A+ Rated Agencies Providing Help to Hurricane Harvey Victims

If you want to help people who have been harmed by the flooding in the Houston area, here is a list of A+ rated agencies, rated based on the percentage of finds that go to services rather than overhead.

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Carol Burris Deciphers a Study That Falsely Claims That Charters Benefit Nearby Public Schools

I am reposting this because the original omitted the link to the article. I went to the car repair shop and the computer repair shop today, and wrote this post while paising in a coffee shop between repairs. Carol Burris’s article links to the original study, which has the ironic title “In Pursuit of the Common Good: The Spillover Effects of Charter Schools on Public School Studenys of New York City.” Ironic, since charter schools have nothing to do with the common good.

Recently, a study was released that made the absurd claim that public schools make academic gains when a charter opens close to them or is co-located in their building. To those of us who have seen co-located charters take away rooms previously used for the arts, dance, science, or resource rooms for students with disabilities, the finding seemed bizarre, as did the contention that draining away the best students from neighborhood public schools was a good thing for the losing school.

The rightwing DeVos-funded media eagerly reported this “finding,” without digging deeper. Why should they? It propagated a myth they wanted to believe.

The author of this highly politicized study is Sarah Cordes of Temple University.

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education and a former principal, is a highly skilled researcher. She reviewed Cordes’ findings and determined they were vastly overstated. Her review of Cordes’ study was peer-reviewed by some of the nation’s most distinguished researchers.

Burris writes:

“Cordes attempted to measure the effects of competition from a charter school on the achievement, attendance and grade retention of students in nearby New York City public schools. In addition, she sought to identify the cause of any effects she might find.”

She did not take into account the high levels of mobility among New York City public school students, especially the most disadvantaged.

But worse, her findings are statistically small as compared to other interventions:

“Upon completing her analysis, Cordes concludes that “the introduction of charter schools within one mile of a TPS increases the performance of TPS students on the order of 0.02 standard deviations (sds) in both math and English Language Arts (ELA).”

“To put that effect size in perspective, if you lower class size, you find the effect on achievement to be ten times greater (.20) than being enrolled in a school within one mile of charter school. Reading programs that focus on processing strategies have an effect size of nearly .60. And direct math instruction (effect size .61) with strong teacher feedback (effect size .75) has strong benefits for math achievement[2]. With a .02 effect size, the effect of being enrolled in a school located near a charter school is akin to increasing your height by standing on a few sheets of paper.”

Burris noted that what really mattered was money:

“Although it appears that Cordes found very small achievement gains in a public school if a charter is located within a half mile, that correlation does not tell us why those gains occurred. To answer that question, Cordes looked at an array of factors — demographics, school spending, and parent and teacher survey data about school culture and climate.

There was only ONE standout out factor that rose to the commonly accepted level of statistical significance — money.”

Burris concludes that journalists need to check other sources before believing “studies” and “reports” that make counter-intuitive claims:

“The bottom line is that Sarah Cordes found what every researcher before her found — “competition” from charters has little to no effect on student achievement in traditional public schools. It also found that when it comes to learning, money matters as evidenced by increased spending, especially in co-located schools.

“Most reporters generally lack advanced skills in research methods and statistics. They depend on abstracts and press releases, not having the expertise to look with a critical eye themselves. But it does not take a lot of expertise to see the problems with this particular study.”

Sarah Cordes’ “study” will serve the purposes of Trump and DeVos and others who are trying to destroy the common good. Surely, that was not her intention. Perhaps her dissertation advisors st New York University could have helped her develop a sounder statistical analysis. It seems obvious that the public schools that have been closed to make way for charters received no benefit at all–and they are not included in the study.

from sarah http://ift.tt/2vGsAdv

Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan Opposed Disaster Relief for Hurricane Sandy, But Now?

When Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and Mick Mulvaney (now Trump’s budget director) insisted that any disaster relief had to be offset by budget cuts.

They said the bill was loaded with pork. It wasn’t.

Will they insist that the disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey be offset by cuts? Will they complain about any disaster relief for Texas and Louisiana? Of course not. Nor should they.

Maybe Hurricane Harvey will teach them that there actually is a need for a strong federal government to help people who are in need. Maybe they will discover that problems of epic size can’t be solved by volunteers alone, though volunteer help has been necessary and wonderful. Maybe they will learn something about the importance of the common good, not selfish individualism. Maybe I’m a foolish optimist.

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A Message to Education Deans: Resist!

More than 200 deans of education at scores of colleges and universities have organized to resist the corporate reformers’ efforts to deprofessionalize teaching and destroy public education. They call themselves Education Deans for Justice and Equity. They work in partnership with the National Education Policy Center. If you are a faculty member, please ask your dean to sign on. If you belong to an education organization, please consider adding its support.

“Dear Education Deans:

“As the start to a new academic year unfolds, so do increasing attacks on public education. Building on the “Declaration of Principles” that was released in January of this year and signed by 235 education deans, many of us feel compelled to continue to speak out collectively, publicly, and forcefully.

“Towards this end, we have prepared a new statement from education deans, “Our Children Deserve Better,” that counters the harmful rhetoric and actions currently coming from Washington with alternatives that are grounded in an ethical foundation, sound research, and a commitment to democratic values. The statement is a project of Education Deans for Justice and Equity, in partnership with the National Education Policy Center.

“Invited to sign are all current and former deans of colleges and schools of education in the United States (or comparable positions such as chairs, directors, and associate deans in institutions where there is no separate dean of education or school of education). We urge signing by August 30, because we are planning for the public release and distribution of the statement in early September.

“Please consider signing, and please consider committing to encouraging at least several other education-dean colleagues to sign so that we reach our goal of hundreds of signatories. The statement and the form for you to sign on is here:

“In solidarity,

“Kevin Kumashiro, on behalf of EDJE and NEPC”

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A Message from My Family in Houston

As many of you know, I was born in Houston and attended public schools there from K-12. I have a large family, and many still live there. I have been in touch with my family members and all of them are safe. Here is a list of organizations coordinating donations to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

I just received this email from my nephew Nicholas Silvers with an up-to-the-minute report:


I will try to keep this brief:

First of all I am sorry for the mass email but I bcc’d so that emails are hidden. Second, we are all fine. The outpouring of support, calls, texts, emails to me from around the globe has been amazing and is not unnoticed so thank you again.

While we are fine, the City of Houston is far from it. We have hit the 1000 year flood plain and 1,000,000+ people are going to be without their homes. Any and all help is needed. The two simplest ways are through the Red Cross (http://ift.tt/1KjOZhx) both individually or as a corporate, or if you are in the US and want to send care packages (clothes, blankets, pillows, toys/books for children), you can fed ex ground them to me (just email me back and I will send my home address) and I will get everything delivered to the shelters.

Again, thank you all for checking in. Lastly, please feel free to pass this email or my email address on to anyone you think would want to help.


Nicholas A. Silvers
Sent from my iPhone

from sarah http://ift.tt/2vpg2vV

Thank You, LeBron James and Dr. Dre, for Giving Back Where It Counts!

Now that charter schools are all the rage among the rich and powerful, we are accustomed to hear about celebrities who underwrite their own charter school, like Andre Agassi (whose namesake charter school in Las Vegas is one of the lowest performing schools in Nevada, Sean “Diddy” Coombs, sponsor of a charter in Harlem, and Pitbull, the misogynistic, foul-mouthed rapper who has his own charter school in Miami and speaks at national charter school conferences.

How refreshing it is to learn about two celebrities who are giving back to the public schools, which enroll the vast majority of children of color and need the help of their friends.

LeBron James and Dr. Dre are superstars in sports and music. They too could have put their name on a charter school. They didn’t.

LeBron James made a gift of $1 million to his alma mater, a Catholic School, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, to build a new state-of-the-art gymnasium. He is also working with the Akron public schools to provide college scholarships and to open a new school for at-risk students. James has a motto: “I promise…to never forget where I came from.” The new public school for at-risk children is called the “I Promise” school.

Dr. Dre made a gift of $10 million to Compton High School in Compton, California, where he grew up. The gift will be used to build a performing arts center with a 1,200 seat theater and digital media production facilities.

LeBron James and Dr. Dre are giving back.

from sarah http://ift.tt/2wlFaAV

Erik Mears: Why I Teach My Students in the Bronx About the Awesomeness of KIPP

A few days ago, I posted a story about a high school teacher in the Bronx who was annoyed because he felt compelled to teach his public school students a story in a textbook that celebrated KIPP and put down their neighborhood.

The story attracted a lot of attention, and the teacher Erik Means wanted to answer your questions in this follow up post.

On August 25th, you linked to my Counterpunch article, which criticizes HMH for publishing a pro-charter essay in its 12th Grade Collections textbook. In part because of comments that a few of your readers posted, I feel obliged to make some clarifications:

When a school such as mine purchases HMH Collections, they buy textbooks for Grades 9-12, as well as electronic resources and supplementary materials – including a 180-day pacing guide. A set of scripted, Common Core-aligned questions follows each text. You buy these books because they are Common Core-aligned, and because they feature an array of shorter fiction and non-fiction texts that will help students practice for the Regents exam.

My administrators expected me to stick to this textbook, and use few “outside texts,” for these reasons. If I raised an issue with any text, they would tell me to teach it alongside a “counter-text” that provides a differing point of view. (I wrote the Counterpunch piece, in part, to create such as “counter-text” – since none really existed to suitably counter Gladwell’s claims and omissions).

To their credit, my administrators allow me to script my own questions. They respect me, my colleagues, and our academic freedom. They are also hard-working, good-hearted professionals who care deeply about the students and teachers in our building.

Do they require me to teach “Marita’s Bargain?” Given that they expect me to make my way through the textbook, as the year progresses, and only exclude certain texts because of time constraints, the answer is “yes.” You do not omit the first text in a textbook (it appears on pages 3-14) because of time constraints.

But the major reason why I teach “Marita’s Bargain” is because it is so glaring, in a literal sense. Throughout the year, all of my students will eventually leaf through the textbook, and see, in prominent letters, on page 5, “Just over ten years into its existence, KIPP has become one of the most desirable public schools in New York City.” They will see a photo of blighted South Bronx buildings on page 9. And they will see “Our kids are spending fifty to sixty percent more time learning than the traditional public school student” in prominent letters, on page 12.

My students would rightly wonder why I am skipping an article about schools in their community, when it appears as the first text in our textbook. If they read the most salient parts of the article, they might even suspect that I am skipping “Marita’s Bargain” because I am a self-interested public school teacher who wishes to obscure the miracles that KIPP charter schools are performing in their own community.

Thus, the fact that “Marita’s Bargain” appears so early in my textbook demands that I address it in some way. And if the text were not so prominent, I would not teach it; not in 100 years.

For my own part, I guide my students through “Marita’s Bargain” as critically as possible. But anyone who suspects that HMH would encourage teachers to do so can read its scripted questions, and judge for themselves (see pages 15-16):


Moreover, although most NYC ELA teachers are excellent, few of them are as knowledgeable about education reform as I am. “Pushing back” against Gladwell, as I do in class, requires a certain esoteric knowledge that many teachers lack – and this hardly discredits them as ELA instructors.

In this letter, I have written more about myself and my school than is my wont in a public forum. I have done so in order to make clear that my administrators acted, more or less rationally, in purchasing HMH Collections, and defensibly, in expecting me to teach most of its texts. I do not believe that they deserve much blame.

In my Counterpunch piece, I wrote primarily about the flaws and omissions of Gladwell’s piece itself. I attempted to demonstrate that the text failed to achieve a certain standard of quality, and that by deduction, HMH must have selected it for propagandistic purposes. This text should not be in my, or any, textbook, unless it is to be used as an example of certain defects. HMH did not wish this latter, if its scripted questions are any indication. I fault HMH for including the text in its Collections textbook, and for selling it to many schools throughout New York City. I fault Gladwell, to a lesser extent, for writing it in the first place.


Erik Mears

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This Is What Jeb Bush Believes In: “Total Voucherization”

Republicans like to say that Florida is their model of good education policy. Betsy DeVos said so. Not her own state, because Michigan voters rejected vouchers three times.

Florida also rejected vouchers in 2012, by a decisive vote of 55-44. They voted down the voucher proposal crafted by Jeb Bush even though it was deceptively called the “Religious Freedom Amendment.” How many people would vote against “religious freedom”? A majority, as it turned out. Had it been called “An Amendment to Permit School Vouchers,” it might have gone down 65-35% or more, as in other states. But privatization of public goods requires stealth and lying.

So Florida engaged in a workaround, led by Jeb Bush, to defy the voters’ wishes.

Because Jeb believes in “total voucherization.” He sees no role for public schools. He spends his waking hours figuring out new ways to privatize public schools and put state money into the pockets of profiteers.

He created a tax credit scheme so corporations and rich individuals could give money to a nonprofit (Step Up for Students) which then gave the money as “scholarships” to students to attend religious schools. Thus, despite the voters’ clear rejection of vouchers, Jeb ensured that Florida has them.

And of course, Florida has one of the most politically connected and corrupt charter industries in the nation. Members of the Legislature have ownership interests in charter schools and regularly vote themselves bigger tax subsidies.

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Steven Singer: Closing Schools Doesn’t Raise Test Scores!

Steven Singer wrote a great post about a study by corporate reformers proving that they are wrong. Will they care that one of their favorite tactics is a failure? Of course not.


Open the link to read it all and to see the links he cites.

He writes:

“You might be tempted to file this under ‘No Shit, Sherlock.’

“But a new study found that closing schools where students achieve low test scores doesn’t end up helping them learn. Moreover, such closures disproportionately affect students of color.

“What’s surprising, however, is who conducted the study – corporate education reform cheerleaders, the Center for Research on EDucation Outcomes (CREDO).

“Like their 2013 study that found little evidence charter schools outperform traditional public schools, this year’s research found little evidence for another key plank in the school privatization platform.

“These are the same folks who have suggested for at least a decade that THE solution to low test scores was to simply close struggling public schools, replace them with charter schools and voilà.

“But now their own research says “no voilà.” Not to the charter part. Not to the school closing part. Not to any single part of their own backward agenda.

“Stanford-based CREDO is funded by the Hoover Institution, the Walton Foundation and testing giant Pearson, among others. They have close ties to the KIPP charter school network and privatization propaganda organizations like the Center for Education Reform.

“If THEY can’t find evidence to support these policies, no one can!

“After funding one of the largest studies of school closures ever conducted, looking at data from 26 states from 2003 to 2013, they could find zero support that closing struggling schools increases student test scores.

“The best they could do was find no evidence that it hurt.

“But this is because they defined student achievement solely by raw standardized scores. No other measure – not student grades, not graduation rates, attendance, support networks, community involvement, not even improvement on those same assessments – nothing else was even considered.

“Perhaps this is due to the plethora of studies showing that school closures negatively impact students in these ways. Closing schools crushes the entire community economically and socially. It affects students well beyond academic achievement.”

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