Parent Files FERPA Complaint Against Eva Moskowitz and Charter Chain

The parent of the 10-year-old boy who was interviewed by John Merrow on PBS filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education that Eva Moskowitz violated her child’s privacy rights under the federal law FERPA by disclosing her child’s confidential disciplinary record tithe media. 

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USA Today: Gulen Groups Have Sponsored Trips to Turkey for Members ofCongress 

USA Today has a front-page story on the Gulen movement and its sponsorship of free trips to Turkey for members of Congress and their staff. The Gulenists run about 140 charter schools in the U.S.
“WASHINGTON — A Turkish religious movement has secretly funded as many as 200 trips to Turkey for members of Congress and staff since 2008, apparently repeatedly violating House rules and possibly federal law, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

“The group — a worldwide moderate Islamic movement led by a religious scholar named Fethullah Gülen — has been accused by the Turkish government of attempting a coup in that country. Turkish leaders have asked the United States to extradite Gülen from the remote compound in rural Pennsylvania where he has lived for 20 years.

“The movement has founded hundreds of charter schools across the United States and around the world, has its own media organizations, and was deeply entrenched with the Turkish regime until a falling out two years ago. That led President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare Gülen was running “a parallel state” inside the country with the intent of undermining the government. In advance of Turkish elections this weekend, police raided the offices of Gülen affiliated-media organizations.”

Now journalists should check out the number of free trips for state legislators in a position to approve Gulen charter schools. Check out the state legislators in Illinois and Texas for starters. 

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Eli Broad Funds Education Coverage in L.A. Times

Conflict of interest? How could it not be?

Billionaire Eli Broad is underwriting education coverage at the Los Angeles Times.

Eli Broad wants 50% of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District to be enrolled charter schools. He intends to pool $490 million to create 260 new charters.

The LA Times wrote an editorial endorsing Broad’s plan to privatize a huge part of public education.

One man wants his way. Eli Broad does not believe in democracy.

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NSBA: Research Shows That School Choice Does Not Improve Education

School Choice-What the Research Says, a New Resource from the Center for Public Education

Alexandria, Va. (October 28, 2015) – In its at-a-glance overview, the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA), Center for Public Education (CPE) looks at the various forms of school choice, and drawing upon relevant research and statistics, the effects each has on student achievement. CPE finds that that while many schools of choice do an exemplary job, “the results aren’t universally better than those produced by traditional public schools.”

“America’s public schoolchildren are dependent on us, policymakers and the public, to make informed decisions that will lead to improved outcomes,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association. “CPE shines a spotlight on education options in its study, finding that not all choices are equal.”

School Choice: What the Research Says succinctly describes the many alternatives to public schools: those within the public school system (magnet schools, charter schools, and within or between district transfers) and without (private schools, vouchers and homeschooling), and also looks at virtual schools which can be either public or private.

CPE finds that:

Nearly nine in ten school-age children in the U.S. attend public school, a proportion that has been fairly consistent for four decades; 16 percent are enrolled in a public school of choice. On the non-public side, 10 percent of school-age children are in private schools, and 3 percent are homeschooled.

Research on the impact of school choice on student learning generally shows mixed results with studies typically showing little or no difference in overall performance compared to traditional public schools. For example, about one in four charter schools outperforms its traditional public counterpart in reading, and one in five does worse. However, benefits seem to be greater for some groups of students, including English language learners, children from low-income families, and students of color.
Private schools tend to outperform public schools on national assessments. But when researchers controlled for students family background and location, they found the reverse – public school fourth- and eighth-graders scored higher than their private school peers in math. In addition, math scores for public school students have increased steadily over the last 25 years, and high school graduation rates are at an all-time high.
“If the research shows us anything, it’s that school choice does not come with a guarantee,” said Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education. “Rather, public school leaders should look to their successful programs – charters, magnet, and neighborhood schools alike – and apply the lessons learned to other schools so that the choices parents and students have will all be good ones.”

# # #

The Center for Public Education (CPE) http://ift.tt/1yd1sy0 is a national resource for credible and practical information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. CPE provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools. The Center is an initiative of the National School Boards Association.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) http://www.nsba.org is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Learn more at http://www.nsba.org.

CPE’s latest resource on school choice:
At a Glance http://ift.tt/1P1NknB
Full report: http://ift.tt/1Mn02GP

Contact:
LInda Embrey, Communications Office
National School Boards Association
(703) 838-6737; lembrey@nsba.org
http://www.nsba.org

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David Hursh: Obama’s “Testing Action Plan” Changes Nothing

This post was written by David Hursh, Professor at the University of Rochester. It ably summarizes the critiques of President Obama’s proposal to reform testing and reduce the burden on students and teachers. It also contains excellent links.

Obama’s Testing Action Plan: A real change or more of the same?

David Hursh (dhursh@warner.rochester.edu)

On October 24, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education released their Testing Action Plan as a response to the increasing concern of parents, teachers, and students that standardized testing is, in their words, “unnecessary,” consumes “too much instructional time” and creates “undue stress for educators and students.” On first reading, Obama and Duncan seem to be saying that they want to decrease both the amount to time spent on testing and the high-stakes nature of tests in evaluating students, teachers, and schools. However, a closer reading suggests that they are only calling for the federal government to provide “clear assistance…for how to thoughtfully approach testing and assessment,” that is, more federal control. So, the actual goal is more of the same, implemented more carefully, so as to blunt resistance.

The rest of the action plan’s goals are worded to suggest more than they deliver. For example, they assert that “no standardized test should be given solely for educator evaluation,” which makes it acceptable, as in New York, to use the Common Core exam to count as 50% of teachers’ evaluations and to determine whether a school is failing and should be placed in receivership.

It seems that the federal Testing Action Plan, like Cuomo’s Common Core Task Force, is not meant to respond to the concerns of parents that led to 220,000 students opting out of the Common Core exams in April 2015 but, rather, to convince the media that they are going to fine tune it to make it more palatable to the public. However, what is needed is not fine-tuning but a decrease in standardized testing. The Council of the Great City Schools reported earlier this month that students in their 66 membership districts take, from pre-K to grade 12, an average of 112 standardized tests, most of which are required under NCLB and Race to the Top.

In sum, the Obama administration, outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and incoming secretary John King—who single-handedly made high-stakes testing the single most important educational issue in New York— want to do more of the same, only sell it better.

The Department of Education press release:
http://ift.tt/1PM4h5D

Response by the NYS Allies for Public Education
http://ift.tt/1LGQWrh

A smart and snarky response from Peter Green, a teacher
http://ift.tt/1R68MFD

Anthony Cody (co-founder of the Network for Public Education): Obama (Again) blasts all the tests his administration has sponsored
http://ift.tt/1H3riJ7

Council of the Great City Schools
http://ift.tt/1kDgOLQ

David Hursh, PhD
Professor
Teaching and Curriculum
Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development
452 LeChase Hall
RC Box 270425
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627-0425

New book: The End of Public Schools: The Corporate Reform Agenda to Privatize Education. Routledge. November 23.

Associate Region Editor- Americas- Journal of Education Policy.

Associate Editor- Policy Futures in Education
Keynote address: New York State as a cautionary tale. New Zealand union of primary teachers and administrators.

UR Meliora Address: High-stakes testing and the decline of teaching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIQu2Hh_YkI

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Tennessee: When Does Stagnation Look Like Success?

Reader J.C. Grim forwarded this commentary from Tennessee’s SCORE (State Collaborative on Reforming Education).

It is very important for SCORE to claim that great progress is being made. At the 2013 release of NAEP scores, Secretary Duncan saluted Tennessee for its gains and held the state up as proof that the Race to the Top was working.

In 2015, however, Tennessee’s scores in math and reading were flat, for both fourth and eighth grade students.

The statement actually mis-states where Tennessee ranks among the states. For example, it says that Tennessee went from  being 41st in the nation in 8th grade reading to 30th, but the report says it is 36th in the nation. If you count the Department of Defense schools, then Tennessee is number 37. If we all aspire to be at the national average, we should follow Tennessee’s lead.

So, the response from reformers is to claim success because the gains from 2013 didn’t disappear. Not a word about flat scores; not a word about no gains.

Well, that’s one way to make progress. I guess the claim is, at least we stood still and didn’t go backwards.

Kentucky, which has no charter schools (unlike Tennessee), placed #9 in the nation. What can Tennessee learn from Kentucky?

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Richard Lakin, In Memoriam, R.I.P.

Not long after I started blogging, I received a paperback book in the mail from an author. It was titled “Teaching As an Act of Love.” I read it and remember thinking what a kind and gentle man he was. He occasionally left comments on the blog. In recent years, I have often seen his tweets and retweets, and I always recognized his face.

Imagine when I picked up the newspaper Friday morning and saw his picture on the front page. My first thought was, “That’s Richard Lakin,” but I couldn’t understand why he was on the front page. Then ideas that he was on a public bus in Israel and on his way home, when he was stabbed to death by two youths. They stabbed him in the face and in the chest. He died two weeks later.

“Teaching as an Act of Love.”

Here is the New York Times story.

This is what his son posted on Facebook.

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