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Posts Tagged ‘DeVos’

Diane Ravitch Savages “Reformers” and “Disruptors” in her New Book

January 18, 2020 Leave a comment

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Forbes writer and public education resistance fighter Peter Greene’s paean to Diane Ravitch provides a good overview of her clear-headed thinking and the muddled thinking of what she calls this disruption movement. And what is that movement?

The disruption movement has given us charter schools, high stakes testing, and the de-professionalization of teaching. It has used the real problems of inequity and underserved communities to justify false solutions.

In his review of her forthcoming book Mr. Greene contrasts the “reformers” embrace of Taylor’s standardization with Deming’s Total Quality Management and laments the victory of Taylor in this war of ideas. Like Diane Ravitch, Peter Greene seems to think the tide is turning. I hope they are right….

One Step Forward, Five Steps Back on Nutritious Lunch for Children

January 17, 2020 Leave a comment

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It was no surprise that President Trump rolled back the upgraded nutritional guidelines for school lunch that Michelle Obama proudly and successfully fought for… but the roll backs described in this Washington Post article are appalling. Not only do they reinforce poor dietary habits by replacing vegetables and fruits with french fries and burgers but they also reinforce the bad old days when lobbyists prevailed when it came to making decisions about what food to serve to children whether or not their products are healthy or not.

Appalling… but consistent with the actions in all realms of the current administration.

Bad News Betsy Blistered by Guardian

December 30, 2019 Comments off

Guardian writer David Smith wrote a blistering essay outlining the many ways Betsy DeVos has undermined public schools in her short tenure as Secretary of Education. Here are some highlights, beginning with Randi Weingarten’s assessment:

“We’ve had plenty of Republican as well as Democratic secretaries of education but none of them, even those who believed in alternatives to public education, actually tried to eviscerate public education,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Here is someone who in her first budget tried to eliminate every single summer school programme, every single after-school programme, and who has done everything in her power to try to make it harder for us to strengthen public [sector] schools.”

Then there’s the federal court’s assessment:

DeVos is currently attacking a programme, known as “borrower defense to repayment”, intended to forgive federal loans for students whose colleges misrepresent the quality of their education or otherwise commit fraud. The programme was expanded under Barack Obama but DeVos has been accused of stalling it for more than a year while she altered the rules and made it harder for students to get loan relief, resulting in a large backlog.

Last month, a federal judge held DeVos in contempt for violating an order to stop collecting loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students, a for-profit college chain that collapsed in 2015 amid allegations that it lied about the success of its graduates in order to get students to enroll.

And centrist MD legislator John Delaney’s take:

“If we were grading her on a report card, I would give her very low grades if not a failing grade,” he said by phone from Iowa. “The reason I think she has not been a successful secretary of educationwas obvious from the day she was given the job, which is she doesn’t believe in the public education system in this country. She would voucherise the whole system if she could.”

But the most chilling quote from Mr. Delaney was this one:

Delaney warned: “We have to be careful not to be so preoccupied with every single ridiculous thing the president does because, to some extent, it might be a strategy to distract us from the bad policy that’s actually getting done.Obviously the things he did with Ukraine deserve this attention they’re getting. But in some ways he’s the bright, shiny light and every little tweet causes people to just be incredibly preoccupied.

“Meanwhile, environmental regulations are getting rolled back. Ethanol waivers are being granted. There are proposals to spin off the entire student loan portfolio of the Department of Education. The list goes on and on and on of real policies that are happening that deserve much more attention. She has largely kept her head down and gone about her business, which I think is ideologically driven and hasn’t attracted that much attention.”

John Delaney is onto something insidious: while the President issues ridiculous tweets that occupy bandwidth on the evening news his appointees and the anti-government wing of the GOP are doing horrific damage to our country… damage that will cost billions of dollars and, in all probability, decades to repair.

Mr. Smith’s article concludes with this prediction from Neil Sroka, an activist from Michigan:

“(Betsy DeVos)… scion of wealth and privilege has never had a real job but made it her life’s work to attack public schools, teachers and students. She only escapes scrutiny because so much incompetence, grief and evil comes out of this administration that she’s been able to ride out the storm. But she’s made it much more likely we’ll get a Democratic education secretary who’s a real champion for teachers.

Sroka’s prediction will only come true if we elect a Democrat who opposes the neoliberal agenda. If the Democrats choose someone in the mold of Barak Obama or Bill Clinton they will likely get a secretary of education in the mold of Arne Duncan, someone who will never be held up as “…a real champion for teachers”.

Michigan Spent Millions for Charter Schools That Never Opened…. But Is Prepared to Spend Millions More

December 30, 2019 Comments off

Michigan Public Radio reporter Dustin Dwyer provided his listeners with a synopsis of a study done by the Network for Public Education (NPE) that determined that 72 of the 257 charter schools receiving federal funding never opened… a dubious record that was unmatched by any other state in the union. But that’s not the worst:

Another 40 charter schools in Michigan that received money have since closed. In total, 44% of the schools that won grants are no longer open.

Despite that, Michigan is moving ahead with the latest round of the federal program, which could send an additional $47 million to the state’s charter schools.

Mr. Dwyer reported that some of the Michigan State Board members expressed misgivings over the oversight of these funds, but the majority of members endorsed the continuation of the program and State Superintendent Michael Rice “…told members of the State Board of Education at a meeting Tuesday that he’s asking the Michigan Department of Education to keep a closer eye on funding for the next round of grants.” Given NPE’s analysis, it seems that he or his predecessor failed to do this in the past:

The report from the Network for Public Education lists several examples from Michigan in which charter school operators paid themselves, or their family members, tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees for schools that never opened.

Given the loose regulations governing charter schools it is no surprise that “entrepreneurs” are seizing the opportunity to make money at the expense of taxpayers. But those who favor the application of the marketplace model for the public sector will be quick to point out that failing schools, like failing restaurants, failing casinos, or failing hotels, will close. The collateral damage to the “customers” in schools, though, is more far reaching than the collateral damage to customers in other failed businesses.

College Scorecard Provides Bogus and Worthless Data to Prospective Students, Reinforces Notion that College is All About ROI, Earning Lots of $$$

December 19, 2019 Comments off

A recent Forbes article by Kristen Moon touts the benefits of the recently redesigned USDOE’s College Scorecard. The article quotes Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ praise for the valuable new tool:

Every student is unique,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a release about the updates to the College Scorecard. “What they study, as well as when, where and how they choose to pursue their education will impact their future.”

Ms. Moon then elaborates on the Scorecard’s benefits:

Finding the best program for your chosen field of study is important, but so is finding one that gives you a good return on investment for your money. This new version of the College Scorecard helps you do both.

You might ask, “How what data does the College Scorecard provide to help every unique student find their unique path?” The answer?

A few of the key additions to the College Scorecard include:

  • Median earnings and debt for graduates, categorized by field of study at a particular school, rather than for the whole institution.

  • Graduation rates for all students, including part-time and transfer students. Previously, the Scorecard focused only on first-time and full-time graduation rates.

  • The ability to filter potential schools by acceptance rate, median standardized test scores and distance from home.

But wait, there’s even more!

By using the new “Custom Search” feature, the student can input where they want to study, what field and what degree they want to earn.

Once you have gathered your data, start to think about how much your student loan payment will be after college. Ideally, it shouldn’t be any more than 10 to 15% of your monthly paycheck. If your student loans are more than 20%, you will likely have trouble paying it off in the long run.

However, it is important to note that the median earnings data given on the College Scorecard is not a complete measure of your future earnings: The statistic indicates just the graduate’s first year in the workforce. Many fields of study have earnings that can change drastically within the first 10 years of graduating. Some professions have lower starting salaries that increase rapidly over the years, whereas others start high and don’t increase as much as time goes on.

As a liberal arts graduate who aspired to become a public school teacher and administrator who married an art major and had two daughters, one of whom works in social services and one of whom is a writer, I never thought of college in terms of a return on investment as measured by earnings. I was eager to attend college where I could explore subjects beyond those spoon fed to me as a high school student and dig more deeply into areas that I became interested in. Since I attended a college with a cooperative work-study program I was able to explore careers in engineering and business and determine that those paths were not of interest to me. Moreover, those assignments paid me enough to graduate without any debt– something that would now be impossible. Once I switched my major to liberal arts I figured once I graduated I would be able to earn a living— maybe not getting the “return on investment” I would have gotten had I stayed in a field that I found uninteresting but sufficient earnings to meet my needs.

As I’ve written in previous posts, using “return on investment” as a metric for colleges is wrongheaded. And claiming that the provision of data based on median earnings and indebtedness provides information that will help every unique student make uninformed decision is misleading at best. Students will need to do their own calculations when it comes to determining the costs and debt they will incur and— most importantly— they will need to visit the campus in person to determine if the college meets their unique needs. It may be possible to purchase a car using a spreadsheet full of data, but selecting a college requires a much more wholistic approach.

And here’s what is even more problematic: the data on the College Scorecard is incomplete! Here’s more from Ms. Moon:

While the College Scorecard is a step in the right direction for transparent data, it isn’t perfect. For example, graduates who didn’t receive federal financial aid like grants or loans were excluded. This could mean that some students were excluded based on their socioeconomic background. In addition, students who didn’t earn an income in the first year after graduating were not included in the dataset. 

The College Scorecard also uses different samples of students to calculate the median loan debt and earnings, so you should use caution when trying to compare schools accurately. Data about median earnings came from 2015 and 2016, while data regarding debt were calculated based on students graduating in 2016 and 2017.

How Forbes can tout a system that omits key information and is full of mismatched data is hard to fathom… unless the principle behind the data confirms the beliefs of those who write for Forbes and Forbes readers… all of whom evidently believe that college is all about return on investment and an imperfect metric based on that principle is better than something “soft” like learning for the sake of learning.

Foxes Watching Henhouses = Dead Chickens

December 11, 2019 Comments off
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Scorecard Assumes Education’s Primary End is $$$$$

November 27, 2019 Comments off

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It comes as no surprise that Betsy DeVos’ USDOE sees earnings as the primary metric for determining the value of post secondary education. One possible way to change her perspective on this might be to emphasize that she is pursuing an Obama era initiative. For sure her boss would abandon it if he knew that was the case!

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