The reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, now overdue and overpoliticized, took another baby step in June when the Senate education committee passed a bill without any Republican support. In July, the House of Representatives managed to pass a version of a bill that received exactly no Democratic support. And for 16 days in October, we witnessed partisanship at its worst with a government shutdown that doesn’t portend good things for the children of America.
What makes these episodes so discouraging, beyond legislators’ feigning seriousness about what should be a national priority, is that NCLB—the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—is the most progressive development in K-12 education since Brown v. Board of Education. Within its reauthorization rests the fate of 50 million students…
There is a disquieting truth about policy, which is that is does not achieve what it intends; it achieves what it allows. And the simple truth is that education policy prior to No Child Left Behind allowed schools to be evaluated in the aggregate. In this shameful holdover from the separate-but-equal doctrine, the performance of subgroups—including minorities, students with disabilities, students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and girls—was largely ignored. NCLB requires a disaggregation of assessment data and measures improvement not just of the school as a whole, but also of subgroups, heretofore invisible in many schools across the country.
Fast forward to Rancocas Valley Regional High School today—a one-time NCLB school “in need of whole-school restructuring,” the federal label for “failing,” in Burlington County, N.J. In 2013, its 2,200-student enrollment reflects the growing diversity and poverty level in America: Approximately 48 percent of the students are nonwhite, 23 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch, and 19 percent receive special services. In 2005, we received that federal label because of our inability to demonstrate adequate yearly progress for the subgroups on the state’s High School Proficiency Assessment…
To turn this situation around, the school’s leadership team adopted an empirical, data-driven approach to its work, and the faculty redoubled its efforts to reach every child. The faculty created an individualized educational experience for every child, believing in each student’s ability to be successful—as our school, our state, and the federal government define it. And so we evolved. We became a standards-based school, not rhetorically, but holistically. From daily lessons to course maps to common end-of-course assessments, the gap between what was taught and what was measured diminished greatly.
The administration partnered with the faculty to raise standards by eliminating course offerings that lacked rigor, a process known as “detracking.” On-level courses were set at a college-prep level. The career-and-college-prep level, where our faculty and counselors had guided students with academic difficulties, was eliminated. Those same students can now share demanding curriculum alongside stronger students with better parent advocacy… We committed ourselves to equalizing the learning experiences for our regular and special education students. No Child Left Behind’s requirement for highly qualified teachers motivated us to send our special education teachers back to school. They learned subject-area curricula equal to the knowledge of any content-area expert. Our classrooms are co-taught by educators with subject-area and pedagogical expertise…
The result? In 2013, more than 96 percent of our students achieved proficiency in language arts literacy on state assessments. Our students with disabilities achieved 73 percent proficiency. By comparison, in 2008, these numbers were 80 percent and 36 percent, respectively. We narrowed the achievement gap dramatically in the same subject. Our African-American students achieved 96.6 percent proficiency, compared with 68 percent in 2008. Our white students achieved 97.4 percent proficiency compared with 93 percent in 2008. The jump in math was also significant. We reached 93 percent proficiency overall, compared with 72 percent in 2008. Our economically disadvantaged students achieved 78 percent proficiency, compared with 42 percent in 2008.
Rancocas Valley Regional High School District Superintendent Jerry Jelig, in Education Week, explaining how the No Child Left Behind Act’s strong accountability measures helped drive the district to transform education for the children in its care. Such successes show why the Obama Administration’s effort to eviscerate No Child will end up damaging all children, including those from poor and minority backgrounds who have benefited (and need the benefits) the most.
Mathematics education in the United States is broken. Open any newspaper and stories of math failure shout from the pages: low international rankings, widespread innumeracy in the general population, declines in math majors. Here’s the most shocking statistic I have read in recent years: 60 percent of the 13 million two-year college students in the U.S. are currently placed into remedial math courses; 75 percent of them fail or drop the courses and leave college with no degree.
We need to change the way we teach math in the U.S., and it is for this reason that I support the move to Common Core mathematics. The new curriculum standards that are currently being rolled out in 45 states do not incorporate all the changes that this country needs, by any means, but they are a necessary step in the right direction…
In mathematics education we suffer from the widespread, distinctly American idea that only some people can be “math people.” This idea has been disproved by scientific research showing the incredible potential of the brain to grow and adapt. But the idea that math is hard, uninteresting, and accessible only to “nerds” persists. This idea is made even more damaging by harsh stereotypical thinking—mathematics is for select racial groups and men. This thinking, as well as the teaching practices that go with it, have provided the perfect conditions for the creation of a math underclass. Narrow mathematics teaching combined with low and stereotypical expectations for students are the two main reasons that the U.S. is in dire mathematical straights…
An important requirement in the Common Core is the need for students to discuss ideas and justify their thinking. There is a good reason for this: Justification and reasoning are two of the acts that lie at the heart of mathematics. They are, in many ways, the essence of what mathematics is. Scientists work to prove or disprove new theories by finding many cases that work or counter-examples that do not. Mathematicians, by contrast prove the validity of their propositions through justification and reasoning.
Mathematicians are not the only people who need to engage in justification and reasoning. The young people who are successful in today’s workforce are those who can discuss and reason about productive mathematical pathways, and who can be wrong, but can trace back to errors and work to correct them. In our new technological world, employers do not need people who can calculate correctly or fast, they need people who can reason about approaches, estimate and verify results, produce and interpret different powerful representations, and connect with other people’s mathematical ideas.
Stanford University Professor Jo Boaler, in the Atlantic Monthy, explaining how Common Core’s math standards can help children develop the habits of mind needed to both master algebra and think through the abstractions that underlie daily life. This is a point made by Dropout Nation last month in the second podcast in the series on Common Core. Listen to the third Dropout Nation Podcast in the series.
My son, William, is a young man whose direction in life changed because of school choice. [School choice works]… our entire family benefited.
Virginia Walden Ford, whose proto-Parent Power activism in Washington, D.C., spurred reforms that are benefiting kids in the District three decades later, on Twitter, explaining why expanding school choice and Parent Power helps children and the families who love them.
I wrote the nation’s first parent-trigger law. I acted because I understood that education is the civil rights issue of our time and the key to the American dream. I’m the daughter of a mother who attained only a 6th grade education, but who understood that education is what lifts us out of poverty. As a Democratic senator representing the diverse, heavily Latino East Los Angeles-eastern Los Angeles County community and the chair of both the state Senate’s education and prison oversight committees, I understood that if we do not educate, we will incarcerate. California locks away a disproportionate number of Latino and African-American youths, and, nationwide, nearly 70 percent of inmates are high school dropouts.
For years, California’s education department routinely released data on schools with disturbingly high—indeed, morally shameful—percentages of children who fail to score at even basic levels of academic proficiency. These are schools identified as chronically underperforming and in need of intervention, but all too often they were simply ignored, forgotten on bureaucratic lists. Nothing was ever done for them. Ironically, many of these schools were named for civil rights heroes, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. Nonetheless, they were left to languish year after year, most parents unaware of their status. In the 15 years since I was first elected to the legislature, some of those same schools have appeared on the lists again and again.
I am a product of the civil rights movement. I graduated from a high school where I was “counseled” that college was beyond my reach—after all, I lived in one of those zip codes, at the end of a dead-end road in a mostly rural county. But with a mother who had faith and inspiration drawn from the late John F. Kennedy, a farmworkers’ movement, and an intense love of learning, I rose to become the Senate majority leader of the state of California…
In no other part of American life do we tie parents to the land, define them by zip code, and empower government officials who are strangers to families to make fundamental, life-altering decisions on behalf of their children based on five digits of geographic identity. The zip code has become the definitive great divide, a profound separation between high-poverty, minority youths and the American dream.
Undoubtedly, if sweetheart contracts didn’t enable effective teachers to bypass struggling neighborhood schools, and if bureaucrats actually used the federal laws at their disposal to transform such schools, I never would have had to write the parent-trigger law. But that was not the case. Lists of failing schools, representing hundreds of thousands of kids in California, were simply released and promptly ignored. Few people even knew about the lists, and those who did weren’t outraged. So I looked back to the foundations of our democracy and gave parents the right to take on their own government when it refused to act on behalf of their children.
Former California State Senator Gloria Romero, who now runs the Foundation for Parent Empowerment, reminding all of us why Parent Trigger laws and other Parent Power measures are critical to breaking the cycle of educational abuse and neglect heaped upon so many of our children.
A few years ago I sat with a group of urban district leaders in a noisy L.A. restaurant, leaning forward to hear every word from the new Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, John Deasy. Deasy had, admirably, given up a comfortable job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to get back into the fray to try to tackle one of America’s most impermeable school districts. Deasy had the support of the mayor and a couple of years of opportunity. He was optimistic about the task ahead: creating hope, erasing inequity, professionalizing teaching, holding adults accountable, giving families choice.
In nearly any other sector, a man like Deasy—who is able to articulate a strong vision of change and pursue it relentlessly—would be able to get people to follow him and accomplish most anything. But this was LAUSD, where for decades strong leaders were eaten alive by the politics of race and unions and poverty and rampant district dysfunction.
Deasy came out strong in his new position, making aggressive moves toward a new teacher evaluation system that included value-added measures of effectiveness… But more than anything, it was impossible to make challenging policy decisions and maintain the support of LAUSD school board members, who—as in other cities—are influenced by community politics and stakeholder interests, rather than acting like they should, as a governing body that oversees a long-term civic vision and strategic plan…
If you are honest with yourself (and older than 20), you may find yourself believing that if a leader like John Deasy can’t make real progress, the urban superintendency truly is an impossible job. We need to stop relying on heroism and instead start dismantling special interest-captured school boards and other governance structures that get in the way of school improvement for urban students. We need civic leaders to commit to a long-term vision of institutional change that will weather the leadership shift of the moment.
I’ve seen the L.A. story often enough now that it’s starting to feel like a bad video game that you play over and over, always with the same result… If and when Deasy, yet another promising superintendent, leaves, the conversation should not be—as it usually is—about the man. It needs to be about the systems that stood in his way.
Robin Lake of the Center for Reinventing Public Education, noting a point made by Dropout Nation this weekend about the need to move away from the traditional district model. It’s better to move away from old-school models that breed dysfunctional bureaucracies than to keep them around to do further damage to children.
“I’m just not a math person.” We hear it all the time. And we’ve had enough. Because we believe that the idea of “math people” is the most self-destructive idea in America today. The truth is, you probably are a math person, and by thinking otherwise, you are possibly hamstringing your own career. Worse, you may be helping to perpetuate a pernicious myth that is harming underprivileged children—the myth of inborn genetic math ability.
Is math ability genetic? Sure, to some degree. Terence Tao, UCLA’s famous virtuoso mathematician, publishes dozens of papers in top journals every year, and is sought out by researchers around the world to help with the hardest parts of their theories. Essentially none of us could ever be as good at math as Terence Tao, no matter how hard we tried or how well we were taught. But here’s the thing: We don’t have to! For high school math, inborn talent is just much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence…
So why do we focus on math? For one thing, math skills are increasingly important for getting good jobs these days—so believing you can’t learn math is especially self-destructive. But we also believe that math is the area where America’s “fallacy of inborn ability” is the most entrenched. Math is the great mental bogeyman of an unconfident America. If we can convince you that anyone can learn math, it should be a short step to convincing you that you can learn just about anything, if you work hard enough…
Is America more susceptible than other nations to the dangerous idea of genetic math ability? Here our evidence is only anecdotal, but we suspect that this is the case. While American fourth and eighth graders score quite well in international math comparisons—beating countries like Germany, the UK and Sweden—our high-schoolers underperform those countries by a wide margin. This suggests that Americans’ native ability is just as good as anyone’s, but that we fail to capitalize on that ability through hard work. In response to the lackluster high school math performance, some influential voices in American education policy have suggested simply teaching less math—for example, Andrew Hacker has called for algebra to no longer be a requirement. The subtext, of course, is that large numbers of American kids are simply not born with the ability to solve for x.
We believe that this approach is disastrous and wrong. First of all, it leaves many Americans ill-prepared to compete in a global marketplace with hard-working foreigners. But even more importantly, it may contribute to inequality. A great deal of research has shown that technical skills in areas like software are increasingly making the difference between America’s upper middle class and its working class. While we don’t think education is a cure-all for inequality, we definitely believe that in an increasingly automated workplace, Americans who give up on math are selling themselves short.
Miles Kimball and Noah Smith, in Quartz, essentially explaining why all children should get strong, college-preparatory math needed for success in an increasingly knowledge-based world.
Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Numerous commemorations will be held, and meritorious amongst these should be a focus on his advocacy for mental health and the rights of the disabled, providing an eloquent voice on these major health, social and economic issues. Ultimately, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted by Congress in 1975.
Yet, this week’s scheduled court proceedings for a youth in Riverside County will shed light on how effective – or ignored – Kennedy’s advocacy has been on California’s compliance in protecting the rights of children covered by that landmark legislation. A judge will decide where Joseph Hall will be placed for shooting to death his abusive father, a state leader of the neo-Nazi movement, when the boy was 10 years old. A judge earlier this year convicted Joseph, now 13, of second-degree murder for shooting his father, Jeffrey Hall, while he slept on a couch May 1, 2011, despite history of physically abusing the boy and his other children.
Joseph, seemingly, had been placed on a fast track to a long stay in California’s notorious, troubled juvenile prison system until a team of lawyers and advocates intervened to challenge his treatment by county and education officials as emblematic of yet another “throwaway kid” in California’s penal system, where too few lawyers and judges are trained in understanding the 1975 federal law. His team wants him placed in a residential treatment facility.
Beyond the sensationalism of the murder case itself, Joseph’s team argue that his rapid conviction and denial of timely and essential emotional and disability diagnostics, treatments and placement considerations is an opportunity to actually shine a spotlight on how youth – like Joseph – with emotional and disability needs are too easily locked up and then discarded because of heightened costs associated with providing appropriate treatments for emotionally abused and disabled kids. Joseph’s advocates are challenging state and local juvenile, probation and education agencies, which, they allege, acted in their own fiscal interests while circumventing justice for Joseph….
They allege that California has a disturbing and blemished record of compliance and advocacy on behalf of disabled and abused children – particularly those who find themselves in an otherwise obscure and barely understood juvenile justice system. In Joseph’s case, they contend that the Riverside County juvenile hall and its Office of Education have callously and consistently violated laws in a blatant calculation to shave costs by expediting and shifting Joseph to the state youth facility without securing mandated provisions for his behavioral, mental health, educational and rehabilitative needs. Undoubtedly, major changes must be made in this Dickens-like juvenile justice underworld out of sight from most Californians if we will ever live up to [Kennedy's] vision and challenge.
What matters?” This is the question Charles Krauthammer, psychiatrist turned Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist, asks as the first sentence of his new book, a memoirish collection. The book is called Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics. He explains that the working title for the book had originally been There’s More to Life than Politics and that it was going to include just about everything but politics. Naturally, though, a man who “left a life in medicine for a life in journalism devoted mostly to politics” decided that he couldn’t disengage. Thanks be to God.
There is, of course, much more to life than politics. Particularly if by politics what you mean is the ups and downs, the ESPN SportsCenter–like media coverage of Washington maneuvering and campaign “horse races.” But as Krauthammer points out, there is actually no escaping politics. Nor should we seek to. “Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything,” he writes, “because, in the end, everything — high and low and, most especially, high — lives or dies by politics. You can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. This is not ancient history. This is Germany 1933.”
If we start thinking that we are above politics, we need to remember that if we don’t get our hands dirty paying attention to who it is we are electing, and to policy and pending decisions, we are shirking a responsibility. Disengagement is dangerous. Engagement is our civic duty. How do you get your politics right? There is a synergy, a symbiosis between right living and a healthy politics. Our politics reflects our individual and community lives. Matters of character are matters of politics.
The media thrive on conflict and scandal, and so it’s often the worst of political life that we focus on. But politics is necessary. “Politics is,” Krauthammer explains, “the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians. Fail to keep them at bay, and everything burns”. “First and above all else,” he continues, “you must secure life, liberty and the right to pursue your own happiness.” The “glories yielded by . . . successful politics lie outside itself. Its deepest purpose is to create the conditions for the cultivation of the finer things”… The alternatives, Krauthammer writes, are things like the “deranged Stalinist politics” of North Korea, creating “a land of stunning desolation and ugliness, both spiritual and material.” Or “Taliban Afghanistan, which, just months before 9/11, marched its cadres into the Bamiyan Valley and with tanks, artillery and dynamite destroyed its magnificent cliff-carved 1,700-year-old Buddhas lest they — like kite flying and music and other things lovely — disturb the scorched-earth purity of their nihilism.”
Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review, on why all of us, including families and school reformers, must be fully engaged in politics to help everyone, especially our children, have better lives.
The planet is transitioning from its Industrial Age to its Information Age. The Industrial Age’s mechanized physical labor demanded “citizens” with reading and writing literacy… [and] arithmetic, to drive its economies. Those denied access to these literacies—like Mississippi-Delta sharecroppers so famously embraced by the Student-Nonviolent-Coordinating-Committee (SNCC)–were Industrial Age “serfs”… Do you all have to master algebra? Yes, if you all intend to be twenty-first century “Constitutional People” rather than Information Age “serfs”.
Robert Moses, in the Black Star Project’s blog, explaining why all children must learn algebra and other college-preparatory math in order to succeed in the knowledge-based economy. Implementing Common Core’s math standards (the subject of this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast) along with reforms in recruiting high-quality math teachers, is critical to helping our children gain the knowledge they need for success beyond school.
[Former teacher Juliette LaMontagne] concedes that she once knew little to nothing about design or business thinking. But what she did know, deep down, was that our education system is failing the students who find sitting in classrooms all day full-on painful… So she turned education on its head with a project called Breaker. (Yes, an odd name) Home-based in New York City — though with projects elsewhere — Breaker assembles interdisciplinary teams to “drive social innovation and collaborative learning.” Breaker leaders pose social problems, like increasing literacy or inventing urban farming techniques, and invites young people (who apply) to work with experts who have relevant practical skills. Together, the team uses an open-source IDEO design toolkit which lays out a process for collecting information, brainstorming ideas and testing solutions.
The point is to create a sustainable business that solves the problem on an on-going basis, if possible. So instead of a kid learning enough math, engineering, social science, communications skills to build something useful or remarkable later on, maybe, someday in the future, when there’s a job — build now. Learn the necessary skills along the way… Breaker’s problem-solving business is at the center of the work. Actually fix something. Don’t invent a little hands-on project intended to reinforce a lesson. Focus for real on designing a necessary product, service, business…
The question was how to bring more garden space to inner-city areas, so people could grow their own fresh food. The team assembled in Breaker’s New York City space and started collecting data. They discovered that U.S. urban areas have about a million acres of unused land that could be converted into farmland. But lots of these areas are stalled construction projects that lost funding during the recession. So the garden plots needed to be temporary, able to be moved relatively quickly when the owner or the Department of Transportation finally got around to needing the land back. The project became a business called “Farm Blocks,” which manufactures lightweight containers that become modular, raised planting beds…
Currently, Breaker reaches out mainly to 18-24-year-olds, a group whose 15.1 percent unemployment rate is twice the nation’s 7.3 percent rate. But as a frustrated K-12 educator, LaMontagne passionately recommends that schools adopt this go-getter entrepreneurial technique for K-12 kids maddened by educational passivity. “Students say I wish I were out in the real world making something happen. Have students decide what question to ask. The teacher becomes the facilitator. The product is the evaluation.”
Julia Steiny, discussing how relevance and learning can be brought into American public education, and in the process, help kids achieve economic and social freedom for themselves and the communities in which they live.
How America prepares its teachers has been a subject of dismay for many years. In 2005 Arthur Levine, then the president of Teachers College at Columbia University, shocked colleagues (and himself, he says) with a scathing report concluding that teacher preparation programs “range from inadequate to appalling.” Since then the outcry has only gotten more vociferous. This summer the National Council on Teacher Quality described teacher education as still “an industry of mediocrity.” The heartening news is that the universities that have so long resisted pleas to raise their standards are now beginning to have change pushed on them from outside… Philanthropies like the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, which Levine now runs, have been pouring money into reform. And academic entrepreneurs like [Deborah Kenny of the Harlem Village Academies charter schools] are arising to compete with the established schools.
Of all the competing claims on America’s education dollar — more technology, smaller classes, universal prekindergarten, school choice — the one option that would seem to be a no-brainer is investing in good teachers. But universities have proved largely immutable. Educators, including some inside these institutions, say universities have treated education programs as “cash cows.” The schools see no incentive to change because they have plenty of applicants willing to pay full tuition, the programs are relatively cheap to run, and they are accountable to no one except accrediting agencies run by, you guessed it, education schools. It’s a contented cartel.
Among reformers, there is a fair amount of consensus about what it would take to fix things. The first step is to make teacher colleges much more selective. According to one respected study, only 23 percent of American teachers — and only 14 percent in high-poverty schools — come from the top third of college graduates… Once they are admitted, critics say, prospective teachers need more rigorous study, not just of the science and philosophy of education but of the contents, especially in math and the sciences, where America trails the best systems in Asia and Europe. A new study by the Education Policy Center at Michigan State, drawing on data from 17 countries, concluded that while American middle school math teachers may know a lot about teaching, they often don’t know very much about math. Most of them are not required to take the courses in calculus and probability that are mandatory in the best-taught programs.
Former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller pointing out an underlying reason why so many kids are condemned to economic and social enslavement: The shoddy recruiting and training practices of our nation’s university schools of education.
In statehouses across the country, school children deserve to have the Winston Churchill-types in charge. Instead, our statehouses today host too many Neville Chamberlains. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s lack of strong leadership on education, declared one of his top priorities, has caused a stalemate that has embarrassingly failed to achieve any significant reform despite his party’s full control of both houses of the state legislature… Gov. Bob McDonnell campaigned as the education-reform governor of Virginia, but despite his parting shot of securing state-takeovers of failing schools and allowing Teach for America into the state, he still governs a state where a 15-year-old charter school law is so restrictive that only two of these innovative public schools are operating despite the overwhelming evidence that good charter schools can achieve dramatic success with students. The list goes on.
Allegiance to party over principle and the ultimate goal of securing higher political office surely is driving some decisions by governors to avoid fighting the tough fights. But a willingness to do battle, even at the cost of one’s own political longevity, is what marks a truly courageous and effective leader…
To be sure, some of today’s governors hold the promise of becoming tomorrow’s education reform leaders. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker looked teachers’ (and other) unions in the eye and didn’t blink when reform was needed, and along the way expanded that state’s voucher law and strengthened its charter school law. Mike Pence in Indiana and John Kasich in Ohio have built on the reforms they’ve inherited without apology, even acting so bold as to expand school-choice voucher programs. Delaware’s Jack Markell seemingly has unleashed a no-nonsense education secretary with a directive to expand choice and seriously increase accountability of schools, despite his own hesitancy to put on the “reformer” mantle. And Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal has set records for positive education reform lawmaking in education in a state where a devastating and unwelcome storm served as a catalyst for a new public education landscape. Even in these states, however, parents are wondering whether it’s just another round of wasted potential and foregone opportunity, or if the current generation of school children really will be better-schooled than the last.
Former Center for Education Reform President Jeanne Allen, in the Huffington Post, pointing out the need for governors who will work strongly to advance systemic reform on behalf of all children. Schoo reformers must build the grassroots and political base needed to give such governors the support needed to transform American public education.
When Cory Booker commenced his stately coronation march toward the late Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat last Spring, pundits dismissed his GOP opponent Steve Lonegan as a hapless also-ran, unlikely to sway blue-ish Jersey towards his reactionary Tea Party platform. But with the October 16th election just one week away the race is tightening and, according to one recent poll, Booker, remarkably, is only 13 points ahead. While the Newark mayor will almost certainly win, his victory margin will be far slimmer than earlier projections despite the gulf between Lonegan and the political views of most New Jerseyans…
Last week, in a sign of desperation, Mike Bloomberg made an emergency drop of $1 million to buy TV ads to bolster Booker’s vapid campaign. On Friday Booker will begin a five-day bus tour across the state to muster support. Some cakewalk. It’s not what Lonegan’s doing right. It’s what Booker’s doing wrong…
Take the candidates’ dispute over the Common Core, the state-driven set of academic standards developed by the National Governors Association intended to ensure that all American children, regardless of place of residence, have equal access to a rigorous curriculum. Lonegan’s against it, of course. The Common Core, he insists, is merely federal interference (never mind that it’s state-led) and a violation of states’ rights (never mind that each state’s participation requires legislative approval). At a recent news conference in Trenton, Lonegan (clearly a “Walking Dead” fan) told reporters, “[w]e should not allow the federal government to take over the control of our children’s minds.” One of his compadres at the presser described the Common Core as politically comparable to Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany…
Everyone knows that the Newark Mayor is an ardent supporter of the Common Core, as well as other local and national efforts to promote educational equity for all kids. Yet here he’s transparently underplaying his passion for urban education, creating the impression of equivocation. He sounds weak. In turn, Lonegan sounds strong.
Laura Waters of NJ Left Behind, taking aim at the Democratic candidate for the Garden State for his weak defense of systemic reform. Which raises real questions about whether Booker will be a reliable ally of reformers if he wins the seat formerly occupied by Frank Lautenberg. This is why reformers must continually advocate (and play stronger roles in election politics) in order to keep politicians in line.
What a morning for New York: Nearly 20,000 moms and dads and kids marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall Park to demand good schools. Like their forebears in Selma, they marched for freedom.
Meet New York’s charter movement. Ninety-three percent of charter-school children in this city are black or Latino.
On Tuesday, their parents carried signs saying: “My Child, My Choice” and “Charter Schools Are Public Schools.” And they have a message for Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and his allies in the teachers union: Get off our schoolhouse doorstep!
The message is timely. Though de Blasio styles himself a defender of the underprivileged, he is working against these families by calling for charters to pay rent and for a moratorium on placing charters in unused space in traditional schools. These are charter-killers, and de Blasio pushes them for a simple reason: Charters are good schools, and the teachers unions don’t like good schools outside their control.
They don’t like these schools because they eliminate excuses for failure. Every day, charters prove that with a good school, an inner-city child can learn.
The New York Post, making clear how expanding school choice in New York City and elsewhere helps take on the most-important civil rights and urban renewal issue of this time.
The substantial growth over time in the special education gap between charter school students and traditional public school students who also applied to attend a charter school in kindergarten suggests that a meaningful part of the growth in the special education gap could derive from differences between charter and traditional public schools… For this analysis, I focus exclusively on the sample of lottery applicants. Restricting the analysis to include only those students who applied to attend a charter school in kindergarten improves the comparison between later outcomes of charter school students to traditional public school students who are very similar to them. This sort of analysis goes a long way to account for the differences— many of which are unobserved in an administrative dataset—between the type of student who seeks to attend a charter school and the average student in a traditional public school…
Enrolling in a charter school in kindergarten decreases the overall likelihood that a student in the sample is observed in special education in a particular year by about 1.1 percentage points. A year of charter schooling decreases the probability that a student has an IEP by about 0.866 percentage points relative to if the student had attended a traditional public school. Charter schooling has differing effects on rates of different special education classifications. Charter schooling significantly decreases the likelihood that a student is classified as having an SLD or an emotional disability. However, it does not influence the likelihood that the student is classified as having a speech or language impairment or another health impairment.
The results from these regression analyses suggest that a meaningful part of special education gap is explained by the decreased likelihood that a charter school student is classified in special education. A decreased probability of classification into special education increases the special education gap, but does so in a seemingly positive way, as charter school students simply become less likely to be placed into special education than they would have had they instead attended a traditional public school…
I confirm that there is a meaningful difference in the percentages of students in charter and traditional public schools who are enrolled in special education in New York City. The special education gap is relatively large in kindergarten, and it grows considerably as students progress through elementary grades… the growth in the special education gap over time occurs almost exclusively in the mild and subjectively diagnosed category of specific learning disability. Analysis of data… demonstrates that attending a charter school itself leads to a significantly lower probability that a student will be in special education in a later year.
Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute, in a study released by the University of Washington’s Center for Reinventing Public Education, showing how charters avoid putting children into special education ghettos — and on the path to despair.
The expansion of charter schools (and other forms of school choice) has once become a subject of debate, especially in New York City and Boston, where mayoral elections have put the spotlight on the legacies of outgoing mayors in both cities, Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Menino in transforming education. Menino, in particular, has done well in overhauling traditional districts under his control. But it still struggles to provide all children with high-quality teaching and comprehensive college-preparatory curricula. Expanding charters, as done in cities such as Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, where charters serve, respectively, 41 percent and 76 percent, of all school-aged children (as of 2012, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools), can help more families, especially those from poor and minority households, provide their children with opportunities for brighter futures. But Menino has been less-aggressive than other mayors across the country in charter school expansion; only 10 percent of all kids in Beantown are serve by charters. And it will be up to the one of the two men vying to succeed Menino – Marty Walsh and John Connolly — to make charter school expansion a reality once one of them takes office.
In this Voices of the Dropout Nation, real estate executive Jacob Grossman, who co-chairs the advisory board of the Edward Brooke Charter Schools in Boston (and grandson of Kivie Kaplan, who was president of the NAACP from 1966 to 1975), explains why expanding charters is critical to addressing the civil rights issue of our time, both in Boston and throughout America. Read, consider, share, and take action.
Recently I listened to an interview with Bernice King, the daughter of the famed civil rights leader, as she spoke about her father and the progress the United States has made fifty years after his March on Washington. Without question, our country has made great strides in working towards equality. But we are not attentive enough to the largest problem at hand. With Boston’s mayoral race at the forefront of people’s minds — which coincides with the imminent vacancy of the Boston Public Schools Superintendent post, it is an important time to focus on our schools.
To begin, I must admit that I am a reluctant supporter of charter schools. As a Republican in tradition of socially liberal and fiscally conservative icons such as former U.S. Senator Edward Brooke, I wish that all of our traditional public schools offered challenging and engrossing opportunities for our kids. But urban public schools continually fall short. I do not desire to assign blame, but rather highlight a broken system which has lost track of its priority – our children – and focuses instead on the benefits to the adults. My wife and I grudgingly left our beloved South End neighborhood with our young son because we did not feel confident that he would get a rigorous public education in Boston Public Schools.
Just 10 percent of ninth graders in Boston Public Schools go on to graduate from a four- year college. Forty-two of families with children in Boston say that they have thought about leaving the city solely because of our schools. To be abundantly clear, this is not because the administrators or teachers in Boston Public Schools are bad. The local system and school systems across the country are not arming the players with the tools to win.
I am afraid that we are “educating” a generation of urban kids who will not be equipped with the skills to succeed in life. This isn’t as visible and outwardly hurtful as a “No Blacks” sign over a water fountain, but its consequences are deleterious to society and the people in the system. Statistics show that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to end up in jail or prison than those who graduate.
We are failing our kids by capping charter school growth. Charter schools are public schools with two major distinctions. First, they are not subject to union contracts. Practically speaking, this means they can create their own curriculum, set their own hours, reward effective teachers and terminate ineffective ones – much like any private business. Secondly, to gain placement in a charter school, a parent simply needs to complete an information card to enter their child into a lottery. A charter school is a free market system whereas a tradition public school is not. Charter school administrators have the opportunity to lead with a focus on meritocracy and efficacy while a union-governed system is ruled by seniority and a politically negotiated contract.
To be more clear: the framework which governs how Boston Public Schools operate (from length of school day, to teacher reward and tenure) is the Boston Teachers Union contract which is negotiated by politicians who also ensure that the streets are clear of trash, potholes are filled, and that crime in the city is on a downward trend.
Charter schools are not the answer to all problems. In fact, there are ineffective charter schools just like there are ineffective traditional public and private schools. However, the competition and innovation that the mere existence and expansion of charter schools creates is a benefit to the students in all our schools. Without a union contract, a charter school can terminate an ineffective teacher, whereas a public school teacher may have tenure. With the ability to create its own curriculum and schedule, a charter school can maximize learning time and provide innovative programming that fosters real and quantifiable learning growth.
As a consumer and business person, I love competition. It generally results in a better outcome for me and my fellow consumers. Companies fighting for my business can result in more pioneering products and better pricing. Why wouldn’t we encourage more competition in our education system? Parents select a charter school because they think their kids will be better off for attending them. If a specific charter school is weak or a specific traditional public school is strong, the market forces will lead to the closure of the bad schools and strengthen demand in the good schools. As a taxpayer, I would like to see our education dollars result in more positive outcomes that will empower our kids to develop skills that will enable them to succeed in life after school.
In Massachusetts, we pride ourselves on our strong institutions of higher learning, our entrepreneurship in the life sciences, healthcare and biotech fields, as well as our robust financial services industry. We should expand our national leadership position in education reform and embrace competition supplied by charter school growth.