote for Donald Trump?

Lloyd Lofthouse

There are about 200 million registered voters in the United States (a landmark according to Politico.com) and about 160 million will probably vote. Trump has bragged/lied that he can’t lose because of the huge numbers of people that show up at his rallies (to be entertained by this outrageous, boastful reality TV star, I’m sure).

Politico reports, “The 2016 campaign may have reached dispiriting new lows, but voter registration in America has soared to new heights as 200 million people are now registered to vote for the first time in U.S. history.”

Are they registering to vote for or against Donald Trump (DT) – that is the question?

Politico.com might have the answer to that question too. “Registration trended more Democratic in every single battleground state. …” For instance, “In Virginia … data shows only 11.7 percent of new registrants lean Republican — versus nearly 50 percent expected to…

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Big Data and the New Police State

Diane Ravitch's blog

Many of us have wondered about the practice of measuring, rating and ranking every student, every teacher, every school. We know that Big Data is insatiable.

China is perfecting Big Data.

“Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how “trustworthy” you are. 

“In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticizing the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points. 
And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are — determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant — or even just get a date.

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The Crucial Role of Recess In School

As I am going through some times of adjustment for my second-grade son it has caused me to consider the whole picture. What are the behaviors that are a concern and what are some possible solutions to the concerns? The main issue seems to be his restlessness during the mid to late afternoon part of the school day.

When I asked how much recess and play time he was getting the answer  was somewhat disturbing. As a second-grader, he is allowed 20 minutes of unstructured play after eating lunch at 11:00am. So when the energy from his lunch kicks in about 1:00pm he becomes restless and is described as “off-task”.

David R Taylor

29 Year Teacher, Coach, and Principal

I did a little research and found the following article written by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here are some of the key points:

The Benefits of Recess for the Whole Child

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines recess as “regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured physical activity and play.”
  • recent surveys and studies have indicated a trend toward reducing recess to accommodate additional time for academic subjects in addition to its withdrawal for punitive or behavioral reasons.
  • the period allotted to recess decreases as the child ages and is less abundant among children of lower socioeconomic status and in the urban setting.
  • Recess represents an essential, planned respite from rigorous cognitive tasks. It affords a time to rest, play, imagine, think, move, and socialize.
  • After recess, for children or after a corresponding break time for adolescents, students are more attentive and better able to perform cognitively.
  • In addition, recess helps young children to develop social skills that are otherwise not acquired in the more structured classroom environment.

Social and Emotional Benefits

  • Recess promotes social and emotional learning and development for children by offering them a time to engage in peer interactions in which they practice and role play essential social skill.
  • Through play at recess, children learn valuable communication skills, including negotiation, cooperation, sharing, and problem-solving as well as coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control.
  • Recess offers a child a necessary, socially structured means for managing stress.

Duration and Timing of Recess

  • The majority of elementary schools that offer lunch-time recess do so after the students eat lunch
  • When students have recess before lunch, more time is taken for lunch and less food is wasted. In addition, teachers and researchers noted an improvement in the student behavior at meal time, which carried into the classroom in the afternoon.
  • To maximize cognitive benefits, recess should be scheduled at regular intervals, providing children sufficient time to regain their focus before instruction continues.


  • Time previously dedicated to daily activity in school, such as physical education and recess, is being reallocated to make way for additional academic instruction.
  • Ironically, minimizing or eliminating recess may be counterproductive to academic achievement, as a growing body of evidence suggests that recess promotes not only physical health and social development but also cognitive performance.
  • Although recess and physical education both promote activity and a healthy lifestyle, it is only supervised but unstructured recess that offers children the opportunity to actually play creatively.
  • On the basis of an abundance of scientific studies, withholding recess for punitive or academic reasons would seem to be counterproductive to the intended outcomes and may have unintended consequences in relation to a child’s acquisition of important life skills.


In their role as child health experts, the pediatricians of the AAP stress the following perspective to parents, teachers, school administrators, and policy makers:

  1. Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. In essence, recess should be considered a child’s personal time, and it should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.

  2. Cognitive processing and academic performance depend on regular breaks from concentrated classroom work. This applies equally to adolescents and to younger children. To be effective, the frequency and duration of breaks should be sufficient to allow the student to mentally decompress.

  3. Recess is a complement to, but not a replacement for, physical education. Physical education is an academic discipline. Whereas both have the potential to promote activity and a healthy lifestyle, only recess (particularly unstructured recess) provides the creative, social, and emotional benefits of play.

  4. Recess can serve as a counterbalance to sedentary time and contribute to the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, a standard strongly supported by AAP policy as a means to lessen risk of overweight.

  5. Whether structured or unstructured, recess should be safe and well supervised. Although schools should ban games and activities that are unsafe, they should not discontinue recess altogether just because of concerns connected with child safety. Environmental conditions, well-maintained playground equipment, and well-trained supervisors are the critical components of safe recess.

  6. Peer interactions during recess are a unique complement to the classroom. The lifelong skills acquired for communication, negotiation, cooperation, sharing, problem-solving, and coping are not only foundations for healthy development but also fundamental measures of the school experience.

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Valerie Strauss: Obama’s Disastrous Education Legacy–and Two Failed Secretaries of Education

Diane Ravitch's blog

Valerie Strauss writes about a visit by President Obama to a highly selective public school in Washington, D.C. He brought with him his two Education Secretaries, Arne Duncan and John King.

He said he wanted every school to be as great as the school he was visiting, Benjamin Banneker. But there was much he did not mention.

Strauss writes:

“There’s no denying that Banneker is a top-performing school in the nation’s capital, and that 100 percent of its seniors graduate. But it’s unclear if Obama knows that if every school did what Banneker does, the high school graduation rate might plummet. That’s because Banneker is a magnet school where students must apply to get in — but the only entry grades are ninth and tenth. And they must maintain a B- average to stay. Kids who can’t cut it leave, but that attrition isn’t counted against the school’s graduation rate.”

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