Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Picting: The New Literacy Amid Declining Writing & Reading Skills

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Carol-Josel-appleIn this era of selfies and emojis, it’s no surprise that, in a recent article, veteran elementary/middle school teacher Chrissy Romano-Arrabito says that picting–using images in place of text to convey thoughts and ideas–“is becoming the norm among today’s digital-first students.” And that, she posits, might just be a new literacy

With no mention of the ongoing decline in reading and writing skills, she continues with such facts as:

  1. Snapshot allows its more than 173 million daily users capture video and pictures that vanish in a few seconds.
  2. Social networking Instagram enjoys more than 400 million daily users all  with the ability to share both photos and videos.
  3. YouTube boasts over 5 billion videos.
  4. 75% of tweens & teens engage in social media like those above, Facebook and Twitter, too

Meanwhile, though 90% of classroom time remains text-based, 90% of non-school time is spent with image-based materials via such sites as those above.

The result: The National Center for Education Statistics finds that SAT mean scores in writing dropped from (more…)

from Mark Binelli’s “The Michigan Experiment” on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

123rf-education-21508154Again, with thanks to Mark Binelli’s “The Michigan Experiment” talking about U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Give a listen and start worrying…

  • “Nationally, the pro-charter tent is large and unwieldy enough to include education-reform wonks, hedge-fund managers, billionaire philanthropists and politicians from both parties, and Trump’s tapping of DeVos has placed the movement in a complex situation. Despite the policy ignorance displayed in her confirmation hearing, she’s an ally, and one whose influence on the 2018 Trump administration budget is already evident: Amid huge cuts to overall education spending, there’s a $517 million increase in funding for charters and private-school vouchers and an additional $1 billion worth of grants set aside for local districts willing to implement ‘open enrollment’ programs’ (allowing students to attend any area public schools, charters included, and take allotted stated and federal funds with them.)”
  • “Eighteen Republican governors sent the Senate’s education committee a letter in strong support of DeVos and what they called her promise to ‘streamline the federal education bureaucracy’ and ‘return authority back to state and local school boards.”
  • “But even many charter proponents are troubled by the Michigan model that DeVos has such a crucial role in creating. In a column in Education Week published in March, Greg Richmond, the president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, corrected ‘friends and neighbors’ who assumed he must be happy about the new education secretary, explaining that he rejected a ‘free-market approach to charter schooling’ that ’embraces the principles of choice and autonomy while gutting accountability’ and insisting that ‘true supporters of charter schools will not abide by this co-optation of what it means to be a charter school.’ With DeVos and her ideas ascendant in Washington, Michigan has become a symbol–and, for some, a cautionary tale–of a movement gone astray.”
  • Says Bryan Newland, Bay Mills Indian Community board member & tribal judge, “I learned at a relatively young age not to ascribe malice to people as a motivation. I think when she [DeVos] says, ‘I care about having our kids learn,’ I believe that. But, she didn’t go to public school. Her kids didn’t go. My guess is she doesn’t hang out with a lot of people who know what it’s like going to a school with 50 percent people of color. And I haven’t seen evidence that she’s taken the time to learn.”

 

 

 

Facebook Blocked Ads from the Network for Public Education Critcizing School Choice

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
 

WITH THANKS TO THE NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION & DIANE RAVITCH:

I earlier posted Steven Singer’s account of being blocked by Facebook when he tried to post a criticism of school choice.

The Network for Public Education tried to post an ad critical of school choice during “school choice week” and was permanently banned by Facebook.

Carol Burris wrote this description of our ouster:

“During School Choice Week, we rebranded the week, ‘School Privatization Week’. We were careful to make sure that the logo we created, which played off the Choice Week logo, was quite dissimilar and therefore could not be confused with the choice logo, or be in violation of copyright.

“We made it a Facebook ad. It was accepted and all was fine. Then, after a few days, Facebook refused our buys and blocked us from boosting any of our posts. We are still blocked from boosting or buying nine months later.

“I tried to contact Facebook by email. No reply. I called the number. It was disconnected. I spent a day trying to reach a human being. It was impossible. Network for Public Education is in the Facebook doghouse and we have no idea why.

“Yet Russians can place awful ads that try to sway our elections.”

An interesting series of questions:

Why does Facebook block posts and ads that are critical of School Choice?

Why do their algorithms fail to recognize ads that interfere in our elections but block criticism of School Choice?

Why do their algorithms ignore ads placed by Russian troll farms yet block ads placed by the Network for Public Education?

Is this chance, bad luck, faulty algorithms, or the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative at work?

Steven Singer Was Blocked by Facebook for Writing This Post: ”School Choice Is a Lie”

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
 

WITH THANKS STEVEN SINGER AND DIANE RAVITCH:

Steven Singer was blocked by Facebook for a week because of the post you are about to read. This post “violated community standards.” Steven Singer was censored by an algorithm. Or, Steven Singer was censored by the Political Defense team that tries to prevent any criticism of charter schools and TFA. This team swarms Facebook and other social media and complains that a post or tweet is “offensive” and the machine blocks the offending post.

This is the post by Steven Singer that has been blocked. This is the lie about “school choice” that DeVos and ALEC and charter promoters don’t want you to read.

He writes:

Neoliberals and right-wingers are very good at naming things.

Doing so allows them to frame the narrative, and control the debate.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with “school choice” – a term that has nothing to do with choice and everything to do with privatization.

It literally means taking public educational institutions and turning them over to private companies for management and profit.

He adds:

There are two main types: charter and voucher schools.

Charter schools are run by private interests but paid for exclusively by tax dollars. Voucher schools are run by private businesses and paid for at least in part by tax dollars.

Certainly each state has different laws and different legal definitions of these terms so there is some variability of what these schools are in practice. However, the general description holds in most cases. Voucher schools are privately run at (at least partial) public expense. Charter schools are privately run but pretend to be public. In both cases, they’re private – no matter what their lobbyists or marketing campaigns say to the contrary.

They take money from public schools that serve all students and give it to privatized schools that choose their students and expel those they don’t want.

Charters and vouchers are the Walmartization of public education. They introduce corporate chains to run what used to be neighborhood public schools. The only difference is that everyone may shop at Walmart, but not everyone who applies will be accepted at a choice school. The school does the choosing, not the family.

Steven reinforces what I wrote in Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. “School choice” is a hoax, a lie. It is promoted by rightwing ideologues and by Democratic politicians hungry for funding by the financial sector, which sees schools as an emerging industry. Don’t be fooled.

School choice is privatization. And privatization is very bad for those who are not chosen. And very bad for our democracy.

Charter Schools: Part of the Problem or the Solution and 19+ Should-Know Facts

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

As you read on, keep these facts in mind:

  • The 2015 Kids Count report found that children living in poverty jumped from 18% to 22% between 2008 and 2013.
  • According to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau, the child poverty rate among African-Americans was 39%.
  • In 2103, 48% of African-American children and 37% of Latino children had no parent working a full-time, year-round job.
  • The Economic Policy Institute finds that, by age of 14, 25% of African-American children have had a parent—typically a dad—imprisoned; on any given day, 10% of them have had a parent in jail or prison, and that’s 4 times more than in 1980.

Making schools better with national standardsNow on to the charter vs. traditional public school controversy…

By the 1960s and 70s, innovative schools were opening in such cities as Philadelphia and Chicago. Then in 1988, Albert Shanker, as president of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke about the meager 20% of students benefiting from a traditional public education. His solution: charter schools, “where teachers would be given the opportunity to draw upon their expertise to create high-performing educational laboratories from which the traditional public schools could learn.”

That was the intent, the promise, and, in 1992, the first true charter school, City Academy High School, opened its doors in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In the following years, charter schools found advocates in both Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush, but it took Obama to make it a federal school reform priority and included it as an application incentive in his $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program.

Now, Donald Trump is at the helm, and his controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is  a vocal charter school champion.

Indeed, her resume includes serving as chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC). Describing itself as “the nation’s leading school choice advocacy group,” it boasts that it’s “a national leader in the fight to boldly reform America’s broken education system.”

Nevertheless and as an aside, a 2016 Gallup survey found that 76% of parents are “broadly satisfied with the education their oldest child receives;” 36% are “completely satisfied.”

Meanwhile, the AFC site further states, “The American Federation for Children is breaking down barriers to educational choice by creating an education revolution that empowers parents to choose the best educational environment for their children, so all children, especially low-income children, have access to a quality education.”

And that, say charter advocates, is the whole point—the ability to offer parents alternative school settings for their children, ones that are innovative, competitive, and accountable. Moreover, unlike traditional public schools, if performance standards are not met, the charter is revoked, said school is shut down.

What’s not to like? It all sounds so good, so promising, and yet (more…)

12 Things To Know about ADD and ADHD

Monday, February 27th, 2017
  1. ADD is no longer an acceptable medical term, replaced solely now by ADHD.
  2. Per the CDC, ADHD affects 11% of our 14- to 17-year-olds; that adds up to some 6.4 million children, and the numbers are rising.
  3. There are three different categories of ADHD:ADHD Cloud
  • Those with INATTENTIVE ADHD struggle to stay on task and concentrate on just one thing. They also often make careless mistakes, have trouble paying attention, fail to follow through on directions, homework, and/or chores. Moreover, they are also often unorganized, seem not to listen when being spoken to, and likely to lose things.
  • Those with HYPERACTIVE-IMPULSIVE ADHD have trouble sitting still, needing to get out of their seats on occasion and even wander about the classroom. Symptoms include fidgeting, tapping hands and/or feet, and feeling restless. Talking excessively and Interrupting others is common as are having trouble waiting their turn and quietly engaging in leisurely activities.
  • Those with COMBINATION ADHD show signs of both Inattentive and Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD.
  1. Only physicians or other health care professionals can diagnose ADHD.
  2. For some, symptoms resolve themselves over the years; if not, symptoms can become less noticeable and bothersome.
  3. Symptoms can also change over time, such as excessive running about morphing into fidgeting and feelings of restlessness in teens.
  4. According to parent surveys, about 50% of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms as adults.
  5. ADHD can manifest itself even in adults.
  6. The Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1975 (IDEA) covers ADHD under the “other health impairment” category and ensures that students with a disability are provided with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that meets their individual needs.

In fact, IDEA ensures that the more than 6.5 million infants, toddlers, and kids of all ages with disabilities receive the services they need and “governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services” to them.

Meanwhile, an appropriate education as defined by FAPE can mean enrollment in a regular education class, a regular ed setting with special aids and services, or special education in a separate classroom for part or all of the day

  1. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects children with disabilities that, for the most part, limit “one or more major life activities,” such as learning in the case of ADHD and safeguards them against discrimination. It also requires public school districts to provide that free and appropriate education to all students with a disability regardless of its nature or severity.
  2. Whenever a school district suspects a student has a disability that may require special education and/or related services, it must conduct an evaluation.
  3. Parents can also request an evaluation when ADHD is suspected.

Click here for more information.

 

Did you know…

Friday, February 10th, 2017

That “about 10 million prime-age men aren’t in the labor force–a lingering casualty of the Great Recession,” write USA Today‘s Paul Davidson and Roger Yu. Moreover, they note that, in the meantime, wage increases didn’t budge much at all during the Obama years; indeed, they were stagnant at about 2% for most of the “recovery.”

“Talking back” to California liberals

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

USA Today reader Noah Peterson recently wrote a letter to the editors in which he said, “I live in California… and I wear a bright, red hat that really infuriates people. My hat has a patriotic phrase on the front, ‘Make America Great Again,’ but, from the looks I get, you’d think it was some sort of communist propaganda. Contrary to the belief of those who see me wear it, I am not a racist, sexist, or bigot…

The truth is, I’m sick of the politically correct nonsense. I’m sick of seeing people shamed into silence. My hat is my counterattack. It’s my refusing to change my wardrobe because people are offended. I love American values and the freedom we enjoy–to say what I want to say, believe what I want to believe, and wear what I want to wear–and I won’t let the ill-feelings of others scare me into submission.

Are you offended by the hat I wear? Your answer might say more about you than it does about me.”

Did you know that…

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

According to a recent National Review study, 47% of Detroit charter schools significantly outperformed traditional public schools in reading and 49% of charter schools outperformed them in math. Not too shabby, but that, of course, begs the question, why…

Quotable

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

“Lessons from Finland:

  • Students spend less time in class and doing homework than do their American counterparts…

  • In Finland, teaching is a highly respected, coveted, and comparatively well-paid profession. Only 10% of students who apply to college teaching programs are accepted. Preparation is rigorous; no teacher steps in front of a class without a master’s degree…

  • In Finland, it seems as though they stick to the basics of education, and it’s working. Finnish schools are well-built and practical and not overly reliant on technology. Classrooms are basic, with traditional chairs, tables, and chalkboards instead of interactive white boards…” ~ Ray Bendici

Sexually Explicit Lyrics’ Impact on Young People

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Back in 1949, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” won an Academy Award; in 2016, it made it big again, this time because Minneapolis singer-songwriter Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski found the lyrics to Frank Loesser’s 1944 classic song provocative–and, apparently, they  weren’t alone.

While The Huffington Post‘s Jenna Amatulli called it ” a really screwed-up tune,” The Daily Beast went so far as to describe it as “Everyone’s Favorite Date-Rape Holiday Classic.” Along those same lines, Urban Dictionary lists it under the “Christmas Date-Rape Song” heading.

And so, while many just mindlessly sing along when it pops up on Christmastime radio, Liza and Lemanski dissected its lyrics and then wrote their own version. It put them on the map, so to speak, and earned them the regard of like-minded folks.

But perhaps it would be more effective to target today’s music than a 72-year-old classic. After all, the airwaves are filled nowadays with with songs titlled “F*ck and Run,” “How Many Licks,” and the like.” Along those same lines is the first stanza of Ciara’s “Body Party” which goes like this:

“My body is your party, baby
Nobody’s invited but you baby
I can do it slow now, tell me what you want
Baby put your phone down, you should turn it off
Cause tonight is going down, tell your boys is going down
We in the zone now, don’t stop…”

And those words are actually comparatively tame.

Indeed,”A Feminist Analysis of Popular Music: (more…)

Obama’s Costly Education Legacy

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Writes Education Week’s Alyson Klein, “Obama swept into office in an enviable position for pushing his school agenda. His education secretary, Arne Duncan, had fans on both sides of the partisan aisle. The Democrats had hefty majorities in both chambers of Congress, where lawmakers were itching to update the No Child Left Behind Act. Obama hadn’t gotten the teachers unions’ endorsements, but won the Democratic nomination anyway, freeing him to push for policies the unions opposed, such as evaluations tied to test scores.”

Dreamstime ObamaShe goes on to remind readers that, thanks to his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to jump start the sluggish economy, he started with $100 billion to spend just on education–and that included $4.35 billion for his Race to the Top grant program. The initial one offered up to $700 million each to states if, in their applications, they went along with Obama’s education priorities: standardized tests, teacher evaluations based on student performance, turnaround policies for dealing with struggling schools, expanding data systems, and the Common Core Standards, too. Oh, yes, to win, states’ applications also had to be deemed praise-worthy all around by the powers that be.

Not surprisingly, hungry for money, just about every state (more…)

Common Core’s Shaky Success: Quotes to Consider

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

With thanks to Naomi Nix and her article, “Student Test Scores Are on the Rise. Does That Mean Common Core is Working,” a few quoted differences of opinion:

  • The trend in our state and across the country is clear: Higher standards are translating into meaningful and measurable progress for our students. As we enter a new era in education policy, obviously ushered in by the new federal law, our focus should not be on starting from scratch but rather on building on the hard work of students and educators that has taken place over the last few years.” ~ Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware
  • Critics of the Common Core will continue to push states to get rid of the standards. But their push has less and less credibility as scores go up and students see more and more success. And it’s probably not a coincidence that the one state so far where scores have gone down–Indiana–is a state that dropped Common Core and has since changed its standards and tests multiple times. It’s time for these critics to accept that under the standards, students are making progress.” ~ Scott Sargrad & Coleton Whitaker, Center for American Progress
  • Answering the question, “Are this year’s test results a cause for celebration?: “We need to have a little more patience until we can get some other data to do these analyses. I think it’s a little shortsighted… You just set yourself up for, when the data don’t look great, for people to torpedo the policies.” ~ Morgan Polikoff, University of Southern California
  • from the Brookings Institute: “Implementation of the Common Core State Standards has resulted in not more than a single point in either direction on fourth-graders’ reading scores and eighth-graders’ math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress [the nation’s report card] over a period of six years.”
  • “If student test scores rise at a modest rate, they are more likely to reflect actual learning gains, but if there is a rapid increase, it can indicate that the scores have been artificially inflated. Generally speaking, test scores can become inflated in a number of ways. Some research suggests that when high stakes are attached to a student assessment, teachers tailor their instruction to emphasize concepts of types of questions most likely to appear on the exam. Teachers can also coach students by teaching test-taking tricks…” ~ Daniel Koretz, Harvard University
  • The students who are in the third grade have basically had their entire K-12 career under Common Core. Those are the students who are showing the strongest improvement. ” ~ Scott Sargrad, Center for American Progress

Ed Secretary John King Weighs in on ADHD Services

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

kings-adhd-letterThe U.S, Department of Education is “on it” as they say, this time taking on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to simply as ADHD. One reason: Per the CDC, it affects 11% of our 4- to 17-year-olds, and that not only adds up to some 6.4 million children, the numbers are on the rise.

Know, too, though, that two federal laws are already in place to protect them:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which covers ADHD under the category of “other health impairment.” Originally passed in 1975, it “ensures students with a disability are provided with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs.” As stated, it’s designed “to provide children with disabilities the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability.”

    Says disability.gov, “IDEA requires that special education services be made available to every eligible child with a disability.”

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 addresses children with “a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities”—in this case, learning. This is a “civil rights law that protects children with disabilities from discrimination for reasons related to their disability.”

    Here FAPE means special education placement or regular education classes with aids and services that meet a student’s individual needs. However, says the National Education Association, “It does not ensure a child with a disability will receive an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)…”

However, to clarify a school district’s obligations and responsibilities under the law and to avoid further discrimination, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) first issued its guidelines and then went one step further by posting a “Know Your Rights” document for parents on its website.

Included is (more…)

Dyslexia: The Most Common Learning Disability in the U.S.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Just in case you didn’t know that:

  1. It’s estimated that somewhere between 5% and 17% of the population has dyslexia.
  2. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the U.S.
  3. Some schools don’t acknowledge dyslexia because providing specials services for those so diagnosed is cost-prohibitive.
  4. Many people think dyslexics see letters in the wrong order, as in confusing a b with a d.
  5. Videographer Jonathan Gohrband describes it as “basically looking at a foreign word.”

Indeed…

Says Gabrielle Emanuel, “That’s why dyslexia used to be called ‘word blindness.’ People with dyslexia don’t naturally process process the written word. They don’t easily break it into smaller units that can be turned into sounds and stitched together. This makes reading a laborious–even exhausting–process. Writing, too.”

And while some kids get the help they need and as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) in the company of a trained reading specialist or at least some form of tutoring, not all dyslexics are so fortunate. It comes back to money and how much any one district can afford–which is, again, why some schools don’t even say the word.