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Plessy v. Ferguson Comes to Football… Will Academics be Far Behind?

September 23, 2019 Comments off

This attention-grabbing headline in the NYTimes article by Timothy Williams caught my eye immediately:

The article describes the reality of team sports— and academics in high schools across the country in this analysis by Tom Farrey, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, who noted that:

“….the sports achievement disparity between wealthy suburban public schools and their urban counterparts has degenerated into “a competitive gap that is similar to the income gap” in the nation.

The divide has always been there,” he said, “but it has widened.”

The disparity, experts say, is meaningful beyond the world of athletics because sports participation has been found to aid in academic success and college admissions, and is a predictor for professional success.

I’m not at all certain the “divide has always been there”… but I AM certain it is worsening for athletics AND academics.

The notion of using demographics to separate athletic teams is appalling… it seems to be contrary to the Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed Plessy v. Ferguson’s “separate but equal” provision of public services like schools. But Iowa is not alone in moving in this direction as Mr. Williams writes:

Over the past few years, officials overseeing high school sports in states including Minnesota, Oregon and Colorado have added provisions allowing schools with high poverty levels to drop down to lower athletic divisions. Washington State will introduce the idea next year, and Iowa is considering it.

This provision puts principals, parents, and athletic boosters in economically disadvantaged schools in a tough position: they can either keep their school in an athletic league where they will be overmatched or agree to being placed in a less competitive league where their students might win some games.

Once poorer schools decide to abandon athletic competition with affluent schools rather than seeking equitable funding will they also decide to abandon their fight for equitable funding for academics and shunt their students into second tier colleges? If athletics is the last bastion of true meritocracy… the last place where an athletically gifted child born into poverty can thrive despite his economic disadvantage… how can we hope to create a true meritocracy in academics if school leaders decide to abandon the effort to provide an even playing field in athletics?

 

SRO Arrests 6 and 8 Year Old at Florida Charter School

September 23, 2019 Comments off

Newsweek reported that an SRO arrested a 6 and an 8 year old child at a Florida charter school. All I am say is that I hope the day never comes when this kind of thing is NOT newsworthy. The link to the article follows:

apple.news/AVYckp9SZRwOrEgJI0L-YNA

EdBuild Study Provides Evidence of the Persistence of Racism in Public Schools

September 20, 2019 Comments off

EdBuild, whose mission is to bring common sense and fairness to the way states fund public schools, issued a report indicating that black school districts receive $23,000,000,000 LESS revenue than all white districts despite serving the same number of students. Why? Because affluent families flock to districts where property taxes can underwrite higher quality schools leaving poorer non-white students segregated in property poor districts. As the authors of the report write:

The racial and economic segregation created by gerrymandered school district boundaries continues to divide our communities and rob our nation’s children of fundamental freedoms and opportunity. Families with money or status can retain both by drawing and upholding invisible lines. Many families do just that. This, in conjunction with housing segregation, ensures that—rather than a partial remedy—district geographies serve to further entrench society’s deep divisions of opportunity

Because our system relies so heavily on community wealth, this gap reflects both the prosperity divide in our country and the fragmented nature of school district borders, designed to exclude outside students and protect internal advantage.

This residential discrepancy cannot be fixed easily… but it might be possible for the students in poorer schools to receive the same level of funding if we worked at the state level to raise and allocate funds more fairly. And the racial disparities EdBuild flags are intolerable:

For every student enrolled, the average nonwhite school district receives $2,226 less than a white school district.

Poor-white school districts receive about $150 less per student than the national average—an injustice all to itself. Yet they are still receiving nearly $1,500 more than poor-nonwhite school districts.

If we want to continue holding onto the belief that education can be a leveling force in our country, we cannot continue to use the same funding system in place today… and if we want racial and economic justice we need to face the fact that our current system is discriminatory. The report concludes with this:

Even after accounting for income, the average student in the U.S. inherits far more opportunity by attending a small, concentrated white school district. Because each state handles district boundaries and school funding differently, funding policies affect students in divergent areas in different ways.

But a single fact is clear—financially, it is far better in the United States to have the luck and lot to attend a school district that is predominantly white than one that enrolls a concentration of children of color. That is the inherent shame of the system we’ve built, and one we haven’t gone far enough to fix.

WATCH: With Gun Control Measures Held Up In Congress, ‘Gut Punch’ PSA Shows Children Trying to Survive School Shooting

September 20, 2019 Comments off

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not bring the House passed legislation to a vote for two reasons: he doesn’t want to make his party members vote against the NRA and he doesn’t want to pass a bill that the President might veto and he cannot get a clear read n what the President will or will not pass.

In the meantime, 96% of the schools in the nation do drills that are disruptive and, in some cases scary, to prepare for an event whose likelihood is extraordinarily slim and could be prevented by eliminating the sales of military grade weapons. In short, children are suffering because the adults we elected to office are unwilling to discuss an issue for fear they will lose the support of gun manufacturers.

Source: WATCH: With Gun Control Measures Held Up In Congress, ‘Gut Punch’ PSA Shows Children Trying to Survive School Shooting

Categories: Uncategorized

Schools are “Totally Predictable.” We Good With That? I’m Not!

September 18, 2019 Comments off

On his website Modern Learners, Will Richardson often offers thought provoking posts that force readers to examine the way our schools are structured and the way they operate. Schools are “Totally Predictable.” We Good With That? is one such post. In it he asserts that the predictability of the way schools function and the way teachers present lessons undercuts what employers and students want most: the ability to deal with changes that are occurring at an astonishing rate.

As I have often bemoaned, our accountability metrics reinforce the Factory School status quo and, in so doing, reinforce the notion that there is a discrete and finite knowledge that must be learned by students and their own curiosity and interests are not at all important. In compelling students to adhere to a predictable schedule and preordained curriculum imposed by well-intentioned adults schools are unwittingly undercutting their ability to explore information and learn independently… and in so doing are not preparing them for what exists now and will exist in the future.

Two Examples of Telling a Lie Often and Making it True: The “Immigration Crisis” and “Failing American Schools”… There are Countless Others

September 17, 2019 Comments off

I saw this graphic on FaceBook taken from a NYTimes article from earlier this year titled “Trump Claims There is a Crisis at the Border. What’s the Reality?
As the graph above shows, the reality is that during the Obama administration immigration declined! This inconvenient truth was overlooked throughout the 2020 campaign and has not been corrected by the media every time the “crisis” lie is repeated and so we watch films of children in camps, the “caravans” and conclude that there IS an immigration crisis.

As one who lived through countless reports of “failing American public schools” this playbook is all too familiar. Make an assertion that cannot be substantiated by facts and repeat it endlessly and soon it becomes imprinted on the public’s consciousness. The purpose behind both memes is to inculcate fear in the minds of the public in order to advance a political agenda. In both cases… and countless others— the big lie, repeated, becomes irrefutable truth. And social media, with its relentless churning of videos, graphics, and catchy memes and soundbites makes truth especially fungible.

 

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This Just In: The GOP Wants to Rip-Off Student Borrowers to Help For-Profit Colleges

September 14, 2019 Comments off

You don’t need to pass laws to help your your donors and to disestablish government agencies you don’t believe in. All you need to do is appoint a cabinet member who will revise regulations to minimize the strength of that agency and help your financial backers. And if the regulations can’t be revised, the cabinet member can slow down the process of implementing the regulations or make the process dysfunctional. In the end, the goal of making the government so small it can drown in a bathtub can be accomplished.

If you don’t believe this description of how to make a government agency dysfunctional is accurate, look no further than Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. As noted in Adam Minsky’s Forbes article, Betsy DeVos is making a concerted effort to gut the student loan forgiveness program put in place when the Obama administration learned how for-profit schools were preying on unsuspecting students by encouraging them to take out student loans. He writes:

The Borrower Defense to Repayment program was established in 2016 following the high-profile collapse of for-profit schools like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institutes. The program was enacted to provide student loan relief for borrowers who had been defrauded by predatory schools.

The basic premise of the program is that students who were subjected to rampant fraud or misrepresentations by their  school, and who were saddled with debt and a useless degree, should have a mechanism to request student loan forgiveness. This, coupled with stricter federal oversight of for-profit schools and greater accountability for their educational and career outcomes, would hopefully diminish widespread abuse of federal aid by predatory institutions.

Since DeVos took over the Department of Education in 2017, her administration has made consistent efforts to eliminate or water down the program. The Department of Education initially tried to re-write the regulations governing the program, only to have those new rules thrown out by a federal court following legal challenges. Her office has also been effectively ignoring around 160,000 applications for loan forgiveness submitted by student loan borrowers, leaving them in limbo.

Mr. Minsky’s article then offers a description of the recently released rules that will go into effect, all of which put the burden of proof on the borrower and give the lenders an upper hand. The net effect is the diminishment of protection for students who have been bilked by profiteers. He concludes his article with this:

The chairman of the House education committee, Rep. Bobby Scott, accused the administration of “sending an alarming message [that] schools can cheat student loan borrowers and still reap the rewards of federal student aid.” And the Project on Predatory Student Lending announced that it intends to challenge the new rules in court.

One thing is clear: the Borrower Defense to Repayment program remains embattled and in legal limbo.

One more thing is clear: that “legal limbo” is hurting the pocketbooks of the borrowers at the expense of the shareholders of the private for profit colleges.