John Merrow: A Swift Solution to Solve the Cheating Problem

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

John Merrow has evolved into the Jonathan Swift of our day. You read, I hope, the brilliant satire “A Modest Proposal” by Swift. Therein, he suggests that the way to solve the hunger problem in Ireland is to encourage the poor to fatten up their children and sell them to rich landowners as choice meat. It is a data-driven and logical proposal, according to this summary:

Children of the poor could be sold into a meat market at the age of one, he argues, thus combating overpopulation and unemployment, sparing families the expense of child-bearing while providing them with a little extra income, improving the culinary experience of the wealthy, and contributing to the overall economic well-being of the nation.

The author offers statistical support for his assertions and gives specific data about the number of children to be sold, their weight and price, and the projected consumption patterns…

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“Education, Inc.”: A Stunning Documentary about the Dark Money Behind “Reform”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Brian Malone, documentary film-maker, has self-funded a film about the corporate assault on public education.

His film is a MUST-SEE. It is titled EDUCATION, INC.

Malone is a parent of two children in the public schools of Douglas County, Colorado. He documents the well-funded effort to take control of the local school board. Grassroots activists running for school board raised $40,000. Corporate reform privatizers received over $1 million in funding, which they used for a slick propaganda campaign. They won control of the school board and immediately began implementing their plans for vouchers, charters, union-busting, and salary caps for teachers. The exodus of teachers from the district more than doubled. The district paid hired guns (including former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett) to praise its “reforms.” A commissioned study by Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute hailed DougCo as “the most interesting district” in the nation.

Malone crisscrosses the…

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ALEC Meets in San Diego to Battle for Rights of 1%

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held its annual conference in San Diego to fete its leaders and their anti-democratic agenda. ALEC is bankrolled by major corporations. Its members are about 2,000 state legislators. At its annual meetings, it drafts model legislation to advance corporate interests: to privatize public schools, to eliminate labor unions, to roll back environmental regulation, and to slash government social programs.

ALEC has model legislation for charters and vouchers, for online learning, and for anything that breaks public education and removes teacher professionalism.

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Jeannie Kaplan: A New -ism for Reformers

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Jeannie Kaplan decides it is time to rename “reform.” She thinks it should be called “Dataism,” as in a religious faith or political ideology connected to the worship of Data. She lives in Denver, where she served on the school board for two terse. She has seen corporate reform up close, and it was not pretty. It smelled of Data-ism.

She writes:

We all know education reform is all about DATA. Data is used to fire employees, data is used to rank and rate schools, data is used to close schools, data is used to open charter schools and other non-union schools, data is used to make budgetary decisions, data is used to produce chaos and churn, data is used to outsource and privatize. Data is everywhere. Education reform is all about DATA. DATA is the driving force of education “reform.” It has become the be-all and end-all of public…

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NY Teacher Offers Advice to VAM-Loving Reader

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Regular readers may have noticed a flurry–one might say–a deluge of comments by a reader who signs as “Virginiasgp.” SGP stands for “student growth percentiles.” He believes with a religious fervor in student growth measures for evaluating teachers. He also says that he has worked in the U.S. Navy on a submarine. Another reader who signs as “NY Teacher” offered Virginiasgp some ideas about the deficiencies of test scores for teacher evaluation:

VAsgp
Apparently you think it’s a great idea to run public schools like the Navy runs its nuclear submarine fleet. Well thanks for the inspiration man. You really are a hoot-n-a-half on this. Shear genius. Now let’s take your fantabulous idea and put it to work for the Navy.
Don’t worry, I am highly qualified to help the US Navy mainly because I have zero experience with nuclear submarines. At least we’re square on the experience piece. Well…

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Hispanic Group in Texas Disagrees with National Organization About Standardized Testing

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In recent weeks, as Congress debated different issues in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a dozen or more of the national civil rights organizations issued statements supporting annual testing and opposing opting out of the tests.

But some city and state locals disagree with their national representatives. In Seattle, the NAACP local took issue with the pro-testing statement and issued its own strongly critical statement about the damage done by standardized testing. The Seattle chapter opposes high-stakes testing and supports opting out.

In Texas, the largest group affiliated with LULAC, the Latino organization, opposed the national organization’s stance.

The national League of United Latin American Citizens supports high-stakes testing, but their Texas chapter does not.

“LULAC began in Texas, and Texas LULAC has consistently been against high-stakes testing,” says University of Texas professor Angela Valenzuela. “The national organizations do not at all reflect the studied opinion…

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Rick Hess: How the Common Core Went Wrong

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Rick Hess directs education studies at the conservative, free-market American Enterprise Institute. We often disagree but I am often impressed that he doesn’t follow “the party line” of free-marketeers. This article is a good example of Hess demonstrating his sharp intellect and his willingness to stray from the rightwing corral.

When it comes to the Common Core, Hess has always been skeptical, though not opposed. In the linked article he explains that the Common Core went wrong because Washington insiders convinced themselves that the nation needed rigorous common standards. Those standards were being developed as the Race to the Top was announced. States couldn’t be eligible for a slice of the federal billions unless they adopted “common college-and-career-ready standards,” shorthand for the Common Core standards. Consequently, dozens of states signed on without even reading the CCSS.

The bottom line is that the D.C. insiders thought they could pull a fast…

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Rick Hess: How the Common Core Went Wrong

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Rick Hess directs education studies at the conservative, free-market American Enterprise Institute. We often disagree but I am often impressed that he doesn’t follow “the party line” of free-marketeers. This article is a good example of Hess demonstrating his sharp intellect and his willingness to stray from the rightwing corral.

When it comes to the Common Core, Hess has always been skeptical, though not opposed. In the linked article he explains that the Common Core went wrong because Washington insiders convinced themselves that the nation needed rigorous common standards. Those standards were being developed as the Race to the Top was announced. States couldn’t be eligible for a slice of the federal billions unless they adopted “common college-and-career-ready standards,” shorthand for the Common Core standards. Consequently, dozens of states signed on without even reading the CCSS.

The bottom line is that the D.C. insiders thought they could pull a fast…

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Arthur Camins Comments on Rick Hess’s View of “What Went Wrong with Common Core”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Arthur Camins left the following insightful comment on Rick Hess’s analysis of “What Went Wrong with Common Core.” I agree with his claim that the purpose of setting a totally unrealistic goal was to make public schools fail, thus destroying public confidence in them and setting them up for privatization. It is also manifestly correct, based on Joanne Weiss’s comments posted here earlier, that the intention of the Common Core standards and tests was to create a large, unified national marketplace for products and consultants, thus spurring entrepreneurs to enter the “education market.”

Rick Hess highlights many important points about what “went wrong” with the Common Core State Standards, laying the blame on the Obama administration and inside the beltway technocrats. Missing from his analysis is exposure of any of the behind-the-scenes role for companies looking to profit from a more coherent and less fragmented market and the hopes…

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Public School Mama on Charter School “Wait Lists”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Politicians and charter lobbyists recite the claim that thousands of students are wait-listed for charter schools. They say we must open more charters at once to satisfy the demand for charter seats. The seats, we are told, are “high performing” seats, as if a seat had some magic to transfer to whoever might sit in it.

A blogger called Public School Mama describes her experience with the charter school “wait list” in Boston.

She really needed to put her son into kindergarten. She applied to a local charter school. She applied to the neighborhood public school. The charter school never called. The neighborhood public school told her that her son was accepted. She was happy with the public school. She liked the teachers. No complaints.

Years later, she got a call from the charter school informing her that her child had been accepted. She realized that all those years, his…

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