Saturday, October 13, 2012



Diane Ravitch's blog

Debate in Philadelphia: Parent Vs. Privatizer

Ken Derstine, a retired teacher and now an advocate for public education, wrote up a commentary on a recent debate in Philadelphia. Helen Gym, a leading parent activist in Philadelphia, debated Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation about the ?parent trigger? on WHYY. It is funny that a parent has to explain why the ?parent [...]

Jersey Jazzman Hits It Out of the Park

New Jersey blogger Jersey Jazzman has written a brilliant and funny essay on ?America?s Most Invasive Species: The Wonk.? This is the kind of article that reminds you how serios humor can be. He noticed that wonks thrive at conferences. At these conferences, panels of wonks deliberate what to do about issues in which they [...]

In Texas, ALL Districts Burdened by Over-Testing

In Texas, business leaders and legislators think that the more you test, the better the education delivered. You have to wonder if these people have children, or whether their children are in public school. A reader from Texas comments: We live in a middle/upper-middle class suburban neighborhood in Southwest Austin. Our kids get reading and [...]

Karran Royal Thanks You?and Me

Yesterday I urged you to send donations to help Karran Harper Royal in her campaign to win a seat on the New Orleans school board. Karran faces an uphill battle against the leader of the charter sector in New Orleans, who has received $110,000 from the supporters of privatization. I sent her $100 via Paypal. [...]

A Teacher Educator Writes President Obama

This letter was written by Alexandra Miletta. Her mother, who was a wonderful teacher, was a classmate of mine at Teachers College forty years ago. Small world! This is an excellent letter to the President. Here?s a copy of my letter which I emailed to Anthony Cody and sent to the White House: Dear President [...]

Write Your Letter to the President Now

It?s time to write your letter to President Obama to let him know how he should change Race to the Top. Join the Campaign for Our Public Schools. Should schools compete or collaborate? Should teachers compete or collaborate? Is education a ?race? or a process of development? Share your thoughts with the President, your Governor, [...]

This Principal Is a Hero of Public Education

No one has been more active in opposing untested evaluation methods than high school principal Carol Burris. Burris was a key figure in organizing New York principals to oppose the state?s test-based evaluation system, which has never been validated or worked anywhere. Burris has written articles frequently. She is tireless. I visited her school, South [...]

Please Help a Deserving Candidate

A reader asked the other day if there was anything he could do for me. The answer is yes. Please send a contribution to Karran Harper Royal of New Orleans, a parent leader who is running for school board. I met Karran in New York City a year ago, and she explained what a farce [...]

Edushyster Unmasks the Miracle Rephormers

You need to sit down before you read this. It is so hilarious it may cause you to fall down laughing. This is a wonderful spoof about Miracle Teachers, Mracle Schools, and Amazing stories of overnight transformation that occur only when the teachers are inexperienced and the journalists don?t dig too deep.

How to Widen the Achievement Gaps

A teacher knows how the achievement gap grows: My wife and I are both elementary teachers in the same district but at completely different schools. She teaches at a school with over 80% free and reduced lunch whereas my school has 7%. When I ask her about the policies in her school versus the policies [...]

?We Don?t Have Time?

How many times have you heard a leader of the reform privatization movement say, ?We don?t have time.? ?The kids can?t wait.? This reader from Montgomery County, Maryland, which has the nation?s best teacher evaluation system (it does not rely on test scores but on professional judgment) writes: We in MoCo don?t hire inexperienced people. [...]

Why the Free Market Cannot Reform Public Schools

We previously read an article claiming that for-profit entrepreneurs are necessary to reform American schools. The article began, in its original version, with a vulgar and gratuitous insult directed at Anthony Cody. Here are two great responses. The first is by Anthony Cody. The other is by Audrey Watters.

Which Schools Ignore the Tests?

I asked earlier if there were districts that still manage to offer a full curriculum despite the federal mandates. Where are the good things happening. There were many good responses. These are some of the most provocative: Response #1: In California, there are over 1,000 separate school districts. Each reflects a different community. Districts that [...]

Ms. Katie Writes President Obama

Katie Osgood, who teaches children in a psychiatric hospital in Illinois, has some good suggestions for President Obama. You should read her letter to President Obama.

Reform=Disrespect? Reform=Privatization?

Jersey Jazzman has developed an equation: reform=disrespect. Another way to put it: these so-called reformers don?t like democracy. He detects a growing opposition to the top-down methods of the privatizers. Something is happening in Jersey, and the rest of the country: slowly, a groundswell of opposition is building against the corporate reform agenda. People are [...]

Join the Campaign for Our Public Schools

Please write a letter or email to President Obama and share your concerns about the future of our schools. be sure to send it to Anthony Cody or me so we can add your voice to the whole. The instructions on where to send your letter or email are here. Be sure oe of us [...]

How to Become a Successful Charter

Here is an interesting and curious coincidence. Edushyster reported the list of schools in Massachusetts with the highest suspension rate. Most of them were charter schools. The school with the highest suspension rate in the state of Massachusetts is Roxbury Prep. This charter school suspended 56.1% of its students for one or more days last [...]

Joel Klein?s False History, by Richard Rothstein

In a stunning article, Richard Rothstein has dissected Joel Klein?s claim to have grown up in poverty, living in a public housing project, saved by a ?great? teacher. This story is used cynically by Klein and other advocates of privatization to attack public education, teachers and unions. (Wasn?t that great teacher a member of the [...]

I Will Be in Chicago on Monday

I speak at City Club breakfast on Monday at 7:30 at Maggiano?s. At 11:30 at Create assessment and accountability conference at University of Illinois at 11:30 am. Will post location. At 4, speaking to CTU teachers at 4 pm at Lane Technical High School.

BREAKING NEWS: J.C. Brizard Is Out in Chicago

Just reported. Chicago schools chief J.C. Brizard resigns. He will be replaced by deputy Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who previously served as superintendent in Cleveland and as deputy to Robert Bobb in Detroit.

Come to Chicago City Club Monday at 7:30 AM

I?ll be speaking at the Chicago City Club this Monday at 7:30 am. I hope you can be there. Comment Tickets are available here

Teacher: Am I Playing in the Band on the Titanic?

This teacher wrote a great letter to President Obama. I hope you will write one also, and send it to my colleague October 6, 2012 Dear President Obama: I Feel As Though I?m Playing In The Band On The Titanic My part in the presidential letter writing campaign this October. The Titanic was a [...]

We Did It for Marie!

Because of your votes, Marie Corfield was selected by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee as one of its top ten priority races. This should help her get national funding! Thank you! A teacher for State Legislature in New Jersey! Yes! Diane ? This morning, we unveiled the DLCC?s 2012 Essential Races list ? a list [...]

More About Marie!

This is what the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said about Marie Corfield?s race in New Jersey, which this blog supported (thanks to Jersey Jazzman!): New Jersey Assembly District 16 ? Marie Corfield (Grassroots pick) Status: Republican Incumbent Why this Race Matters: This race received more grassroots nominations than any other in the country. Teacher and [...]

Box Office Flop: ?Won?t Back Down?

Apparently audiences won?t pay to see a movie that demonizes teachers? unions. ?Won?t Back Down? had the worst opening weekend of any film in wide distribution (over 2,500 theaters) in the past 30 years. And attendance has been dropping since then.

Louisiana Voucher Decisions Shrouded in Secrecy

A Louisiana newspaper has blasted State Commissioner John White for refusing to release public documents about the selection of private schools to receive vouchers. People want to know the criteria and process for selection. White will not make these documents public, claiming they are not public documents. Now, in a time of budget cuts, he [...]

Georgia Parent: vote NO on Constitutional Amendment

This Georgia parent warns other parents and families to vote against the ALEC-inspired constitutional amendment that would allow the governor to open an unlimited number of charter schools. The governor would be authorized to appoint a commission that could veto the decisions of local school boards. Charters, like the one her child attended, would be [...]

Spoiled Heiress Has Temper Tantrum

California Governor Jerry Brown has assembled a broad coalition to support a tax increase to make up for the devastating budget cuts to public education under his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Brown?s levy would raise the sales tax by 1/4 of 1% and increase income taxes of those making over $250,000 a year. A wealthy heiress [...]

This Is Crazy: Testing in Kindergarten for What?

A teacher writes about the testing program in her school. The goal is less about evaluating children than gathering data to evaluate their teachers. And they start early to learn the valuable skill of taking tests: I teach in a public elementary school. Starting this year, our kindergartners must take the NWEA test three times, [...]

Another Teacher Running for Office

Maureen Reedy, who taught in the public schools of Ohio for 29 years, is running for the State Legislature. I wrote a post about her in mid-July, but that was a long time ago. So it is time to remind you that she is well-qualified, she follows the money, and she intends to support our [...]

A Superintendent Joins the Honor Roll

I am grateful to a reader for alerting me to the work of Dr. Teresa Thayer Snyder, who is the superintendent of schools in Voorheesville, New York. She is a hero of public education. What makes her a hero? She speaks out clearly and fearlessly about children and education. She explains the work of the [...]

Michelle Rhee?s Odd Metaphor

Yesterday I was on an NPR program interviewed by Michel Martin. I followed Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings, Michelle Rhee, and Alberto Carvalho, the Miami superintendent. Duncan said that Race to the Top did not require teaching to the test. Spellings praised NCLB. Carvalho explained why he tried to help schools get better instead of closing [...]

The Case Against For-Profit Entrepreneurs in Education

A reader shared his response to the article praising the profit motive in education. Hi Diane. I wrote the following reply to Tom Segal on their web page. Eight years ago, I would have agreed with you on your perspective, Mr. Segal. Unfortunately, your efforts to paint the public education community as in dire need [...]

The Case for For-Profit Entrepreneurs in Education: UPDATE!!!

This is the most revolting article I have ever provided a link to. It is written by some money-grubbing entrepreneur who boasts that for-profit businesses are necessary to provide the innovation that education needs. His insult to my friend Anthony Cody sets the tone (the article originally had the subtitle ?How I Kicked Anthony Cody?s [...]

Who Is Paying for Charter Referendum in Washington State?

A reader sent the list of contributors to the campaign for 1240 in Washington State, which authorizes charters. See here and here for more about 1240. Please read the list. Not clear if anyone on it is a parent of a public school student. What you will see is a list of billionaires in the [...]

Tomorrow is Money Blast in Washington State

Help your friends fight off the charter billionaires in Washington State. Tomorrow is Money Blast Day: It?s here ? Money Blast Day in Washington state to fight off I-1240 that would establish charter schools here. (Washington is one of just nine states that does not have them and we have voted ? three times ? [...]

Ever Heard of These Charters?

Louisiana passed its historic privatization legislation last spring, which included not only vouchers for more than half the students in the state, but inducement for many organizations to open multiple charter schools. Now the state is getting swamped with applications from unknown or little-known groups. Maybe it is your Uncle Harry and Aunt Mabel. Maybe [...]

My Speaking Schedule Next Week

Next week I am traveling and lecturing in the Midwest. I speak at the City Club in Chicago on Monday October 15 at 7:30 am. Same day, I speak to the CREATE assessment conference at University of Illinois at 11:30 a.m. Same day, I speak to members of CTU at 4 pm, not yet sure [...]

NYC?s Pointless School Grades

Is your state or district planning to create a report card for its public schools? Advice from New York City: Don?t. Read this debate. You will see some past and former employees of the school system (and the head of the charter association) who believe in the grades. And you will read some eloquent and [...]

Michigan?s Emergency District About to Expand

Michigan created an emergency district for schools with low test scores, administered by Broad Academy alum John Covington, who decamped from Kansas City after making no improvements there. The emergency district is about to become the largest district in the state. By adding low-perming districts from across the state, the EAA will have 46,000 students. [...]

Florida School Boards Resist Aggressive Expansion of Virtual Charters

The online for-profit corporation K12 wants to grow its business in Florida but school boards are opposing it. The online charters poach students and funding from public schools while providing a poor quality of education. They do, however, have one big political advantage. They have the fervent support of former Governor Jeb Bush, who is [...]

Tumult in NOLA

Two months into the school year, the head of the Recovery School District abruptly fired the principal of Walter L. Cohen High School as well as several teachers and announced that he was turning the school over to a charter operator called the Future Is Now. Students reacted angrily and protested the disruption in their [...]

Ms. Katie Reviews Paul Tough

The readers of this blog know Katie Osgood as a teacher who works with young people in a psychiatric hospital in Chicago. She writes brilliantly, from her experience. Here, she writes a critique of Paul Tough?s new book How Children Succeed.

How to Join the Campaign for Our Public Schools

As a result of many comments on this blog, and in response to a great yearning to raise our voices, many teachers, parents, students, administrators and concerned citizens plan to join together in a mass letter-writing campaign to the President. We want all letters submitted here to this blog or to Anthony Cody no later [...]

Playing Games with Data in Louisiana

Yesterday I wrote a post about how the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education was pulling a few fancy tricks to inflate the scores of charter schools. This makes it easier to claim that they are incredibly successful (when they are not) and persuade the Legislature to add many more. But it turns out that Louisiana is [...]

23 Texas Districts Get Test Waivers

A group of Texas superintendents have been developing a different vision of what education ought to be. Different from the test-and-punish approach of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. With the full-blown revolt against high-stakes testing in Texas, the superintendents now have a chance to show their stuff. At the last session, [...]

Hats Off to Tacoma!

I asked readers to tell me about good school districts that manage to offer a good education despite the testing mania. This reader in Tacoma explains what is happening there. I am adding Tacoma, Washington, to the honor roll because it is an exemplar of good public education: In Tacoma Public Schools, some schools do [...]

Can You Answer This Question?

I am often asked whether there are any districts that have managed to do the right thing despite all the federal mandates. Are there any districts that have managed to minimize the harmful consequences of high-stakes testing? Are there districts that have managed to protect the arts, physical education, recess, history, civics, foreign languages and [...]

If This Newspaper Gets It, Why Can?t the NY Times?

The Reading (Pa.) Eagle has a smart editorial questioning the state?s rating system for schools. It seems that quite a few local schools did not make ?adequate yearly progress.? The editorialist wrote: ??we do not believe this is a sign local districts suddenly are doing a poor job. It?s a sign of an incomprehensible system [...]

EduBusiness Soars, Your Pension Not So Much

Here is a site that takes a hard look at the profit-making end of education, and it is booming. Business is amazingly good, what with all the new opportunities for testing, test prepping, outsourcing, online stuff, new technologies. Meanwhile, your public officials are trying to figure out how to cut teachers? pensions. Remember the old [...]

Really. Truly. It?s Not about Profit.

Edushyster has done it again. Here, Edushyster defends Joel Klein against the outrageous claim that Rupert Murdoch is trying to make a profit by selling lots of stuff to the schools. It?s all about collaboration. It?s all about replacing teachers with technology to help with budgetary issues. It?s all about reform.

A Blow to Reform/Privatization

If you ask leading privatizers where are the examples of success for their theories, they will surely point to New York City. Surely you heard about the ?New York City miracle.? Australia is redesigning its national system because of the success of the alleged miracle. But what about New York City? More than 100 schools [...]

The Next Targets of Corporate Reform

Mike Petrilli of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute summarizes ?What?s Next? for reformers (some prefer to call them privatizers). Race to the Top was a great coup for the privatizers/reformers. Now they plan to follow up with a direct assault on schools of education, abetted by NCTQ?s forthcoming rankings, to be published by US [...]

Write Your Letter to President Obama Today

Readers of this blog know that we are collecting letters to send to President Obama by October 17. Please join us in opposing high-stakes testing and privatization. We call this action the Campaign for Our Public Schools. Instructions on where to send your email are here. Lets begin now to make our voices heard.

Follow the Money, Again

Here?s a hard-hitting investigative report on the money pouring into California to beat the unions by cutting off dues collections. The face of this campaign is Gloria Romero, who flipped to the right and is now the face of Democrats for Education Reform, the pro-privatization Wall Street hedge fund managers? group. Seems the Koch brothers [...]

A Marketplace for Schools?

Corporate reform privatizers like Joel Klein, Jeb Bush, Michael Bloomberg, and Mitt Romney like to boast of the glories of a marketplace for schools. They want parents to be consumers, armed with test scores and school report cards and grades. In that great come-and-get-it-day, all schools will be excellent when they compete. That?s why all [...]

Pennsylvania Official Altered Test Rules to Inflate Charter Scores

The Pennsylvania Secretary of Education changed the state testing rules, without federal approval, to boost the scores of charters. The change involved treating charter schools as if they are districts, not schools. This reduced the number of charters that failed to make adequate yearly progress. The chief legal counsel for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association [...]

Marie Corfield Needs Your Help!

This morning, I made a contribution to Marie Corfield?s campaign. She is a teacher running for the New Jersey legislature. She will be a thorn in Governor Chris Christie?s side as he slams teachers and their union and tries to cut their pensions and destroy public education. Jersey Jazzman reminds us here that you can [...]

Wish I Had a Newspaper Like This in My Hometown

The Mercury of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, has an editorial describing the devastating effects of budget cuts and tax caps on Pennsylvania?s public schools. The cuts threaten the future, says the editorial. Class sizes are growing. Thousands of teachers have been laid off. On the chopping block and already cut are music and art, sports, kindergarten, early [...]

Game On in Oklahoma

The reform/privatization strategy is now in full operation is states across the nation. This is the way it works: First, set an impossible goal, say, 100% proficiency for all students. Second, say that there can be ?no excuses,? no reference to social conditions in which children live. Third, insist on accountability for schools, teachers, and [...]

Creativity Declines as Testing Increases

An article in Psychology Today says that studies of creativity show it is on the decline. The decline of creativity is concurrent with the rise of testing and accountability in American schools. This is particularly disturbing because America?s trump card has always been creativity, ingenuity, wit, and innovation. In our reckless pursuit to ?race to [...]

A Draft of a Parent?s Letter to President Obama

A parent in California drafted a letter to President Obama. This could serve as a template for other parents. Some parents worry about the negative effects of high-stakes testing on their children. Others are upset that their community is being torn apart by battles with charter operators. Others are upset by class size or budget [...]

Education Nation Ignored Students

Nikhil Goyal was invited to participate in Education Nation. He is a high school senior in New York who recently published a book (!) about education reform. But read what he writes about how Education Nation treated students.

A Teacher for the New Jersey Legislature

Here is a great way to stop the attacks on teachers and stop the privatization of public education: elect teachers to fight for kids and public schools. Marie Corfield is a teacher who is running for the New Jersy Assembly. She already has had one face-to-face confrontation with Governor Chris Christie. I hope she has [...]

A Rebuke to Testing Fanatics?Not That They Care

An interesting article in the Sunday New York Times about how test performance is affected by social and psychological factors. Our public policy today seems built on the assumption that standardized tests accurately measure what was taught and learned. Teachers and most test experts know how fallible the tests are. The author, Annie Murphy Paul, [...]

Testing Runs Amok in Oklahoma

Florida pioneered the use of school grades. New York City followed. Now other states and districts are jumping aboard. The latest to adopt school grades is Oklahoma. The superintendents there don?t understand what is gained by this action. For some reason, the people who put grades on schools think of this as ?reform,? but it [...]

A Question for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney likes to boast that Massachusetts is number 1 in the nation in academics, and he is right. Massachusetts is the highest scoring state on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in math and reading, in fourth and eighth grades. Now, as we know, Mitt is very anti-union. His educational platform excoriates the bad [...]

Helping Kids or Helping Charters?

Wendy Lecker, advocate for public education in Connecticut, raises important questions. Why was Hartford?s low-performing Milner School handed over to charter operator Jumoke Academy? Why did Hartford officials do nothing to help Milner until the charter school took over? Why did Jumoke get $2 million to fix Milner but no help was available to Milner [...]

Corporatization of Public Education?

An interesting article at speculates about the current drive to privatize American public education. Inevitably, the author makes the US/Finland comparison. What is missing? He or she never mentions that Finland does not have any standardized testing. Not until students apply to college (which is tuition-free, by the way). Teachers are respected not only [...]

Washington State Should Vote NO on 1240

Brendan Williams, a parent in Washington State and former legislator, wrote an article to explain why initiative 1240 should be defeated. Initiative 1240 would authorize charter schools in a state where voters have turned them down three times previously. This initiative is generously funded by billionaires such as the Walton family, which donated $600,000. By [...]

Guess Who Is in Charge of Hiring in Dallas?

A teacher sent the following comment in a discussion about why teachers are demoralized. In Dallas, a 29-year-old TFA alum, with two years of teaching experience, has been put in charge of teacher recruitment: A much better thing to publicize is the recent appointment of a TFA alumni to be the new Chief Talent Officer [...]

Should Students Rate Teachers?

Larry Ferlazzo reports on an interesting exchange about student ratings of teachers. Amanda Ripley, who is a cheerleader for corporate reform, loves the idea of trusting students to tell us which teachers are great and which stink. Felix Salmon points out where she is wrong. The Gates Foundation loves the idea of student surveys, of [...]

Best Post of the Day!

Edushyster has done it again. He or she has identified the schools in Massachusetts with the highest suspension rates. Almost all are charters. This is not what you would normally think was a funny topic, but read it to the end and see what you think. Frankly, no one is better at puncturing charter school [...]

Write Your Letter Today to President Obama

Consider spending a few minutes this weekend writing a letter for the October 17 Campaign for Our Public Schools. Tell the President how Race to the Top has affected your life as a parent, a teacher, a principal, a student, a school board ember or a concerned citizen. Tell him how important the public schools [...]

A Conversation about the Goal of Reformers

I wrote a post about the attacks on teachers, which got some interesting responses. Reader A wrote: This has absolutely nothing to do with teacher quality. This has everything to do with: 1. Destroying unions; 2. Destroying public education; 3. Hijacking tax funding for education to for-profit corporations; 4. Control of the public to perpetuate [...]

A Union Member Refutes the Propaganda

A teacher writes: I am a union member (AFT affiliate) and nothing in our union contract requires that I teach a certain way or limits the extent to which I stay late, come in early, or take work home. We do have limits on class size (28). Doesn?t this seem like a good idea for [...]

Eliminating Libraries Is Reform?

I posted earlier about Romney?s pledge to eliminate federal support for the arts and humanities (PBS and ?Big Bird?). A reader from Louisiana?which is the absolute acme of education reform?says that the defunding has already started in that state. Earlier this year, state lawmakers eliminated support for libraries. It was less than $1 million, hardly [...]


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