Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy is faithful to his state’s hedge fund managers, who supported his campaigns. But he is not faithful to the children, parents, and educators of his state.

 

Malloy is offering a nice increase for charter schools, but budget cuts for the public schools that educate the vast majority of students. Perhaps Malloy forgot that the charter sector was rocked by scandal less than two years ago.

 

Malloy broke his promise to legislators and the public.

 

“Charter schools have escaped Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget knife and are slated for a $9.3 million boost in his newly proposed state budget.

 

“But the Democratic governor also wants a $52.9 million cut in funding for special education, after-school programs, reading tutors and other services in low-performing public schools across the state.

 

“Malloy also wants to rescind an $11.5 million funding increase in the Education Cost Sharing grants for next school year. It is the state’s principal education grant to municipal schools, and the idea of a reduction is not sitting well with some of the lawmakers who helped approve the ECS money last year.

 

“In order to secure the votes needed to pass the two-year budget last June, lawmakers reached a deal to appease both the urban legislators upset that state aid for neighborhood schools was not increasing and the governor, insistent on increased state funding so two new charter schools could open. The budget agreement upped funding for both charters and traditional public schools in each of the following two years.

 

“Rep. Edwin Vargas, D-Hartford, one of the more than dozen concerned legislators last spring, is upset that the governor is now backing off the increase for neighborhood schools but keeping the increase for charter schools.

 

“This was bad-faith bargaining,” said Vargas, a former teacher and union leader. “We swallowed this bitter pill of spending millions to open new charters and the sweetener was the additional money for the local districts. That was the way many of us could bring ourselves to support the budget.”

 

“It was a very close vote,” he continued, “and had people known that they were going to renege on part of the deal, it might have affected some of the votes on the final budget.”

 

In Stamford, the governor’s proposal means the public schools will not get the $225,000 increase they would have received, but the new charter school in town will get about $3 million more so enrollment can increase. That charter school and another in Bridgeport are to expand by about 650 seats.

 

“Other towns in line not to receive previously scheduled increases include Danbury ($1 million), Rocky Hill ($450,000), Shelton ($500,000), Southbury ($600,000), West Hartford ($1.6 million) and Wethersfield ($530,000). These increases would have ensured that every district receives at least 55 percent of what the state’s education funding formula says they deserve when factoring in town wealth and student need.”

 

Jan Resseger, a long-time advocate for children, families, and public schools in Ohio, asks “What Gives Campbell Brown Standing to Spin the News about Public Education?” Good question.

 

She was a news anchor.  I know she gets upset when I say this, but she is pretty. It’s true; being pretty is nothing to feel bad about.

 

She has no prior experience in education. But with the financial support of the Walton Family and the Bloomberg Foundation and a few other billionaire donors, she now is in a position to opine about how to “reform” public schools. Did she ever attend one? Do her children? Was she ever a teacher or a principal? Is she a scholar? Has she studied the problems of the schools in depth? We know the answers to those questions.

 

She is obsessed with stripping away the rights of teachers. She hates unions. She thinks the schools are staffed by large numbers of sexual predators.

 

Why? I don’t know.

 

I recently posted about a student, Cedrick Arguelas, in Los Angeles who earned a perfect score on the AP exam in calculus.

Of 302,000 students who took the test, only 12 received a perfect score.

Another student in California won a perfect score. Jason Cheung attends Davis High School in Sacramento.

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley writes on her blog VAMboozled that Néw York teacher Sheri Lederman rejected a settlement offer from the state.

Lederman, a veteran teacher on Long Island, is suing the state to challenge the validity of VAM. Although she has long been recognized as a superstar teacher, she got a low rating. Her husband Bruce is a lawyer, who is litigating on her behalf.

The state offered to raise her rating if she would abandon the lawsuit. The state said that the teacher evaluation process will be changed, in some fashion, but the Ledermans rejected the offer because there is no certainty that VAM will disappear.

Amrein-Beardsley explains the situation and adds useful links.

This is a hilarious explanation of how charter schools succeed. If you might be offended, don’t watch.

 

If you want to see a hotly debated issue presented in graphic form, then take a peek. Only 2 minutes.

I received this comment recently in my email: 

“I haven’t really been sure about the hullabaloo centering on the Common Core until this year. What follows are some of my thoughts regarding my daughter’s AP English class. If what follows might be helpful for discussion in your blog, please use my story as you wish. I admire your work and am very thankful for your voice in education.
All the best!

My daughter is taking AP Language and Composition this year and I have been intrigued by the texts used in the class. It happens that I took the same class many decades ago. It amazes me how the reading lists differ from my class as compared to hers! I recall reading a lot of fiction. Her course seems to be almost exclusively non fiction. Has this AP course changed so much over the years that Camus and Miller, Wolf and Hawthorne are no longer useful? As I browsed syllabi for AP Language and Composition for recent years from other schools available on the internet, I came to realize that the difference in my daughter’s class has nothing to do with the decades that separate the instruction I received, compared to hers. What is different is the implementation of Common Core standards! Common Core wasn’t really real to me until now.
Take a look at what my daughter is reading during her first semester:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebbecca Skloot
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Short pieces such as:

Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan
“How Fetal Tissue is Used in Medical Research” The Week
“Ten Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day” by Lana Winter-Herbert for LifeHack.org
“The Ugly Truth About Beauty” by Dave Berry
“Fly the Partisan Skies” by David Brooks
This can be compared to reading lists from several schools I happened upon on the internet, all of which contained texts much closer to what I read so many years ago. This one offers a useful example:
AP English Language and Composition Syllabus 2014-2015 Darla Barnett Terry High School
First 18 weeks
Shea, Renee, Lawrence Scanlon and Robin Dissin Aufses. The Language of Composition: Reading, Writing, Rhetoric. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.

-Excerpts from 19th Century American Writers: The Transcendentalists
-Dead Poets Society
-Excerpts from Mark Twain’s writings
-Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
-Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
– Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
Other syllabi include works by Nabokov, Didion, Sontag, E. B. White, Frost, Emily Dickenson, names oh so familiar to me.
Why the difference for my daughter’s class? It turns out that the Skloot and Roach books have been adopted for Common Core as very important texts. They are “informational” and they are geared toward teaching science subjects while being useful for courses such as AP English Language and Composition. My daughter accepts their use for the course – the many kids who are interested in science and don’t really enjoy fiction that much are better served, she thinks, by these books than by the classical texts. However, I noticed that all the works are rather short in length. I asked her how much reading she does this year compared to her previous year’s English course. She replied, “Less, but it’s more in depth, unpleasant reading!” The unpleasantness refers to the fact that her major reading has to do with death, cadavers and a lot of science and politics that explore issues of death and cadavers. But, she can persevere through the course and she really likes her teacher!
Since the course my daughter is taking is focused upon “language” and “composition,” I am comfortable with the idea that she will learn all that she needs to learn using “informational” texts. This isn’t a literature course, after all. However, it must be acknowledged, I think, that the classical literature that served to lead young minds to process “language” and encourage “composition” is being sacrificed to Common Core “informational” texts. The fine minds that produced classical literature are not the influences that shape my daughter’s writing this year. Instead, science writers fill that role.
Common Core is changing education in fundamental ways and I only recently realized how that is the case, given my daughter’s experience. Is this good or bad? I don’t really know. But I do know that I picked up a copy of a short story, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, one of the texts used in several of the online syllabi, for my daughter to read in her spare moments (she read it and really liked it!)! Something tells me that I will be visiting the library many more times in the coming school year to search out classical literature for my daughter’s spare time reading!”

In a guest column on EduShyster’s blog, student-teacher Mary Sypek describes her lesson with a class of fourth-graders. They are 26 children from 22 countries. She is teaching them about American government and the Constitution. Karin asks her, “Will Donald Trump deport me?”

 

What should she tell him?

Mike Klonsky posts a video of the Chicago Teachers Union march in Chicago.

 

Also a newspaper article showing that public opinion strongly supports the union over Rahm.

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post discovered one of our favorite bloggers at the 25th anniversary party of TFA.

Mild-mannered Gary Rubinstein kept his Superman outfit hidden as he threaded through the throng of reformers past and present. Michelle Rhee was there for a rare sighting, as was Eva Moskowitz for a not-rare sighting.

Gary is there to tell the truth. Tough job.

“Rubinstein said he will call out any examples of spinning or exaggeration he sees. One example – Rubinstein tweeted a photo of a graphic that was displayed at one workshop that showed the District of Columbia as the urban district with the largest gains in math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 2011 to 2015. Rubinstein tweeted that D.C.’s scores were so low that even after the gains, it still was the worst performing of the major urban districts.

“D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson was a Teach for America Corps member in New York in 1992.

“I’m here to disrupt this,” said Rubinstein, 46, as he walked largely unnoticed around the cavernous Walter W. Washington Convention Center.

“Rubinstein says TFA exaggerates the success of its program and alumni while at the same time overemphasizing the role of teachers, contributing to a political climate that blames educators for the academic struggles of low-income children.

“TFA is so allied with this education reform, this ‘Waiting for Superman’ narrative, that it ignores other factors,” said Rubinstein, referring to the 2010 documentary that was critical of traditional public schools, and featured Rhee as she challenged tenure and other union protections for teachers. The film portrayed non-unionized charter schools as a salvation, and followed families as they tried to win admission through a lottery.

“The truth is, schools need more resources,” Rubinstein said. “If there’s a high poverty school, it needs way more resources – potentially break-the-bank resources. It needs smaller class sizes. I’m talking four (students) to one (teacher). But TFA doesn’t talk about that.”

Experienced journalist Sarah Karp here explains what sank the contract negotiations between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.

 

“In the recent Chicago Public Schools contract offer, which now lingers in a sort of political purgatory, teachers were offered a pay raise, but there was a big catch: CPS educators would essentially be paying for the salary increase by sacrificing the most experienced members of their teaching force.

 

“An early-retirement buyout program was the linchpin of the Board of Education’s since-rejected offer – and it’s one of the main reasons why Chicago Teachers Union representatives voted down the deal, according to union officials.

 

“The board was offering $1,500 per year of service to teachers of retirement age and $750 to support staff to leave, according to the CTU. If at least 1,500 teachers and 700 other staffers took advantage of the buyout offer, the contract would stand, according to the CPS offer.

 

“But, if not enough employees signed up for early retirement, then CPS could reopen the contract – which union members feared would lead to layoffs.

 

“With that prospect looming and, among other things, the concern of a brain drain as experienced educators walked out the door, the CTU’s bargaining team of 40 union representatives voted down the deal unanimously on Monday.

 

“At a press conference on Tuesday, CTU President Karen Lewis said the union voted down the contract offer because, “No. 1 it would have pushed out 2,200 of our seasoned, experienced educators, disproportionately impacting African-American and Latino educators. It will lead to ballooning class sizes and the cuts the board proposed were solely out of our pockets.”

 

“Fifty-four percent of teachers with more than 20 years experience are black or Latino, whereas only 22 percent of new teachers are, according to a Better Government Association analysis of 2012 state data. New teachers make about $48,000 a year, while those with 20 years or more experience make an average of $88,000

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 166,872 other followers