Posts Tagged ‘funding equity’

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

January 18, 2020 Leave a comment

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

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.

What Role Should Faith Based Institutions Play in ECE

January 16, 2020 Leave a comment

This thought provoking article from Quartz describes the very positive role faith based institutions are playing in Rwanda, a role that is both practical and perilous from a policy perspective.

The role of these religious organizations is practical because the organizations can provide space, a means of engaging parents who might otherwise keep their children home, and a means of coordinating with other agencies to provide additional support.

The peril is that the groups could use the preschool program to proselytize and/or recruit students for religious schools instead of public schools.

Our country is similar to Rwanda in that ECE is under funded and therefore often understaffed or operated on a purely voluntary model. We are also similar in that there are religious organizations who have space and community leaders thereby making it enticing to seek partnerships between the government and religious organizations to provide cost effective programs for preschoolers. With some forethought and firewalls something could be worked out… but without either of those elements the separation of church and state could be corroded.

A Speech I Gave Repeatedly in the Early 1990s is Newsworthy Today– But Moving Away from Age-Based Cohorts in More Difficult than Ever

January 15, 2020 Leave a comment

A title of a Deseret News article by Marjorie Cortez caught my eye:

If every kid is different and learns differently, why does cookie-cutter approach to K-12 education persist?

And as I read the article, which reported on a presentation given at Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s Education Summit by Scott Palmer, managing partner and co-founder of EducationCounsel, “a mission-based education consulting firm dedicated to significantly improving the U.S. education system“, I got a deep feeling of de ja vu. The topic of Mr. Palmer’s speech was captured in this statement:

Palmer… noted that “variability is the norm when it comes to human development. And yet we have schools and systems that are too often based on age-based cohorts.”

Which Mr. Palmer reinforced with this anecdote:

Utah parents, raise your hand if you have more than one child.

“How many of you noticed that they tend to differ from each other? In some profound ways, right? And these are your own children”

This observation by Mr. Palmer was no more original in 2020 than mine was when I made it in 1991 as part of an effort to launch something we called “Teaching for Mastery”… an idea that instead of covering the course material and having students “pass” with a “D” (a 60!) we would require them to “master” the coursework by attaining an 80— or better yet by moving through the material at a rate that matched their readiness.

The obstacles we faced in introducing this idea of self-paced mastery learning were much higher operationally than they would be today. We had no data-banks of questions to draw on and no means of readily tracking student progress using computers. The obstacles I faced– and the ones Mr. Palmer will face– in in introducing the idea of self-paced mastery are even higher though when it comes to paradigmatic change. Parents and voters, especially those who were successful under the existing model of schooling that is based on age-based cohorts, cannot fathom why a change is necessary. After all, the existing system sorted them into the “winners” group– a standing they “earned” our to “merit”. Anything that changes the existing system might diminish their accomplishments or, even worse, make it more difficult for their children to replicate those accomplishments and remain in the “winners” group. This results in a self-perpetuating cycle where “winners” can buy homes in schools that are populated with other “winners” all of whom believe they “earned” their placement based on “merit”. The “winners” see no reason to change the existing paradigm of schooling nor do they see reason to change the paradigms used to fund schools.

There is one more factor that makes a shift to mastery learning more daunting now than it was in 1991: the use of norm-referenced standardized tests as the primary metric for student success. Norm-referenced standardized tests do not measure individual student progress against pre-determined benchmarks. Instead they measure a student’s progress as compared to his or her age-based cohort. In this way, standardized testing and age-based cohorts are inextricably linked.

Unfortunately, Mr. Palmer does not get into this issue at all, focussing instead on how teachers who draw on the science of learning are more likely to be successful at personalizing and building trust with students. That may be true. But until the organizational structure of schools reflects the science of learning the age-based grouping paradigm will persist.



Homelessness Caused By Liberals??? What???

January 11, 2020 Leave a comment

I don’t know which part of this Fox News report is crazier: Betsy DeVos’ notion that offering options will help homeless children or the Fox Friends’ notion that liberal policies contribute to homelessness.

International Education Deficits Dwarf Those in US

January 8, 2020 Leave a comment

As this article indicates, the education deficits in our country are not nearly as bad as those in other less developed and poorer nations. BUT instead of closing the gap in our country there appears to be an unsettling resemblance between the description of the way schools function in poor nations and the way we seem to be headed in ours. Unless we can become more equitable in terms of opportunities to learn we will become a Third World education system,

The Bottom Line from Forbes’ Ten Trends from the 2010s: The Rich are Getting Richer

January 2, 2020 Comments off

As the 2010 decade came to an end, several articles appeared summarizing trends in everything from movies, to fashion to politics. An article in Forbes by Carter Cordriet offered Ten trends in higher education which can be summarized by one phrase: the rich are getting richer. The ten trends are outlined below:

1) The Varsity Blues admissions scandal cast a pall on elite admissions

2) Struggling private colleges are closing

3) Student debt has doubled

4) For-profit colleges have closed, contracted or merged

5) The number of high school graduates has plateaued and is predicted to fall

6) International student enrollment at U.S. colleges has leveled off

7) Private colleges are increasing discounts

8) Elite colleges are becoming increasingly elite

9) Endowments are up at the richest schools

10) Rich people have pledged bigger donations

An examination of this list illustrate an unsettling trend over the past decade that is unlikely to change unless some kind of policy changes occur at the federal level. A vicious circle is in place whereby the wealthiest individuals will be controlling the elite schools through their donations and access to those schools will be increasingly limited to a vanishingly small pool of students who can afford to attend those schools. Worse, students who are saddled with debt, especially those students who attended the for profit colleges that closed, will have little to show for the money they spent and little chance to accumulate the wealth they would need to provide their children with access to an elite college. The “varsity blues” scandal notwithstanding, children raised in affluence will continue to be the beneficiaries of the largess of the billionaires who underwrite the elite schools while children raised in poverty will face increasing tuitions at state funded colleges.

The rags-to-riches American Dream is predicated on a level playing field. The last decade tilted the playing field toward the top 1%. If the American Dream hopes to survive in the 2020s a tile toward the 99% is needed.