Posts Tagged ‘RTTT’

NPE, Diane Ravitch’s Legacy Organization, Offers Qualified Support for Miguel Cardona… In a Nutshell: “It Could Been Worse…and We Are Holding Out Hope!”

January 6, 2021 Leave a comment

As readers of this blog realize, I am an avid supporter of Diane Ravitch’s writing and thinking about public schools. She has been a voice of reason in a era where cheap, easy, and profitable solutions are being proposed for “failing” public schools… and to amplify her voice she worked to launch the Network for Public Education (NPE), an organization committed to promoting locally governed public education. Like Ms. Ravitch I was neither thrilled nor dismayed with President-elect Biden’s choice for Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona. Unlike, Ms. Ravitch, though, I could not capture my mixture of misgivings and hope. This link to NPE’s recounting of her position will give you the full context of her qualified endorsement, but to save you clicking I am pasting her eloquent analysis of why he is a decent if not exceptional choice and the daunting task he faces. The highlights are mine:

I am still hoping for a Secretary who recognizes that the past twenty years have been a nightmare for American public schools, their students, and their teachers. I am still hoping for someone who will publicly admit that federal education policy has been a disaster since No Child Left Behind and its kissing-cousin Race to the Top, modified slightly by the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” Maybe Dr. Cardona will be that person. We will see.

I believe that the federal government has exceeded its competence for twenty years and has dramatically overreached by trying to tell schools how to reform themselves when there is hardly a soul in Washington, D.C., who knows how to reform schools. Our nearly 100,000 public schools are still choking on the toxic fumes of No Child Left Behind, a law that was built on the hoax of the Texas “miracle.” We now know that there was no Texas miracle, but federal and state policymakers still proceed mindlessly on the same simple-minded track that was set into law in 2001.

Perhaps Dr. Cardona will introduce a note of humility into federal policy. If so, he will have to push hard to lift the heavy hand of the federal government. Twenty years of Bush-Obama-Trump policies have squeezed the joy out of education.Many schools have concentrated on testing and test-prepping while eliminating recess and extinguishing the arts. As an experienced educator, Dr. Cardona knows this. He will be in a position to set a new course.

If he does, he will push back against the mandated annual testing regime that is not known in any nation with high-performing schools.

If he intends to set a new course, he will grant waivers to every state to suspend the federal tests in 2021.

If he intends to set a new course, he will ask Congress to defund the $440 million federal Charter Schools Program, which is not needed and has proved effective only in spreading corporate charter chains where they are not wanted. Two NPE studies (hereand here), based on federal data, showed that nearly 40% of the charters funded by the federal CSP either never opened or closed soon after opening. More than $1 billion in federal funds was wasted on failed charters. Let the billionaires pay for them, not taxpayers, whose first obligation is to provide adequate funding for public schools.

Further, if he wants genuine reform, he will begin the process of writing a new federal law to replace the Every Student Succeeds Act and dramatically reduce the burdens imposed by clueless politicians on our nation’s schools.

Dr. Cardona is known for his efforts to reopen the schools during the pandemic. He knows that this can’t happen without the resources to reopen safely. The pandemic is surging again. It is not over. He knows this, and he will have to move with caution not to put the lives of staff or students at risk.

I will not judge him until I see how he handles not only the present dire moment but the legacy of twenty years of failed federal policy.I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Hope springs eternal. We can’t live without it.

He has the right background… he attended and led public schools and championed programs that help ALL children succeed and avoided stepping on the many landmines that exist in the field. Here’s hoping he can inspire politicians to abandon the test-and-punish regimen that has sapped public schools of their spirit without doing anything to improve the opportunities for the most disadvantaged students. I still have hope that our public schools can all function as effectively as those funded by the engaged and affluent parents.

WSJ Op Ed Headline Underscores THAT Newspaper’s Narrative and the Narrative of All Right-Leaning: A Bogus Binary Choice Between “Students and Unions”

December 23, 2020 1 comment

The Wall Street Journal has a paywall, but on some occasions I can work around the paywall and get to an article with a compelling title and opening sentence and on other occasions the article is available through a third party source a day or so later. But when I read the title of one of their latest op ed articles I decided I didn’t need to read anything else. The title?

“Will Biden’s Education Nominee Stand for Students or for Unions?”

My gut level reaction was to pose a question of my own?

“Will the conservative leaning media outlets ever abandon their narrative that unions are ONLY interested in the well-being of their membership and, therefore, working against the students they serve?”

If the unions are balking at opening schools because of safety concerns, how is that NOT a concern parents also share? If the unions seek clean and orderly workplace, how is that NOT a concern parents also share? If teachers are seeking fully functional technology equipped with up-to-date operating systems and software, how is that NOT a concern parents also share?

And here’s a point the Wall Street Journal is overlooking in its false binary choice: when was the last time a Secretary of Education stood for unions in any way shape or form? Did Arne Duncan “stand for unions?”  John King? Margaret Spellings? Betsy DeVos? And did any of these Secretaries of Education “stand for students?” For at least two decades we’ve seen Secretaries of Education who put “accountability” and preparedness for work at the forefront. Did students benefit from this? Given that  the “performance” of students raised in poverty stagnated, NAEP scores (a presumed impartial metric of “performance”) plateaued, and student debt soared, it is hard to see how the policies of former Secretaries “benefited students”. But they each clearly diminished the stature of the teaching profession whether the teachers were in a union or not.

And here’s something for the Wall Street Journal and other conservative leaning media to consider: maybe if a “union first” Secretary of Education was put in place the safety of schools would improve, the orderliness and cleanliness of schools would improve, and schools, parents, and students would have access to the technology tools they need to succeed by any metric. Stop blaming the unions for the conditions created by the economic divide and systemic racism that persists and work with the Secretary of Education and— more importantly— your State Government and local school board to ensure that all students have an equitable learning opportunity.

A Preposterous Call for State Assessments Based on Flawed Logic Will Yield Worthless Data

December 6, 2020 Comments off

Forbes contributor Jim Cowen calls for the Biden administration to insist that states administer high stakes tests to all children based on the thinking that the test results will inform policy decisions going forward. This paragraph explains his thinking:

Fortunately, we know that chief state school officers are working with assessment providers to weigh options and chart a path forward for implementation in the spring. Statewide assessments are not subject to the same strict scientific method as NAEP and can still provide valuable information about student learning, meaning states and assessment providers can get more creative about capturing student learning this school year. In addition, state assessment vendors are already working on ways to provide flexibility around the length of the test, timeliness of the results and the ability to proctor remotely to ensure safety.

There are at least three problems with his logic.

First, we don’t need to give tests to children who don’t have internet access to know that they learned less than children who DID have access.

Second, how can the results of an assessment that has a “flexible” design be compared to a test that is rigorously designed in a fashion that offers some kind of validity in year-to-year growth?

Thirdly, given the wildly divergent formats of schooling that resulted from the pandemic and the decision of states to make the formats a LOCAL decision how can any meaningful data from a statewide assessment be useful?

I suspect that Mr. Cowen might be afraid that if tests go by the wayside THIS year that they might be abandoned altogether and his notion that assessments have value might be abandoned as well. Count me in as one who hopes that the pandemic signals the end of the test-and-punish era.

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