Sunday, June 30, 2013

Getting to Better Schools

Getting to Better Schools by Ben Levin - The Literary Review of Canada

The success of our education system is not just a matter of what schools do. Student outcomes in education are deeply affected by factors outside the school, such as good health care for children and supports for parents that allow them to help their children grow and develop. Access to good jobs with decent pay and benefits for parents, and to adequate housing, are important for children. Environments that respect diversity and support different kinds of students (and families) are also helpful in ensuring that all young people have the possibility of a good outcome from their schooling. So the growing income inequality in Canada, especially when it is linked to such things as immigrant status, is clearly a threat to the quality of our schools.

Simply substitute "U.S." for "Canada" and the story remains the same.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

China Is Just as Desperate for Education Reform as the U.S. |

China Is Just as Desperate for Education Reform as the U.S. |

While Americans often worry that hordes of Chinese engineers will eat their economic lunch, the Chinese look to the U.S. for the model of how to educate a 21st century workforce.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Huge achievement gaps remain in Michigan high school performance"

“Though Michigan has seen some gains in achievement on the ACT in recent years, we’re still not making major gains in student learning among our high school students,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the nonpartisan Education Trust-Midwest, a nonprofit organization that works to raise performance and close achievement gaps in Michigan. 
“We still have a lot of work to do, particularly around better supporting teachers to prepare all students to succeed after high school, no matter who they are or where they live,” Arellano said. “In the coming months, our state has some critically important opportunities to do that, including around a new developmental educator evaluation and support system, and the resurrection of college- and career-ready standards.”
Ms. Arellano appears to support a "bigger stick" and tougher standards approach to closing achievement gaps, particularly for the twenty-percent of Michigan students living in poverty conditions (32 percent in our district). Once again, someone in a position of influencing policy, who has never really experienced what it is like to live in a high-poverty school district, has missed the boat on what it will take to solve the achievement gap problem: equitable funding to support extensive, job-embedded teacher training and development, resources and materials, up-to-date buildings and science labs, technology, and smaller class sizes.

I would suggest instead of dusting off old worn-out talking points, folks like Ms. Arellano simply spend time in these traditional urban-poor school classrooms, particularly those with high concentrations of limited English proficiency, and learn what it will really take. Get out from behind your writing desk within your ivory tower and join us.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to survive our education battles - Class Struggle

How to survive our education battles - Class Struggle - The Washington Post

"What we rarely acknowledge is that our schools have gotten better over time. Test score averages have not risen much lately, but that is only one measure. A bigger slice of our young population — including the poor or disabled — is learning more. Dropout rates are at historic lows. The sophistication of high school classes is breathtaking to those of us who grew up in the middle of the last century. Foreign experts note that Americans have won 48 percent of the Nobel prizes in science, medicine and economics. They study our schools to see how we have inspired such creativity."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Obvious Move to Take Over Our Public Schools

Independent research in recent months has documented that the nation's wealthiest philanthropic foundations are steering funding away from public school systems, attended by 90 percent of American students, and toward "challengers" to public education, especially charter schools. 
By 2010, $540 million -- fully 64 percent of major foundation giving -- was directed to these private groups, including KIPP, Teach for America, the NewSchools Venture Fund, the Charter School Growth Fund, and the D.C. Public Education Fund. 
The extent to which these groups will go to supplant the public school system is deeply disturbing.
Despite the growing number of studies showing that charter schools are generally no better -- and are often worse -- than their public school counterparts, "the state and local agencies and organizations that grant the charters," The New York Times reports, "have been increasingly hesitant to shut down schools, even those that continue to perform abysmally for years on end."
This disconnect between the claims of "reformers" bent on privatization and demonstrable outcomes in student performance has been enabled, in large part, by the nation's mainstream media, which has been sold a bill of goods about so-called "school reform." As a result, the agenda of the nation's public school system is at risk of being bought out by a relatively small number of corporate billionaires and their tax-sheltered foundations whose privatization models do more to raise profits than student performance.

I encourage you to read the full article: Diann Woodard: The Corporate Takeover of Public Education

Saturday, June 1, 2013

America’s Education Spring: A Growing Revolt Against ‘Reform’ Mandates - NEPC

Kirp declared that mounting evidence from school reform efforts in major U.S. metropolitan areas reveals “it’s a terrible time for advocates of market-driven reform in public education. For more than a decade, their strategy – which makes teachers’ careers turn on student gains in reading and math tests, and promotes competition through charter schools and vouchers – has been the dominant policy mantra. But now the cracks are showing.”
In ever-greater numbers, however, students are also leading the resistance. A recent article in The Nation reported on the growing student resistance movement driven by grievances over austerity budgets and systemic racism.
 From all corners of the country – North Carolina to Philadelphia to Louisiana to Chicago – students as young as eight years old are organizing and taking part in a variety of actions including zombie protests, school walkouts and sit-ins, and acts of defiance like the recent rant by a high school student in Texas that went viral over the Internet when he castigated a seemingly indifferent teacher for dispensing education in “packets” rather than engaging the class in meaningful, relevant learning.
In many places, teachers and parents are supporting rebellious students and even joining in the protests. Grassroots parent groups, in fact, have been the driving force behind efforts to beat back school voucher proposals in Tennessee and parent trigger legislation in Florida.