Friday, October 30, 2015

SOME CAUSE FOR HOPE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THIS PAST WEEK'S NEWS

As I'm trying to catch up on the news for the week in the midst of a fairly busy schedule, I noticed something a little odd: some of the headlines in New York and nationally provide some reasons to be optimistic.

Carrol Burris has an excellent interpretation on what she calls the "flop" in national test scores that were released this week. She wrote on Tuesday in the Valerie Strauss Answer Sheet Blog in the Washington Post:

Today's National Assessment of Educational Progress score flop should come as no surprise.  You cannot implement terrible education policies and expect that achievement will increase.

NAEP is a truth teller.  There is no NAEP test prep industry, or high-stakes consequence that promotes teaching to the test.  NAEP is what it was intended to be--a national report card by which we can gauge our national progress in educating our youth.

During the 1970s and '80s, at the height of school desegregation efforts, the gap in scores between our nation's white and black students dramatically narrowed.  You could see the effects of good, national policy reflected in NAEP gains.

The gaps have remained, however, and this year, the ever so slight narrowing of gaps between white and black students is due to drops in the scores of white students--hardly a civil rights victory.

It is difficult to see any real growth across the board since 2011, with math scores backsliding to 2009 levels, eighth-grade reading flat for four years, and a small uptick in fourth-grade reading that is not a significant increase from 2013, which in turn was not significantly different from 2011.

Considering that the rationale for the Common Core State Standards initiative was low NAEP proficiency rates, it would appear that the solution of tough standards and tough tests is not the great path forward after all.  For those who say it is too early to use NAEP to judge Common Core, I would remind them that in 2013, Education Secretary Arne Duncan used NAEP increases to do a victory dance about the states that already implemented the Core at that time-- and I never heard any reformer complain.

Burris goes on to conclude:

The very folks who gleefully hold public schools accountable based on scores, evade using them to evaluate their own pet policies.  For those of us who had first row seats to the disruption and chaos they have caused, we have one simple message--no excuses.

Speaking of anti-public school reformers, it wasn't such a good week for Success Academy charter school Queen Eva Moskowitz either with the media no longer giving her glowing coverage. The NY Times exposed a "Got to Go" list for students who needed to be counseled out of one of Eva's schools.  It looks like some of the information against Eva is coming from the inside.  Will her deep pocketed friends save her? At least some in the press aren't buying her so called education miracle any longer.

As for our anti-public school Governor Andrew Cuomo, his political fortunes on education and many other issues just keep falling. A recent poll covered at Perdido Street School has Cuomo's approval rating on education at 68% negative to 27% positive.  Overall he is 18 points on the negative side. The UFT and NYSUT should be moving to go after this very unpopular governor now.

We at ICE are not just here to gloat about the misery of people who have done so much harm to public education.  The folks we think of as the good guys are speaking up on behalf of public education.

Rock group R.E.M. manager- public education advocate Bertis Downs wrote a piece for Valerie Strauss the other day on how a high needs district in Georgia is moving ahead.  Bertis stated:

I mean, really, if this over-testing, high-stakes culture is really such a great idea, wouldn't reformers want this environment for their own children?  Wouldn't they push the elite private schools their children attend to adopt those "innovative reforms" too?  The fact that they don't is telling.  these are not educationally sound ideas, and reformers know it, even as they call these policies "innovative" as they push them to the public.  Do they think we don't know better?  Of course the schools exempt from the public mandates don't nurture this absurd over-testing culture, especially the ones labeled "innovative" by those passing the laws. Balderdsh, by any other name....

Our family lives in Athens, Georgia, a community that - like most communities - values public education, and our kids go to our local public schools.  Our school district has been innovating, really innovating in some pretty creative ways, some of which might even sound old-fashioned or simple.  I actually prefer the word "intuitive."  Especially for the past six years, we are grateful for the leadership of Phil Lanoue, who was named 2015 National Superintendent of the Year.

Lanoue's prescription is not a panacea for education's ills but this is what Lanoue said concerning standardized testing:

You can't solve social inequities on a test," he said, speaking about the standardized test-based reform efforts that have taken root around the country.  It's ludicrous.

That sounds positive to me.

He also tries to feed kids both in and out of school.

Who else is against the test based madness that has taken over our schools?  Why that would be Jia Lee, the teacher/activist chosen by the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) to challenge Michael Mulgrew for UFT President.  As President, Mulgrew gave us test based evaluations to cover 40% of our annual teacher evaluation. Jia has fought high stakes testing by opting herself and her son out of the state tests.  Her candidacy was announced at the MORE State of the Union-State of the Schools conference last Saturday.  She has my support for sure.

Endorsements have come in from NYC Educator, Ed Notes, DOE Nuts and others.

All in all, not the usual bad news, worse news and worst news in education this week.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

james, just check per-session back pay, thought this was also supposed to go back to 2009, seems to only go back to 2012, any information on how this per-session back pay is calculated?

James Eterno said...

It should also go back to 2009 just like the regular pay. I don't see anything saying otherwise.

Anonymous said...

What about coverages? Will there be back pay for this?

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't there be?

Anonymous said...

Eve Moskowitz was exposed for the fake, phony, fraud she is this week. Something we as educators knew all along, the public now has something to chew on. Will our great leader, Meathead Mike take this issue and pound it home? No. Not a peep from the creep.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew likes testing. He gave us this evaluation system.

Anonymous said...

Oh and he will be reelected with a huge majority of teacher votes. Whose fault is that?

Anonymous said...

And the answer to whose fault is that is?

Anonymous said...

Ours. We can't convince teachers to vote Mulgrew out and MORE in.

Carl said...

Eva is right, get rid of the trash students, would be better for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Navarrette Rules!

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