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Posts Tagged ‘funding equity’

The Case for Community Schools— or “Network Schools” that Provide On-Site Social Services

July 31, 2021 Leave a comment

Jeremy Mohler, a writer for In the Public Interest, wrote a compelling article that outlines the case for community schools, especially in light of the Trumpist GOP’s pushback against its latest bogeyman: Critical Race Theory.  Mohler rightly contends that the REAL grassroots movement in public education has more to do with linking the community together than ripping it apart, which appears to be the endgame for the GOP. 

In his final paragraph Mohler suggests that nothing less than the continuation of democracy is at stake in the battle over public education… and the best way forward for public schools is to embrace the expanded responsibilities that are implicit in operating community schools. 

Columbia Teachers College Highlights Another Wasted COVID Opportunity: A Chance to Use American Rescue Funds to Respond to Needs of Black Students

July 28, 2021 Leave a comment

The NYTimes reported yesterday on a study completed by Teachers College at Columbia illustrating the devastating impact of COVID on Black students and underscoring the need for federal funds to be used to address this deficiency.

The opening paragraphs detail the lack of confidence Black Americans have in the government due to the response to the events of January 6, the continuing police brutality, and the seeming tolerance for systemic racism. This information was astonishing but unsurprising. The information on the disproportionate impact  of COVID on the Black community, though, was stunning:

According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, Black Americans are 2.8 times as likely to be hospitalized for Covid-19 as white Americans are, and twice as likely to die from the disease. Black Americans also saw a steeper drop in life expectancy during the pandemic than white Americans did.

Sixty percent of respondents said they lived with an essential or frontline worker who performed a job in unsafe conditions. Nearly one-third of all survey respondents had lost a family member, a friend or a neighbor to Covid-19. About one-third of the survey participants faced job insecurity, and over 50 percent experienced employment status changes, according to the report. The level of loss, along with uncertain pandemic responses, negatively affected the mental health of about 86 percent of participants.

Given that the spotlight on the injustices visited on Blacks intensified at the same time as COVID wracked their communities, given the disproportionate percentage of Blacks who held essential or frontline work, and given the relentless negative reporting on civil rights initiatives like BLM and CRT, why would a Black child be eager to return to school… especially if that school is overcrowded, under-resourced, and dilapidated.

The solution advanced by Columbia Teachers College probably has no chance of passing given the many issues Congress needs to address, but it is a justified and reasonable one:

“For years we’ve talked about reimagining education and reinventing education. And we actually have a window by which we can do that,” Dr. (Sonya Douglass) Horsford (associate professor of education leadership at Columbia’s Teachers College and an author of the report) said.

The report notes that the “separate and unequal” design of schools keeps them “ill-equipped” to teach and take care of 7.7 million Black students at nearly 100,000 public schools in the United States.

In order to rebuild trust, the study’s authors wrote, leaders should begin to view students, parents and educators as “equal partners in education.” The report recommends using funds allocated to schools by the American Rescue Plan — nearly $122 billion — to respond to the academic and mental health needs of Black students.

Some of these solutions include simply investing in school infrastructure and hiring more Black teachers to update school curriculums to better understand Black history in the United States.

“I see the timing as really being great to pose a set of solutions and research-based recommendations that could help local communities — including students and parents and those who are reflected in the study — to put forth a set of recommendations for how those dollars should be spent,” Dr. Horsford said.

I am certain that those who cannot see the need for reparations will view this as a backdoor means of accomplishing that goal and know that many underfunded rural districts need facilities upgrades and improved teaching staffs. But given the higher incidence of COVID in the Black communities and the high percentage of Blacks who helped see us through the pandemic, now would be a good time to make amends and, at the very least, simply invest in the infrastructure and staffing needed in schools serving predominantly Black children.

Steven Singer Undercuts Arguments For Standardized Testing… but Misses One Sad Key Point: High Scoring Parents of High Scoring Children Cling to the Results as Validation of “Merit”

July 26, 2021 Leave a comment

Blogger Steven Singer does a fully comprehensive take-down of the rationale for standardized testing offered by two Walton Foundation funded economists Paul Bruno and Dan Goldhamer. These economists decried the decision to grant ANY waivers for the administration of tests over the past two years despite the disparate experiences of students as a result of the disparate schooling available to them. Mr. Singer undercuts each and every argument advanced by the Walton economists— who of course LOVE standardized tests because they provide seemingly precise data that can be used to “prove” various assertions they make about the effectiveness of choice and charters over “government schools”.

In his take down he notes that standardized testing was designed by eugenicists in this paragraph:

Standardized tests literally were invented to justify bias. They were designed to prove that higher income, higher class, white people were entitled to more than poorer, lower class, brown people. Any defense of the assessments today must explain how the contemporary variety escapes the essential racist assumptions the entire project is based on.

He then shifts gears, effectively blaming the standardized testing industry for lobbying to sustain standardized testing. ETS, Pearson, and other major players in the testing industry ARE lobbying to keep their businesses afloat, but their lobbying is sustained and supported by the “meritocratic” parents who scored well on tests themselves and whose children also scored well. As we are witnessing in places like NYC where test scores determine admittance to “elite” public high schools, parents of children who have attained the status of admission to the Kingdom of the Elite want to ensure that their child’s entry was based wholly on “merit” and that “merit” can only be measured by a standardized test. As policy makers across the country can attest, the retention of tests to sort and select children has grassroots support of the parents, ESPECIALLY those parents whose children are sorted into so-called gifted and talented programs and “honors” sections. As long as students are taught in large groups and those groups are batched into homogeneous cohorts based in part or in whole on test scores, the parents of “winning” children will want to retain the status quo. My belief is that until parents are confident that a new paradigm of schooling will meet the unique individual needs of THEIR child they will support the status quo. And,  alas, the status quo at this point is still grounded in standardized tests based on age cohorts.