Chicago: A Happy Ending to the Charter Teachers Strike

Diane Ravitch's blog

Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect writes about the first charter chain strike in the nation:

Meyerson on TAP

Another Teacher Strike Story with a Happy Ending. If you listen to the champions of charter schools, their chief concern is the welfare of their disproportionately poor and minority students, while those dastardly teachers unions are just out for themselves.

Well—at the risk of injecting actual facts into this discussion, please check out the new contract that the roughly 530 members of the Chicago Teachers Union just struck with their employer, the Acero chain of 15 inner-city Chicago charter schools. As a conclusion of their five-day strike—the nation’s first at charter schools—the teachers not only secured raises for themselves but also a groundbreaking provision to protect their students, whom the union’s attorney described as “overwhelmingly low-income Latino,” from the agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka ICE). Acero acceded to the…

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Texas: How to Get Rich from Other People’s Misery

Diane Ravitch's blog

The New York Times published this story about Juan Sanchez, who grew up in poverty but got education degrees and eventually became the owner of a private business that makes millions by incarcerating migrant children, not so different from himself. He has built an empire. His salary last year was $1.5 million. His wife was paid $500,000.

Juan Sanchez grew up along the Mexican border in a two-bedroom house so crowded with children that he didn’t have a bed. But he fought his way to another life. He earned three degrees, including a doctorate in education from Harvard, before starting a nonprofit in his Texas hometown.

Mr. Sanchez has built an empire on the back of a crisis. His organization, Southwest Key Programs, now houses more migrant children than any other in the nation. Casting himself as a social-justice warrior, he calls himself El Presidente, a title inscribed outside his…

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Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Tells New Congress: Fully Fund Title I and IDEA


In his new book, Educational Inequality and School Finance, the Rutgers University school finance expert Bruce Baker carefully refutes some long-running and persistent myths about the funding of public education—Eric Hanushek’s claim that money doesn’t really make any difference when it comes to raising student achievement, for example, and the contention that public schools’ expenditures have skyrocketed over the decades while achievement as measured by test scores has remained flat.

Assessing the overall impact of public investment in education, Baker concludes: “Rigorous, well-designed, and policy relevant empirical research finds that: Money matters for schools and in determining school quality and student outcomes. More specifically, substantive sustained, and targeted state school finance reforms can significantly boost short-term and long-run student outcomes and reduce gaps among low-income students and their more advantaged peers. Money matters in common sense ways. Increased funding provides for additional staff, including reduced class sizes, longer…

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Indiana: Researchers Question Gains from State’s Charter Schools

Diane Ravitch's blog

A study of charter schools in Indiana found that the test scores of students who transferred from public schools to charter schools lagged and later rebounded. But it also found very high attrition as students left charter schools and returned to public schools.

A recently released study raises questions about whether charter schools improve academic achievement for students in Indiana more than traditional public schools.

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Education-Indianapolis examined four years of English and math ISTEP scores for 1,609 Indiana elementary and middle school students who were in a traditional public school in 2011 and transferred to a charter school in 2012. The main findings were that students who transferred had lower math and English score gains during the first year or two in their new school than if they had stayed in a district school.

The researchers were able to draw the conclusion by…

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Florida: Governor-Elect Appoints a Public School Hater as Commissioner of Education

This is consistent with the Trump-DeVos Model

Diane Ravitch's blog

Republican Ron DeSantis was elected Governor of Florida in a close election, besting Andrew Gillum. DeSantis is a Tea Party extremist who has pledged to continue Rick Scott’s ruinous policies towards the environment and education. His choice for Commissioner of Education is Richard Corcoran, Out-of-office speaker of the House, whose wife runs a charter school. Corcoran supports charters, vouchers, and every possible alternative to public schools. He sponsored legislation to award bonuses to teachers based on their high school SAT/ACT scores. He has no education experience.

The League of Women Voters of Florida published a strong statement opposing his nomination.

The League sent this letter to The State Board of Education:

Dear Chairwoman and State Board Members,

With the impending departure of Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart, the League of Women Voters of Florida reminds you that as members of the State Board of Education you not only have the…

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New from the National Education Policy Center: “How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination”


Last week this blog explored some of the ways the expansion of school choice ends up creating injustice and inequality. The National Education Policy Center just published a new report, How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, in which Julie Mead of the University of Wisconsin and Suzanne Eckes of Indiana University further investigate one particular aspect of the same topic: how privately operated charter schools and private schools receiving publicly funded tuition vouchers fail, often quite legally, to protect the civil rights rights of their students and staff.

Mead and Eckes explain: “Our review of relevant laws indicates that voucher and charter school programs open the door to discrimination because of three phenomena.  First, federal law defines discrimination differently in public and private spaces. Second, state legislatures have largely ignored the issue of non-discrimination while constructing voucher laws and have created charter laws that fail to…

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Washington Post Invents a New Rating for Trump’s Repeated Lies: “The Bottomless Pinocchio”


Diane Ravitch's blog

The Washington Post has an official fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, who rates the veracity of politicians’ statement. The worst possible lie gets a “four Pinocchios.” The fact-checker has counted more than 6,000 lies by Trump during his brief time in office.

But there was a problem. What about the lies that he tells repeatedly, even after he has been corrected?

So the fact-checker invented a new category: The Bottomless Pinocchio.

Glenn Kessler writes:

It was President Trump’s signature campaign promise: He would build a wall along the nation’s southern border, and Mexico would pay for it.

Shortly after becoming president, Trump dropped the Mexico part, turning to Congress for the funds instead. When that, too, failed — Congress earlier this year appropriated money for border security that could not be spent on an actual wall — Trump nevertheless declared victory: “We’ve started building our wall,” he said in a speech on…

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Gary Rubinstein: How Can a School with a 100% Graduation Rate Be a Failing School?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Gary Rubinstein began his career in Teach for America but became a career math teacher in New York City. He also writes a blog, where he has achieved fame and notoriety as the nation’s ultimate fact-checker of “miracle schools” whose claims are too good to be true.

As he explains in this post, he first entered the arena of miracle-School mythbusting when he heard Arne Duncan boast about a charter school in Chicago that had once been a low performing public school. That charter, Urban Prep, Duncan said, now had a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. Rubinstein checked the data and found that the school had high attrition and low pass rates on state tests, lower than Chicago public schools.

He was roundly criticized by charter trolls on Twitter but he was unfazed.

Now he finds this charter, with its miraculous outcomes, has expanded to a…

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First-Ever Report Details Loss of Revenue to Public Ed Due to Corporate Tax Breaks


Corporate tax breaks divert public support for a state’s infrastructure into the corporate coffers.  It is a way to give away tax money without ever collecting it.

One of the lines of defense for the corporate tax break is that the tax break does not constitute giving away tax money since the money was never collected.

Nice try. However, the diverting of tax money into corporate tax breaks results in fewer dollars directly available for otherwise tax-funded entities, including public schools.

A second justification for corporate tax breaks is that the tax break will result in the indirect benefit of the corporation’s greater economic contribution, which more than offsets the tax break.

Maybe, maybe not. But how is one to know?

Answer: Track and publicize the dollar amounts of state and local corporate tax breaks in order to see exactly how much revenue is being forfeited so that one might…

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Whatever Happened to Team Teaching?

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

In teaching high school history and graduate university courses for many years, I have team taught with other history and English teachers and university colleagues many times. For example, Roberta Rabinoff Kaplan and I taught English and social studies at Cardozo High School in the mid-1960s. And in Stanford University’s teacher education program, I team taught a social studies curriculum and instruction course for a decade with Lee Swenson, then an Aragon High School history teacher. Historian David Tyack and I teamed up to teach “History of School Reform” between 1987 and 1998. Tinkering toward Utopia came out of our collaboration.

I enjoyed very much the planning together and actual teaching that I and my team-mates did. Sure there were conflicts over choice of content, which materials to use, who would do what and when during the lesson, and similar decisions. More often than not, we negotiated in order to…

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