Wisconsin Legislature: Full Speed Ahead on Destruction of Public Education

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Given the demonstrated failure of voucher schools and charter schools in Milwaukee to outperform the public schools, you might expect that the Legislature would stop expanding both forms of privatization. But you would be wrong. Here are some recent legislative actions, as reported by blogger Steve Strieker:

The WI GOP committee members moved forward with a vote on their education budget package that does the following:

Removes the cap on statewide vouchers and prohibits districts from levying to replace the lost state aid

Creates a special needs voucher program

Allows operators of privately run charters to open new schools under conditions specified by the legislature

Allows for the takeover of struggling public schools in Milwaukee under the control of an appointed commissioner to convert them to voucher or charter schools while paving the way for similar takeovers in other school districts

Provides for licensure of individuals with minimal qualifications, some…

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A Mom Corrects the Néw York Times about the Reasons for Opt Out

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Recently the Néw York Times ran a front-page article about the growth of the Opt Out movement and how it was becoming a powerful political force in Néw York.

A mom who was interviewed for the article wrote a letter to the Times to challenge its description of the motives of parents (the letter was circulated among supporters of Opt Out):

“As one of the parents quoted in this article I was deeply disappointed that the true reasons parents are refusing these particular tests were not clearly identified.

“We did not initiate a test refusal movement because we are supporting teachers or because we don’t want our kids to be over tested.

“The NYS common core tests in math and ELA are leading to a trend that is ruining public education as we know it. Because they are linked to 50% of teacher evaluations they are forcing teachers to teach…

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A Plea to Ed Tech Entrepreneurs (Randy Weiner)

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Randy Weiner is a co-founder and CEO at BrainQuake, a co-founder at Urban Montessori Charter School in Oakland, CA and former Board Chair, a former teacher, father to two elementary school-aged daughters. In this post, he uses the phrase “we” to refer to those who, like himself, are high-tech entrepreneurs, start companies aimed at the school market, produce software and “solutions” to educators’ problems, and, in general, want to improve the quality of schooling in the U.S.

Weiner anticipates that some readers will disagree with his definition of ed tech. In comments, if you do disagree, offer your amended or new definition and indicate reasons for changes you would make.

Last month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for education technology companies to focus on addressing problems that matter. Implicit in the Secretary’s challenge is the assumption that education technology can, in fact, actually have an impact on important…

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Originally posted on National Day Calendar:

Memorial Day Last Monday in May Memorial Day Last Monday in May


Memorial Day, a United States Federal holiday, is observed each year on the last Monday in May.   This day is in honor and remembrance of all men and woman who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Originating after the American Civil War and formally known as Decoration Day, it began as a day to commemorate the Union and Confederated soldiers who had died during the Civil War.  Memorial Day had been extended by the twentieth century to honor all American soldiers who had died while in military service.

Memorial Day is also a day to remember all loved ones that have passed away.

Traditionally on Memorial Day, the flag of the United States of America is raised briskly to the top of the staff then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position where it remains until noon. At noon, it is then…

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Kindergarten Nightmare in Georgia

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

A comment posted on the blog:

“Thank-you. I’ve been teaching for 26 years. I currently teach kindergarten. You should see the SLO (Student Learning Objective) test that I have to give my kindergarteners next week. The state of Georgia, in its infinite wisdom, came up with the term Student Learning Objective, realizing too late that it spells SLO. How appropriate.

“Anyway, next week’s test is hilarious when you read it, knowing what I know about five year olds & seeing it from their point of view. It is also ridiculous and sad. I so wish Bill Gates would come and administer that test for me next week so he could get a taste of what he & others are causing our students to go through. Testing isn’t educating, but it’s all we seem to do anymore. Even in primary school.

“To make matters worse, our new “teacher evaluation instrument” is…

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Is This a Failing School?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In 2011, a former graduate student of mine ran an Internet search for the term “failing school.” It was almost never used until the mid-1990s. Then each year, it appeared with greater frequency. After the passage of No Child Left Behind, it become a cliche: Any school with low test scores was “a failing school.” The term “failing school” is especially useful to those who want to close them and turn their building over to charter operators, which may not accept the same students.

A reader writes:

The term “failing schools” is a weapon. I have worked in a public school in the south Bronx for almost 20 years. Our students come from poor, often stressed, families. Many are English Language Learners. Most are socially and academically “behind”. And I love seeing them every day. We LOOK like a failing school when you judge us through the prism of standardized…

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Do Reformers Actually Care About Education or About Cutting Costs?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

One question that I have puzzled over again and again is why anyone who really cares about the quality of education would be a proponent of school choice, for example, vouchers for religious schools and charters run as a business. We have an abundance of evidence that these choices don’t usually produce better education. Children from low-performing schools are not being sent with public money to Exeter, Andover, Deerfield Academy, or Sidwell Friends. Instead, they are going to Backwoods Rural Evangelical Church or Mall Academy, which has few certified teachers, no curriculum, and teaches creationism; or they are going to Charter Schools, Inc., where profits matter more than education.

This article in Salon by Conor Lynch asserts that the GOP (and I would add, many Democrats who have been bamboozled as well) and corporate America (via ALEC) are complicit in the dumbing down of America. Some candidates, and he singles…

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Originally posted on National Day Calendar:

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National Scavenger Hunt Day May 24 National Scavenger Hunt Day May 24


Annually celebrated on May 24, National Scavenger Hunt Day is set aside as a day to enjoy the “good ol’ fashioned” fun of a scavenger hunt.

When was the last time you were on a scavenger hunt?  More than likely, it has been a long time.

American gossip columnist, author, songwriter and professional hostess Elsa Maxwell (May 24, 1883 – November 1, 1963) is credited with the introduction of the scavenger hunt for use as a party game in the modern era.

“A scavenger hunt is a game in which the organizers prepare a list defining specific items, which the participants — individuals or teams — seek to gather all items on the list — usually without purchasing them — or perform tasks or take photographs of the items, as specified. The goal is usually to…

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Mary King, the Teacher Who Refused to Give the Test

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Pittsburgh teacher Mary King said she would not give the state tests to her English language learner students, and she didn’t.

She was “the first and only” teacher in Pittsburgh to refuse to give the test. She is a Teacher of Conscience. I wrote about her here.

“Under state requirements, ESL students — also known as English language learners — who have been in the U.S. less than a year don’t have to take the PSSA in English language arts, but they do have to take the PSSA in math and science. They can have certain accommodations, such as use of word-to-word translation dictionaries without definitions and pictures on some of the exams.

Ms. King, who is in her 26th year and is retiring this school year, said not all students get upset, but she recalled one student who had to take the math test her first week. “All she…

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A Brief Summary of Jeb Bush’s Education Activities

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

This cartoon summarizes Jeb Bush’s education record. He is best known for championing high-stakes testing, A-F school grades, supporting Common Core, charters, vouchers, third-grade retention, and anything that. Strips away job protections from teachers. He boasts of the “Florida miracle,” but it refers mostly to 4th grade NAEP scores, which are likely boosted by third-grade retention and by the state’s class-size reduction policy, adopted by popular referendum but opposed by Bush. The miracle disappears by high school, as Florida’s high school graduation rate is below that of Alabama, which had no miracle.

David Sirota reported in International Business Times that Jeb Bush steered Florida’s pension funds toward campaign contributors. He also pressed for legislation to shield these contributions from public view.

Sirota wrote:

Jeb Bush received the request from one of his campaign contributors, a man who made his living managing money: Could the then-governor of Florida make an introduction…

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