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An Investigation Into NY’s “Families for Excellent Schools”

Originally posted on deutsch29:

This morning, I read a post on education historian Diane Ravitch’s blog about an influential nonprofit in New York, Families for Excellent Schools (FES). It seems that nonprofit is wielding its influence to advance charter schools in New York City. As Ravitch writes:

Perdido Street blogger asks why it is impossible to find out who contributed to the lobbying group Families for Excellent Schools, which spent $6 million this year to prevent Mayor Bill de Blasio from regulating the charter school sector and won a law that forces the city to pay the rent of charters not located on public school grounds.

 The blogger quotes extensively from the business magazine Crain’s New York, which described how this lobbying group exploited loopholes to avoid complying with state laws that require disclosure of donors to political action committees. “Group is visible,” the article’s title says, “but not its donors.”

FES became…

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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Steve Barr Bails on McDonogh; Surplus Laptops Sold Bearing Student Data

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Where is the FBI and the Obama administration when they are needed to protect our children from the abuses of the corporate driven fake evacuation reform movement? Oh, I forgot. It was the Obama administration that opened the door to these Bill Gates, Walton and Koch brothers supported corporate fake Pub-Ed reformers, a reform movement based on nothing but lies and fraud.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

In February 2012, then-new Louisiana Superintendent John White told Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) about how he planned to work a marvel of renovation and preservation for New Orleans’ McDonogh High School by allowing Steve Barr, CEO of Green Dot Charters in Los Angeles (a businessman with no vested interest in the New Orleans community) to assume control of the school and work hand in hand with the locals:

RH: Post-Katrina, there were concerns about outsiders invading New Orleans schooling. There have been intense racial politics. How did you negotiate that during your time at the RSD, and how does that shape your approach going forward? 

JW: It’s extremely important as a leader to never give up on your ideals. But on the other hand, never give up on respecting everyone at the table. That gives you a baseline of credibility off of which to…

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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Schneider: The Mysterious Disappearance of a VAM Report on New Orleans

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Mercedes Schneider reports here on the efforts of the Cowen Institute at Tulane University to burnish the national image of the New Orleans’ all-charter model.

As part of its history of the “New Orleans Miracle,” Cowen has documented the transformation of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

However, truth intrudes. Schneider writes:

“The Cowen Institute at Tulane University has been promoting the New Orleans Charter Miracle since 2007. Cowen Institute has been trying since then to sell the “transformed” post-Katrina education system in New Orleans.

“The results are tepid. Still, Cowen tries to sell this New Orleans. Consider this excerpt from Cowen’s history:

[Following Hurricane Katrina] the majority of schools reopened as charter schools, which are publicly-funded and operated by nonprofit organizations or universities, giving New Orleans a greater percentage of students in charter schools than any other district in the United States. Education entrepreneurs and veteran educators from around…

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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Two Politically Correct Scams Supported by Corporate Owned Media that Threaten Democracy in America

The actual U.S. place in the international ranking of all OECD countries from the International PISA test was 6th in reading and 13th in math—not 14th in reading and 25th in math as reported. The 2012, PISA tested about 85,000 students in 44 countries placing the U.S. in the top 13.6% for reading and 29% for math. Thirty-eight countries ranked lower in reading and 31 in math.

This post is about the two scams that have led to the era of corporate supported, public education reform in the United States. The first scam was a report called “A Nation at Risk” in 1983, during the Reagan era. Because of this report, teachers, teachers’ unions and the democratic public schools have been painted as failures, and the corporate owned media turned “A Nation at Risk” into front page news with endless, never-ending chatter that focuses on the so-called failing public schools and lazy, incompetent teachers. This has gone on for more than thirty years.

The truth first appeared in 1990, when the Scandia Report was released revealing that “A Nation at Risk” was a misleading fraud. The corporate owned media ignored the results of the Scandia Report, and continued to attack public school teachers and teachers’ unions.

Eric.ed.gov offers its Straight Talk about America’s Public Schools: Dispelling the Myths. Hot Topics Series. Chapter 1 contains the entire text of the 1983 report, “A Nation at Risk”; a summary of the results of the 1990 “Scandia Report”, which contradicted many of the previous report’s allegations; and an article by Daniel Tanner, which describes how the Scandia Report was commissioned and why it was later suppressed by the federal government.

The second scam has to do with the OECD’s international PISA tests. The corporate owned media, using only the overall average comparisons of countries, has reported repeatedly and widely how poorly the U.S. public schools compare to the other OECD countries, but the average ranking used to condemn America’s public education system, teachers and teachers’ unions is criminally misleading.

The Economic Policy Institute, similar to the Scandia Report, studied the PISA scores and published an in-depth revealing report. What follows the video are a few key points from The EPI.org report that reveals that the PISA results have been manipulated by the corporate-owned media misleading many Americans to think that the democratic public schools in the United States are failing and must be reformed and turned over to corporations to teach our children, that will, of course, eventually profit off the almost annual $1 trillion in taxes that supports the public schools.


This video is filled with false claims and lies but also the truth. I suggest that you read the rest of this post carefully before watching the video.

  1. 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.
  2. A sampling error in the U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score.
  3. If U.S. adolescents had a social class distribution that was similar to the distribution in countries to which the United States is frequently compared, average reading scores in the United States would be higher than average reading scores in the similar post-industrial countries we examined (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom), and average math scores in the United States would be about the same as average math scores in similar post-industrial countries.
  4. A re-estimated U.S. average PISA score that adjusted for a student population in the United States that is more disadvantaged than populations in otherwise similar post-industrial countries, and for the over-sampling of students from the most-disadvantaged schools in a recent U.S. international assessment sample, finds that the U.S. average score in both reading and mathematics would be higher than official reports indicate (in the case of mathematics, substantially higher).
  5. This re-estimate would also improve the U.S. place in the international ranking of all OECD countries, bringing the U.S. average score to sixth in reading and 13th in math. Conventional ranking reports based on PISA, which make no adjustments for social class composition or for sampling errors, and which rank countries irrespective of whether score differences are large enough to be meaningful, report that the U.S. average score is 14th in reading and 25th in math.
  6. Disadvantaged and lower-middle-class U.S. students perform better (and in most cases, substantially better) than comparable students in similar post-industrial countries in reading. In math, disadvantaged and lower-middle-class U.S. students perform about the same as comparable students in similar post-industrial countries.
  7. U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries than advantaged U.S. students perform relative to their social class peers. But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries of Finland and Canada than disadvantaged U.S. students perform relative to their social class peers.
  8. On average, and for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.

In conclusion, what these two scams tell me is that everything that came after “A Nation at Risk” is based on misinformation at best and possibly fraud, meaning that No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and the Common Core States Standards with Bill Gates rank and yank agenda to fire teachers and close public schools is all based on lies and misinformation.

The only risk that the United States faces today is from the corporate owned media and the corporate funded fake education reform movement. Yes, we can improve our public schools, but we don’t need to reform and destroy them to achieve that.

Please Tweet this post and/or share it on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and as many other social network sites as possible.  In fact, also copy and paste it into an e-mail and send it to everyone you know.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

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Julian Vasquez Heilig: Why TFA is a Problem, Not a Solution

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Julian Vasquez Heilig has studied Teach for America and its effects, and has come to the conclusion that the organization is harming the future of the teaching profession by its grandiose and false claims.

It has raised well over a billion dollars to support a large and handsomely paid staff. Its recruits will go to classrooms where students need experienced teachers, not five-week trainees. And 80% will leave the classroom in 2-3 years.

I this post, he is in dialogue with historian Jack Schneider.

Heilig writes:

“TFA is an example of a solution being a part of the problem. Our current national teacher strategy in the U.S. can be likened to taking a plate of pasta and throwing it against the ceiling and seeing what sticks. Teach For America, with its high-levels of attrition out of the classroom after the two year temporary commitment exacerbates this issue for poor students.

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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Substitute teachers in the United States are often paid poorly and treated like trash

If you want to discover what America’s leaders at the state and federal level really think about our public schools and the education of our children, look no further than substitute teachers.

“Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé”, my memoir, was reviewed on Sincerely Stacie.com as a part of a book blog tour, and Stacie’s review caused me to think about substitute teachers. In fact, I had trouble sleeping the night that review appeared, because of memories that surfaced when I was a full-time, substitute teacher from 1976 – 1978.

What I found especially interesting was that Stacie was a substitute teacher and a mother of three, because dedicated substitute teachers are  valuable to full-time teachers—so rare, that full-time teachers often book the best, dedicated, experienced substitute teachers as far in advance as possible hoping that another teacher won’t steal them away first.

But, most of the time, for me, there was no way to know who the substitute teacher would be, and a few times, even when I had succeeded in booking a substitute teacher that I knew was good at her job, the district might redirect them at the last minute—without my knowledge—to another classroom or school and send my students to the library without a substitute, and my students would miss another day of instruction.

In this era of high-stakes testing with rank and yank results for teachers, every day lost in the classroom might cost a full-time-teacher her job.

What you learn from this post might shock you—and even make you angry—but the qualifications to become a K to 12 substitute teacher in California have not changed for decades. They are the same now as they were during my thirty years in the classroom (1975-2005).

I copied the following information from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Website:

I DON’T HAVE MY BACHELOR’S DEGREE YET. CAN I SUBSTITUTE TEACH?

Yes. The Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit for Prospective Teachers may be issued based on the completion of 90 semester units of course work from a regionally-accredited California college or university, verification of current enrollment in a regionally-accredited California college or university, and having satisfied the basic skills requirement [PDF].

For anyone who isn’t aware of the minimum number of units necessary for a bachelor’s degree, it’s usually 4-to 5-years of college and graduation requires a minimum of 120 units. Many majors and degrees have requirements that extend beyond the minimum number of units.

What this reveals is that many substitutes may not even be a senior in college or a college graduate.  And if you look at substitute pay on a state-by-state basis, you might be even more shocked.

For instance, in Alabama, the state reimburses local school districts $35 a day for a substitute teacher and that teacher only needs a high school diploma and a negative TB skin test.

If you click on this nea.org link, you may see how much each state—for those that list the daily pay—is willing to pay a substitute. I think what substitute teachers are paid is a crime. They should be paid much more—at least $100 a day with benefits.

In Iowa, where Stacie works as a substitute teacher, substitutes have the same licensing requirements as full time teachers—high standards compared to Alabama or California, but the average salary for a substitute teacher in Iowa is $23,905, while starting pay for a full time teacher is $39,200—and the average age of a substitute teacher in Iowa is 50. TeacherSalary.net

When I was still teaching, there was a shortage of substitute teachers in California and often, full time teachers were called on to be substitutes during their planning periods.


I think it’s safe to say that this substitute teacher was a high school graduate from Alabama.

For instance, I was called a few times during the 27-years I worked as a full-time teacher, and once the district was so desperate that after they fired one, new and young, first-year teacher for teaching his students how to cheat on tests, the district staffed his five periods with five, full-time teachers by asking us to give up our planning period. I was one of those five teachers for the rest of the second semester.  The district paid me an extra $45 a day for giving up my planning period and teaching that one-extra class. For the rest of that year, instead of teaching five classes, I taught six. The district could have saved money if they had hired a substitute to finish that year, because the average hourly top pay for a substitute in California runs between $11 to $17. In Iowa, the top hourly pay is $10 to $15, but starts at $7.

If you have already read the “Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession” by Dana Goldstein, you might remember that she doesn’t mention substitute teachers in her book, which is sad, because substitute teachers are important to full time teachers, who don’t want their students to miss one day of instruction. Most teachers, who are out of their classroom for a day or more, don’t want baby sitters. They want skilled teachers—who teach just like they would. I know, because I did and the teachers I worked with did.

I now know there is one job in the United States that is more Embattled than a full-time teacher and that is the job of a dedicated, full-time, professional substitute teacher, who gets up early every day waiting for that phone call that will send them to a different classroom, subject and different challenge.

How do I know this?  Well, my first year in education was as a full-time, paid intern in a residency program with a master teacher in her fifth grade classroom. My second and third years, I worked as a full-time substitute teacher waiting for that 5-to-6 a.m. phone call, and I taught in seven different school districts in Southern California. I never knew what district would call first and what grade, subject, or school I would be sent to.

In conclusion, think of the differences between—for instance, me or a dedicated, full-time, experienced substitute teacher like Stacie versus a young K-12 substitute teacher with only a high school degree or even 90 or more college units but no BA degree and little or no experience or training as a classroom teacher.

The only teachers who might have a little bit more experience over that high school graduate or 90-unit, wet-behind-the-ears substitute teacher, who might not even be 21, would be a Teach For American (TFA) recruit with a BA/BS degree and 5 weeks of training in a summer workshop without any experience teaching children in the classroom before they started their first, full-time teaching assignment. This might explain why only a third of TFA recruits stay in education as teachers and 85% of those TFA recruits who stay in teaching, after two years, transfer into more affluent schools and away from schools with high rates of poverty leaving less than 3-percent of the original TFA recruits where they were needed most—with the at-risk children.

In fact, I think TFA recruits might be a better source for substitute teachers in some states—but not Iowa where the substitutes must meet the same qualifications as a full time teacher—than that high school graduate in Alabama or the 90+ unit non-college graduate in California.

When I was a substitute teacher, I already had a BA degree in journalism and a teaching credential earned through a full-time residency program in my master teacher’s fifth grade classroom. When I walked in a classroom as a substitute—no matter where or what—I knew what had to be done. At the time, my California teaching credential was a life, multi-subject credential.

I think the time has come to bring this issue into the open. Dedicated, full-time substitute teachers deserve more support, respect, benefits and pay, because they are a vital link in a child’s education when the regular teacher is out sick or attending a district workshop or meeting.

If our elected representatives and the corporate-driven, fake, education reformers really cared about our children’s education more than profiting off tax dollars that were meant for the public schools, substitute teachers in every state would at least match the requirements found in Iowa, and be paid the same as a professional college graduate instead of poverty wages with no benefits.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Book Cover Here

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

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Anthony Cody Explains His Challenge to the Gates Foundation

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

One of the genuine, stand-up heroes of American education is Anthony Cody. I am happy to place his name on the honor roll of this blog.

As a veteran teacher, he worked constantly to improve his craft. He became a National Board Certified Teacher. Now, he is an advocate for teachers and public education, for equity and children. As a blogger, he has been fearless in defending the right of every child to a good education. He has deferred to no one in his passion for justice. Please order his new book “The Educator and the Oligarch.”

Please read this interview of Anthony conducted by Valerie Strauss. He explains why he challenged the strategies of the Gates Foundation.

He says:

“One of the problems with the Gates Foundation is that they have had an almost unlimited source of funding over the past decade. And they are conducting a large-scale…

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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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