Archive for April, 2020

‘Coronavirus Capitalism’ Is Coming for Public Schools

April 30, 2020 Comments off

Seattle public schools look like they are in danger of becoming privatized… the Katrina template is in play!

Source: ‘Coronavirus Capitalism’ Is Coming for Public Schools

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A Revenue Hole that Leads to Long Term Financial Cliff for Public Schools

April 30, 2020 Comments off

This article contrasting a wealthy NY county with a solid balance sheet with a poor LI county that operates a deficit illustrates the reality that unless the Federal government provides a massive injection of funding to offset lost revenues the impact will be devastating. The article makes no mention of another reality: state revenues for schools— affluent AND especially poor— are about to fall off a fiscal cliff, a cliff that would last for years if the “solution” of giving state governments a long term loan. It took nearly a decade for schools to recover from the “Great Recession”. Without a huge bailout for state governments it will take even longer to get a reasonable revenue stream for schools.

Partial Openings in Fall an Opportunity to Reset Paradigm

April 28, 2020 Comments off

As this Washington Post article notes, there is no one who believes that schools will fully open in the fall. Parents and teachers are both concerned with exposing themselves or students to the Coronavirus and there are few if any political leaders who foresee that sufficient tests will be available to ensure the safety of the students and teachers.

The article does a good job of offering a wide range of solutions, but in my opinion they al gal short for one major reason: they assume that the current paradigm for schooling will remain in place. The current paradigm, the factory schools with students batched in age cohorts, is a mental model that CAN be changed and an upheaval like a pandemic is a unique and perhaps singular opportunity to do so. I hope that this opportunity is not squandered in the name of expediency. Future posts will offer some alternatives for opening up the schools that are based on changing the dominant paradigm.

After Feeding at the Trough After Katrina, It’s No Surprise that Charters Are Ca$hing in on Covid

April 27, 2020 Comments off

In the Public Interest is full of articles describing how Charter School profiteers are using the Covid closures to rake in money and seize the opportunity they are presented. This edition offered:

  • an article highlighting 11 warning signs that profiteers are moving into your district,
  • a link to Cashing in on Kids articles describing how the Koch Brothers are promoting articles on The Future of Education that (surprise surprise) see privatization on the horizon;
  • an article that helps readers identify privatization schemes emerging in their community
  • an article describing how charter schools are “cozying up” to the Trump administration— not exactly NEWS but chilling given the opportunity to use the Covid crisis to leverage profits; and
  • a tranche of articles on how profiteers are using Facebook at other venues to lure parents to use their products.

In other times each of these could warrant a stand-alone post…  but in this era of accelerating profiteering I’m putting them all together…

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NPR’s Anya Kamenetz Forecasts 9 Changes in Public Schools… and they are Right On!

April 26, 2020 Comments off

Of all the education writers, I find Anya Kamenetz to be the most insightful and her NPR article with the click-bait title “9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen” offers some nuanced changes as well as some obvious ones.

The obvious changes are that schools will focus on hygiene, will have smaller class sizes, operate on shifts and under a different calendar, and avoid large gatherings or any events that invite the public (including parents) into facilities.

A more subtle idea is that the schools might open first for the youngest children because they are the ones losing the most from remote learning. Ms. Kamenetz notes that schools in Europe are following this pattern and that densely populated cities could do this since most elementary schools are within walking distance of children’s homes.

One element of the “new normal” is that distance learning will continue to play some role. Ms Kamenetz writes:

Every expert NPR spoke with predicted that the need for remote learning would continue because of staggered schedules, schools prepared to close again for future waves of infection, and many students needing remediation. And that means training and support for teachers, and equipment for children.

And that also means the digital divide will have to be addressed and, on a more meta-policy level, internet access will need to be viewed as an essential utility.

The ninth item on the list warrants a complete republication:

9. Social, emotional and practical help for kids

Developmental experts say disruption from the pandemic constitutes an “adverse childhood experience” for every American child. When schools reopen, says Virginia’s James Lane, ameliorating this trauma will be at the core of their mission.

“I also think that there is a need for us to focus on social and emotional learning for students,” Lane says, “and not only how we can provide the academic support, but how can we provide the mental health support and the wraparound supports for students when they come back, to help them recover and bring back that safety net of schools.”

Taken together, these ways schools will look different overlaps with the ideas embedded in the White Paper Reformatting New England Schools found elsewhere on this blog. MAYBE the time is ripe to consider a complete overhaul of what public education looks like.

‘Same Ideas, Every Disaster’: Right-Wing Heritage Foundation Urges Universal School Voucher Program for Coronavirus Recovery

April 25, 2020 Comments off

The aphorism about every problem looking like a nail to someone who only has a hammer applies here as the pro-market-force Heritage Foundation recommends— wait for it— privatization of public education as the best way forward. But to make a bad idea even worse, the Heritage Foundation recommends combining the notion of privatization with the issuance of vouchers AND the deregulation of teacher credentials.

The pandemic has handed the pro-market forces a special bonus too: President Trump’s fumbling response has further eroded taxpayers confidence in the government’s ability to do anything! So in addition to being able to tout the benefits of schooling operated on “business principles” the branding of public schools as “GOVERNMENT schools” will make the notions of deregulation and privatization even more appealing. I expect this “blueprint” to get a lot of favorable play in coming months. It has the elements of an agreeable fantasy that the GOP loves: it’s cheaper, better-managed, and can be implemented far more quickly. Take schools out of the hands of bumbling government bureaucrats and put it in the hands of well run, nimble organizations who have to answer to shareholders. What could go wrong!

Source: ‘Same Ideas, Every Disaster’: Right-Wing Heritage Foundation Urges Universal School Voucher Program for Coronavirus Recovery

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Coronavirus Collapse Compounds Impact of 2008 Revenue Meltdown

April 25, 2020 Comments off

This recent post from NPR included a statistic about post-recession college enrollment that I found to be simultaneously startling and unsurprising AND unsettling:

With less funding, colleges have continued to lean on tuition. But over the past eight years, college enrollment nationwide has fallen about 11%. Every sector — public state schools, community colleges, for-profits and private liberal arts schools — has felt the decline. Over the years, international students, who often pay full tuition, have helped. But now with travel restrictions in play, schools are expecting very few of them this fall.

I was startled to read that college enrollment declined over the past 8 years, but after thinking about it was not surprised. The cohort group of potential students was undoubtedly smaller during that time period AND the inequities of the economy combined with the numbers of students who could afford the ever increasing meant that the cohort of students who were capable of attending diminished. With the Coronavirus making “normal” fall semesters a 50/50 proposition and revenues plummeting already it’s not a pretty picture.