I was invited by the Bill Moyers’ show to write the section on education for President Obama’s State of the Union address. Not to write what I think ke WILL say, but what I think he SHOULD say.
Read it here
and please add your comment.
Thank you Diane! Again and again and again!
Diane, you wrote, ” I will cancel federal subsidies to any charter school that does not seek out and enroll students with disabilities and students who have drop out.”
Would you “cancel federal subsidies to any district school that does not seek out and enroll students with disabilities and students who have dropped out.”? Would you cancel federal subsidies to any magnet school that uses admissions tests to screen out students with disabilities or students who have dropped out or students who can not pass the magnet’s admissions tests?
District school? I’m not aware of any that excludes this population in my state. Magnet school? I was employed by one in the state of TX and they did not exclude this population, as well. Can you be more specific?
To be fair, it should be noted that the magnet school that I was employed at was a “gifted and talented” magnet school. Yes, in order to be in this program, students had to pass an admissions test. However, the entire school did not comprise of gifted and talented students. This school was extremely diverse and had a special ed. program as well as ESL classes.
Carole – One national study found than half of secondary and about 25% of elmematry charters used some form of admissions test.
Ovearall, sAbout 1/3 of US magnet schools use admissions tests. On average, magnets cost (spend) 10% more than other district public schools. http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Ke-Me/Magnet-Schools.html
Here are some examples: Chicago magnet schools & admissions tests: http://www.cpsoae.org/
Shreveport La Magnet schools (including an admission test for a kg magnet school http://www.caddo.k12.la.us/magnet-schools/ “All children applying to kindergarten in Caddo Parish Magnet Schools (all campuses) are tested. Nationally normed standardized tests which measure skills most children have learned or are learning by ages four through six years will be administered. Caddo
Parish will select a different standardized assessment instrument each testing year. ”
Garland Texas: http://www.garlandisd.net/departments/Magnet_Programs/
” For gifted/talented magnets, waiting list placement is determined by rank. In other words, students who have the highest rankings on standardized tests (gifted) or the highest rankings for their portfolio/audition (artistically talented) are placed at the top of the list.”
Joe Nathan, let me get this right. If there is a public school anywhere in America with a selective admissions program, that supposedly justifies the handover of thousands of students and millions of dollars to a private sector that routinely excludes students with disabilities and low test scores?
Your tortured logic escapes me. The rightwing think tanks love you.
As noted repeatedly,
a. There are many magnet schools that explicitly exclude students who can’t pass the standardized tests that you attack.
b. Over many years I have and do oppose any k-12 district or charter public schools that screen out student on the basis of achievement or disability.
Diane – You apparently will accept admissions tests in district public schools but not charters.
Joe, if I were president, there would be zero federal subsidies for charter schools, but I thought it would sound unreal to put those words into Obama’s speech. I tried to connect my proposed speech to ideas he has expressed in the past.
As you know, I think that progressives like you are used by corporate elites to advance the privatization of public education. Charter schools have become a project of the far-right. People at the Walton Foundation chortle to have you defend their goals.
Thank you, Dr. Ravitch for your thoughtful defense of public schools.
It seems you are fighting this battle everywhere, even on your own blog.
Your response to Joe Nathan was “spot on”, as usual. It is so good, I I must repeat a portion of it here. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
“People at the Walton Foundation chortle to have you defend their goals.”
There has been a broad, liberal conservative to advance early childhood education. Do you reject early childhood education because some conservatives also support it?
Also, would you limit federal magnet school funding to those magnets that don’t use admissions tests?
Or better yet, Joe start your own blog…I am sure the privatizers will back you and then you can gather your own followers.
It would be as easy as pie and since you re not in the classroom seeing and hearing the same children day after day, you have the time.
It could be called: a site to bash public schools and their union thug educators.
Linda, a group of Minnesota newspapers publishes the columns I write each week. Many people either send me notes. Some post comments on line. You are welcome to do so. http://www.hometownsource.com These papers each more than 500,000 people per week.
A variety of teacher unions have asked me to work with them (I know, you don’t like to hear about my work). And I’ve publicly praised some teacher union leaders for their efforts to, for example, help improve preparation of teachers or help set up new small schools in large district buildings.
All this makes the world a little more complicated than found on this blog. Incidentally, did you ever look at the Boston Pilot Schools info – a great initiative first proposed by the Boston Teachers Union?
Yes, yes, yes…but your praise, if you have any, is usually to toot your own horn and to discredit Diane. I have read all comments, articles, studies and will continue to read, but I don’t view YOU as the altruistic, self-sacrificing savior that you think you project.
You are the water boy for the privatization movement and you need your backers (Gates, Cargill…the list on your site…did you remove that?) more than you care about teachers.
Your main purpose here is to embarrass and demean Diane.
She has given us a place to connect and share ideas. We respect , admire and appreciate her for acknowledging our profession and our dedication.
Your purpose HERE is to diminish that recognition.
So start your own blog. There are plenty of opportunistic, money-driven, greedy non-educators who will flock to your schtick.
Isn’t freedom of speech wonderful?
Chicago Public School teacher rightly criticizes magnets with admissions tests (that Diane defends)
“When educational leaders decided to create magnet schools, they didn’t just get it wrong, they got it backwards. They pulled out the best and brightest from our communities and sent them away. The students who are part of the “great middle” now find themselves in an environment where the peers who have the greatest influence in their school are the least positive role models.
Schools adapted, and quickly. We tightened security, installed metal detectors, and adopted ideas like zero-tolerance. And neighborhood schools, without restrictive admission policies based on test scores, quickly spiraled downward — somewhat like an economy.”
Joe, you can’t let go, can you? Very very few public schools have any kind of admission test. Many charter schools kick out or exclude students they don’t want. Where do those students go? Not to snother charter school, but to a public school. You really should stop slamming public schools. People might confuse you with an apologist for Jeb Bush, Rhee or ALEC. Your cause has been taken over by the far-right.
Funding for the Center for School Change has come from Cargill, Gates, Annenberg, Blandin, General Mills, St. Paul, St. Paul Companies, Peters, Minneapolis, TCF, Joyce, Bradley and Rockefeller Foundations, the U.S. Department of Education, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Initiative Funds, Best Buy,
Pohlad, and Wallin Foundation.
The next step might be to ask what those dollars were used for. A few examples:
Annenberg – Mostly to help rural public school teachers and parents start new small schools and schools within schools; also helped us successfully challenge the NCAA, which was trying to tell all public high schools what courses were and were not acceptable for college admission; a battle in which leading district & charter advocates worked together. More than 80% of the $ went to help start new district public schools. About 10% went to help start rural charters.
Blandin: To help rural public school teachers and parents start new small schools and schools within schools. Most went to rural district public schools
Gates Foundation – help district educators in CIncinnati, St. Paul and West Clermont Ohio start small schools in large high schools. Union presidents in each district were very supportive and helpful.
Mn Dept of Ed – help encourage more low income and limited English speaking families to encourage students to take challenging A.P, IB, College in the Schools and other Dual (HIgh School) College Credit courses, as a way to save $ for college and be better prepared.
Rockefeller – went to help an urban junior high school start youth community service projects.
Target – went to help urban district & charter public schools (mostly district) hold meetings with families to encourage them to read to students, and to give low income parents books to read with their kids.
US Dept of Ed – many projects – one included helping Mpls and St. Paul districts hire people who would encourage and assist dropouts to return to school.
I realize for some, anything with a corporate name or any federal funding is evil and must be opposed. Fortunately some educators are more open minded.
Yes, Joe, it is wonderful. So are you. At least you are acknoweldging why your come here and that’s a start.
Work on that blog. I hear they are easy to set up. Diane can help you.
Happy Sunday. Sunny and snowy here in CT. :)
Here’s a brief radio interview with students who had trouble in previous large schools, and found a home at a charter. This is not a description of all charter public schools – it’s a description of this one. It’s not especially helpful to generalize about all district or all charter public schools. They vary enormously.
The first student made it clear that several factors, including family problems and bullying, led to his dropping out of the previous school. As with many others, dropping out is complex decision. This charter, run by the teachers who work there, has helped a number of youngsters who previously were unsuccessful.
And here is a great video of a community in Chicago fighting the closing of their school to be turned over to privatizers. “They are asking us to plan our own funerals.” See the parents and children supporting their public school:
Joe, it is very strange that you continue to push charters on this site. It won’t wash. Too many teachers have seen their best students skimmed off by charters. Too many have seen students enroll in their classes after being kicked out of charters. Too many special educators are aware of charters that won’t take their students. Let it go. You are welcome to comment, but stop peddling your wares. We don’t do that here.
Diane, on February 8, you wrote, “This is an unusual platform. It is a place where the voices of educators, parents, and students get a full hearing. It is a place where those who exhibit unusual courage on behalf of public education and freedom of expression are honored. It is a place for the candid exchange of ideas.”
I’m in favor of “a candid exchange of views,” and a “full hearing” on issues in education. Given questionable and sometimes factually inaccurate information that appears sometimes, I’m trying to offer additional information.
Good example of factually inaccurate info was the column recently posted asserting that there is no research about the value of small schools. As noted, and this has nothing to do with charters. There was and is a considerable amount of such research.
Are you now suggesting that you don’t want a “candid exchange of ideas?”, and that you don’t want to hear the voices of (some) educators parents and students?
This is indeed a platform for the candid exchange of views, but I also mentioned in that statement that I do not encourage anyone to hog the space on single-issue advocacy. Unfortunately, the charter movement has been taken over by the right wing. If Bobby Jindal wants to write comments about the glories of charters and vouchers, he could, but it would grow tiresome after a while. If Scott Walker wants to tout charters and vouchers, ditto. If the research director for ALEC writes to say that he and President Obama share the same views (which is what he wrote in response to a post I wrote when I blogged at Education Week), that would be interesting. Joe, you don’t seem to understand that you are a liberal fronting for the far-right. Say what you want, write what you want, but understand that many here have trouble understanding how you got snookered by the privatization movement.
Diane, often when you discuss these issues you leave out members of marginalized communities that are choosing to start or attend charter schools. Why is that? Why do you obsess about the nefarious agendas of right-wingers, but ignore those of us in communities that want and need the same options you and Myron Orfield have?
Finally, when you talk about selectivity in non-traditional public schools you seem to be unaware of counseling out students in tony public schools; or zip code restrictions that allow wealthy whites to have exclusive tuition free district schools; our the national problem of student “push-outs” into the streets or “alternative learning centers”; or the over-identification of blacks into special education; or segregation, tracking and sorting of students in traditional schools.
In fact, you seem to always see the speck in the eye of the non-traditional school while ignoring the beam in the eye of the traditional school.
Why is that?
I am a historian. I try to see long-range trends. That is what I was trained to do when I studied many years ago under my mentor, the great historian Lawrence A. Cremin. I see the charter schools as the leading edge of a rightwing privatization movement, funded heavily by the Koch brothers, the Walton Foundation and assorted billionaires who do not have the best interests of the oppressed uppermost in their minds. My knowledge as a historian is informed by more than a dozen years of involvement in rightwing think tanks. I see what is coming. It will harm public schools. It will decrease educational opportunity. It will expand the gap between races and classes. That is why I do not try to see the bright side of a destructive force.
Diane, as a historian, I think you can appreciate that black Americans have benefitted from a variety of schools. In fact, one of the first charter schools I can find on record was started by Lucy Craft Laney, a black educator. In fact, black history is stocked with examples of independent schools, religious schools, private schools, district schools, etc. A connection can be made to left of center funders and right of center funders.
I think your personal battle with right-wing think tanks goes too far when you assail any possible independent form of schooling that my community may benefit from. Clearly you’ve had great school choices, and I don’t begrudge you that. You might consider that history includes our history, and in our history we’ve had too many white Americans attempt to limit the type of schools we can enter, while reserving the best options for themselves.
History includes Kenneth Clark, Marva Collins, Mary McCloud Bethune, and black power community groups that have educated our children independently.
So, carry on your battle against the right-wing, but we are not the right-wing and we do not want to be limited with your battle with them.
Chris, it is sad to be carrying water for the Walton Foundation, the Koch brothers, Art Pope, and Eli Broad. Carry on.
When some of us marched for civil rights many years ago, people screamed that we was a “Communist” or a “Commie sympathizer.? Guilt by association has been tried in the past. Fortunately, most Americans saw through it.
Ad hominem Diane. You clearly are more familiar with the right-wingers than I am, which might be why you obsess about them. But, if you are an honest historian you’d do well to stop sidestepping black history with education in the United States. Our history has been one of advancement through many different forms of schools, including independent, religious, and in some cases, secret schools.
The biggest problem with your white-on-white school reform debate is that it ignores agency and self-determination in marginalized communities. You are as much a part of the educational elite as the right-wingers that you assail. That is not a personal attack, it’s a statement of fact given your relative wealth, social standing, and access to the benefits of privilege.
When white paleoliberals and neoliberals conclude your massive food fight, the truth will still be that America’s unfinished business with marginalized communities ought to start with recognizing our right to self-determination. That means we should have significant input into what education means for us – something you have argued against in the past.
If you knew more about the history of education, you would know that racial desegregation would not have happened if black students were in charter schools (which today are more segregated than public schools).
Public schools have been the engines of democracy and social progress: for racial desecration; for gender equity; for the rights of students with disabilities; and for the rights of students who are limited in speaking English.
To destroy a great democratic institution is shameful.
Thank you, Diane. And reading that was like a lightning bolt to my brain. It’s another “duh” moment in my hectic thought processes. Those who evaluate teachers welcome the opportunity to use student test scores BECAUSE IT’S EASY TO DO SO!!! The kids take the tests anyway so let’s use those numbers to evaluate their teachers. It’s easy. Who cares if it’s right or fair or even remotely accurate? It’s easy.
If I could add to that, I would say we need a plan to facilitate those that are on welfare to get off of welfare. Our system now ensures that if you try to improve, you will lose benefits faster than you can make up the difference. We need a solid and supportive transition plans to get families to a good place. Stable, intact families are able to do the hard work early on that helps children get to school prepared. We need a plan for this.
We cannot continue to encourage young children to experiment with sex and think they will do what is needed to keep them from getting pregnant. Health education should be more comprehensive for our teens in schools. Include all the relevant facts, expose them to the hard truth, and why not take a “just say no” stance on sex ed? The assumption needs to be that parents are part of the equation. Teen sex is as risky as drugs and alcohol, yet we treat it as a viable and healthy option as long as kids practice it “safely!”
It’s sad that he won’t say anything like this. He’s too deeply invested in his RTT program, and saying these things would be admitting that he has been flat out wrong on education for the past four years. It’s infuriating that Obama and Congress are so bitterly and outspokenly polarized on so many issues of both great and inconsequential value to our society, and yet on education both parties are unified on such destructive, short-sighted, and pig-headed policies. Why is it so impossible for leaders to see what every good teacher and administrator already knows? Our public education system has flaws, for sure, but their policies are only exacerbating the problem, and now there is an entire generation of students whose education has been compromised by the stupid education agendas of Bush and Obama.
And the ring leader, the emperor, Bill Gates!
Most excellent. Very exciting. I hope he has the good sense to heed your input!
Perhaps qualify the credentials of “other professionals” as evaluators.
Also what qualifies excellence in educators? (Education, experience, dedication, passion, compassion etc.)
I think it would be useful to list what subject matter is essential in public education ( ex: arts, science, technology, crafts, ethics etc.)
Glad you have the ear of Bill Moyers, Diane. Fantastic writing, as always. Succinct and eloquent.
Just left a comment of support on the Bill Moyers site and hope others do too.
Maybe outlining a mandate to keep community college and state university costs attainable for working class families. And keeping a variety of course options open at the community college level, lots of reduced programming there coupled with doubling and tripling tuition, is shutting doors of opportunities on many people from all walks of life.
I enjoyed reading it for sure! I wonder if there’s any chance the president would ever have a chance to read it too…
“We now realize that this causes teaching to the test.”
We now know that this leads to narrowing the curriculum and teaching to the test.
“Let us recognize here and now that public education is an essential institution of our democratic society.”
Why? Can’t we do it in private schools. Tell us why. Just one more sentence.
“We will improve education by improving the lives of children. The United States leads the advanced nations of the world in child poverty. This is a scandal, and we must dedicate ourselves to reducing it.”
I know he would say something about our international ranking, but can you add something about the devastating effects poverty has on a child’s readiness to learn?
Sorry for the laundry list. I am going back and forth. I will shut up now.
Great response, Diane.
Again, the real test for the reformer set involves examining the schools where they send their own children. These are not teach-to-the-test schools where teachers are belittled. And I guarantee you that the schools where Obama’s children attend have no RTTT stressors hanging over their heads.
Yes, asking where a person sends her/his children is a great question. I wish the President Obama would send his children to a public school as did President Carter. Our 3 children all attended and graduated from urban (non-admissions test) public schools.
3 interesting studies have studied census data to determine where urban public school teachers send their children, compared to others living in the city.
In some but not all cities, public school teachers are more likely to send their children Nationally, 10.3% of families earned $42K or less send their children to private schools, compared to 14.9% of public school teachers earning $42K or less. 20.1% of urban families earning $42-84K send their kids to private schools, 19.9% of urban teachers earning $42-84K send their children to private schools.
The study gives a breakdown of city by city. Among the cities with the highest % of public school teachers sending chlildren to private schools are Rochester NY (37.5% vrs to 14.6% of families overall, Chicago, (38.7% vrs 22.6%), Philadelphia (43.8% vrs 30.9%) & NY/Northeastern NJ (32.5 vrs. 22.7)
Among cities with lower % of public school teachers sending their children to private schools are Minneapolis St. Paul (16.3% of public school teachers vrs 17.5% overall), Oklahoma City (1.7 public school teachers vrs 10.5% overall, and Salt Lake City (5.2% compared to 7.2%)
The study was done by a conservative group, which will disqualify it for some people reading this blog. However, when I’ve visited other cities, I’ve asked public school teachers about this. Many affirm that they would like to see more public school teachers sending their kids to public schools, and or, that they are proud to send their children to urban public schools.
I can’t say I am surprised at the cities whose teachers are more likely to send their children to private schools. Chicago has spent a long time dismantling and destabilizing neighborhood schools. Rochester has been through bouts of corporate management and Philadelphia… Where there has been heavy handed top down management and privatization, the public schools have suffered.
Great letter Diane. A little worried though that Obama has plans for the infrastructure of education as stated in today’s NYT. There was little elaboration. I can only guess what that means.
For him does he see privatization as a way of saving future generations and providing an influx of money into in his economy with no concern for truth?
Diane, right on target, as always.
After reading this string and many, many others, what is clear is that there are two kinds of reformers (ok, there are many kinds but…).
There are those who have found their WMDs, want to come in and blow the place up, take over, and do it their way which is usually a silver bullet, hit and run, make a profit, approach.
Then there are those who understand impediments, root causes, substantive change, and children who come in, analyze and tell the truth, the deep truth, and work to knock down the impediments and build systems that work).
America has been sold reform with smoke and mirrors (charters, magnets, vouchers) and sadly those in local, state, and federal power – and those with the $ – are calling the shots.
No child left behind. How ironic.
Oh, I could see Obama saying something like this and then promptly doing nothing.
Let me preface this by saying I am grateful for all that you do.
I did not care for the title. It appears to give tacit approval to the whole “race” (as in RTTP) concept where some children are winners and some children are losers. I have to add too that the word “innovate” has been used so much in recent years that it seems to have lost meaning.
This, on the other hand cannot be said enough: “Let us recognize here and now that public education is an essential institution of our democratic society.”
I’m just wondering why the NSEA and other teacher groups endorsed Obama for president in 2012? He hasn’t done much for education except with his stimulus program and his RTT is dismantling public education. I am a member of a teacher’s union and I can’t get any direct answer to my question (except he was better than Romney which is not a direct answer.)
That’s it–people felt Obama was the “lesser of two evils.” Also–& Diane has said it, as well–the destruction of public ed. under Romney would occur very quickly; with Obama, it would go much more slowly. Also, I can tell you, that the NEA (not NSEA) membership is NOT the leadership, and it would appear to be a democratic proceeding, at the national convention, but things don’t work out so neatly. The AFT leadership also endorsed Obama.
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