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Posts Tagged ‘social mobility’

“Employer U Innovation” Reflects Diminishment of Corporate Training, Consequences of Unpaid Internships

February 23, 2020 Leave a comment

Brandon Bustead, the President of University Partners at Kaplan and former Executive Director of Education & Workforce Development at Gallup, wrote an op ed for Forbes magazine breathlessly describing a new innovation he calls “Employer U”. There are (at least) three problems with this article.

First is that the description of “Employer U” describes cooperative work study programs that have been in place for generations at colleges like Drexel (my alma mater), Northeastern, and Cincinnati to name a few. When I attended Drexel in the late 1960s I earned enough to pay my tuition, room and board and have enough left over to get married and begin a family…. which brings me to the second problem with Mr. Bustead’s article.

Second, corporations have side-stepped cooperative work study programs by “offering” unpaid internships to students, especially students from “brand” colleges and universities who can afford to work during the summer for free. These unpaid internships favor the children of extraordinarily wealthy families thereby eliminating an opportunity for equally talented but less affluent children to benefit from the programs.

Third, and most crucially, Mr. Bustead fails to point out that a generation ago corporations had their own training programs, programs they abandoned in the name of efficiency and reducing costs to provide shareholders with more money. Unsurprisingly, the elimination of employer-provided training coincided with the national outcry for more employment-ready high school and college graduates.

Many business-minded individuals want schools and colleges to provide better trained graduates while at the same time avoiding the payment of taxes to fund those kinds of programs AND while shedding employees in their own company who would offer such training. That kind of thinking created the problems we now have where there is a “mismatch” between graduates’ skills and corporate needs. The fix isn’t just an overhaul of post-secondary education: it’s also an increase in the wages paid to trainees in cooperative work-study programs and the willingness of corporations to pay individuals in their enterprises to train incoming workers.

Benton Harbor’s Segregated Schools are Betsy DeVos’ Sordid Legacy

February 21, 2020 Leave a comment

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This Time magazine article describes how the market driven for-profit laissez-faire funding model adopted in Michigan resulted in a school system that is racially and economically segregated. This is where our entire country is headed thanks to the notion that “choice” is more important than equality.

Conservatives Discover Mastery Learning, the Flaws in the Carnegie Unit… Can Their Abandonment of Standardized Tests be Far Behind?

February 18, 2020 Leave a comment

I make every effort to read every perspective possible in my education feed, and as a result I received an article from The Hill by Margaret “Macke” Raymond titled “The Diploma Dilemma”. Ms. Raymond, who is the founder and director of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University recently authored a policy briefing of the same name as part of the Hoover Education Success Initiative. And what is the dilemma as Ms. Raymond sees it?

Despite evidence that our students’ performance is flat or declining on many levels, our high school graduation rates have continued to rise significantly over the past six years. This paradox may not be widely known or understood, as politicians and policymakers have consistently trumpeted the steady rise of graduation rates. The casual observer would be led to believe that public education is improving because more students are being granted a diploma.

The truth is, in most states, there is a critical chasm between the rising graduation rate and the underlying knowledge and skills of large shares of degree holders. Many students, especially low-income students and students of color, are inadequately prepared to take the first step of college, training, military service or employment, let alone have the foundational knowledge needed to improve their lives in the future.

The truth is that US public schools are not as bad as standardized tests make the out to be or as good as graduation rates make them out to be… except for those underfunded schools serving low income students and students of color. The data on this truth have been evident for generations and yet nothing has been done to address it. After decrying softer grading standards, seat time as a metric, and “low expectations”, Ms. Raymond offers this idea to close the gaps at the high school level:

So what’s needed? States and school districts need mastery-based approaches to capturing and rewarding high school learning to ensure that students earn a high school diploma that provides a fair and clear signal of its value. Better and more frequent measures of high school students and courses would illuminate the pathways that students follow, and the benefits gained from them.  Linking course passing with known requirements for post-high school options will improve the success that holders of a U.S. high school diploma can achieve. In order to realize these things for our students, school systems leaders will invariably be placed in a diploma dilemma —strengthening requirements will almost certainly mean falling graduation rates in the short-term. 

Ms. Raymond’s prescription sounds very familiar to this blogger. In the early 1990s I attempted to launch a district-wide initiative called “Teaching for Mastery” based on the premise that TIME needed to be the variable and LEARNING needed to be the constant. Here’s what I learned from that experience: changing the dominant paradigm as a Superintendent was beyond my reach. Indeed, Ms. Raymond seems to miss the entire point of mastery learning, which is that TIME must be a variable if LEARNING is constant and so time-driven metrics like standardized testing and graduation rates tied to a student’s age are meaningless.

Our current system was implemented in the 1920s and it was designed to sort and select students with no regard or expectation that ALL students would master the K-12 curriculum. There was an expectation that many of not most students would fall short of the standards and find work in the fields or factories. And thanks to labor unions many of those jobs paid well and enabled workers to have good life. That economic paradigm disappeared in the 1970s and 1980s and it isn’t coming back any tie soon. When oh when will our education paradigm change? When will TIME be a variable and LEARNING constant?

Trump and DeVos Want to Undo Public Education

February 14, 2020 Leave a comment

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This powerful USA Today op ed lays bare the GOP/Trump/DeVos agenda, which is to eviscerate public education. Derek Black concludes his essay with these two paragraphs:

When the nation sought to lift poor whites out of illiteracy and blacks into citizenship at the end of the Civil War, Congress demanded that state constitutions guarantee uniform school systems that provided education to all children. To fund them, they mandated taxes. When the nation was struggling to break free of its Jim Crow discrimination, public education was chosen to lead the way — even as resistors explicitly tried to end public schooling (and replace it with vouchers).

Trump and DeVos have a vision of private education and individual freedom that is more than misleading; it’s dangerous. They are sowing the notion that a fundamental pillar of our democracy is antiquated and oppressive. The truth is that many kids will lose what little freedom they have — and the one social thread that still binds us together will fray even more — if we buy what they are selling.

When No Community Exists a School Bus Can Be a Hub

February 11, 2020 Leave a comment

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This idea for providing Pre-K programs to remote rural families, or more accurately, child-rearers, touches all the bases. It offers literacy, support services for children, and a wide array of social services for adults… and it is inexpensive. This makes much more sense than trying to get 3 year olds to use computers to learn how to read.

Good News! Trump’s Budget Cuts Charter Schools… Bad News! His Budget Redirects that $$$ to Vouchers

February 11, 2020 Leave a comment

Jonathan Chait’s Intelligencer article yesterday not only undercut President Trump’s scholarship to a young African-American girl from Philadelphia but also revealed it’s true purpose. Mr. Chait opens his article with these paragraphs:

At his State of the Union address, President Trump created an apparently heartfelt moment on behalf of Philadelphia fourth-grader Janiyah Davis. Having been “trapped in failing government schools,” Trump announced Davis would be granted a full scholarship to a private school, personally financed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Except, the Philadelphia Inquirer discovered, Davis doesn’t attend a “failing” school. She attends a high-quality public charter.

That looks like a “big oops” on two counts…. except it seems that it reveals the way the POTUS and the GOP want to fund education going forward. Poor children should rely on rich benefactors if they want to get a high quality education and vouchers should replace all forms of publicly funded schools. Mr. Chait elaborates on the second point in his third paragraph:

Here’s a brief refresher: Charter schools are not the same as private schools. Private schools are funded by tuition dollars, and can select which students to admit. Charter schools are publicly financed, do not charge tuition, and cannot select their student bodies. If they have more applications than available slots, charters typically have to use a lottery. Charter schools and private schools are often confused. A Washington Post story about Trump’s speech says the president appealed to his base on issues like “religious liberty, guns and charter schools,” when, in fact, Trump was touting private school vouchers, not charter schools.

Mr. Chait supports his contention by looking at the budget the POTUS is recommending, a budget that cuts the USDOE’s operations by 8%, eliminates all funding for charter schools, and redirects funds for public schools into a $5 billion dollar tax credit for private school vouchers. He concludes his article with this:

Trump’s plan to cut education funding is a huge political liability. And his proposal to eliminate federal funding for charters should make it clear that supporting charter schools is literally the opposite of Trump’s education agenda. Trump describing a charter school as a “failing government school” in his State of the Union address is not a mistake. It’s his actual worldview.

Alas I fear that these points will be lost on many voters who will miss the nuances Mr. Chait brings to light… and if the President is re-elected unwinding the voucher legislation likely to pass will take years.

Guardrails Already Off in Education Department… and the Results are Bad for Student Borrowers

February 8, 2020 Comments off

Over the past several weeks, I’ve read many l articles exposing the flaws in the proposals advanced by progressive candidates to waive student debt. The most persuasive argument against this proposal is that in waiving debt for ALL students, some “undeserving” students who willfully failed to pay their debts will benefit while many “responsible” students who did pay off their loans will be effectively penalized.

It is unfortunate that the fight the progressive’s picked was one over a new entitlement as opposed to going after the broken promises of the USDOE and the deregulation of the for-profit schools who generated most of the debt by offering dead-end courses to students who took out loans they could not afford to pay back when the colleges closed or the degrees they earned did not prepare them for the jobs promised. Worse, the education department reneged on waiving the student debts for thousands of graduates who agreed to accept lower paying jobs in the public sector in exchange for the forfeiture of their student debt.

Fortune magazine recently published an op ed article by Aaron Ament and Randi Weingarten that describes Betsy DeVos’ “misguided repeal of the gainful employment rule, which they describe as follows:

Gainful employment has big implications for students and taxpayers. It says, in short, that nearly all for-profit college programs and nondegree career programs at public and private nonprofit colleges are only eligible for federal student aid if they lead to good jobs that pay enough for students to repay their loans.

In order to block the implementation of this rule, the AFT and Student Defense, the organizations Mr. Ament and Ms. Weingarten head, are filing a suit in court. Given the recent appointees to courts it seems plausible that the rule will be reversed and, should that be the case, the victors will be the profiteers who operate the colleges and the losers will be the former students who enrolled in the valueless programs. Mr. Ament and Ms. Weingarten have a more sanguine view:

We are confident DeVos’s dismantling of the gainful employment rule will (be reversed in court). But why are unions and advocates forced to fight to defend what few protections borrowers have already won? Isn’t that DeVos’s job?

Instead of stymying students, the administration should be working with us to create new and affordable educational opportunities for tomorrow’s teachers, nurses, veterans, government employees, first responders, and trade workers. In other words, Betsy DeVos should protect the people she’s sworn to serve, not the for-profit industry that all too often exploits them.

When the guardrails of regulation come off, profits increase and consumers suffer. The sooner voters make this connection, the better for our economy and the imbalance that exists between the rich and the poor.