Sacramento Bee Covers Charges Against Mayor Kevin Johnson

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

The Sacramento Bee, which has been very supportive of Mayor Kevin Johnson and also of corporate reform, posted a story about the postponement of the ESPN film about how he saved the hometown basketball team.

The article on the newspaper’s blog says the molestation accusations were reported long ago, they are old news, and the only thing new is the surfacing of the video of the accuser being questioned by the police. Putting a face on the alleged victim revived the story.

If you watch the video, it may strike you as odd that this teenager is questioned by a middle-aged policeman, who asks her intimate questions about what happened to her. Maybe this is standard police practice, but it seemed to me that she should have been questioned by a female police officer.

After reading the story, I was left with the impression that the newspaper thinks this story…

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John Merrow Tangles with Eva Moskowitz over Suspending Kindergartners!

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

John Merrow, who reports on education for PBS, did a segment on suspensions for children in kindergarten. He focused on the Success Academy charter schools and compared it to a public school in Brooklyn.

The segment begins with the U.S. Deepartment of Education’s view that out-of-school suspensions are very bad policy that discourage and stigmatize children.

The public school had no suspensions for little children. Eva Moskowitz’s charter schools believe in suspensions as good discipline.

In his interview with Eva, Merrow repeatedly challenged her claims. She told him that anecdotes are not data, then offered an anecdote. He showed data that her suspension rate was double that of KIPP.

Eva’s trump card? Spectacular test scores. Does she push out low-scoring kids? The same little children were repeatedly suspended until they withdrew and went to public school.

Reach your own judgment.

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BREAKING NEWS: ESPN Shelves Its Documentary about Kevin Johnson

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

ESPN had planned to release a documentary about the life of NBA basketball star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (who is married to the controversial Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools). The documentary was supposed to be released on October 20. However, the sports network has canceled the release of the film. 

Tickets to tonight’s showcase of the documentary Down In The Valley in Sacramento, Calif., just got collectable. It may be the only public viewing the ESPN-produced film, about how Kevin Johnson saved the local NBA franchise, ever gets. Mere hours before showtime for the local premiere at a downtown theater, ESPN said that the movie has been pulled from the schedule of the network’s 30 for 30 series.

“We are re-evaluating the content presentation of it and delaying the premiere,” ESPN vice-president John Dahl said in an interview with SI’s Richard Deitsch. “I…

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How to Beat the Plutocracy

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In an earlier post, I cited a New York Times article saying that 158 families had contributed about half of the money raised thus far for the 2016 presidential campaign. 138 support Republicans. 20 support Democrats.

I asked readers if anyone was willing to calculate what % of American families these 158 are.

I got similar responses.

“Diane, I did the math and the 158 families you mentioned comprise 0.000130321% of the population of the U.S. I guess we can call them the “10 thousandth percenters.”

“There are about 115 million families in the US. So these 178 families are roughly one-and-a-half out of a million. Wow. Not the one percent. But one-and-a-half of a percent of a percent of a percent.” –G.F. Brandenburg

“To answer the question at the beginning of Diane’s post, if the NY Times is correct that there are 120 million households, then the 158 families…

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Suggestions for @politico on education reporting #commoncore

Originally posted on @ THE CHALKFACE:

Talk to teachers. For this piece on the common core, I don’t think you did. A principal, sure.

Speaking of which, here’s an interesting tidbit from one of the principals:

Jayne Ellspermann, the principal at West Port High School in Ocala, Fla., said teachers in her school are already seeing an improvement in the writing and analysis abilities of students who have been learning under the standards for about five years. Her own grandson benefited as a first grader, she said, when he wrote a Thanksgiving report about why he wouldn’t want to sail on the Mayflower. He built his argument on stories the class read that described rotten food and abysmal sanitary facilities. Before Common Core, she said, he likely would have just memorized the date the ship sailed and made a hat.

Read more:

This might be too “in the weeds,” but this anecdote is not…

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Please Send Your Thoughts and Prayers to Vivian Connell

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Over the past few years, I have traveled several times to North Carolina, one of the states where the Governor and Legislature are doing their best to destroy public education and the teaching profession.

I met a beautiful, dynamic woman named Vivian Connell. Vivian is a National Board Certified Teacher who decided to go to law school. Teachers in North Carolina are near the bottom nationally in teacher pay.

After my last visit, I learned that Vivian was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a degenerative disease that has no cure.

Vivian began writing a blog called FinALS, in which she chronicled her determination to face the end of her life with dignity, courage, and a bucket list. The bucket list consisted of things she had always planned to do with her children, as well as a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., with students, and…

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Rhode Island: PARCC Testing Is Designed to Confuse Students

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Carole Marshall and Sheila Ressger, both retired teachers in Rhode Island, report that the PARCC test was poorly designed and does not measure what students know and can do.

They write:

“While RIDE [Rhode Island Department of Education] insists that the PARCC is a high-quality test, what has been created is instead a test that values a caricature of critical thinking — overly complex, ambiguous questions that are intended to “catch” students. Those who doubt it can google “PARCC sample tests” and see for themselves. Countless adults with advanced degrees have testified that many of the Common Core worksheets and PARCC sample test questions are confusing to the point that even they cannot determine the “correct” answers. English language learners, students with disabilities, and students living in high poverty neighborhoods are particularly hard hit, but all children are hurt by the testing.

“The basic problem is that the PARCC tests…

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Mercedes Schneider: Corporate Reform Blog Needs Readers; Can You Help?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Mercedes Schneider read an appeal for help from Peter Cunningham, the editor or CEO of a blog called Education Post.

And this was her reaction.

Peter was Assistant Secretary for Communications (or something like that) on behalf of Arne Duncan during the first term of the Obama administration. When he left, as Mercedes shows, Eli Broad asked him to start a blog to rebut all those pro-public education bloggers out there who were dominating social media So, Broad gathered a few other 1%-ers (Bloomberg and Walton), and together they chipped in $12 million for the new blog to promote charter schools, merit pay, high-stakes testing, and other tenets of the “reform” movement led by Arne Duncan.

Read this story in the Washington Post announcing the new blog, but read the comments too. They are hilarious. You can see that the blog had a problem from the get-go and needed some…

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Emily Talmage: Teach Like a Champion…Or Like a Robot

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Emily Talmage recently reposted an interview she had with Jim Horn, editor of Schools Matter. Horn wanted to interview teachers who had taught in KIPP or KIPP-like schools, and Emily responded. She shared her experiences with him in 2011 and decided the interview remained relevant and worthy of reposting.

She writes:

I am re-posting the interview here for a couple reasons:

First, at Brooklyn Ascend, we relied heavily on Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion,” – a book that has been the subject of a number of posts going around the internet right now. I want people to understand what my experience was like with these teaching methods.

Second, I have become increasingly concerned by parallels between the practices used at Ascend (and schools like it) with the system of education that I have written a great deal about on this blog, known in Maine as “proficiency-based” education, but elsewhere…

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Peter Greene’s Best Post Ever

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Over the weekend, I attended a board meeting of the Network for Public Education. Xian Barrett, a teacher in Chicago on the board, made a startlingly perceptive comment over lunch. He said to me, “The reformers are often right when they describe the problem, but they are always wrong when they offer a solution.”

You won’t find a better, clearer demonstration of this axiom than this post by Peter Greene.

Peter analyzes the “social justice” argument for charters and choice. Reformers are right, he says, when they charge that schools in poor communities are often grossly inadequate:

“Reformsters start here with the premise that non-wealthy non-white students must be rescued from the terrible schools that are inextricably tied to poor support, poor resources, poor staffing, poor neighborhoods, and the lousy local control that leads to all of these poor inputs.”

But their reforms save a few while making things far…

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