Democrats and Republicans alike, he says, must first recognize that public education is a “broken, government-run monopoly serving the needs of adults at the expense of the needs of children.” The only way forward, Klein says, is to offer underprivileged families real educational choices, breaking the states’ monopoly on education and the perverse union rules strangling public education all across the nation.
Start by leaving your comfort zone and funneling capital away from your wealthy alma mater and toward the poor neighborhoods, where your generosity is truly needed. “A lot of people say to me, ‘I won’t give to public schools because I don’t think it will do anything,’ ” Klein says. He sends such skeptics to tough neighborhoods where charter schools run by the likes of KIPP, Success Academy, and Achievement First are making a real difference.
Consider a 2006 Robin Hood Foundation fund-raiser evening, where $45 million in donor support for new schools was matched by the charity’s board, raising $90 million in minutes. Klein, as the city’s chancellor, quickly agreed to kick in another $90 million from his $12 billion capital budget, and two architecturally stunning charter schools delivering quality education have since been built in blighted neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
“Imagine what these kids feel like, when they walk into their school and it’s the Taj Mahal? Go talk to those kids if you are looking for impact,” says Klein. That made me press him for practical help, and he promptly offered to try to organize for interested Barron’s Penta subscribers who emailed us they wanted to see such impact up close—a tour of a new charter school making a difference somewhere in the U.S. Subscribers who want a tour need only shoot us an e-mail.
Which gets us to his final point: Spend political capital, as well. Charter schools are great, Klein says, but voucher programs are the only way to quickly scale up high-quality alternatives to the busted and dangerous public schools currently entrapping our kids. Such programs allow a disadvantaged family to apply the tax-dollar equivalent of a public education—almost $20,000 a year in New York City—toward a private education of their choice.
Category Archives: Community Partners
“We know best”: All over America, people have put small “give one, take one” book exchanges in front of their homes. Then they were told to tear them down.
Last summer in Kansas, a 9-year-old was loving his Little Free Library until at least two residents proved that some people will complain about anything no matter how harmless and city officials pushed the boundaries of literal-mindedness:
The Leawood City Council said it had received a couple of complaints about Spencer Collins’ Little Free Library. They dubbed it an “illegal detached structure” and told the Collins’ they would face a fine if they did not remove the Little Free Library from their yard by June 19.
Scattered stories like these have appeared in various local news outlets. The L.A. Times followed up last week with a trend story that got things just about right. “Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America, but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country’s biggest problems: small-community libraries where residents can share books,” Michael Schaub wrote. “Officials in Los Angeles and Shreveport, Louisiana, have told the owners of homemade lending libraries that they’re in violation of city codes, and asked them to remove or relocate their small book collections.”
Here in Los Angeles, the weather is so lovely that it’s hard to muster the energy to be upset about anything, and a lot of people don’t even know what municipality they live in, so the defense of Little Free Libraries is mostly being undertaken by people who have them. Steve Lopez, a local columnist, wrote about one such man, an actor who is refusing to move his little library from a parkway. His column captures the absurdity of using city resources to get rid of it:
Was Moynihan Right: What happens to children of unmarried mothers
Sara McLanahan & Christopher Jencks:
200119436-002In his 1965 report on the black family, Daniel Patrick Moynihan highlighted the rising fraction of black children growing up in households headed by unmarried mothers. He attributed the increase largely to the precarious economic position of black men, many of whom were no longer able to play their traditional role as their family’s primary breadwinner. Moynihan argued that growing up in homes without a male breadwinner reduced black children’s chances of climbing out of poverty, and that the spread of such families would make it hard for blacks to take advantage of the legal and institutional changes flowing from the civil rights revolution.
Moynihan’s claim that growing up in a fatherless family reduced a child’s chances of educational and economic success was furiously denounced when the report appeared in 1965, with many critics calling Moynihan a racist. For the next two decades few scholars chose to investigate the effects of father absence, lest they too be demonized if their findings supported Moynihan’s argument. Fortunately, America’s best-known black sociologist, William Julius Wilson, broke this taboo in 1987, providing a candid assessment of the black family and its problems in The Truly Disadvantaged. Since then, social scientists have accumulated a lot more evidence on the effects of family structure. This article will offer some educated guesses about what that evidence means.
Ranking the top open admission New Jersey high schools by SAT scores
Today’s vo-techs now operate some of the most elite public schools in New Jersey and the nation. U.S. News and World Report ranked Biotechnology High School in Freehold, part of the Monmouth County Vocational School District, 11th best in the nation and best in New Jersey among public schools. High Technology High School in Lincroft, another MCVSD school, ranked 20th nationally. Bergen County Academies, part of the Bergen County Technical Schools district, boasts thirty-six 2015 National Merit Semifinalists in a school with about 250 students in each grade level. These schools are smaller than the typical public school and more selective, requiring entrance exams as part of a competitive application process.
So it’s not surprising that these academies had the highest total-mean-scores during the past school year on the Scholastic Aptitude Test that students take as part of the college application process. High Technology High topped the list with a mean of 2195 out of a possible 2400. (Scores are for seniors and members of the class of 2014.) Its total enrollment was just 286 students, with an enviable 11-to-1 student-teacher ratio in 2013-2014. Six other schools had mean scores higher than 2000: Academy for Mathematics, Science and Engineering in Morris County Vocational; Bergen County Academies; Biotechnology High in Monmouth; Middlesex County Vocational Academy of Math, Science and Engineering Technology; Union County Magnet High School; and Academy of Allied Health and Science in Monmouth.
The Paradoxes of Education Reform Critics: “asymmetric incompetency”
There’s a lot of important, nuanced debate to be had between the most optimistic education reformers and those who are more skeptical. But I think there are many, though of course not all, on the education reform critic side who tie themselves in knots telling inconsistent stories about education in this country. So here are the most common paradoxes of that movement. This isn’t to say those who criticize some or even many aspects of education reform embody all these paradoxes, but I would argue they are relatively common. I think education reform critics spend a lot of times opposing individual policies or ideas or changes, and so it is hard to tie all of those disparate criticisms together into a coherent vision that also explains what education policy should be. These paradoxes, I would argue, identify a problem.
1. Administrators can’t be trusted with firing, but are perfect at hiring.
One of the arguments for lots of job protections in schools is that you can’t trust administrators to decide who to fire. If you give them discretion, they will fire good teachers who they don’t like, or who do anything other than toe the administration line, or for other cronyism reasons. On the other hand, we are told that firing more teachers won’t solve anything because we most teachers are good at their job or at the most just need more coaching. So while we can’t trust administrators to fire competently, we also have arrived at a place where their hiring decisions involve impeccable foresight to never make a bad hiring decision. It’s a strange paradox of asymmetric incompetency.
The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their Kids
A couple of weeks ago, I wandered into the hills north of the UC Berkeley campus and showed up at the door of a shambling Tudor that was filled with lumber and construction equipment. Samantha Matalone Cook, a work-at-home mom in flowing black pants and a nose ring, showed me around. Cook and her family had moved into the house in April and were in the middle of an ambitious renovation. “Sorry,” Cook said, “I didn’t tell you we were in a construction zone.” A construction zone, it turns out, that doubles as a classroom.
We walked into the living room where Cook’s two sons, Parker and Simon, were sitting on the couch, silently scribbling. The boys, aged 12 and 10, had the air of young Zuckerbergs-in-training. Babyfaced and freshly scrubbed, they spoke with a somewhat awkward and adenoidal lilt and wore sweatshirts with the hoods flipped up and no shoes. The room around them was chaos—piles of art supplies were stacked around the floor and paint samples were smeared next to the doorways. The family’s two dogs, Dakota and Kaylee, wrestled loudly over a chew toy. The sound of pounding construction equipment drifted in from the basement. And yet the boys were focused on what I soon learned were math workbooks—prealgebra for Parker, a collection of monster-themed word problems for Simon.
The Cook boys are homeschooled, have been ever since their parents opted not to put them in kindergarten. Samantha’s husband Chris never liked school himself; as a boy, he preferred fiddling on his dad’s IBM PC to sitting in a classroom. After three attempts at college, he found himself unable to care about required classes like organic chemistry and dropped out to pursue a career in computers. It paid off; today he is the lead systems administrator at Pandora. Samantha is similarly independent-minded—she blogs about feminism, parenting, art technology, and education reform and has started a network of hackerspaces for kids. So when it came time to educate their own children, they weren’t in any hurry to slot them into a traditional school.
Most Chicago public school students who switch schools after closing “bad schools ” chose higher performing institutions
Though most of the 11,000 students who were pushed out when Chicago Public Schools permanently closed their schools in 2013 ended up at schools the district deemed higher-performing, a third still landed at schools with CPS’ lowest rating.
When closing a record 50 schools, CPS promised children would end up in better schools but just 20 percent of students ended up at schools with the district’s top rating, according to a new report published Thursday by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Via Molly Beck.
Look at the UK’s free school lunch policy
WHILE five-year-old Lewis Heudi gets a hot school meal his older brother Sebastian does not.
Staff at Woodstock Primary School can see the situation is unfair and are trying to do something about it.
But they have missed out on Government funding that would have allowed them to build new kitchen facilities to provide hot lunches for all pupils.
The county council bid to the Department for Education for about £1.1m for six schools following the government’s free school meals scheme for infants aged four to seven.
Under the government scheme, pupils across the country aged four to seven get free school meals but Key Stage Two pupils aged seven to 11 have to pay for hot lunches.
Three schools were awarded grant funding but Woodstock Primary, in Shipton Road, was not one of them.
An upstart charter school is challenging the status quo in Clayton County. After beating the odds to open its doors, can Utopian Academy for the Arts live up to its vision?
The students of Utopian Academy for the Arts are being called on the carpet. Yesterday, their middle school mischief found the classic victim: a substitute teacher. The seventh-grade science room grew so loud that the classes on either side could hear the commotion through the walls.
Today, as they do every morning, the children have assembled in the cafeteria, with its red and blue cinder block walls and folding tables arranged in long rows, Hogwarts style. The whole school is here—all 180 students. The girls from Mr. Henderson’s class. The boys from Ms. Terry’s. The girls from Mr. Moore’s. The boys from Mr. Farrior’s. It is 7:55 in the morning; the school day won’t end for another eight hours, and many students will remain on campus until 6:30 p.m. This is a charter school, so Utopian Academy plays by its own set of rules. Eight-hour school days. Classes every other Saturday. A longer school year. A tougher curriculum. Dance, music, theater, and arts for all. And a rigid code of conduct.
“Good morning,” says a man from the stage. His name is Frederick A. Birkett, and he is not smiling. Birkett looks precisely how you’d imagine a former military man who went into academia might: bow tie, spit-shined shoes, ramrod posture. Just over a year ago, Birkett was an education professor at the University of Hawaii. But then he learned about this upstart school in Clayton County, Georgia, where the school board was so dysfunctional that the entire system lost its accreditation a few years ago. Birkett had never heard of such a thing, and this is a man who knows something about schools; he’s got a master’s in education from Harvard and ran pioneering charter schools in Harlem, Boston, and Kailua, Hawaii. When it comes to charters, he literally wrote the book—Charter Schools: The Parent’s Complete Guide.
A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools
The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.
It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won’t have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.
But an intriguing new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans suggests that parent choice doesn’t always work that way. Parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars — preferences that can outweigh academics.
How Parents & Community Groups Use Data
Meaningful family involvement in schools can make a huge difference for a child’s learning and for driving improvement in the school system as a whole. Extensive research has shown that students with involved parents have higher attendance, social skills, grades, test scores, and graduation rates. We learned a lot more about this topic when PP200_0we attended a presentation about parent engagement at the City College of New York as part of their Colloquium Series on Data and Data Driven Instruction.
Norm Fruchter of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform presented the session, entitled “How do parent & community groups use data for organizing?” Fruchter’s documentary, Parent Power, explores how parents and community groups leveraged data to advocate for educational improvement in New York City schools from 1995 to 2009. The film tells the story of a group of parents from the South Bronx who came together after learning that only 17% of their students were reading at grade level in elementary school.
Finland is not a fan of standardization in education. However, teacher education in Finland is carefully standardized
In the United States, for example, there are more than 1,500 different teacher-preparation programs. The range in quality is wide. In Singapore and Finland only one academically rigorous teacher education program is available for those who desire to become teachers. Likewise, neither Canada nor South Korea has fast-track options into teaching, such as Teach for America or Teach First in Europe. Teacher quality in high-performing countries is a result of careful quality control at entry into teaching rather than measuring teacher effectiveness in service.
In recent years the “no excuses”’ argument has been particularly persistent in the education debate. There are those who argue that poverty is only an excuse not to insist that all schools should reach higher standards. Solution: better teachers. Then there are those who claim that schools and teachers alone cannot overcome the negative impact that poverty causes in many children’s learning in school. Solution: Elevate children out of poverty by other public policies.
Chicago gave hundreds of high-risk kids a summer job. Violent crime arrests plummeted.
Research on the program conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and just published in the journal Science suggests that these summer jobs have actually had such an effect: Students who were randomly assigned to participate in the program had 43 percent fewer violent-crime arrests over 16 months, compared to students in a control group.
That number is striking for a couple of reasons: It implies that a relatively short (and inexpensive) intervention like an eight-week summer jobs program can have a lasting effect on teenage behavior. And it lends empirical support to a popular refrain by advocates: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”
Researcher Sara Heller conducted a randomized control trial with the program, in partnership with the city. The study included 1,634 teens at 13 high schools. They were, on average, C students, almost all of them eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Twenty percent of the group had already been arrested, and 20 percent had already been victims of crime.
Identifying Autism from Neural Representations of Social Interactions: Neurocognitive Markers of Autism
Marcel Adam, Vladimir L. Cherkassky, Augusto Buchweitz, Timothy A. Keller & Tom M. Mitchell:
Autism is a psychiatric/neurological condition in which alterations in social interaction (among other symptoms) are diagnosed by behavioral psychiatric methods. The main goal of this study was to determine how the neural representations and meanings of social concepts (such as to insult) are altered in autism. A second goal was to determine whether these alterations can serve as neurocognitive markers of autism. The approach is based on previous advances in fMRI analysis methods that permit (a) the identification of a concept, such as the thought of a physical object, from its fMRI pattern, and (b) the ability to assess the semantic content of a concept from its fMRI pattern. These factor analysis and machine learning methods were applied to the fMRI activation patterns of 17 adults with high-functioning autism and matched controls, scanned while thinking about 16 social interactions. One prominent neural representation factor that emerged (manifested mainly in posterior midline regions) was related to self-representation, but this factor was present only for the control participants, and was near-absent in the autism group. Moreover, machine learning algorithms classified individuals as autistic or control with 97% accuracy from their fMRI neurocognitive markers. The findings suggest that psychiatric alterations of thought can begin to be biologically understood by assessing the form and content of the altered thought’s underlying brain activation patterns.
Commentary on a Milwaukee voucher school; contemplating accountability & spending differences
The operator of one of Milwaukee’s longest-running private voucher schools says her organization strives to give disadvantaged children the best shot they can get in life, even when they’ve been left behind by other schools.
But new documents and former employees have raised concerns about the internal workings at Ceria M. Travis Academy, a private school that’s received more than $35 million in state voucher payments through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program since 1996.
Complaints filed with the state in 2014 and obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open records request allege that the school has violated state law by employing people without bachelor’s degrees to teach students.
Much more on vouchers, here.
Ideally, the writer might compare outcomes and spending between voucher and traditional public schools. Voucher spending in Wisconsin is minuscule compared to the present K-12 system. Further, one would hope that all publicly funded schools face the same accountability requirements.
Finally, voucher schools often spend less than half the amount per student than traditional public schools.
Compare Wisconsin’s teacher credential ism with Massachusetts’ (MTEL).
Charter Schools: Revolution and innovation in some of America’s toughest neighbourhoods
AS PUPILS file into their classroom at Kipp Renaissance, a high school in a battered corner of north-east New Orleans, each one stops to shake the hand of a history teacher. “Changes”, a rap song by Tupac about the struggles of being poor and black in America, plays quietly in the background. Within a minute or two, the dozen teenagers—all black—are busily filling in test papers. Soon afterwards, Mr Kullman, the teacher, begins rapping himself—hopping around the room demanding quick-fire answers to questions about the civil war. Pupils shout back answers in chorus.
Kipp Renaissance is one of New Orleans’s newer high schools. Since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, only six traditional public schools, directly run by the city, remain. Instead 94% of pupils now attend charter schools, which are publicly funded but run by independent non-profit organisations such as Kipp (in full, the “Knowledge is Power Programme”).
An update on Wisconsin Voucher Schools
How many schools are involved?
A total of 159 as of this fall: 113 in Milwaukee serving 26,930 students, 15 in Racine serving 1,740 students, and 31 statewide serving 1,013 students. Almost all of them are religious. The majority are Catholic, Lutheran and Christian schools.
How much do the programs cost taxpayers?
About $211 million, according to state estimates for 2014-’15. The programs in Racine and statewide are fully funded by state funds. But Milwaukee is a different animal. The state only pays for about two-thirds of the cost of that program. The other third is paid, essentially, by local taxpayers.
What’s a voucher worth?
Participating private schools can receive a voucher worth up to $7,210 annually for each qualifying K-8 student. The voucher for qualifying high school students maxes out at $7,856 annually. Those amounts are an increase over the previous $6,442 maximum voucher payment per pupil.
What private schools have the most voucher students?
St. Anthony School in Milwaukee is No. 1, with 1,960 voucher students in K-12. An additional 15 students are not using vouchers, for a total enrollment of 1,975 this fall. That makes St. Anthony the largest K-12 Catholic school in the nation.
Patrolling the Boundaries Inside America
America is embroiled in an immigration debate that goes far beyond President Obama’s executive order on undocumented immigrants.
It goes to the heart of who “we” are. And it’s roiling communities across the nation.
In early November, school officials in Orinda, California, hired a private detective to determine whether a seven-year-old Latina named Vivian – whose single mother works as a live-in nanny for a family in Orinda — “resides” in the district and should therefore be allowed to attend the elementary school she’s already been attending there.
On the basis of that investigation they determined that Vivian’s legal residence is her grandmother’s home in Bay Point, California. They’ve given the seven-year-old until December 5th to leave the Orinda elementary school.
Never mind that Vivian and her mother live during the workweek at the Orinda home where Vivian’s mother is a nanny, that Vivian has her own bedroom in that home with her clothing and toys and even her own bathroom, that she and her mother stock their own shelves in the refrigerator and kitchen cupboard of that Orinda home, or that Vivian attends church with her mother in Orinda and takes gym and youth theater classes at the Orinda community center.
The point is Vivian is Latina and poor, and Orinda is white, Anglo, and wealthy.
And Orinda vigilantly protects itself from encroachments from the large and growing poor Latino and Hispanic populations living beyond its borders.
Madison has long supported wide demographic variation.
A Retired Teacher on “Utter Chaos”
Go ahead and watch this jaw-dropping Choice Media interview with retired John F. Kennedy High School metal shop teacher Lee McNulty, Save Jerseyans, and then reflect upon the fact that New Jersey taxpayers are spending, on average, $20,454 per K-12 student in Paterson this year.
The Charter-School Windfall for Public Schools
Upon his re-election in 2006, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein offered the free use of underutilized school facilities to a bumper crop of charter schools opening that year—including my first. Fueled by this policy, charter-school enrollment in the city grew from 11,000 to almost 70,000 by the end of Mr. Bloomberg’s second term in 2013, and my one school grew to 22.
As the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools—free public schools open to all children in New York City through a random lottery—I’ve seen firsthand how allowing “co-location” with district schools has helped charter schools and their students thrive. Success Academy currently has 32 schools spread across the Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens boroughs and recently was granted approval from our chartering authority, the State University of New York, to open 14 more.
Jobs for young Southerners: Thanks for nothing
BAKING everyday might sound fun, particularly at this time of year. But for one recent graduate of the University of Georgia, working in a cake shop for six months quickly turned from sweet to sickly. At her birthday party recently she warned sweet-toothed friends that she just couldn’t face another black forest gateau.
This was not the career she had in mind when she pursued a degree in linguistics, but getting a good job in the South is tough if you’re young. A new report from MDC, a non-profit based in Durham, says that more than 30% of those under 25 in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina are “underemployed”: they are either looking for a job, settling for part-time work or giving up on the search entirely. This is quite a bit higher than the overall underemployment rate in those states, which is less than 15%. This makes it hard to secure a return on the cost of tuition, particularly as the price of a degree continues to rise. Tuition costs at public universities in Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, for example, have risen by 50% since fiscal year 2008.
Why are young people having such a tough time in the labour market? Part of the problem is competition. Many Southern cities, with their low cost of living, cheap property prices and good weather, attract graduates from across America, and there aren’t enough jobs to employ them all. Houston saw a 50% increase in graduates aged between 25 to 34 in the 12 years since 2000; Nashville saw a 48% leap. Newcomers clash over the available jobs, and residents with inferior credentials are easily displaced. Those who fail to become knowledge workers often end up shunted into the growing service sector, doing the kind of jobs (serve coffee, fix up houses) that techie types are too busy to do for themselves. “Talent recruitment is not balanced against talent development in the South,” says David Dodson, president of MDC. “It’s almost like a colonial economy, because the benefits accrue to those that come from someplace else.”
An update on Kalamazoo’s promise program
Graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools eligible for The Kalamazoo Promise are much more likely to enroll in college and more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree compared to their peers nationwide, the latest Promise data shows.
More than 90 percent of Promise-eligible students have enrolled in college since the program started with the Class of 2006, compared to two-thirds of recent U.S. high school graduates.
In terms of college completion, 41 percent of Promise-eligible students in the Class of 2006 have a bachelor’s degree compared to 37 percent of U.S. high school graduates age 25 to 29, based on U.S. Census reports.
That favorable comparison is “significant,” particularly since so many Promise-eligible students come from low-income families, said Bob Jorth, executive director of the scholarship program, which marks its ninth anniversary this month.
Big Ed Reform News in N.J.: Appellate Court Denies Education Law Center and Save Our Schools-NJ’s Argument that Successful Charter Schools Can’t Expand
The N. J. Charter School Association issued its own statement that relies more on the actual ruling than spin:
Today’s appellate division ruling validates our understanding of the breadth of the state DOE’s authority in regulating public charter school growth and the department’s intention to support public education choice for New Jersey families. This lawsuit was yet another attempt to stop the growth of innovation and preserve the status quo which continues to fail our state’s public school students. Defending this authority, and validating it through the judicial process, will allow charter schools to grow and serve families that are looking for great educational opportunities.
Self Selection of New Jersey Public Schools
intentionally skimming,” said Anderson, “but all of these things are leading to a higher concentration of the neediest kids in fewer [district] schools.”
Charter advocates winced and went on the defensive. Charter detractors grinned and high-fived. Both reactions miss the point.
Statisticians and social scientists argue about the presence and/or impact of this unintentional bias cited by Anderson, what Richard Kahlenberg, senior fellow at the progressive Century Foundation, calls “the self-selection problem that skims the most motivated families into charter schools.” So let’s start by agreeing that many charter schools are subject to unintentional skimming (and note the irony that Anderson’s “One Newark” universal enrollment plan, the subject of much criticism, was created specifically to avoid that bias.)
But this narrow reading of Newark’s public school enrollment template ignores the big picture. New Jersey parents have a long proud tradition of self-selection of schools. It’s as New Jersey as cranberries. Charter school skimming in Newark is just New Jersey’s school segregation problem writ small, an in situ version of a statewide pattern.
There are 21 school districts in Essex County, including Newark, which educate 124,000 students in 247 public schools. The median household income is $55,000, about $16,000 below the state’s median $71,000. The county’s racial makeup is diverse, with equal numbers of white and black residents and a growing Hispanic population. However, as Paul Tractenberg pointed out in these pages last year, Essex is the most segregated county in the state. Twelve school districts are almost entirely white and wealthy. Four, including Newark, “are urban, desperately poor, and almost entirely populated by students of color.”
COMMENTARY: Every Camden kid deserves good education
I was born and raised in North Camden and still live here today. There are good people here who chose to stay and raise their families when they could have left for a better future. People here work hard and want what is best for their children so that they can have a better future than my generation has.
I attended elementary and middle school in the city but never made it out of seventh grade. I was held back twice and tagged as a troublemaker. As a result it felt like I was trapped in middle school. Since I had nowhere to go, I just dropped out. I did get my GED. Then I worked in factories. Now I work as a housekeeper at a local hotel.
Until this year, my children were going to a public elementary school because it was the closest. The school wasn’t working for them and my children were headed down a path similar to mine. They hated school. Classrooms were out of control and there were no consequences for bad behavior. They didn’t know how to do homework when they got home in the afternoon, and they didn’t want to go to school in the morning. They wanted to give up.
Then this past summer I learned about Mastery’s North Camden Elementary when I saw fliers and people representing the school were on my street talking with the neighbors. I decided to enroll them because I really wanted to try something different for my children. Today, my children can’t wait to get to school. They love their teachers. And I love that there is real structure there, unlike where they came from.
5 ways community colleges are fixing higher education
By Emanuella Grinberg, Jamie Gumbrecht and Thom Patterson:
Enter community colleges. They provide technical programs for emerging careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that are comparable to — if not better than — some of their four-year counterparts, at a fraction of the cost. Often, they’re the launchpad to baccalaureate programs for people without the time, money or academic skills to jump into a four-year program straight out of high school.
And as part of the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st Century Initiative, they’re updating their missions and nimbly shifting to serve the economy of the future.
Here are some of the ways they’re facing problems that weigh down all of higher education — and succeeding.
Wisconsin Special Education Open Enrollment Lawsuit
Commentary on open Enrollment & the Madison school District
Of course, public schools officials will never accept a rating system that includes a failing-grade option; some things are OK for students, but not for the people who educate them.
None of these initiatives is any older than 2011, when Republicans took over complete control of the state government, but parents have been voting against the Madison district — with their feet — since they were first allowed to in 1998.
The open enrollment program was included in the 1997 state budget bill and allows parents to enroll their children in any public school district that has the space.
In the years since, the Madison district has never seen more students coming in than going out. In the current school year, 1,203 children living within the district’s boundaries opted to go to other districts, according to a district report. Another 372 opted to come into Madison from other districts.
A 2009 survey of families who took advantage of the open enrollment program to leave Madison found that 61 percent of parents pointed to environmental problems with Madison schools as among the reasons they left. Overcrowded classrooms, bullying and poor communication were among the specific complaints.
London schools: the central role of ethnicity
Urban areas are often associated with poor educational attainment. But London is different. Recent analysis suggests that the attainment and progress of pupils in London is the highest in the country. A leading education policy commentator argues that: “Perhaps the biggest question in education policy over the past few years is why the outcomes for London schools have been improving so much faster than in the rest of the country”. Some have argued that this is the result of policies and practices adopted by London schools. If so, identifying the key policies is a great prize, with the hope that they can be implemented more broadly. Another recent report emphasises more the importance of primary schools.
In this research I have set out the evidence that a big part, almost all in fact, of the answer lies in the ethnic composition of London’s pupils. More broadly, my interpretation of this leads to a focus on pupil aspiration, ambition and engagement. There is nothing inherently different in the educational performance of pupils from different ethnic backgrounds, but the children of relatively recent immigrants typically have greater hopes and expectations of education, and are, on average, more likely to be engaged with their school work. This is not by chance of course; a key part of the London effect is its attraction to migrants and those aspiring to a better life.
Minneapolis Schools Implement Explicit Racial Bias in Suspensions
The good: Minneapolis Public Schools want to decrease total suspensions for non-violent infractions of school rules.
The bad: The district has pledged to do this by implementing a special review system for cases where a black or Latino student is disciplined. Only minority students will enjoy this special privilege.
That seems purposefully unconstitutional—and is likely illegal, according to certain legal minds.
The new policy is the result of negotiations between MPS and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Minority students are disciplined at much higher rates than white students, and for two years the federal government has investigated whether that statistic was the result of institutional racism.
Related. Madison’s problematic discipline policy.
Charter Schools Get Better over Time
Patrick L. Baude, Marcus Casey, Eric A. Hanushek, Steven G. Rivkin:
Studies of the charter school sector typically focus on head-to-head comparisons of charter and traditional schools at a point in time, but the expansion of parental choice and relaxation of constraints on school operations is unlikely to raise school quality overnight. Rather, the success of the reform depends in large part on whether parental choices induce improvements in the charter sector. We study quality changes among Texas charter schools between 2001 and 2011. Our results suggest that the charter sector was initially characterized by schools whose quality was highly variable and, on average, less effective than traditional public schools. However, exits from the sector, improvement of existing charter schools, and positive selection of charter management organizations that open additional schools raised average charter school effectiveness over time relative to traditional public schools. Moreover, the evidence is consistent with the belief that a reduction in student turnover as the sector matures, expansion of the share of charters that adhere to a No Excuses philosophy, and increasingly positive student selection at the times of both entry and reenrollment all contribute to the improvement of the charter sector.
More, here, including Madison’s ceaseless monolithic K-12 governance model.
This backpack designed for poor kids does so much more than carry books
South Africans Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane are co-founders of the business Rethaka. Their brand of Repurposed Schoolbags are made from recycled and reinforced plastic shopping bags. Many of the recipients come from poor families.
But it’s so much more than a bag. Because the kids often live in shacks and remote areas with no electricity, Repurposed Schoolbags are built with some other smart features. On the outside of the flap is a pocket for a solar panel, which charges on the long walk to and from school. That screws onto a Consol glass jar that the kids use as a lamp at home when doing homework in the evenings. The bag is also reflective because many of these kids wake up at the crack of dawn and walk in the dark to get to school on time.
I taught my black kids that their elite upbringing would protect them from discrimination. I was wrong
I knew the day would come, but I didn’t know how it would happen, where I would be, or how I would respond. It is the moment that every black parent fears: the day their child is called a nigger.
My wife and I, both African Americans, constitute one of those Type A couples with Ivy League undergraduate and graduate degrees who, for many years, believed that if we worked hard and maintained great jobs, we could insulate our children from the blatant manifestations of bigotry that we experienced as children in the 1960s and ’70s.
We divided our lives between a house in a liberal New York suburb and an apartment on Park Avenue, sent our three kids to a diverse New York City private school, and outfitted them with the accoutrements of success: preppy clothes, perfect diction and that air of quiet graciousness. We convinced ourselves that the economic privilege we bestowed on them could buffer these adolescents against what so many black and Latino children face while living in mostly white settings: being profiled by neighbors, followed in stores and stopped by police simply because their race makes them suspect.
But it happened nevertheless in July, when I was 100 miles away.
Related: The Poverty & Education Forum.
Don’t fight school choice in Camden
Why does a Rutgers University professor from one of the most affluent towns in New Jersey want to take away great schools from Camden families?
Everywhere I turn, Julia Sass Rubin seems to be talking for Camden’s poor. Just last week she told one of the state’s largest newspapers: “People in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. It’s just not going to be high on their list.”
Excuse me? That deeply offensive comment toward low-income families in Camden shows not only her complete disregard of our families, but a dangerous misunderstanding about what our families want.
Meanwhile, Madison continues with its monolithic, one size fits all K-12 governance model.
Minneapolis offers students a wide variety of choices.
Added 152 new Deep Learning papers to the Deeplearning.University Bibliography, if you want to see them separate from the previous papers in the bibliography the new ones are listed below. There are many very interesting papers, e.g. in the medicine (e.g. deep learning for cancer-related analysis such as mammogram and pancreas cancer, and heart diseases), in addition to the social network category as shown here:
The best thing parents can do for schools
I’m the parent of a public school student myself. So I know how much parents want to help.
American parents are more involved in the schools than ever before — much more so than in other countries.
I followed three American kids who studied as foreign exchange students in Finland, South Korea and Poland. You didn’t see parents at those schools. They weren’t coaching soccer or accompanying classes on field trips. I didn’t see those kinds of extracurricular activities. Instead, the parents were involved at home, working directly with their child’s education.
Research shows that it’s much more impactful to prioritize learning at home over community-building activities.
There’s this amazing study: The more time that parents spent on extracurriculars in a country’s schools, the worse the kids did in reading. It’s shocking.
Is Sudden Decline Of For-Profit Colleges Good For Education?
Though most for-profit college programs will remain open under the new Obama administration gainful employment regulations, the brand value of the for-profit college industry has been significantly hurt by intense scrutiny at all levels of government. Investigations by 37 state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the SEC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have heaped a world of financial pain – enrollment at for-profit colleges is down 9.7% this year – and negative publicity on the sector. While some for-profits will fight the administration’s new regulations in court — or hope that a newly Republican Congress will block spending for the mandates – many for-profits have already decided to opt out of the market altogether.
Last week, the Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporation (EDMC) decided to go private, in part to avoid quarterly scrutiny by investors of its sizable legal issues. Moreover, Grand Canyon University (GCU) – whose spirituality-inflected curriculum, sports teams (Go Antelopes), and profitability set it apart from other for-profits – is considering going nonprofit in part to avoid the “stigma” that is attached to the “for-profit college” label. Then there’s the case of Corinthian Colleges, which was forced to “teach out” or sell most of its North American locations.
Pushing back on reckless critique of charter schools
Who is Julia Sass Rubin and what does she have against my kids?
Yesterday, the Rutgers University associate professor was quoted in The Star Ledger saying that “people in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. . . .It’s just not going to be high on their list.”
And about a month ago, in her quest to restrict the choice that parents like me have, she falsely suggested that the school my child attends in Newark loses more black boys to attrition than the district schools and that our school doesn’t serve “difficult” black boys.
Nothing could be further from my reality.
Newsroom Open House
The Simpson Street Free Press will celebrate 23 years of academic success – Sunday, November 2, 12-3pm. Visit Dane County’s first after-school (and summer) youth center dedicated solely to core subject academics. Meet our student writers and see academic achievement in action. Get a newsroom tour from local kids who tackle achievement gaps everyday – with writing and hard work. Preview data that shows real results. SSFP students will thank all of you, the many Friends and supporters who make this youth center, and our students, successful. Location: South Towne Mall, 2311 West Broadway.
The Simpson Street Free Press (SSFP) delivers core subject academic instruction in after-school settings. Students (ages 8-18) write and produce five separate youth newspapers, including a new bilingual publication: La Prensa Libre de Simpson Street. SSFP graduates (now in college) supervise younger students. SSFP also operates a network of youth book clubs. The goal of the SSFP is to foster literacy, spark student success, and bridge achievement gaps.
The SSFP formula accomplishes multiple outcomes. Central to SSFP pedagogy is across the curriculum instructional practices. Lesson plans are designed to support in-school learning. Students encounter predictable connections to the school day. Young writers conduct research, use technology, write and read extensively. They learn practical and transferable academic strategies. They acquire real-world workplace skills. School grades and attendance are measured. SSFP students participate in civic discourse and influence their peers. As their name suggests, free speech and journalism are great ways to spark learning.
Berkeley, a city consumed by a soda tax
On Nov. 4, Berkeley voters will show where they stand on Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax. The proposed tax on sugary beverages has been one of the most hotly debated Berkeley issues in the city’s history, and certainly one that has brought in record levels of campaign expenditure. The No on Measure D lobby has spent $2.3 million in an attempt to defeat the tax, according to campaign finance reports. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has contributed $432,071 in support of the soda tax. (That includes $265,235 for network advertising for commercials during the World Series, $96,836 for cable ads, and a cash donation of $170,000 to the Yes on Measure D effort.) UC Berkeley’s Robert Reich has been vocal in his views — writing a blog post about the issue titled “In its battle with Big Soda, Berkeley may once again make history,” and shooting a video on the same subject.
Gael McKeon has spent several weeks documenting both sides of the campaign with his camera to create this photo essay of a pivotal moment in Berkeley’s political history, one that may set the stage for change nationwide. We publish it exclusively on Berkeleyside. (The ‘No on D’ campaign declined to participate in this story.)
An American School Immerses Itself in All Things Chinese (nothing like this in Madison)
On weekday mornings, a stream of orange buses and private cars from 75 Minnesota postal codes wrap around Yinghua Academy, the first publicly funded Chinese-immersion charter school in the United States, in the middle-class neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis. Most pupils, from kindergarten to eighth grade, dash to bright-colored classrooms for the 8:45 a.m. bell, eager to begin “morning meeting,” a freewheeling conversation in colloquial Mandarin.
Meanwhile, two grades form five perfect lines in the gym for calisthenics, Chinese style. Dressed neatly in the school’s blue uniforms, the students enthusiastically count each move — “liu, qi, ba, jiu, shi.”
By 9:15, a calm sense of order pervades the school as formal instruction begins for math, reading, social studies, history and science. Instructors teach in Mandarin, often asking questions that prompt a flurry of raised hands. No one seems to speak out of turn. “We bring together both East and West traditions,” explains the academic director, Luyi Lien, who tries to balance Eastern discipline with Western fun.
Madison has largely killed off any attempt at innovative charter schools. Ironically, the Minneapolis teachers union is authorized to approve for charter schools.
RACE FOR A SCHOOL PLACE: Trojan Horse academy among most sought after schools
A school at the heart of the Trojan Horse scandal has proven to be one of most sought after secondaries in the Midlands, the Birmingham Mail can exclusively reveal.
Park View School the Academy in Alum Rock was flooded with 884 applications – despite only being able to offer 120 places to pupils this academic year.
The over-subscribed school was so popular with parents wanting their child to start Year 7 at the controversial academy this September that it was flooded with more than SEVEN applications for each of its places.
The riddle of black America’s rising woes under Obama
A paradox haunts America’s first black president. African-American wealth has fallen further under Barack Obama than under any president since the Depression. Yet they are the only group that still gives him high ratings. So meagre is Mr Obama’s national approval rating that embattled Democrats have made him unwelcome in states that twice swept him to power. Those who have fared worst under Mr Obama are the ones who love him the most. You would be hard-pressed to find a better example of perception-driven politics. As the Reverend Kevin Johnson asked in 2013: “Why are we so loyal to a president who isn’t loyal to us?”
The problem has taken on new salience with the resignation of Eric Holder. America’s first black attorney-general has tried to correct the gulag-sized disparities in prison sentencing between blacks and whites. His exit leaves just two African-Americans in Mr Obama’s cabinet. Given the mood among Republicans, it is hard to imagine the US Senate confirming a successor to Mr Holder who shares his priorities.
Mr Obama shot to prominence in 2004 when he said there was no black or white America, just the United States of America. Yet as the continuing backlash to the police shooting of an unarmed young black man in Ferguson has reminded us, Mr Obama will leave the US at least as segregated as he found it. How could that be? The fair answer is that he is not to blame. The poor suffered the brunt of the Great Recession and blacks are far likelier to be poor. By any yardstick – the share of those with subprime mortgages, for example, or those working in casualised jobs – African-Americans were more directly in the line of fire.
Ford celebrates 30th anniversary of high school science & technology program
The new Ford Blue Oval STEM Scholarship Program will provide $500,000 in scholarships over four years to 50 students to pursue qualifying STEM degrees
To be considered for the scholarship program, students must have been associated with one of three Ford-supported STEM programs – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, Ford Next Generation Learning or Ford High School Science and Technology Program
More than 10,000 participants have completed the Ford High School Science and Technology Program to date, some of whom continued on in Ford’s internship program and are now Ford employees
Ford today announced a new Ford Blue Oval STEM Scholarship Program during the kickoff of its 30th annual High School Science and Technology Program (HSSTP). The new scholarship program will provide $500,000 in scholarships over four years to 50 students interested in pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematic (STEM) fields.
Felicia Fields, group vice president, Human Resources and Corporate Services, made the announcement as she spoke to HSSTP participants and employee volunteers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center during the first session of the 2014-15 program.
The school with no rules that teaches the unteachable
Ian Mikardo High School, in London’s east end, is the end of the line, a special school for boys aged 11-16, who have been deemed unteachable.
The boys, who have severe social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, are among the most troubled and troubling children in the country and have been excluded from their previous, mainstream schools. They are also about to appear on television, as the subjects of the latest documentary tracing the everyday ups and downs of school-life, following the hugely popular Educating Yorkshire, Essex and now the East End.
The boys’ stories feature poverty and bereavement; they may have witnessed domestic violence or murder. Their homes are unstable, their accomodation is crowded and temporary. This week a new boy kicked in a window at school. It turned out his family were to be evicted the next morning and he didn’t know where he was going to live.
David and Samantha Cameron look to send daughter to inner city comp
Robert Mendick, and Peter Dominiczak:
David Cameron, who was famously educated at Eton College, is considering sending his elder daughter to an ethnically diverse, inner city comprehensive.
Mr Cameron is understood to have visited the school – a Church of England all-girls’ comprehensive close to Downing Street – in the search for a place next September for his 10-year-old daughter Nancy.
It is understood Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha, who studied at Marlborough College – the same school as the Duchess of Cambridge – have decided to spurn a fee-paying school for Nancy.
How Preschoolers Can Predict Disease Outbreaks
Preschoolers might be the key to identifying the next big disease outbreak, finds a new study soon to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference.
The idea is simple—the researchers created an online disease surveillance system that allows child care staff to log symptoms, like fever or stomach flu, that they see in the young kids they care for. Nearby public health departments have access to the real-time data, which helps them quickly spot emerging trends. Health officials can then loop back to the child care staffers about a spreading illness, along with instructions on how to handle it, so that the caretakers can prepare for it and alert parents.
New Jersey’s charter school law is too restrictive (Madison lacks independent charters)
Last week the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) published a new study, “The Health of the Public Charter School Movement: a State-by-State Analysis.” No worries here: according to NAPCS’s data, New Jersey is in fine fettle, ranking fourth among twenty-six states. (The analyses are restricted to states that serve more than one percent of students through public charters.)
However, a closer look at our scores reveals an infirmity that belies our glowing complexion: N.J.’s charter school sector soldiers in spite of the Legislative failure to ameliorate our outdated, pockmarked charter school law. Prognosis is guarded.
NAPCS’s new report, a follow-up to its research on model public school laws, creates a rubric based on 11 factors that indicate a healthy charter school environment. These include increases in the number of children served by these independent public schools; proportional representation of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch; proportional representation of children with disabilities and English language learner status; innovative practices like extended school calendars and higher education courses; rate of charter school closures.
Madison’s rejected charter schools include the Studio school and the Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.
The status quo governance (and spending, > $15k / student or double the national average) continues despite long term disastrous reading results.
Inspire students in manufacturing
Vince Bertram, Via Erich Zellmer:
American manufacturing has faced many challenges over the past few decades. Today, it is facing a new one: Employers cannot find enough qualified workers with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the industry’s job demands.
The National Association of Manufacturers reports more than 600,000 unfilled jobs this year. There simply aren’t enough workers with the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge and skills needed for these and other high-tech, high-skill jobs. Schools must prepare our students now, and that preparation must start at an early age.
As the country continues to rebound from the Great Recession, manufacturing is among the fastest-growing economic sectors. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index climbed to 59% in August, representing the 15th consecutive month of growth and the highest reading since March 2011.
Commission: Evaluate some home-schooled kids for emotional issues (!)
Parents who home-school children with significant emotional, social or behavioral problems would have to file progress reports prepared by special education program teams, under a proposal being considered by the governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.
Commission members acknowledged Tuesday that the proposal, contained in a tentative section of the panel’s final report, could be controversial and prompt opposition from parents of home-schooled children across the state.
But the commission, which is preparing its final report to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said tighter scrutiny of home-schoolers may be needed to prevent an incident such as the December 2012 slaughter of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The murders were carried out by Adam Lanza, a disturbed 20-year-old who had been home-schooled by his mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he also shot to death on the morning of his murder spree.
Madison Schools’ Mental Health Programs Cheered
Eight years ago, a community health report from the Fox Valley uncovered an alarming trend among local high school students: one in four reported experiencing depression, and more than one in 10 had attempted suicide.
An experiment soon followed that placed licensed therapists with expertise in children’s mental health in elementary, middle and high schools.
“We decided if students had trouble making their appointment (at community clinics), let’s bring the appointment to them,” said Mary Wisnet, one of the program’s officers.
An Interview with Robb Rauh, CEO of Milwaukee College Prep
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – what’s more at the core of America’s identity than those words? But what do they mean if you’re living in the central city of Milwaukee?
Robb Rauh, the CEO of Milwaukee College Prep, a set of four high-performing schools with about 1,900 students on the north side, focused on those questions as he set the context for the mission of the schools during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session Tuesday in Eckstein Hall.
Life? Infant mortality rates are much higher in Milwaukee than in the nation and even in some third-world countries, Rauh said, and life expectancy is lower than elsewhere. Liberty? Wisconsin has the highest incarceration gaps between white and black people in the nation. The pursuit of happiness? “One of the things that defines happiness is being able to have choices in life,” Rauh said, and without at least a high school degree, a person’s choices are limited. The overall situation of African American children in Wisconsin has been described as the worst or one of the worst in the United States.
“We want to prove that it can be done,” to bring terms like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to life by increasing the educational success and opening the doors to better futures for children, particularly along the North Avenue corridor where all four Milwaukee College Prep schools are located, Rauh said. Among schools in Milwaukee with high percentages of African American students, all four schools are at or near the top of the list when it comes to scores in the newly-released state report cards.
Cracking the literacy code together
It’s difficult for me to imagine the frustration of not being able to read a newspaper headline or a note written by my daughter. For 800 million people illiteracy is a sad and limiting reality. Illiteracy impacts both adults and children, and doesn’t discriminate based on geography. One in ten people is illiterate, and yet the ability to communicate in writing is the entry point to education and the most basic building block that’s required for almost every skill needed to thrive in today’s world.
What’s more, most of us are now, to some extent, required to interact with technology in order to complete even the simplest of tasks, such as applying for a job. Digital interaction is no longer optional. Literacy has become something more involved than recognising and forming words on paper. The literacy of today requires a fluency with not only words, but with the very technology that carries and amplifies them.
The Single Best Idea for Reforming K-12 Education; ” Stop Running the system for the sake of the system”
I have been asked for my “single best idea for reforming K-12 education”. When you only have one shot, you want to make it count. So I thought I would share my idea here, in case anyone has a brighter insight.
Root cause: factory model of management
To decide what is the single best idea for reforming K-12 education, one needs to figure out what is the biggest problem that the system currently faces. To my mind, the biggest problem is a preoccupation with, and the application of, the factory model of management to education, where everything is arranged for the scalability and efficiency of “the system”, to which the students, the teachers, the parents and the administrators have to adjust. “The system” grinds forward, at ever increasing cost and declining efficiency, dispiriting students, teachers and parents alike.
Given that the factory model of management doesn’t work very well, even in the few factories that still remain in this country, or anywhere else in the workplace for that matter, we should hardly be surprised that it doesn’t work well in education either.
But given that the education system is seen to be in trouble, there is a tendency to think we need “better management” or “stronger management” or “tougher management”, where “management” is assumed to be the factory model of management. It is assumed to mean more top-down management and tighter controls, and more carrots and sticks. It is assumed to mean hammering the teachers who don’t perform and ruthlessly weeding out “the dead wood”. The thinking is embedded in Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind.
These methods are known to be failing in the private sector, because they dispirit the employees and limit their ability to contribute their imagination and creativity; they frustrate customers, and they are killing the very organizations that rely on them. So why should we expect anything different in the education sector?
Much more on a focus on adult employment, here.
New Orleans is home to the nation’s first all-charter district. Is this the future of education?
Bright and early one hot Wednesday morning in July, Nathlynn Dellande went to choose a new school for her grandchildren. Chloe, 7, was heading into the second grade, and her brother, Ashton Jr., 5, was starting kindergarten.
Dellande lives in historically black, middle-class New Orleans East. She at first assumed Chloe and Ashton Jr. would go to Lake Forest Charter Elementary, a well-regarded local school, alongside the neighbors she calls “my kids”: “They play ball outside and I keep freeze pops for them,” she says. “When I go to the grocery, they all run and help me bring everything in.”
It’s what nearly every family looks for: a quality neighborhood school, in a neighborhood that’s worked hard to come back. This area flooded badly during Hurricane Katrina, and there are still abandoned homes on Dellande’s block.
Washington, DC District of Change Podcast
On Wednesday, Sept.10, Amanda Ripley, author of “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way,” led a discussion on the state of education in the District of Columbia. Scott Cartland, former principal, Janney Elementary School, current principal, Wheatley Education Campus; Alexandra Pardo, executive director, Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School; and Andria Caruthers, principal, West Education Campus joined Ripley.
The panelists discussed if the District’s attempts to improve public education over the past few years have been successful.
EC Book Review: Building a Better Teacher
A refreshing new book chronicles how teachers are made—not born–and what it will take to move the U.S. into the next frontier of education reform.
If you have time to read only one chapter of one book this fall, consider the first pages of Building A Better Teacher, a new book by journalist Elizabeth Green. It opens with you—the reader–temporarily cast as the protagonist. You’re a teacher walking into a 5th grade classroom. It sounds contrived, I know, and yet it works.
“Your job, according to the state where you happen to live and the school district that pays your salary,” Green writes, “is to make sure that, sixty minutes from now, the students have grasped the concept of ‘rate.’”
What do you do?
In this way, we walk through the hundreds of micro-decisions a teacher must make in a single hour. Do you call on Richard, a new African-American student who says he hates math but has his hand raised anyway? If he’s wrong, will he shut down for the rest of class?
You call on Richard. His answer makes no sense to you. Do you correct him yourself right away? Or do you call on the white girl next to him who has the right answer more often? You decide to ask the rest of the class if anyone can explain what Richard was thinking. No one responds. You feel the dread creep in. But then Richard speaks up. “Can I change my mind?”
Education successes offer template for Oklahoma
STUDENT achievement has surged dramatically in several countries around the world, surpassing the United States. Journalist Amanda Ripley convincingly suggests those nations’ experiences should inform education policy in Oklahoma.
In writing “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way,” Ripley reviewed other nations’ school systems and interviewed foreign-exchange students. (This included a look at Oklahoma.) She discussed her findings at a luncheon last week hosted by Stand for Children, which advocates for better schools.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international test for 15-year-olds administered in reading, math and science. In recent years, students in about 40 of 60 participating countries have demonstrated significant improvement in at least one subject area. “And some of these are complicated countries,” Ripley said. “They’re not all Finland. You’re now seeing countries like Estonia, Vietnam, Canada, Poland, countries with significant levels of child poverty that dramatically improved their outcomes and their equities.”
In Which I Extract My Kid From the Clutches of Traditional Schooling
I can’t say it was the stress-induced puking that caused my wife and I to finally pull our son from his brick-and-mortar charter school. We’d been contemplating yanking him from a classroom setting for the past year or so. Over the summer, we ran him through a battery of academic tests and encouraged him to study math and Spanish online. The results were enlightening, but we thought he might be a little young for a full online education. And then the nervous tic developed as the start of school approached. That decided us well before he barfed at the thought of the next day’s schedule of classes.
Anthony’s (he started insisting on his full name) charter school is a good effort of the type. During a July meet-and-greet, the school principal and his teacher were amenable to a flexible approach—especially one that takes into account the flawed math genes I handed off to him. He grasps some lessons about math, while others on exactly the same concepts might as well be written in Sanskrit. They said they’d work with him. And they tried.
But a classroom is fundamentally a classroom. It has a structured day, and a bunch of kids requiring the divided attention of a teacher. The kids are part of a group, and mostly they’re taught as part of that group.
And my kid is now twitching and puking at the thought of school. This does not work for me.
Election Grist: Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for too long
Teachers are some of our most dedicated public servants. Many inspiring educators have changed lives for the better in Madison’s public schools. But their union is a horror.
Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for decades. Selfish, arrogant, and bullying, it has fostered an angry, us-versus-them hostility toward parents, taxpayers, and their elected school board.
Instead of a collaborative group of college-educated professionals eager to embrace change and challenge, Madison’s unionized public school teachers comport themselves as exploited Appalachian mine workers stuck in a 1930s time warp. For four decades, their union has been led by well-compensated executive director John A. Matthews, whom Fighting Ed Garvey once described (approvingly!) as a “throwback” to a different time.
From a June 2011 Wisconsin State Journal story:
[Then] School Board member Maya Cole criticized Matthews for harboring an “us against them” mentality at a time when the district needs more cooperation than ever to successfully educate students. “His behavior has become problematic,” Cole said.
For years, Madison’s school board has kowtowed to Matthews and MTI, which — with its dues collected by the taxpayer-financed school district — is the most powerful political force in Dane County. (The county board majority even rehearses at the union’s Willy Street offices.)
Erin Richards & Patrick Marley
Joe Zepecki, Burke’s campaign spokesman, said in an email Wednesday that he couldn’t respond officially because Burke has made clear that her campaign and her duties as a School Board member are to be kept “strictly separate.” However, on the campaign trail, Burke says she opposes Act 10’s limits on collective bargaining but supports requiring public workers to pay more for their benefits, a key aspect of the law.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., said the contracts were negotiated legally and called the legal challenge “a waste of money and unnecessary stress on district employees and the community.”
The lawsuit came a day after the national leader of the country’s largest union for public workers labeled Walker its top target this fall.
“We have a score to settle with Scott Walker,” Lee Saunders, the union official, told The Washington Post on Tuesday. Saunders is the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. A spokeswoman for Saunders did not immediately return a call Wednesday.
AFSCME has seen its ranks in Wisconsin whither since Walker approved Act 10. AFSCME and other unions were instrumental in scheduling a 2012 recall election to try to oust Walker, but Walker won that election by a bigger margin than the 2010 race.
“When the union bosses say they ‘have a score to settle with Scott Walker,’ they really mean Wisconsin taxpayers because that’s who Governor Walker is protecting with his reforms,” Walker spokeswoman Alleigh Marré said in a statement.
Kenosha School District over teacher contracts after the board approved a contract with its employees.
In Madison, the School District and School Board “are forcing their teachers to abide by — and taxpayers to pay for — an illegal labor contract with terms violating Act 10 based upon unlawful collective bargaining with Madison Teachers, Inc.,” a statement from WILL said.
Blaska, a former member of the Dane County Board who blogs for InBusiness, said in addition to believing the contracts are illegal, he wanted to sue MTI because of its behavior, which he called coercive and bullyish.
“I truly believe that there’s a better model out there if the school board would grab for it,” Blaska said.
MTI executive director John Matthews said it’s not surprising the suit was filed on behalf of Blaska “given his hostile attacks on MTI over the past several years.”
“WILL certainly has the right to challenge the contracts, but I see (it as) such as a waste of money and unnecessary stress on district employees and the community,” said Matthews, adding that negotiating the contracts “was legal.”
In August, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Act 10 constitutional after MTI and others had challenged its legality. At the time, union and district officials said the contracts that were negotiated before the ruling was issued were solid going forward.
Under Act 10, unions are not allowed to bargain over anything but base wage raises, which are limited to the rate of inflation. Act 10 also prohibits union dues from being automatically deducted from members’ paychecks as well as “fair share” payments from employees who do not want to be union members.
Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said Wednesday the district has not yet received notification of the suit being filed.
“If and when we do, we’ll review with our team and the Board of Education,” she said.
School Board vice president James Howard said the board “felt we were basically in accordance with the law” when the contracts were negotiated and approved.
A lawsuit targeting the Madison School District and its teachers union is baseless, Madison School Board member and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Thursday.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday by the conservative nonprofit Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on behalf of well-known blogger David Blaska alleges the school district, School Board and Madison Teachers Inc. are violating Act 10, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s signature law that limits collective bargaining.
The union has two contracts in effect through June 2016. Burke voted for both of them.
“I don’t think there is a lot of substance to it,” Burke said of the lawsuit. “Certainly the board, when it negotiated and approved (the contracts), it was legal then and our legal counsel says nothing has changed.”
At any rate, Esenberg said, he doesn’t consult with Grebe, Walker or anyone else in deciding what cases to take on.
“The notion that we think Act 10 is a good idea because it frees the schools from the restraints of union contracts and gives individual employees the right to decide whether they want to support the activities of the union — that shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Esenberg said.
WILL is not likely to prevail in court, Marquette University Law School professor Paul Secunda told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They negotiated their current contract when the fate of Act 10 was still up in the air,” said Secunda, who also accused Esenberg of “trying to make political points.”
Esenberg contends the contract always was illegal.
The school board, district and union knew they could not negotiate anything more than wage increases based on inflation under the law, the lawsuit alleges. Despite the institute’s warnings, they began negotiations for a new 2014-15 contract in September 2013 and ratified it in October. What’s more, they began negotiating a deal for the 2015-16 school year this past May and ratified it in June, according to the lawsuit.
Both deals go beyond base wage changes to include working conditions, teacher assignments, fringe benefits, tenure and union dues deductions, the lawsuit said.
Taxpayers will be irreparably harmed if the contracts are allowed to stand because they’ll have to pay extra, the lawsuit went on to say. It demands that a Dane County judge invalidate the contracts and issue an injunction blocking them from being enforced.
“The Board and the School District unlawfully spent taxpayer funds in collectively bargaining the (contracts) and will spend substantial addition(al) taxpayer funds in implementing the (contracts),” the lawsuit said. “The (contracts) violate the public policy of Wisconsin.”
2009 Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman speech to the Madison Rotary Club:
“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).
“Since 1950, “us schools increased their non-teaching positions by 702%.”; ranks #2 in world on non teacher staff spending!”
Madison’s long term reading problems, spending, Mary Burke & Doyle era teacher union friendly arbitration change.
WEAC (Wisconsin Teacher Union Umbrella): 4 Senators for $1.57M.
Understanding the current union battles requires a visit to the time machine and the 2002 and the Milwaukee County Pension Scandal. Recall elections, big money, self interest and the Scott Walker’s election in what had long been a Democratic party position.
The 2000-2001 deal granted a 25% pension “bonus” for hundreds of veteran county workers. Another benefit that will be discussed at trial is the controversial “backdrop,” an option to take part of a pension payment as a lump-sum upon retirement.
Testimony should reveal more clues to the mysteries of who pushed both behind the scenes.
So what does it mean to take a “backdrop?”
“Drop” refers to Deferred Retirement Option Program. Employees who stay on after they are eligible to retire can receive both a lump-sum payout and a (somewhat reduced) monthly retirement benefit. Employees, upon leaving, reach “back” to a prior date when they could have retired. They get a lump sum equal to the total of the monthly pension benefits from that date up until their actual quitting date. The concept was not new in 2001, but Milwaukee County’s plan was distinguished because it did not limit the number of years a worker could “drop back.” In fact, retirees are routinely dropping back five years or more, with some reaching back 10 or more years.
That has allowed many workers to get lump-sum payments well into six figures.
Former deputy district attorney Jon Reddin, at age 63, collected the largest to date: $976,000, on top of monthly pension checks of $6,070 each.
And, Jason Stein:
The Newsline article by longtime legal writer Stuart Taylor Jr. alleges that Chisholm may have investigated Walker and his associates because Chisholm was upset at the way in which the governor had repealed most collective bargaining for public employees such as his wife, a union steward.
The prosecutor is quoted as saying that he heard Chisholm say that “he felt that it was his personal duty to stop Walker from treating people like this.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has requested to speak with the former prosecutor through Taylor and has not yet received an answer.
In a brief interview, Chisholm denied making those comments. In a longer statement, an attorney representing Chisholm lashed out at the article.
“The suggestion that all of those measures were taken in furtherance of John Chisholm’s (or his wife’s) personal agenda is scurrilous, desperate and just plain cheap,” attorney Samuel Leib said.
Suit seeks to derail Camden Renaissance schools
A group of Camden public school advocates and parents has filed a lawsuit against the state education commissioner, saying he did not properly assess the “financial and segregative impact” of approving two Renaissance schools to open in the city.
Mastery and Uncommon Schools were approved July 7 by acting Commissioner David Hespe and opened elementary schools earlier this month.
Save Our Schools New Jersey, a group that has frequently been critical of the new administration of the state-run district, has asked Hespe to rescind his approval of the schools.
The lawsuit claims the Renaissance schools would drain traditional public schools of needed funds and exclude disabled and minority students – an impact they say the commissioner failed to consider in his one-page approval.
Mastery and Uncommon, along with KIPP, which was approved in 2012, have contracts with the district to collectively serve more than 9,000 students in the district of 15,000 by 2024.
Of the 15,000 students, 11,500 currently are in traditional public schools and 3,500 are in charter schools.
“The schools must not be allowed to open . . . under a cloud of constitutional and statutory uncertainty,” said Princeton-based attorney Richard E. Shapiro in a letter to Hespe days before the suit.
The lawsuit was filed Aug. 21, but Save Our Schools member and Camden mother MoNeke Ragsdale, one of three people named as complainants in the suit, said the group wanted to wait until after the school year started to announce the legal action.
A teacher ‘marketplace’ emerges in post-Act 10 Wisconsin; Remarkable
“The great irony is that Act 10 has created a marketplace for good teachers,” said Dean Bowles, a Monona Grove School Board member.
Fellow board member Peter Sobol said though the law was billed as providing budget relief for school districts and local government, it could end up being harder on budgets as districts develop compensation models that combine their desire to reward good teachers and the need to keep them. Knowing how many teachers each year will attain the leadership responsibilities and certifications that result in added pay will be difficult.
Monona Grove is developing a career ladder to replace its current salary schedule. The new model is still being drafted by a committee of district administrators, school board members and teachers, but its aim will be to reward “increased responsibility, leadership, ‘stretch assignments’ and other contributions to the district and school missions,’ ” according to the district.
“We thought we could do better,” Monona Grove School District superintendent Dan Olson said, adding that the message to parents is that with the new model, “we’ll be able to keep our good teachers.”
Bowles said the process should result in a district being a place that might not offer the highest pay in the state, but be a place teachers want to work.
“ ‘Attract and retain’ is one of the goals on that list, and in my judgment that does not boil down to” just salary, he said. “It’s also, ‘This is a place I hope you want to be,’ and our kids will benefit from it.”
Ironically, Madison rates not a mention….
One Dad’s Twitter Photo Essay on His Daughter’s Perilous Walk to School
By the way, Turner’s daughter is trying out the walk to school because the 18-block journey, which takes six to eight minutes in a car, takes 55 minutes on the school bus. She’s the first on and the last off, commuting two hours a day to get 18 blocks. It takes half an hour to walk it. Last year, her parents drove her every day, but now they’re trying the walk.
“This morning was my first on walking duty,” Turner wrote. “Spent the entire walk explaining to our 9yo all the different ways cars had been prioritized. Because I want her to have plenty of ammo for future therapy.”
Two blocks from Turner’s house on a walkable street with a sidewalk they come face to face with the car-centric, ped-hostile design he was talking about: this “outsized intersection” with “gas station sliplanes, ped markings beyond faded.”
The Evolution Of The Employee
This concept and the visual was taken from my new book which came out today called, The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization.
One of the things I have been writing about and have tried to make clear over the past few months is that work as we know it is dead and that the only way forward is to challenge convention around how we work, how we lead, and how we build our companies. Employees which were once thought of expendable cogs are the most valuable asset that any organization has. However, the employee from a decade ago isn’t the same as the employee who we are starting to see today. To help show that I wanted to share an image from my upcoming book which depicts how employees are evolving. It’s an easy way to see the past vs the future.
Yet, our K-12 structures remain unchanged, from their agrarian era roots.
America’s public schools remain highly segregated, by choice?
Fifty million children will start school this week as historic changes are under way in the U.S. public school system. As of 2011 48 percent of all public school students were poor* and this year, students of color will account for the majority of public school students for the first time in US history.
What is surprising about these shifts is that they are not leading to more diverse schools. In fact, the Civil Rights Project has shown that black students are just as segregated today as they were in in the late 1960s, when serious enforcement of desegregation plans first began following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Despite our country’s growing diversity, our public schools provide little contact between white students and students of color. We’ve mapped data about the racial composition of US public schools to shed light on today’s patterns at the county level. These maps show that America’s public schools are highly segregated by race and income, with the declining share of white students typically concentrated in schools with other white students and the growing share of Latino students concentrated into low-income public schools with other students of color.
Related: Madison has long supported wide variation in school demographics.
Is the human condition becoming more unequal? Many assert it is, but their focus is almost exclusively on economic inequality. This is problematic for two key reasons.
First, even in data-rich America, statistics on wealth distribution are at best rudimentary. Measured economic equality differs dramatically depending on whether one looks at income (pre- or post-tax? by the year or over a lifetime?), or at personal consumption, which seems to be distributed much more equally.
More crucially, income is not the only important measure of human well-being and life chances. Consider two global revolutions that are improving the human condition and making it more equal.
The first is how long people live. In 1751, according to the Human Mortality Database, Sweden’s overall life expectancy at birth was barely 38 years. But this was an arithmetic average for a population within which survival prospects were wildly, brutally disparate. Roughly a fifth of all Swedes died in their first year of life; by age 5 only 70 Swedes were still alive of every 100 born. But about half of those who made it to age 5 lived to 60 and beyond.
Drugging our Kids
They are wrenched from abusive homes, uprooted again and again, often with their life’s belongings stuffed into a trash bag.
Abandoned and alone, they are among California’s most powerless children. But instead of providing a stable home and caring family, the state’s foster care system gives them a pill.
With alarming frequency, foster and health care providers are turning to a risky but convenient remedy to control the behavior of thousands of troubled kids: numbing them with psychiatric drugs that are untested on and often not approved for children.
An investigation by this newspaper found that nearly 1 out of every 4 adolescents in California’s foster care system is receiving these drugs — 3 times the rate for all adolescents nationwide. Over the last decade, almost 15 percent of the state’s foster children of all ages were prescribed the medications, known as psychotropics, part of a national treatment trend that is only beginning to receive broad scrutiny.
“We’re experimenting on our children,” said Los Angeles County Judge Michael Nash, who presides over the nation’s largest juvenile court.
Reinventing American K-12 Education
How do we reinvent American education?
An Unconventional Education Toolbox
You can start at the very beginning, with preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Dr. Roberta Ness, author of “Genius Unmasked” and Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Texas, explains why Maria Montessori’s method for teaching was so successful. Montessori schools, which have a bit of a cult following in Silicon Valley, encourage creativity and inquisitiveness in a way that traditional schools don’t.
School Boards: “a frog at the bottom of a deep well trying to guess what is going on above based on leaves and birds flying by”
Late Sunday night yet another Trenton Board of Education member resigned, leaving only four members of the nine-member, mayor-appointed group, one less than a quorum and, thus, unable to approve any district appointments, allocations, contracts, or programming initiatives. According to the Trenton Times, Roslyn Council sent in her formal letter of resignation to Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson, following the lead of Sasa Olessi-Montano and Mary Taylor Hayes, who both resigned earlier this summer. Another member resigned earlier in the year.
But not to worry: While the Times notes that “[i]n the meantime the school board will be unable to take action on any school district items with the start of the school year two weeks away,” the district attorney, Kathleen Smallwood Johnson said “there is nothing that is essential to the start of the school year that would require board approval.” Mayor Jackson will, accordingly, take his time and appoint new members in “another week or so.”
Actually, at the meeting on Monday that was cancelled due to lack of a quorum, the published Agenda has 91 pages of recommendations, including approval of annual contracts with preschool providers, a “Proposal for Bilingual/English as a Second Language Department for the 2014-2015 school year at a cost not to exceed $272,812.00,” updated math curricula, and new supervision and intervention programs at various city schools intended to “provide students…with a safe environment before and after the regular school day.”
Where are first graduates of Chicago’s Urban Prep?
As a student in the first class of Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, Tyler Beck found himself enveloped in a nurturing environment where teachers came in early and stayed late to help tutor struggling students. There, the boys formed a brotherhood and learned affirmations that kept them pumped up to achieve.
“We were taught, ‘Each one reach one,’ and ‘It takes courage to excel.’ We all learned to help each other because we all wanted to succeed,” Beck said. “There were people who could say they’d been right where you were from and they could say they knew what your life was like.”
But four years later, at the idyllic East Coast private college to which Beck was accepted, the atmosphere was dramatically different. And even though he had earned a full academic scholarship to attend, Beck was not prepared.
Related: the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.
Making School Choice Work Requires Leadership
Robin Lake, via aaa kind Deb Britt email:
This commentary was originally published in Education Week on August 18, 2014.
It’s a truism in public policy that every solution breeds a new problem. School choice has created new possibilities for families desperate for better options, but it can also create serious access challenges for disadvantaged families. In localities where many state and local agencies can sponsor schools, fragmented governance makes solving those challenges difficult. This is evident in cities where parents now have many school choices and districts must compete for students.
New and promising schooling options exist via charter and private schools, but many families still can’t make them work for their children. Districts and charter authorizers protect their own schools from closure, so weak schools persist, and overall quality stagnates. Recognizing that the best schools have little advantage over weaker ones, the best educators and charter providers go elsewhere.
The Center for Reinventing Public Education, which I direct, recently conducted research in high-choice cities and unearthed both good and bad news for school choice advocates. We found that many parents, including many from highly disadvantaged backgrounds, are now actively choosing their children’s schools and getting access to their first or second choices.
Yet our research also shows that too many parents face serious barriers to finding good schools. They report having trouble getting high-quality information to inform their choices, navigating different eligibility and application requirements, and finding adequate transportation.Parents with the least education and those who have children with special needs report the most-significant barriers to the choice process.
A recent Detroit Free Press series exposed such problems in Detroit’s charter schools. Michigan’s choice system was designed to break up dysfunctional district monopolies as quickly as possible by creating many different statewide charter authorizers. But these entities, funded by fees from the schools they authorize, have little incentive to close low-performing schools. This has created a fragmented governance system in which no one agency has the incentive to care about all of the city’s students.
A Driving School in France Hits a Wall of Regulations
Alexandre Chartier and Benjamin Gaignault work off Apple computers and have no intention of ever using the DVD player tucked in the corner of their airy office. But French regulations demand that all driving schools have one, so they got one.
Mr. Chartier, 28, and his partner, Mr. Gaignault, 25, are trying to break into the driving school business here, using computer technology to match teachers and students across France and to offer cut rates.
But they are not having an easy time. The other driving schools have sued them, saying their innovations break the rules. Their application for an operator’s license for their school, Ornikar, has been met with total silence at the prefecture.
“It seems like the idea is to wait us out until we run out of money,” Mr. Gaignault said recently. “There is an effort to just destroy us.”
Heavy Adult Employment Focus in the Milwaukee Public a Schools
But after Tyson made his offer, an MPS teacher who also is a teachers’ union employee submitted a plan to reopen Lee as a district-run charter school.
The School Board was said to be considering both options. It was scheduled to discuss the potential sale or lease of several empty buildings, including the Lee building, in closed session Tuesday night.
Despite enrollment declines of 1,000 or more students each year for nine years — before an increase in 2013-’14 — the School Board and district administration have been averse to selling their public property to nondistrict school operators. Voucher and nondistrict charter school operators compete with the district for students, and more students attending those schools means potentially fewer students — and less state aid money — coming to MPS.
Supporters of successful private voucher and independent charter schools believe there shouldn’t be so many roadblocks to those schools obtaining building space to expand. St. Marcus’ state achievement test scores are some of the highest in the city for schools with predominantly low-income, minority students.
St. Marcus will be paying around $80,000 a year to lease the Aurora Weier site, which will be called the St. Marcus Early Childhood Center, North Campus. Tyson said they may eventually buy the building.
Up to 250 young children could be served at the new site by next year, Tyson said.
This year, even with the new early childhood site opening, Tyson said about 200 children remain on the waiting list to get into St. Marcus.
MIT Offers STEM Institute for Middle School Students
Students entering grades 6-9 in the Boston, Cambridge and Lawrence, MA area recently had an opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts thanks to a STEM Summer Institute offered by MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs.
The institute was taught by 15 instructors, mostly graduate and undergraduate students, who “worked closely with expert mentors to prepare their curricula, and academic advisors provided additional student and instructional support,” according to an MIT news release.
The Talk How black parents prepare their young sons for life in America
I remember the talk. (The Talk? It certainly carried the psychological weight of a proper noun.) I guess it was never actually one Talk — it was more that I heard a series of smaller talks from my parents, both of whom are Caribbean immigrants. They’d couch it in the language of difference, and it now occurs to me that they were trying to instill in me a sense — a niggling unease, maybe, or a vague nausea — of when situations might not be safe for me, as a young black male growing up in small town East Texas.
“Don’t stay out too late. Nothing good happens after midnight,” my mom would say. “You have to protect yourself! When the police show up, who do you think is going to get in trouble — you or those little white girls you’re hanging around with?”
I’d always argue with her when she said things like that. Not because she was wrong; because she was right, and her rightness hurt me somewhere deep and inarticulate. American society has indelibly marked my body as exotic, as dangerous, as uncontrollably lustful, as rage-filled, as a symbol of every single societal ill. Black. Nigger.
Diane Ravitch: Campbell Brown Shouldn’t Worry Her Pretty Little Head About Education Policy
Paul Farhi profiles Campbell Brown, the former CNN anchor turned education-reform activist, who is working to end strict teacher tenure protections. Naturally, this enrages teacher-union evangelist Diane Ravitch, who not only disagrees with Brown’s position, but expresses offense that anybody should listen to Brown at all:
“I have trouble with this issue because it’s so totally illogical,” says Diane Ravitch, an education historian. “It’s hard to understand why anyone thinks taking away teachers’ due-process rights will lead to great teachers in every classroom.”
Compton, California School Board Approves AR-15 Rifles for Campus Police
The school board in Compton, California, has voted to arm campus police officers with AR-15 rifles, according to the Los Angeles public radio station KPPC. Some parents and students are expressing discomfort, citing the same sorts of concerns sparked by the militarized police force of Ferguson, Missouri. In Compton, the local police union says its officers are hardly alone in seeking such weapons:
Currently, the following School Districts authorize their Police Officers to deploy these weapons; Los Angeles School PD, Baldwin Park School PD, Santa Ana School PD, Fontana School PD, San Bernandino School PD.
The police union goes on to defend the semi-automatic rifle for campus police officers:
Hunger in America: 2014 National Report
Nancy S. Weinfield, Gregory Mills, Christine Borger, Maeve Gearing, Theodore Macaluso, Jill Montaquila, Sheila Zedlewski (PDF):
Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, has conducted the most comprehensive study of hunger in America every four years since 1993. Like the prior studies, Hunger in America 2014 (HIA 2014), the latest iteration, documents the critical role that the charitable food assistance network plays in supporting struggling families in the United States. Study results are based on surveys of food programs in the charitable food assistance network supported by Feeding America, and clients that access services through that network in 2012-2013.1 In addition to this report on the Feeding America national network, this study has resulted in 42 state reports and 196 food bank reports detailing network activities on local levels.
The current assessment occurs in a period with historically high demand for food assistance. Unemployment and poverty rates have remained high since the Great Recession of 2008,2 and the number of households receiving nutrition assistance from the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has increased by approximately 50 percent between 2009 and 2013.3 Demand for charitable food assistance has also expanded. HIA 2014 finds an increased number of individuals relying on charitable assistance to access nutritious foods for themselves and their families.
“poor white British children do worse in school than those of any other group save Romany gypsies”
This also makes the town fashionable in Westminster, where the travails of Britain’s white working class are causing concern. Underscoring how stubbornly they languish, a recent parliamentary study confirmed that poor white British children do worse in school than those of any other group save Romany gypsies. But this fresh attention to the issue is also because it is election season and winning working-class love is, for differing reasons, a preoccupation of all the main parties. For David Cameron’s ruling Conservatives, getting such Britons off welfare and into work is a fiscal and moral mission and a test of Britain’s ability to endure austerity. For Labour, they represent an identity crisis.
Though increasingly drawn from and oriented towards middle England, where most voters reside, Britain’s main opposition still finds its cherished moral authority in a romantic association with the working-class people for whom it was formed. That is why Labour’s unexpected losses to the populist UK Independence party (UKIP) in recent local elections, in hard-up places such as Tilbury, sent the party’s leader Ed Miliband scuttling to Thurrock, the Tory-held marginal in which the town falls. There is now an argument within Labour over how to avoid a repeat of this disaster in next year’s general election, for which Thurrock is UKIP’s number two target seat; some want to ape UKIP with a more populist, especially anti-immigration, message.
In early September, in a clapboard house situated on 43 acres just outside a small town in northern Vermont, two boys awaken. They are brothers; the older is 12, the younger 9, and they rise to a day that has barely emerged from the clutches of dark. It is not yet autumn, but already the air has begun to change, the soft nights of late summer lengthening and chilling into the season to come. Outside the boys’ bedroom window, the leaves on the maples are just starting to turn.
UK Free schools ‘popular with non-white families’
The government’s free schools programme has proved to be popular with non-white families, according to the first academic analysis of the policy, which also found free schools attracted brighter and slightly better-off primary-aged pupils compared with the national average.
“Free schools have emerged most strongly in neighbourhoods with high proportions of non-white children, compared with the national average, and that within those neighbourhoods they have admitted even higher proportions of non-whites,” the report’s authors, led by Prof Francis Green of the Institute for Education, said.
The research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, looked at the neighbourhoods and enrolments of 88 primary and 63 secondary mainstream free schools that opened between 2011 and September 2013.
In primary schools, researchers found that white children made up only a third of the free school population, which is less than half the national average in England and well below the proportion of the white ethnic population in the neighbourhoods where the schools were sited.
New Rochelle Board of Education Declares War on Free Speech – Bans Criticism of Board Members, Grants “Right to Interrupt” to Board Members
NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Welcome to the administration of New Rochelle Board of Education President Lianne Merchant – where free speech goes to die and all dissent will be crushed. In her first act as the newly elected senior board President, Merchant waited until the last minute to unveil sweeping changes to board policy that eliminates any guarantees of public input into school board meetings as what can only be seen as a prelude to eliminating entirely any public involvement in school board meetings.
Beset by criticism over an unfolding story of corruption and incompetence on its watch, and infighting among its own members, the New Rochelle Board of Education last night proposed to “solve” that problem by severely curtailing public engagement during school board meetings.
THE NEWLY GUTTED POLICY: 9340 Public Participation in Meetings_REV_Track Changes
There are currently numerous criminal investigations going on concerning school district employees, the recent Board President was deposed after he was found to have misappropriated $13,000 to pay for his personal medical insurance, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the District asserting the District lied to investigators after wheel-chair bound students were left behind during a fire at the local high school, the District was issued fines and violation notices related to an asbestos exposure incident at an elementary school after an investigation by the New York State Department of Labor which also found the district never checked the license of its asbestos abatement contractor (the license was forged), the District’s business manager (since fired) paid out millions of dollars to contractors with no-bid contracts and invoices lacking required documentation, filed phony documents during a New York State Comptroller Audit, and in a report to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and lied repeatedly about a $3.5 million dollar environmental services contract that was never drafted or signed.
And now: The criminalization of parenthood
A couple of themes we explore here at The Watch are the increasing criminalization of just about everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions. A few examples from recent headlines show those themes intersecting with parenthood.
The first story comes from South Carolina, where a mother was jailed and charged with “unlawful conduct toward a child” for . . . leaving her 9-year-old daughter alone to play in a park. Lenore Skenazy of “Free Range Kids” comments:
Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s in North Augusta, South Carolina. For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald’s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.
Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park—a place so popular that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking—two days in a row. There were swings, a “splash pad,” and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. At work, the daughter replied.
Status Quo Governance: 9 months after development deal, Malcolm X Academy remains empty
Remember last fall when the Common Council and Milwaukee Public Schools approved plans to turn the vacant Malcolm X Academy into a renovated school, low-income apartments and commercial space?
Critics at the time said it was a poorly conceived rush job designed to prevent a competing private school, St. Marcus Lutheran School, from acquiring the building as an expansion site.
Supporters said the public-private partnership would help kids and put part of the sprawling Malcolm X building, covering almost five acres on the city’s north side, back on the tax rolls.
Nine months later, nothing has been done.
The developer hasn’t applied for tax credits, let alone bought the building. Both were key to the deal. The Common Council still must act on final development plans before permits for construction can be issued, city officials say.
MPS and one of the development partners say the deal is still on, but nobody will say — publicly, anyway — the cause for the hold-up. Both suggest the other is dragging its feet.
Meanwhile, Henry Tyson, the superintendent of St. Marcus Lutheran School, submitted a letter of interest for another nearby empty MPS building — Lee School. That was in May. Six weeks later, a Milwaukee teacher who works for the teachers union submitted a proposal to turn Lee into a charter school run by district staff.
“We continue to say what we’ve said before: that this is a shell game to keep usable buildings out of the hands of high-quality voucher and charter school operators,” Tyson said.
Teacher tenure refugees flee public schools
When public school administrators and teachers in Washington, D.C., recently laced up their sensible shoes and launched an unprecedented canvassing campaign to goose slumped enrollment rates, the panicked affectation was unmistakable.
Short of horse-drawn carriage makers, few industries have suffered such a pronounced decline in market share than government-run schools in America’s urban centers. Consider the numbers: forty-four percent of the District’s public student population has abandoned conventional neighborhood schools for public charters.
But while the taxpayer-financed campaign was designed to signal fresh responsiveness to parents, the effort merely reinforced the perception that entrenched teachers and labor unions were braving the sweltering heat out of self-interest. No students means no jobs.
Here, where traditional public school enrollment has dipped by 30,000 students in just the last 18 years, administrators believe the key to stemming the exodus of public school refugees lies in diverting precious resources from improving instruction to marketing.
To augment the hard sell being made door-to-door by principals, the school system even retained the pricey data miners who twice won the White House for President Barack Obama.
The Prison Boom and the Lack of Black Progress after Smith and Welch
More than two decades ago, Smith and Welch (1989) used the 1940 through 1980 census files to document important relative black progress. However, recent data indicate that this progress did not continue, at least among men. The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965. A move toward more punitive treatment of arrested offenders drove prison growth in recent decades, and this trend is evident among arrested offenders in every major crime category. Changes in the severity of corrections policies have had a much larger impact on black communities than white communities because arrest rates have historically been much greater for blacks than whites.
School starts Monday for 2,800 Charlotte students
Summer break has come to an end for about 2,800 K-8 students in four Charlotte year-round schools.
Monday starts the 2014-15 school year at Bruns Academy, Walter G. Byers School, Druid Hills Academy and Thomasboro Academy. The schools are part of Project LIFT, a public-private partnership between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and donors who pledged $55 million to improve academics and graduation rates at nine westside schools. The private money helps cover the cost of extra teacher time and busing.
Citizen Oversight: Seattle Schools’ Pre-K “Mission Study”
This will be Part One of a thread about the Pre-K “mission trip” that several Seattle schools’ employees took as well as one Board director.
Part One will be the Narrative of what happened. Part Two will be the day-by-day planning for this trip.
Mirmac1 got e-mails via public disclosure and they paint a very damning picture. Because of my concerns over this troubling incident, I wrote a full report to the State Auditor. I can only say that I believe there may have been some illegalities in what happened but that’s not my call.
I DO think whether or not funds were misused, some of it feels unethical and it is clear there is a heavy push – from outside the district – on those inside the district for more and more pre-K in Seattle Schools.
There are a couple of SPS individuals who are either myopic or simply do not care about how their push for pre-K could affect/impact other programs and that money is scarce. There was very much of a “just find me the money for this trip” attitude.
Leaked report reveals ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’ in Birmingham UK schools
A damning report into extremist infiltration of Birmingham schools has uncovered evidence of “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city”.
The conclusion emerges from a leaked draft of a report, commissioned by the former education secretary Michael Gove and written by Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan police’s counterterrorism command, which is due to be published in the next 24 hours.
Clarke said there was a “sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam”.
The draft, marked as sensitive, added that: “Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain”.
The uncompromising report may deepen community tensions in England’s second city and provoke a fierce debate on whether Britain has been sufficiently muscular in efforts to expose and uproot Islamism. It will also make uncomfortable reading for Birmingham city council as it accuses local politicians and officials of ignoring evidence of extremism for years, repeatedly failing to support bullied headteachers and putting the need to soothe community tensions ahead of all else.
Year after Rocketship’s scrutinized Milwaukee launch, signs point to progress; Status Quo in Madison
What were the highlights of Rocketship’s first year here?
Strong growth. Rocketship set a goal of having 65% of its Milwaukee students meet the national average for reading and math growth over the course of the year. In fact, 72% of the school’s students, almost all of whom are low-income and Hispanic or black, learned as much as a typical American student in English and language arts. In math, 87% of Rocketship students met or exceeded that average growth target.
New style. Rocketship introduced children to spending part of the day doing reading and math exercises on the computer, using software that adapts to each child’s skill level. Sessions are overseen by an aide rather than a teacher, which is one way Rocketship keeps costs down. Most teachers also specialize by subject matter.
Parent involvement. A Rocketship hallmark is involving parents in schools, not only to help their children with homework and goal-setting, but also to advocate in the community. Kinser said almost all teachers had 90% of their parents meet the 30-hour goal of interacting with the school.
Enrollment. This year’s enrollment goal is 487 children in kindergarten through fifth grade, and the school on its way to meeting it, Kinser said.
The turbulent first year in Milwaukee also set Rocketship on its heels at times. Some challenges included:
Special education. About 17% of Milwaukee Rocketship children had special needs last year, which is close to the district average in Milwaukee Public Schools. Venskus said Rocketship went about $500,000 over budget to serve those students.
Teacher turnover. Rocketship, like other demanding urban charter schools with long hours and high expectations, was not a good fit for some teachers who left early in the school year. Rocketship did not renew some others. This fall there will be four new teachers at the school from Teach For America, the alternative teacher certification program from which Rocketship frequently recruits.
Political challenges. Rocketship leaders had to negotiate with lawmakers in Madison to try to clear a path for their staff with out-of-state teaching or administrator credentials to be recognized in Wisconsin.
Rocketship has a charter agreement with the Milwaukee Common Council to open up to eight schools serving 500 students each.
Madison’s disastrous long term reading results.
A majority if the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
Commentary on structural change.
Via Molly Beck.
Charters Catch On Fast in Newark Parents Increasingly Look Outside District Schools
In the debut of a system that lets families apply to charter schools and district schools at the same time, Newark got an eye-opening lesson: More than half of the applicants for kindergarten through eighth grade ranked charters as their first choice.
The application numbers, supplied by the state-operated district, show the popularity of charters at a time when Superintendent Cami Anderson’s One Newark reorganization plan faces heated opposition from some residents.
One part of the complex plan aims to make it easier for children to sign up for schools outside their neighborhoods. Ms. Anderson said the application data show many families want greater choice.
“Universal enrollment is giving us a real sense of demand and allowing families of all learners, including those who struggle, more options,” she said. Some critics, meanwhile, say the superintendent’s push to consolidate, overhaul and restaff many district schools has created such uncertainty that it hastened a flight to charters.
Via Laura Waters.
Shaping a School System, From the Ground Up
In the fall of 2011, an eclectic group of people from the San Francisco Bay Area began making regular trips to Lima, Peru. Among them were architects, mechanical engineers, ethnographers, communication designers and education specialists.
They were all employees of the design company Ideo, which is perhaps best known for designing the first laptop computer and the first Apple computer mouse. But now Ideo had been hired by a Peruvian businessman, Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, to work on a new type of project: designing a network of low-cost private schools from scratch, including the classrooms, the curriculum, the teacher-training strategies and the business model.
Mr. Rodriguez-Pastor was “trying to break the traditional school model,” he recalled in a recent interview. “We thought, why not get different perspectives rather than build on what we think we know?”
The Changing Economic Advantage from UK Private Schools
Francis Green , Stephen J. Machin, Richard Murphy & Yu Zhu :
Despite its relatively small size, the private school sector plays a prominent role in British society. This paper focuses on changing wage and education differentials between privately educated and state educated individuals in Britain. It reports evidence that the private/state school wage differential has risen significantly over time, despite the rising cost to sending children to private school. A significant factor underpinning this has been faster rising educational attainment for privately educated individuals. Despite these patterns of change, the proportion attending private school has not altered much, nor have the characteristics of those children (and their parents) attending private school. Taken together, our findings are consistent with the idea that the private school sector has been successful in transforming its ability to generate the academic outputs that are most in demand in the modern economy. Because of the increased earnings advantage, private school remains a good investment for parents who want to opt out, but it also contributes more to rising economic and social inequality.
My hero: Lord Harris, the Conservative millionaire who is saving schools
We don’t put up many statues these days. Ours is a post-heroic age, and it is assumed that no one really deserves to be put on a pedestal. But I know of many people who deserve to be remembered for acts of overlooked heroism.
The teachers who dedicate their lives to helping children from disadvantaged homes to achieve their potential are my heroes. Long after others have given up, they refuse to accept failure. Some of these heroes, like David Sellens in Thomas Jones primary in London’s North Kensington, work in local authority schools; some, like Dame Sally Coates of Burlington Danes in London’s White City, run academies; others, like Liam Nolan in Birmingham, have opened free schools. But none inspires my admiration as much as a carpet salesman who left school, as my parents did, when he was just 15.
Over 100,000 African-American Parents Are Now Homeschooling Their Children
We hear so much about the plight of Black children and their low test scores. We have not heard that African American children who are homeschooled are scoring at the 82% in reading and 77% in math. This is 30-40% above their counterparts being taught in school. There is a 30% racial gap in schools, but there is no racial gap in reading if taught in the home and only a 5% gap in math.
What explains the success of African American students being taught by their parents? I believe that it’s love and high expectations. I am reminded of Booker T. Washington High School. They were honored several years ago for producing the greatest turnaround as a Recovery school. The principal had the opportunity to pick and choose her staff and emphatically stated, “If you want to teach in this school you must love the students”. Researchers love promoting that the racial gap is based on income, marital status, and the educational background of the parents. Seldom, if ever, do they research the impact of love and high expectations.
Since the landmark decision, Brown vs. Topeka in 1954, there has been a 66% decline in African American teachers. Many African American students are in classrooms where they are not loved, liked, or respected. Their culture is not honored and bonding is not considered. They are given low expectations – which helps to explain how students can be promoted from one grade to another without mastery of the content.
There are so many benefits to homeschooling beyond academics. Most schools spend more than 33% of the day disciplining students. And bullying has become a significant issue. One of every 6 Black males is suspended and large numbers are given Ritalin and placed in Special Education. These problems seldom, if ever, exist in the Homeschool environment.
Another major benefit is the summer months. Research shows that there is a 3 year gap between White and Black students. Some students do not read or are involved in any academic endeavor during the summer. Those students lose 36 months or 3 years if you multiply 3 months times 12 years (grades first -12) Homeschool parents do not allow academics to be forsaken for 3 months.
Finally, in the homeschool environment, parents are allowed to teach their children
OneCity Early Learning Centers: ￼A New Plan for South Madison Child Development Incorporated (DRAFT)
OneCity Early Learning Centers by Kaleem Caire and Vivek Ramakrishnan (PDF), via a kind reader
In the fall of the 2013-14 school year, public school children across Wisconsin completed the state’s Knowledge and Concepts Exam, an annual test that measures their knowledge, ability and skills in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and 10, and in language arts, science, social studies and writing in grades 4, 8 and 10. Just 13% of Black and 15% of Latino children who completed these assessments were reading at grade level (proficient or advanced) in elementary schools across Dane County. The numbers are even more striking than the percentages: just 207 of the 1,497 Black children and 266 of 1,688 Latino children enrolled in grades 3, 4 and 5 were reading at grade level. Despite better outcomes among White and Asian students, their rates of 51% and 48% reading at grade level are disturbing as well.
We need your help. We have a plan to facilitate greater educational and life success among children and their families in Dane County and hope you will join us in our efforts. That is why you are receiving this paper. We hope that when you are finished reading it, you will call or email us and say, “Yes, I’m signing up to assist you with establishing One City Early Learning Centers so that many more children in our community are ready to read, compute and succeed at grade level by the time they enter first grade, regardless of their race, ethnicity or socio- economic pedigree.”
In April 2014, after months of consideration, the Board of Directors of South Madison Child Development Incorporated (CDI), one of Dane County’s oldest and most heralded childcare providers, decided that it was time to reorganize, rebrand and re-launch its Center with a new mission, new leadership, a new educational program, and new plans for future expansion. Beginning in the fall of 2014, South Madison CDI will become One City Early Learning Centers Incorporated and will change the name of its centers located at 2012 Fisher Street on Madison’s South Side and the Dane County Job Center.
New, New Inner City Fatherhood
When 15-year old Andre Green found out that his ex-girlfriend, Sonya, was pregnant with his child, he was living with six members of his extended family in a small row house in Camden, New Jersey. His mother was a drug addict. His father, in Andre’s words, was a “dog” who had never even told Andre that he had several half-brothers kicking around the neighborhood. (The boy found out gradually, when he noticed similar-looking children in school and at the supermarket, and asked them who their father was.) Yet despite his poverty, lack of parental support, and the fact that his romantic relationship with Sonya had ended, Andre was excited—even thrilled—to become a father.
“I was like, “Yes! Thank you, Jesus!” he told sociologists Kathryn Edin and Timothy Nelson. Indeed, within several months of his daughter’s birth, Andre had dropped out of school to become Jalissa’s primary caregiver. He took great pride in keeping her well fed, nicely dressed, and even taking her to church. There, despite his youth and joblessness, Andre was celebrated as a devoted dad. “People say, ‘Oh Andre, you’re doing a beautiful job,’” he told the researchers. “They’re like, ‘Andre, I’m very proud of you.’”
The First Two Years
The life-course perspective in particular is out of the public eye. Looking more deeply into research on the effects of early life, it is possible to estimate that roughly half of our health as adults is programmed from the time of conception to around two years of age. The importance of these “first thousand days” is the subject of increased interest and study, and explains a lot about the difficulties of focusing on short-term interventions to improve health. Countries with healthier populations structure this formative period by making it easier for parents to parent. In practical terms, this means that in modern societies where most people work outside the home, providing paid parental leave is the single most effective social intervention that can be undertaken for improving health. It can be thought of in the same light as public sanitation systems that make water safe to drink. We all benefit, rich and poor alike, from clean water, from sewage treatment, from immunizations, and other public health measures.
Everyone in a society gains when children grow up to be healthy adults. The rest of the world seems to understand this simple fact, and only three countries in the world don’t have a policy, at least on the books, for paid maternal leave—Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and the United States. What does that say about our understanding, or concern, about the health of our youth?
Kaleem Caire is working on an early childhood program in Madison.
The EdTech Failings of Silicon Valley
In the last three month period, EdTech attracted $690 million of venture capital, reaching $4 billion of total private investment for the year, up two thirds from the previous year and quadruple two years prior.
This was the trendline for EdTech venture capital investment at the end of 2000.
After the dotCom crash, it would be another decade until 2012 when EdTech would again draw in $1 billion of total private investment, repeating in 2013 and likely again in 2014, with nearly $600 million raised in Q1 2014 alone. The leanest post-Bubble years of 2002 – 2005 would see less than $100mm of annual venture capital inflow, with 2005′s haul perhaps just $50 million, a pathetic 3.5% CAGR from the $30 million of total private investment generated 15 years prior in 1990 at the industry’s dawn.
While the Internet Bubble and its burst were extreme events, the 1997-2001 period does present several interesting parallels with the current market, with capital flowing freely across all sectors (from K-12 through “MOOCs”) and a diverse range of investors, from mission aligned super angels including the co-founders of the leading technology companies (e.g., Microsoft, Oracle, Netscape, AOL), education funds like New Schools Venture Fund (founded then by Jim Barksdale and Steve Case) and the venture funds of ”Silicon Valley” (not to mention “Silicon Alley” and Boston) that are still leading the tech markets today (i.e., KPCB, Accel, Bessemer, Charles River Ventures, Warburg, Maveron, Sequoia, etc). Only the individual names involved differ from then: Paul Allen then and Bill Gates today; Jim Barksdale then and Marc Andreessen today; John Doerr then…and, well, John Doerr still again.
Students with Special Needs Less Likely to Leave Charter Schools than Traditional Public Schools
Center for Reinventing Public Education, via a kind Deb Britt email:
CRPE commissioned Dr. Marcus Winters to analyze the factors driving the special education gap between Denver’s charter and traditional public elementary and middle schools.
Using student-level data, Winters shows that Denver’s special education enrollment gap starts at roughly 2 percentage points in kindergarten and is more than triple that in eighth grade. However, it doesn’t appear to be caused by charter schools pushing students out. Instead, the gap is mostly due to student preferences for different types of schools, how schools classify and declassify students, and the movement of students without disabilities across sectors.
Among the key findings:
Students with special needs are less likely to apply to charter schools in kindergarten and sixth grade: In the gateway grades, when students are most likely to choose schools, those with disabilities are significantly less likely to apply to charter schools than are students without disabilities. This difference explains the majority of the gap in middle school grades, particularly for certain categories of disability.
The gap grows significantly between kindergarten and fifth grade: 46% of the growth occurs because charter schools are less likely to classify students as special education, and more likely to declassify them; 54% is due to the number of new general education students enrolling in charter schools, not from the number of students with special needs going down.
Students with special needs in charter schools change schools less often than those in traditional public schools: Five years after enrolling in kindergarten, about 65 percent of charter students with special needs are still in their original schools, while only 37 percent of traditional public school students with special needs are still in their original schools.