Arthur Goldstein: I am Willing and Ready to Be NYC Chancellor

 

Arthur Goldstein, a high school teacher in Queens for many years, is ready to take the Chancellor’s job.  He has an agenda.

“That’s right, I am volunteering to be Chancellor of NYC Schools, and I won’t accept the 385K. I will do it for half that. That’s appropriate because my first action will be to halve the salaries of everyone and anyone who worked under Bloomberg. If they don’t take the hint, they’re fired.

“We will also turn around the rating system. We will design tests for all educational administrators. We are through with all this effective and ineffective stuff, and Danielson, on her own recommendation, will be out of the classroom for good.

“Administrators will be tested to determine whether they are Not Insane. That will be our highest and only rating. If they miss the rating, they will join me in the 50% pay cut. If they don’t like it, they can always leave, and we will all be better off.

“Next, we will settle the UFT Contract. UFT members get a 20% pay raise across the board. Non-UFT members will no longer be covered by the contract, but we will give all of them $15 an hour, because minimum wage is too low, even for those too selfish or shortsighted to join a union.

“Class size in high schools will fall to 25, as per C4E. At other levels, we will follow the C4E mandates. Any administrators with oversized classes will be personally fined $1,000 a week for each student in each oversized class. If DOE grants them exceptions, their fines will be halved. We are reasonable.”

Why not?

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Jan Resseger: What Linda Darling-Hammond Wrote about the Kerner Commission Report Today

 

Jan Resseger summarizes Linda Darling-Hammond’s reflections on the Kerner Commission Report. 

“Darling-Hammond traces a mass of factors showing that as a society we identified the wrong problem, satisfied ourselves with blaming somebody, and ignored our responsibility collectively to confront primary social injustices that are the real cause of achievement gaps. What we accomplished instead was discrediting public education and undermining support for teachers.

“Darling-Hammond believes our problem is that we have stopped trying to do anything about racial and economic segregation: “In a study of the effects of court-ordered desegregation on students born between 1945 and 1970, economist Rucker Johnson found that graduation rates climbed by 2 percentage points for every year a Black student attended an integrated school… The difference was tied to the fact that schools under court supervision benefit from higher per-pupil spending and smaller student-teacher ratios… During the 1960s and ’70s, many communities took on efforts like these. As a result, there was a noticeable reduction in educational inequality in the decade after the original Kerner report…. (S)ubstantial gains were made in equalizing both educational inputs and outcomes. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 targeted resources to communities with the most need, recognizing that where a child grows up should not determine where he or she ends up… However, the gains from the Great Society programs were pushed back during the Reagan administration, when most targeted federal programs supporting investments in college access and K-12 schools in urban and poor rural areas were reduced or eliminated, and federal aid to schools was cut from 12% to 6% of a shrinking total…By 1991, stark differences had reemerged between segregated urban schools and their suburban counterparts, which generally spent twice as much on education.”

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BREAKING NEWS: Carvalho Turns Down NYC Chancellorship, Will Stay in Miami

 

Everyone thought it was a done deal, but it wasn’t.

Alberto Carvalho, Miami Superintendent, changed his mind and rejected Bill deBlasio’s offer to become chancellor of the New York City public schools, the biggest school system in the U.S., with 1.1 million students.

We will learn more later about why he changed his mind. Or we may never know. The search continues.

It would be good if the process were open and transparent, with parents and educators involved.

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John Thompson: Oklahoma City Schools Under Siege by Reformers

John Thompson, teacher and historian, writes here about the invasion of the privatizers in Oklahoma City.

 

Every January, the start of National School Choice Week marks the beginning of The Oklahoman editorials in support of charter and private school expansion. Given the $16.5 million grant by Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education to the Walton-funded Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, and the state’s charter school conversion law, which allows the state to override school systems that turn down charter applications, this annual event marks the beginning of an increasingly dangerous school privatization season.
This year’s editorials in favor of school choice expansion indicate an even more worrisome assault on public schools is likely. A former Oklahoma City Public School System (OKCPS) board member wants to break the 46,000 student system into an overwhelmingly black district, a predominantly Hispanic district, and a more affluent no-majority district. The most extreme 2018 proposal was recently made by City Councilman David Greenwell. He wants to convert the OKCPS into a city-sponsored charter district!
The Oklahoman subsequently editorialized that the resignation of the OKCPS superintendent, Aurora Lora, illustrates the “sort of churn” that makes it “nearly impossible” to “move the needle” on school improvement for the 85% low-income district. It didn’t mention that Lora is a graduate of the Broad Residency in Urban Education. Neither does it mention the reasons why educators opposed the micromanaging she was taught by Broad, and how Broad sees the cultivation of churn as a feature, not a flaw, of its corporate governance.
The editorial called for “truly significant change from the status quo” where “all ideas should at least be considered.” It then buried the lede, Brent Bushey, head of the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center said his group backs ‘quality options’ for students and that he hopes Greenwell’s comments lead to more talk about more quality options.”
In the disrespected field of education, it isn’t unusual for privatizers, to say that “everything should be on the table.” But, how many Americans would want a Commander in Chief who says he won’t “rule anything in or out” in terms of nuclear confrontations?
Okay, given Donald Trump’s mindset, that’s a touchy metaphor, so let’s use a medical analogy: Would we want a medical system that is free to conduct whatever experiments it wants, or that would institutionalize risky procedures in order to treat certain conditions without a careful study of their unintended consequences? 
The corporate reform Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, and a steady stream of supporters of the so-called “portfolio model” of reform, continue to promote charter expansion. But I’ve yet to hear of a portfolio proponent who would put the inherent dangers of their plan on the table for public discussion. Whether they believe it or not, charter advocates still claim that their schools can serve the “same” kids as neighborhood schools, and that a robust accountability system can somehow prevent the mass exiting of students who make it harder to raise test scores.
I don’t expect true believers in charter portfolios to get into the weeds of school improvement and explain why they could succeed in Oklahoma City with the models that failed in Tennessee, Nevada, and elsewhere, even though our charters would have at least 50% per student less funding than those of other states. Neither do I anticipate an explanation of why Indianapolis’s well-funded “reforms,” that are being marketed for OKC, have produced student performance gains that are the same as the OKCPS “status quo.” But, shouldn’t they acknowledge the downsides of the so-called successes that our business leaders have been hearing promoted in private discussions? Denver is finally admitting that its achievement gap is one of the worst in the nation, and New Orleans and Memphis can’t deny that they are third and first, nationally, in “disconnected youth” or kids out of school, without jobs.
I hope, however, that OKC leaders will ask whether a policy, which is likely to result in thousands of school-aged kids walking the streets during the day, should be “off the table.” I would also hope they would ask why Tulsa’s Deborah Gist, and her team of Broadies, have failed so miserably. Tulsa’s poverty rate is below that of Oklahoma City, and their schools have benefited from huge investments by the Gates Foundation and other national and local edu-philanthropists, but only two urban districts have produced lower test score growth from 3rd to 8th grade. Perhaps we need a conversation about why the test-driven, choice-driven, technocratic model pushed by the Billionaires Boys Club has been such a failure. 
The cornerstone of accountability-driven, competition-driven corporate reform was once called “earned autonomy.” Now, the basically same concept is pushed with a kinder and gentler spin. The idea is to reward schools that exhibit high test scores with the freedom to offer holistic learning. Regardless of what you call it, the plan is to impose top-down, teach-to-the-test, even scripted instruction, on lower performing schools. The approach is designed to stack the competition between choice and neighborhood schools in favor of charters.
I want to stress, however, that I support a public conversation. After I wrote a rebuttal to the former OKCPS board member seeking to break up the system, he and I have had a couple of hours of discussions. He doesn’t want more segregation but he’s tired of the micromanaging. We both want more site based management. After all, most educators and stakeholders who I know are tired of the social engineering imposed by Broadies.
But the conversation must follow the principle of, “First, Do No Harm.” We must not treat our children like lab rats. All win-win policies should be on the table, but we shouldn’t contemplate discredited theories such as earned autonomy, which actually means earned dignity, that may benefit some while severely damaging other students. For instance, do we really want to repeat the all-charter NOLA experiment if it means that 18% of young people will be out of school and out of the workforce? Should advocates be empowered to deny autonomy to schools they are competing with? Should today’s well-funded market-driven activists be empowered to permanently privatize our future children’s public education system? 

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The Kerner Commission Report, 50 Years Later: An Agenda for theFuture

 

On Tuesday, I went to D.C. for a meeting to discuss the state of civil rights in the half-century since the release of the Kerner Commission Report. The nation was rocked by civil disorders and riots in the early 1960: cities like Detroit and Newark experienced devastating clashes between angry black people and police, and many of our cities were in flames. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a commission to analyze the causes of the riots and report back. The commission acted expeditiously and released a devastating indictment of American society, memorably warning that unless we acted to reverse and remedy the root causes, America would be two societies, separate and unequal.

The root causes of the violence, the commission concluded, were racism, poverty, segregation, and police brutality. President Johnson was not pleased with the report and did not endorse its conclusions, but the report was on target.

The sole survivor of the Commission, Senator Fred Harris, and his ally, Alan Curtis, now president of the Milton Eisenhower Foundation (founded by the public-spirited brother of President Dwight D. Eisenhower), organized a fifty-year retrospective devoted to the Kerner Commission Report. I was invited to write a chapter about what has changed in education over the past 50 years. Others wrote about jobs, the economy, mass incarceration and policing, housing, and the other issues raised by the report. You can read the essays in a book just out called “Healing Our Divided Society.” It is an agenda for a better future.

Senator Harris, by the way, ran for president in 1972 and 1976. His campaign slogan was “The issue is privilege.” He didn’t win, obviously, but the issue is still privilege.

The theme of the meeting Tuesday was, we are all in this together. Whatever our race or religion, we must work together for a better society where everyone—everyone—has a decent standard of living, good housing, good medical care, good education, and just treatment.

Harris and Curtis wrote an article in the New York Times summarizing the findings of the 50-year retrospective. It may be behind a pay wall. I hope not. The graphics tell the story. Progress, then backsliding.

The story in education is well documented: a sharp decline in segregation, then the courts release school districts from court orders to desegregate, followed by a reversion to segregated schools. The problem is national, not limited to the south. When court orders end, segregation resumes. States never under court order have intense segregation. Right now, the most segregated schools in the nation are in California, followed by Texas, New York, Maryland, Nevada, and Connecticut. When you consider that only 13% of the population is black, the concentration of black students in majority black schools is shocking.

Over the past fifty years, inequality has deepened:

“The disheartening percentage of Americans living in extreme poverty — that is, living on less than half the poverty threshold — has increased since the 1970s. The overall poverty rate remains about the same today as it was 50 years ago; the total number of poor people has increased from over 25 million to well over 40 million, more than the population of California.

“Meanwhile, the rich have profited at the expense of most working Americans. Today, the top 1 percent receive 52 percent of all new income. Rich people are healthier and live longer. They get a better education, which produces greater gains in income. And their greater economic power translates into greater political power.”

Mass incarceration of poor black and brown people has become a new normal:

”At the time of the Kerner Commission, there were about 200,000 people behind bars. Today, there are about 1.4 million. “Zero tolerance” policing aimed at African-Americans and Latinos has failed, while our sentencing policies (for example, on crack versus powder cocaine) continue to racially discriminate. Mass incarceration has become a kind of housing policy for the poor.”

What have we learned in fifty years? We know what works, and our government doesn’t do it.

“Policies based on ideology instead of evidence. Privatization and funding cuts instead of expanding effective programs.

“We’re living with the human costs of these failed approaches. The Kerner ethos — “Everyone does better when everyone does better” — has been, for many decades, supplanted by its opposite: “You’re on your own.”

“Today more people oppose the immorality of poverty and rising inequality, including middle-class Americans who realize their interests are much closer to Kerner priorities than to those of the very rich.

“We have the experience and knowledge to scale up what works. Now we need the “new will” that the Kerner Commission concluded was equally important.”

The article then contrasts what doesn’t work with what does work.

In education, what doesn’t work: Racial segregation, vouchers, charters, and school choice.

What does work: Racial integration, investments in public school equity, quality teachers, early childhood education, community schools and other proven models

This report updates an epochal one. The Trump administration won’t read it or act on it. If we want a better future, a better society, a real commitment to equality of opportunity and the realization of the American dream for all, this new report is a great starting point.

 

 

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Indianapolis: Why Are White Parents Afraid to Send their Children to School with Black Children?

Matthew Gonzalez and his wife decided to move from the suburbs to the city of Indianapolis to enjoy the arts and culture and other amenities found in cities. But what to do about school? Indianapolis has many magnets and a choice system that has exacerbated segregation. They are trying now to manipulate the choice system to promote integration.

But in the meanwhile, the Gonzalez family had to decide whether to send their child to a mostly black neighborhood school. They did, he had a great year, and then they jumped for one of the coveted magnet schools.

Read here to see how they wrestled with the dilemma.

Another reminder that segregation is a social construction, that it can be thwarted, and that prejudice comes in many forms.

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The Topic That Reformers Forget: School Funding Is Not Fair

 

The latest report of the Education Law Center demonstrates the unfairness of funding in many states. When funding is unfair, equal educational opportunity is sacrificed. Somehow, this crucial topic never makes it onto the agenda of corporate education reformers. They want to cut costs, not assure that funding is both adequate and equitable.

“The nation’s continuing failure to sufficiently invest in public schools stands in stark contrast to a growing body of research demonstrating that increased funding leads to better outcomes for students. Studies show that school finance reforms that increase spending in low-income districts result in improved student achievement in those districts and a narrowing of achievement gaps. In fact, these benefits have been shown to last into adulthood in the form of greater educational attainment, higher earnings, and lower rates of adult poverty.

“The National Report Card (NRC) uses data from the 2015 Census fiscal survey, the most recent available. The NRC goes beyond raw per-pupil spending calculations by analyzing factors crucial to educational opportunity: whether states provide a sufficient level of school funding and then distribute that funding to address greater student need, as measured by student poverty.

“The latest NRC results confirm a disturbing trend: almost no improvement since the end of the Great Recession in those states that do not provide additional funding to districts with high student poverty. There is also no change in the vast disparities in levels of funding for K-12 education across the states, even after adjusting for cost. The states with the highest funding levels (New York and Alaska) spend more than two and a half times what states with the lowest funding levels spend (Arizona and Idaho).

“Key findings include:

*Funding levels show large disparities, ranging from a high of $18,719 per pupil in New York, to a low of $6,277 in Idaho.

*The ten states with the lowest funding levels – less than $8,000 per pupil — include Florida, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. Three of those states, Arizona, Idaho, and North Carolina, provide less than $7,000 per pupil.

*Many low funding states invest a low percentage of their economic output to support public education. These “low effort” states include California, Utah, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

*Seventeen states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, and Illinois, have “regressive” school funding. These states provide less funding to their higher poverty school districts, even though students in these districts require more resources to achieve.

*Students in the South and Southwest face a “double disadvantage” because their states provide low funding with no boost in funding for high poverty districts. States with flat or regressive funding include Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida in the Southeast, and, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico in the Southwest.

*Only a few states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wyoming, provide high levels of school funding and distribute more funding to their high poverty districts. Notably, New Jersey and Massachusetts are the top performing states on student outcomes.

*States with low or flat school funding have poor results on resource indicators crucial for students to succeed in school. In these states, access to early childhood education is limited; wages for teachers are not competitive with those of comparable professions; and teacher-to-pupil ratios in schools are unreasonably low.

“The NRC released today is a sobering reminder of why unfair school funding is the most significant obstacle to improving outcomes for our nation’s public school students,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director and report co-author. “The stark reality is most states still fund their public schools based on pure politics, not on the cost of delivering quality education to all students.”

“School finance reform is long overdue,” said Bruce Baker, the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education Professor who developed the report’s methodology. “It’s long past time for states to develop, and then fund, finance formulas built on the costs of providing essential education resources, accounting for diverse student needs and local fiscal capacity.”

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