|4LAKids: Sunday 5•April•2015|
In This Issue:
And then all that has divided us will merge.
Friday, starting at sundown, was the first day of Passover, in Hebrew: PESACH - The Festival of Freedom.
It was also, for Gentiles: Good Friday – the most solemn of days.
And Friday also marked the eighteenth anniversary of the death of Helen Bernstein - who was a lot of things to a lot of people. Teacher. Mother. Friend. Union leader. Maven – a Yiddish word meaning ‘accumulator of knowledge’.
In Judaic Numerology (Gematria) the number 18 (or actually the total of 1 and 8) equals "CHAI", Hebrew for LIFE. Hence 18 is a blessed+meaningful number.
On Friday at noon a small and very unorthodox MINYAN (the smallest number of believers that can form a congregation) met on the steps of Helen Bernstein’s namesake high school at noon and told small stories and remembered the teacher and the mother and the friend and the union leader and the fighter for social justice and the maven.
The plaque on the wall says:
The world was not changed by what we said, it already had been and continues to be.
ON THURSDAY THERE WAS A MEETING OF THE LAUSD BOARD OF ED EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND PARENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE. Perhaps the best education program in the District that most engages parents is the SLRDP (School Readiness Language Development Program) – so, naturally, most of the meeting was taken up with the District’s proposal to eliminate the already severely reduced SLRDP. Not all at once mind you. Half this year and half the next.
From LAUSD’s own promotional material: “The School Readiness Language Development Program (SRLDP) is an oral language program intended to prepare students for kindergarten. It provides students, including the child who is an English Language Learner (ELL) and needs primary-language instruction; and the child who is a Standard English Language Learner (SELL), who will be four-years old by December 2nd of the year of enrollment, the opportunity to increase the ability to listen, to speak effectively, to use vocabulary appropriately, and to develop academic readiness skills. It provides a parent involvement and education program that helps meet the needs of parents to positively facilitate the prekindergarten child’s developmental potential.”
To get an idea of just how bright the idea to ax SLRDP is, compare+contrast the following two stories: ●Los Angeles Unified Considers Killing Preschool Program & ●Literacy Gap Between Latino and White Toddlers Starts Early, Study Shows
As committee member Kim Pattillo Brownson said: "There’s already 87,000 kids who don’t have seats just within the District’s geographic boundaries who are preschool eligible, many of whom are low-income. Adding 10,000 more kids to that number is an astonishing move for an educational institution."
ALL IS NOT SHINY+WONDERFUL IN CALIFORNIA PUBLIC PRESCHOOLS – which depend on tobacco tax money for funding: Prop 10 of 1998. Unfortunately Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) has been so successful that that funding is drying up; California is being bit-in-the-butt by our own success! And for reasons not fully understood, Gov. Brown (raised by a stay-at-home mom back in the 1940’s) is not a fan of preschool – which he calls childcare.
There are some that bravely “…but don’t quote me!” suggest any future marijuana tax receipts go to state preschool funding. I could support that …but how will we pay for the bullet train?
In truth, preschool can+should be paid for through Local Control Funding Funds …but that would require the locals to get up in arms, take control and insist.
“Implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula provides an exciting opportunity for Early Learning and Development (ELD) advocates to expand access to the programs and services that prepare our young children for academic and lifelong success. Experience tells us that ELD can and should be a prominent component of any K-12 reform strategy, given that ELD initiatives – such as high-quality preschool and infant and toddler care – can make a great difference in student outcomes. A strong body of research shows children’s social-emotional and cognitive development during the period from birth to age 5 greatly influences the degree to which they will be prepared for kindergarten and perform throughout school. With effective preparation and community engagement, local early learning advocates can capitalize on this unique opportunity provided under LCFF implementation to position ELD at the forefront of California’s public agenda for the next decade.” –Children Now | “Leveraging the Local Control Funding Formula: Making the Case for Early Learning and Development in Your School District” | http://bit.ly/1MNYxYB
Either that or every man Jack+Jill of us are going to have to take up a two-pack-a-day habit.
Dr. McKenna got all loveable+curmudgeonly at the meeting and asked what program the angry multitudes of SLRDP teachers+parents+rugrats suggest the District eliminate to fund SLRDP? There wasn’t a person in the room that wasn’t ready to push MiSiS under THAT bus!
It almost made one miss Dr. Deasy, who believed he could fund any+everything with bond funds. Almost.
THE FORCES OF ©ORPORATE $CHOOL ®EFORM ARE NOT WITHOUT THEIR CONVICTIONS, and they picked up eleven more on Monday when eleven teachers and administrators in the Atlanta Public Schools were found guilty of cheating on standardized tests. http://bit.ly/1HyDqCI The Atlanta superintendent was also a plaintiff but died earlier in the month. These folks weren’t in it for the GPA; they were in it for the money. This was not a “you got caught cheating and you have to take an ‘F’ …or make up the test after school”. This was “You’re suspended …You’re expelled …You are convicted felons led away in handcuffs”. And the crime? Conspiracy+Racketeering – under the RICO (‘Racketeer Influenced Criminal Organization’) statute.
Is a ©$® a racket? I only put this stuff out there; this is independent thinking time. You need to reach your own conclusion.
SIMULTANEOUSLY (BUT OBLIVIOUSLY) IN GEORGIA the governor is accused of taking a free plane ride courtesy of ©$® org StudentsFirst (“the group founded by Michelle Rhee”) to check out the ©$® program in New Orleans …but in violation of Georgia law. | http://on-ajc.com/1IeHFXF
[In spurious fairness: Michelle has stepped down from StudentsFirst.]
MEANWHILE IN CALIFORNIA, StudentsFirst (“the group founded by Michelle Rhee”) filed a lawsuit Friday against the California Teachers’ Unions on behalf of: (….wait for it….) California Teachers! http://t.co/QV7cYegBx6 The suit features some of the cast of Vergara v. California …which was brought by Students Matter …not to be confused with StudentsFirst (tgfbMR).
MEANWHILE IN LOS ANGELES and also on Friday Parent Revolution (the group supposedly founded by Ben Austin – but really founded by Green Dot founder Steve Barr) announced that (two) parents from 20th St Elementary School spontaneously started circulating a Parent Trigger petition to take over/make over/whatever that school. | http://t.co/CeuNWCYAWM
Friday is a slow news day. Good Friday is the slowest of news days. Late on Friday was John Deasy’s favorite time to announce shenanigans. Deasy is of course gone …he had nothing to do with any of these shenanigans. He probably didn’t even know about them.
You know that lovely little bridge in Los Feliz/Silverlake, where Franklin Avenue crosses over Monon St., just before you come to Marshall High School? The Shakespeare Bridge? http://bit.ly/1MQjXEu I heard from a guy who knows a guy who works for the city; they will be selling that bridge. I can get it for you for…
…how much do you have in your wallet?
NCLB: “Ironically, it is Democrats who are most determined to preserve President George W. Bush’s legacy of high-stakes testing. It is worthy of note that none of the world’s highest-performing nations—such as Finland, Japan, China, Korea, Canada, Poland, Estonia, and Singapore—tests every child every year; in that burdensome and expensive practice, the United States stands alone.
“This is a useful time to remember that the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act had one purpose: to send additional resources to schools enrolling large numbers of poor children. Over the past two decades, ESEA has become a vehicle for those who believe that standards and testing will cure poverty and low performance, a strategy that has failed to attain its goal after two decades of trying.” - Diane Ravitch: THE LOST PURPOSE OF SCHOOL REFORM | http://bit.ly/1HCMMxl
Take at look at the article: TIME TO COOL IT WITH BASHING SCHOOLS. Read it twice.
In the US we educate all of our kids from 5 or 6 to 18; Special Ed kids until they’re 21. Not just the best and brightest or the rich-and-whitest …but every sam dingle one of ‘em!
There’s plenty of room for improvement. Plenty …but we’re doing a pretty up-and-walking job of it. I take great delight in pointing out the bone-head moves we make and the wrong turns we take; how we get preoccupied with local control like it’s some new thing when local control really doesn’t get much localler than the local school board …in sane jurisdictions the most local of local government.
America has a love-hate relationship with Boards of Education. Mark Twain said: “First God made idiots; that was for practice. Then He made School Boards.” If you remember The Music Man (which is Americana the Musical) the comic foils, the closest thing to bad guys – and the marks in the con (America loves a con!) – is the River City School Board; four yahoos who argue about everything and agree on nothing. But if you blow a pitch pipe they sing in perfect four-part-harmony.
“Singing harmony, in unison, sweet harmony
Gotta hoist the flag and I'll beat your drum.”
All seriousness aside: Happy Eastover everyone, with the colored eggs and the chocolate rabbis.
¡Onward/Adelante! - smf
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED CONSIDERS KILLING PRESCHOOL PROGRAM
by Deepa Fernandes, KPCC 89.3 | http://bit.ly/1D0ltgE
3 April 2015 :: A proposal to save money by eliminating a popular Los Angeles Unified School District free preschool program for low-income families drew the ire of more than 100 parents, teachers and tiny students Thursday as a school board committee considered the cuts.
"There’s already 87,000 kids who don’t have seats just within the geographic boundaries who are preschool eligible, many of whom are low-income," Kim Pattillo Brownson, of the Advancement Project and a member of the district’s Early Education Ad-Hoc committee, said during the afternoon meeting. "Adding 10,000 more kids to that number is an astonishing move for an educational institution."
The committee, which includes school board members Bennett Kayser and George McKenna, providers and advocates, vets issues before they reach the full board.
Celia Ayala, CEO of Los Angeles Universal Preschool and another member of the committee, said she was thrilled last year when the district added $34 million to early education.
“I saw that as a step forward - and now it seems as if we are taking 5 steps backwards,” she said.
The audience in front of them contained a sea of bright yellow t-shirts bearing the slogan “College Begins in Pre-K." A change.org petition to save the program has gathered over 1,800 signatures.
Superintendent Ramon Cortinez's proposal, announced last month, calls for laying off 140 preschool teachers next school year for a savings of $16 million out of the district's $7.3 billion budget. That will result in the loss of 5,040 half-day preschool spots in the Student Readiness and Language Development Program.
The plan calls for cutting the program's remaining teachers and 5,000 preschool slots in the 2016-17 school year, shaving another $20 million off the district's massive budget.
The cuts aren’t final. The full school board still has to approve superintendent's budget. They'll vote on it in the coming months. The new budget year begins July 1.
Even if the Student Readiness and Language Development Program is ultimately shut down, that doesn't mean the district will be completely out of the preschool business. It will continue to offer 15,000 slots under programs that are funded in part by the state and federal government, according to Maureen Diekmann, who heads early childhood programs for the district. L.A. Unified also provides Transitional Kindergarten to an additional 10,000 kids.
Still, the proposal comes as an internal district memo shows “alarming statistics” of Kindergarten- 3rd graders reading well below grade level. Forty nine percent of kindergarteners began the current school year below expectations for basic literacy.
"I cannot afford $800, $900 or $1,000 for my daughter to go to preschool," said Alexandra Hernandez, whose daughter currently attends preschool at Robert Hill Lane elementary school in Monterey Park, one of the schools set to lose preschool in the fall under the proposal.
In a report to the Board that outlined the proposed cuts, the program's value was described as “minimal” because kids are only there 2-3 hours per day.
Diekmann told the committee Thursday that the program is under the axe because it's completely funded by the district's general funds, a rarity in public school budgets.
The district has run the Student Readiness and Language Development Program for 35 years - but it's been battered by cuts since it hit a peak in 2002, serving 16,000 kids.
It's currently at just over 10,000.
Deikman tried to be encouraging during the meeting.
“Who gave up one day of their Spring Break to be here?” she asked, eliciting loud applause.
But she was at a loss to explain how the district would help low-income kids who would lose access to preschool.
She started to suggest children could attend other district preschools but stopped and added: “Honestly, there are not that many seats left in Early Ed centers.”
When pushed for numbers of open seats that might absorb seats to be cut, Diekmann responded “Honestly, I do not have a good answer for that."
LITERACY GAP BETWEEN LATINO AND WHITE TODDLERS STARTS EARLY, STUDY SHOWS
By Teresa Watanabe | LA TIMES | http://lat.ms/1CBRXMP
2 April 2015 :: Latino toddlers whose language comprehension is roughly similar to white peers at 9 months old fall significantly behind by the time they are 2, according to a study released Thursday.
Although earlier studies have shown that Latino children are raised with emotional warmth and develop social skills on par with others when they enter kindergarten, the new research found they are not receiving sufficient language and literacy skills at home, said Bruce Fuller, a UC Berkeley professor of education and public policy and co-author of the study.
"For many Latinos, the home is a nurturing and supportive environment, but it's not necessarily infused with rich language and cognitive challenges," Fuller said. "Being warm and fuzzy may lead to well-behaved youngsters but it doesn't necessarily advance a young child's cognitive agility."
Mothers of toddlers who fell behind were more likely to be foreign-born, low-income and less educated. They were also less likely to read to their children daily or give them as much praise and encouragement as those whose children kept pace with white peers.
The study found, for instance, that only 18% of Mexican American mothers who spoke Spanish at home read to their children daily, compared with 59% of white mothers. Among Mexican American mothers who spoke English at home, 28% read daily.
In addition, other research has found that parents with more education limit television, ask their children more questions, give them more opportunities to articulate their feelings and have them show off their skills -- counting to 10 for grandma, for instance.
Latino mothers also have been found to issue more commands -- set the table, turn off the TV -- which may stem from the need to maintain order in larger families, Fuller said. And Latino mothers tend to believe that children should wait for kindergarten to learn to read, compared with white mothers who see age 2 as the appropriate age for such learning, according to a UCLA study. Fuller said that difference may stem from the traditional Mexican respect for teachers.
Less than half of all Latino 4-year-olds attend preschool, compared with 70% of whites.
Among Mexican-Americans, greater growth was recorded among toddlers whose mothers worked outside the home than those who didn't, even controlling for parent education levels. Fuller said the reason is still "a bit mysterious" but may be connected to greater acculturation and exposure to different parenting practices among working mothers.
The study tracked a nationally representative sample of 4,550 children from birth to 30 months.
The findings underscore the need for widespread parent education and renewal of federal funding for such programs as home visits to train families on effective parenting practices, Fuller said. Most funding is focused on preschool but "we've got to start earlier because "the disparities open up far sooner," he said.
"The good news is that we know what works," he said. "The question is how do we get mom and dad to understand the need to nurture stronger language skills by age 1 and 2 and that parents play a large role in that development?"
Multiple stories :: THE NCLB/ESEA/CORE CALIFORNIA WAIVER DEADLINE: LAUSD meets it – kinda/sort-of
also see: BLIZZARD O’ TWEETS FROM @HowardBlume RE: LAUSD’s #COREdistricts NCLB WAIVER APPLICATION | http://bit.ly/1xVbidp
►LA UNIFIED FILES FOR NCLB WAIVER WITHOUT TEACHER EVALUATION DEAL
by Vanessa Romo | LA School Report | http://bit.ly/19EXhVz
March 31, 2015 4:11 pm :: LA Unified met today’s deadline and filed an application for a No Child Left Behind waiver without one of the key requirements of the U.S. Department of Education — an agreement with the teachers union on a three-level teacher evaluation system.
If approved, the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) Waiver would clear the way for LA Unified to receive $171 million in federal funding.
While the absence of agreement with the union, UTLA, does not automatically disqualify the district or make it ineligible for federal dollars, Rick Miller, Executive Director of CORE, suggested today that the district’s incomplete proposal could jeopardize the district’s application.
“Non-compliance with this commitment, or any other commitment made in the School Quality Improvement plan, puts approval of the Waiver at risk,” he said in a statement.
In fact, Washington will not make final decisions on waivers for several more months, leaving open the possibility that LA Unified and UTLA could reach agreement within that time frame.
The union recognized as much today, issuing a statement late this afternoon saying, “UTLA is in continuing negotiations with the District and we see the CORE Waiver as one of many issues to be addressed in bargaining.”
Teacher evaluations have been part of the current contract negotiations between the district and the union, which are now in the hands of a federal mediator who is not scheduled to meet with the sides again until April 6 and April 15.
UTLA argues that a three-level evaluation system, one that would distinguish a “highly effective” teacher from those who merely meet standards or are below standard, paves the way for merit pay. The union is fighting to keep a two-level system in place.
LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines addressed the issue in a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan earlier this month, writing that the “only obstacle to full compliance…is the long-standing contractual agreement with UTLA that provides only two levels of overall final performance evaluation.”
Cortines offered to fly to Washington D.C. with the president of the teachers union, Alex Caputo-Pearl, to discuss the matter with Duncan in person. It is unclear if Duncan responded to Cortines’ request.
But LA Unified is not unique in failing to meet the administration’s waiver requirements. Georgia’s State Superintendent is asking the feds for an extension to review the application while the state decides on the length of its renewal request. Idaho is also seeking an extension.
And it’s possible Louisiana will ask for a delay as the state’s legislative session conflicts with the waiver renewal timeline.
Closer to home, Santa Ana Unified skirted around the teacher evaluation issue by implementing a three-level system at a single pilot school, according to Deidra Powell, chief communications officer for the southern California district.
“We’re on board for trying it but it’s much easier to see if it works in one school than applying it all over the district,” she told LA School Report.
“This lets us comply with everything and get our application in on time,” she said.
►CORE DISTRICTS ADDRESS CONCERNS
from politico Morning Ed |http://politi.co/1NBAUxt
1 April :: Six districts in California have applied for a three-year extension of their No Child Left Behind waiver, which is on high-risk status. The Education Department told the California CORE districts last fall [http://politico.pro/1vZsYwf ] that their waiver was at risk because they had to finalize plans for a new school quality improvement system and guidance for new teacher evaluation systems. Eight districts originally received the waiver in 2013, but two have since dropped out. The California CORE districts are now trying to address the feds' concerns, finalizing accountability system metrics and updating educator effectiveness guidelines. But the application is missing an important component, LA School Report writes [above ] - an agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles on a three-level teacher evaluation system.
- Nebraska, which doesn't have a waiver from NCLB, also applied for one. But the state's application probably won't meet the Education Department's standards because its teacher evaluation framework is voluntary for districts. More in the Omaha World-Herald: http://bit.ly/1BKPps1
►ESEA WAIVER RENEWALS
Fritzwire backgrounder: by e-mail
April 1 :: Most states looking to renew their No Child Left Behind waivers must file applications with the Education Department by today. Most states want a three-year renewal and that the department will be a better partner. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has heard them, saying [ http://politico.pro/1F9Pfiu ] the agency wants to focus on supporting states while they get deeper into implementation. But it remains to be seen how the agency will deal with states looking for wiggle room. For example, the feds allowed states a one-year delay to incorporate student test scores into teacher evaluations. But Connecticut wants [ http://1.usa.gov/1Nzj3ZG] to extend that for another year, into 2016-17. Federal law requires a 95 percent participation threshold in testing, but Colorado wants [ http://bit.ly/1Dl9LPI ] to ensure that schools aren't penalized no matter how many parents opt children out of testing.
One exception to the three-year renewal trend is Utah, where the state board of education voted [ http://politico.pro/1GH77TX] earlier this month to apply for a one-year renewal - and scrap the application altogether if the state legislature can provide more money. A few states are likely to ask for more time to apply. Georgia wants an extension because the state is still figuring out the length of its renewal request and new state Superintendent Richard Woods wants time to review the application, a state education official said. Idaho is also seeking [ http://bit.ly/1IgOzYX] an extension. Louisiana could ask for a delay, too. The state's legislative session conflicts with the waiver renewal timeline, complicating the application.
Four states going through an expedited waiver renewal process expect to hear from the Education Department. Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia, are each eligible for a renewal of up to four years. They were able to fast-track their renewal requests because they implemented their waiver provisions on time, including more rigorous teacher evaluations.
The feds pulled Washington state's waiver last year after lawmakers failed to pass a bill requiring the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations. A new legislative fix has passed the state Senate and a House panel is considering it. Hundreds of teachers lined up to testify against the bill on Monday, The Olympian reports: http://bit.ly/1CEWWgW . The House panel hasn't scheduled a vote, though Wednesday is the deadline to pass bills out of policy committees. The bill could still go directly to the House floor later this session. Still, it'll likely face a tough road in the Democrat-controlled chamber.
►CONTROL OF L.A. SCHOOL FUNDS AT RISK IN DISPUTE OVER TEACHER EVALUATIONS
By Howard Blume LA Times | http://lat.ms/1aytsHh
1 April 2015 | 11:25AM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District could lose control over $57 million a year in federal funds because of a disagreement over performance evaluations with the teachers union.
The dispute centers on the overall rating of a teacher. The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, wants two options: “meets standard performance” or “below standard performance.”
The school system said it is following federal guidelines that require at least three tiers. It is proposing, in contract negotiations, to rate teachers as effective, developing or ineffective.
Money is at stake because the new evaluation system was tied to an application, due Tuesday, for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. Without the waiver, the law’s rules require that 20% of federal anti-poverty funds must be spent on private, outside tutoring services and to transport students from so-called “failing schools” to other campuses. Nearly all schools that serve low-income students qualify as failing under federal rules.
School districts across the country have complained about the 20% spending mandate, saying that they could use the money more effectively if it were left under their control. The waiver does just that, allowing a school district to decide how to spend these funds.
But there are still strings attached, including a directive to have a teacher evaluation system that relies, in part, on student performance data, and a system with at least three possible grades for a teacher.
The standoff with the union was acknowledged late Tuesday in the application for an extended waiver, which was submitted jointly by L.A. Unified and five other California school districts.
L.A. Unified “has not been able to reach agreement with their bargaining partners at the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to include three levels in their teacher evaluation system,” the letter to the U.S. Department of Education said. The district “understands that this is a requirement … and will continue to work with UTLA through the mediation and bargaining processes to include at least three levels of performance in the teacher evaluation system.”
Losing control over the funds would affect services to students at 187 “high-need district schools,” LAUSD Supt. Ramon Cortines said in a Feb. 26 letter to the union.
Among other things, the district used the funds to restore a portion of summer school programs cut during the recent recession.
“We greatly prefer that work opportunities be granted to our LAUSD teachers, due to their familiarity with our students’ needs, their effectiveness as educators, and our desire to provide these significant earning opportunities to district employees rather than outside vendors,” Cortines said in the letter.
Cortines asked the union to separate the three-level request from other subjects under negotiation, but the union has so far declined.
“UTLA is in continuing negotiations with the district and we see the … waiver as one of many issues to be addressed in bargaining,” the union said in a brief statement.
The union declined to elaborate on why it opposed a three-tiered system, but it has been wary of any changes that could undermine traditional job protections. Currently, when layoffs are necessary, teachers are let go based primarily on seniority. A different system could make it easier to lay off instructors based on performance evaluations, experts have said.
California’s seniority system for teachers was successfully challenged last year in litigation. In Vergara vs. California, an L.A. Superior Court judge threw out key teacher job protections, ruling that they resulted in harm to students. That decision is on hold pending appeal.
A federal spokeswoman said this week that the Education Department is not backing down from its teacher evaluation requirement, but it also is spacing out the review of applications through the spring and summer.
As a result, there could be time for L.A. Unified to reach an accord with the union despite this week’s deadline.
The state of Washington lost its waiver last year over teacher evaluation issues. Some states and districts have concluded the waiver is not worth the trouble.
The waiver “has impeded progress towards working more collaboratively to move our schools and classrooms forward,” according to a joint statement issued last year by the Sacramento City Unified School District and its teachers union.
TIME TO COOL IT WITH BASHING SCHOOLS
by Lee Funk :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet | http://bit.ly/1IyYl98
April 01, 2015 :: Before the upcoming presidential race’s political climate gets too warm, let’s moderate the heated rhetoric about the dismal state of American education with some cold facts and careful analysis.
The leading Republican candidate, Jeb Bush (despite lack of a formal declaration to date), is being touted as a potential education reformer. Meanwhile, Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, has already announced NEA’s commitment to influencing poll results.
No real surprise. Ever since “A Nation at Risk” was published in the early ’80s, our schools have been tossed around like a slippery sphere in a game of beach volley ball for the sake of grandstanding. But the facts have repeatedly been lost in the sand so here are three informational points that should be tallied when keeping score.
CONTRARY TO CLAIMS OF MANY POLITICIANS AND POLICY MAKERS, U.S. STUDENTS DO WELL IN INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION.
Shortly after taking his position as Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan commented on results of testing from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) saying “American students are poorly prepared to compete in today’s knowledge economy….”
But that comment and others like it completely ignore the democratic structure of the American student body and, in so doing, overlooks the essential requirement for valid comparative evaluation –making sure samples are similar in nature.
In our country there is limited tracking and no stratified transfers as pupils progress through the system. It is completely the opposite in many other industrialized countries. Among nations participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment – the measure frequently used to gauge academic achievement throughout the international community – 26 engage in some form of tracking for students between the ages of 10-16.
The result is that, as test takers increase in age, all American students – regardless of scholastic ability – compete with top performers from other nations. Since rankings are based on mean scores, the results for the United States will inevitably be driven downward.
Comparisons are also skewed by a similar phenomenon associated with socio-economic status. “Because in every country, students at the bottom of the social class distribution perform worse than students higher in that distribution, U.S. average performance appears to be relatively low partly because we have so many more test takers from the bottom of the social class distribution,” the Economic Policy Institute has noted.
Besides, a highly relevant factor, in terms of the economic and cultural well-being of a society, is the proportion of high performing students; in that regard, the United States is doing very well indeed. When examining results from the PISA and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, researchers in “Nature,” a weekly journal of science, reported “[E]ducation testing shows formidable US strength as the largest producer of top-scoring students.” That’s in sheer numbers, of course, but even when population differences are considered, “[T]he United States has a higher percentage of top-performing students than 5 of the 14 others in the top-ranked group of countries with high average scores.” This rate places America in the top 10 among nations with the highest achieving test takers.
WE SPEND MORE PER CAPITA ON EDUCATION THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD AND – AGAIN, DESPITE A COMMON PARTISAN SLANT – IT’S PAYING OFF PRETTY WELL.
According to University of Southern California Rossier staff, when considered in relation to 11 other industrialized nations, in 2011 we averaged $7,743 per student. The United Kingdom was second highest at $5,834.
That’s the price we pay for a literacy rate of 99 percent (third in comparison to the same group of nations).
It’s also the cost for diversity.
“The US ranks 7th highest among OECD countries in the percentage of immigrant students enrolled,” the NEA asserted in a recent paper.
And we should never forget that universal schooling in the U.S. includes not only those who are disadvantaged, from another country or who speak another language, but also every single person through the age of 21 with a disability – no matter how severe.
LOCAL CONTROL WORKS. AS A MATTER OF FACT, IT WORKS EXTREMELY WELL.
The most comprehensive intrusion by the federal government into education was the No Child Left Behind Act, which, within 10 years of its passage had virtually every educator, advocate, and knowledgeable family member calling for its repeal, and today has resulted in over 80 percent of the states operating under waivers from its main provisions.
In a comprehensive study of public opinion polls from 1970 to 2010, research from the University of Michigan determined that those surveyed favored local boards for making decisions in multiple areas: daily operations, improving quality, and deciding what is taught. The percentage of respondents who would prefer more federal involvement has remained relatively stable but those interested in less influence have continued to rise.
“As education governance shifted away from local control and toward state and federal authorities, the trends outlined here demonstrate that the public is less quick than are education policy leaders to endorse the abandonment of locally controlled public education. Though we find some growth in the percentage of the public favoring state and federal involvement on specific issues … in many cases we find that a significant portion of the public has actually grown more tentative about trusting state and federal officials….,” the investigators concluded.
Be wary of populists asserting that our educational system is failing and the solution is more involvement, control, or legislative mandates by the federal government. That initial premise is decidedly false and even if it were true, the solution does not reside in Washington D.C.
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
Diane Ravitch: THE LOST PURPOSE OF SCHOOL REFORM | http://bit.ly/1HCMMxl
Silly question/Poorly answered ...+ a selfie!
Q: “Who'd you rather have as your kids' teacher: Antonio Villaraigosa or Eric Garcetti?" STEVE BARR: "Mayor V.” http://lat.ms/1D7r2tV
TIME TO COOL IT WITH BASHING SCHOOLS | http://bit.ly/1yM5Kwv
NEW LICENSE PLATE WOULD PROVIDE SCHOOL SAFETY FUNDS :|: http://bit.ly/1GdaAuD
“GROUP FOUNDED BY MICHELLE RHEE…” FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST TEACHERS UNIONS IN SUPPORT OF TEACHERS | http://bit.ly/1Gudtph
On the day Sarah Brady dies Parent Revolution takes aim+reloads the gun metaphor | http://bit.ly/1EWBaHS
PARENT REVOLUTION STARTS ‘PARENT TRIGGER’ DRIVE AT 20th STREET ELEMENTARY | http://bit.ly/1EWBaHS
ON HELEN BERNSTEIN: for Eastover, a bit of Hebrew for the Gentiles | http://bit.ly/1CDc9Og
@howardblume : StudentsFirst, group founded by Michelle Rhee, says it's filed suit in Calif over union dues being used for political purposes.
LITERACY GAP BETWEEN LATINO AND WHITE TODDLERS STARTS EARLY, STUDY SHOWS http://bit.ly/19OLSSO
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED CONSIDERS KILLING PRESCHOOL PROGRAM http://bit.ly/1CkyQDu
Dr. John: DID LAUSD GET ITS MONEY’S WORTH? | http://bit.ly/1xF4ccm
• CONNECTICUT EARLY LITERACY PROGRAM wins wide acclaim|http://bit.ly/1HneVsh
• LAUSD EARLY LITERACY PROGRAM faces ax|http://tl.gd/n_1slhu6i
LAUSD EARLY ED+PARENT CMTE MEETS TODAY @2PM TO DISCUSS ELIMINATING SRLDP Read: http://tl.gd/n_1slhu6i
THE DECONSTRUCTION OF A K-12 TEACHER: When kids can get their lessons from the web, what's left for teachers to do? | http://bit.ly/1xEg3Yj
LA UNIFIED'S WAIVER APPLICATION & DISPUTE WITH UTLA OVER TEACHER EVALUATIONS || http://ow.ly/L69kq
EDUCATORS CONVICTED OF RACKETEERING IN ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEST CHEATING SCANDAL || http://bit.ly/1xzZZXw
FOUR GARFIELD HIGH STUDENTS ARE IN NATIONAL ACADEMIC DECATHLON FINALS AS INDIVIDUALS | http://bit.ly/1Fi0ntL
Multiple stories+amended application :: NCLB/ESEA WAIVER DEADLINE TODAY: LAUSD meets it ...kinda/sort-of | http://bit.ly/1aja2WL
BLIZZARD O’ TWEETS FROM @HowardBlume RE: LAUSD’s #COREdistricts NCLB WAIVER APPLICATION | http://bit.ly/1xVbidp
TODAY IS DEADLINE FOR:
1. LAUSD @COREdistricts NCLB Waiver
2. Prop 39 Charter Co Location offers
3. Iraq Nuclear Deal
Connecting some widely separated dots: VALUE-ADDED TEACHER GUILTY OF MURDER | http://bit.ly/1NBaBY2
“Whoa, big fella…” REINING IN THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION + smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/1BIZB4r
INSURANCE BROKER ACCUSED OF STEALING $100K FROM LAUSD, MORE FROM OTHERS http://bit.ly/1ywH3UI
SCOTUS RULING SHOWS HAZY HIGH SCHOOL FREEDOM: Court's refusal to hear case shows ambivalence on student free speech | http://bit.ly/19FFahZ
Save the Date/Chill w/Hedge Fund Mgrs & the 1% who fund ®eform Inc: NEW SCHOOLS VENTURE FUND 2015 SUMMIT @ Marriott Waterfront, SFO May 5-6
LAUSD UPDATES ON TRACKING+MONITORING OF US DEPT OF ED RECOMMENDATIONS RE: EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY IN THE DISTRICT | http://bit.ly/1HZp55L
EVEN WITHOUT TEACHER EVALUATION AGREEMENT, LAUSD MAY NOT LOSE $171 MILLION + smf’s 2¢ | http://bit.ly/19ueOzA
REFLECTIONS+GRUMBLING ON ®EFORM : “There is deep and profound hypocrisy in our work…” | http://bit.ly/1BKdXm0
CSU’s Early Assessment Program: NEW TESTS TO SHOW SCHOOL JUNIORS IF THEY’RE COLLEGE-READY | http://bit.ly/1HfxvT6
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Thursday April 9, 2015: BUDGET, FACILITIES & AUDIT COMMITTEE
Start: 11:00 AM in the Beaudry Boardroom
*Dates and times subject to change.
• SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:
• LAUSD FACILITIES COMMUNITY OUTREACH CALENDAR:
What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member:
Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net • 213-241-6386
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Bennett.Kayser@lausd.net • 213-241-5555
George.McKenna@lausd.net • 213-241-6382
Monica.Ratliff@lausd.net • 213-241-6388
Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net • 213-241-6385
Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: http://bit.ly/dqFdq2 • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at email@example.com • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail: http://www.govmail.ca.gov/
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!
Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and was
Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is
Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and has represented
PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for
over 12 years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and
a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He
serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and
has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD
schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT "WHO" Gold Award and the
ACSA Regional Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award - honors
he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his
own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited
content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other
material copyright © 4LAKids.|
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