Jeff Bryant writes that we are stuck in stale thinking about education. Our leaders think that there is a new or better way to do testing and accountability, which is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We have been stuck in the testing and accountability paradigm for at least a dozen years, in fact, for more than a generation. Governors and Congressmen think that “reform” means more and better tests.

But there comes a time to say, “that doesn’t work. We have been testing and holding people accountable since the passage of NCLB and even earlier.” It failed. It is time to think anew before we “reform” our teachers to distraction and our schools to extinction.

Bryant writes:

“Since the passage of No Child Left Behind legislation in 2002, the nation’s schools have been dominated by a regime of standardized testing that started in two grade levels – 4th and 8th – but eventually rolled out to every level for the vast majority of school children. Then, the Obama administration took the policy obsession with testing to extremes. Race to the Top grants and other incentives encouraged school districts to test multiple times throughout the year, and waivers to help states avoid the consequences of NCLB demanded even more testing for the purpose of evaluating teachers, principals, and schools. The latest fad is to test four year olds for their “readiness” to attend kindergarten.

“An increasingly loud backlash to the over-emphasis on testing has been growing and spreading among parents, teachers, and students for some time, resulting in mass public rallies, school walkouts, and lawsuits. There are clear signs those voices are starting to have an effect on people responsible for education policy…..

“What if instead of just getting rid of NCLB, we got rid of the thinking that created it? That was a question I asked three years ago when the failed legislation was gasping toward its tenth birthday. At that time, I likened the thinking behind NCLB to an econometric approach to problem solving, which is unsuitable for a pursuit like education that is values driven.

“Now there’s a new book arguing that we can’t change the way we think about education policy until we change the way we talk about education. The book is Dumb Ideas Won’t Create Smart Kids: Straight Talk About Bad School Reform, Good Teaching, and Better Learning by Eric M. Hass, Gustavo E. Fischman, and Joe Brewer.

“The book queries why federal and state policymakers put so much energy into “reforms” – such as raising standards and standardized testing – that have very little to no evidence of effectiveness. What the authors contend is that policymakers continue down the same never-ending path to policy failure because they operate from a failed “prototype” for education – a way of thinking about teaching and learning that leads to conclusions that sound good but are built on false beliefs (what the authors call “rightly wrong thinking”). And rather than looking for genuine results, policy makers tend to adhere to a “confirmation bias” that dismisses contrary evidence and reinforces the prototype.

“The authors observe that we tend to talk about schools – and indeed the whole nation – through the metaphor of the “family.” And whenever we think about family, we tend to think about two kinds: the “strict, authority-based” kind and the “caring nurturance-based” kind. It’s the authors’ belief that current education policy is dominated by the former and needs lots more of the latter.

“Policy adhering mostly to strict authoritarian ideals, they contend, promotes a faulty approach to education…..

“What’s needed instead of this failed strict, authority-based approach is a shift to the caring nurturance-based approach, the authors believe. This shift, they argue, would replace the metaphors we use to talk about education with metaphors that are more compatible with how students actually learn.

“Because the conduit-to-empty vessel approaches to education – too much step-by-step instruction, over-testing, and “delivery of lots of right answers” – lead to policies and practices that actually hinder learning, the authors call for a “learning as growth” metaphor.

“The learning as growth metaphor would reinforce thinking about students’ minds as “soil” and ideas and understandings as “plants.”

“The logic of learning as growth metaphor is based on two key ideas,” the authors write. “First, people develop or construct their ideas and understandings … Second, people need support to help them construct accurate understandings.”

“In this metaphorical description, the teacher’s role is more akin to a gardener and the education process more aligned to cultivation. “It says that teaching and learning are cooperative activities,” the authors write. “Like a plant, a student’s understanding will thrive when he or she gets attention tailored to his or her individual needs.”

“The authors also call for replacing the freedom as the lack of constraints metaphor with a “freedom as support” metaphor, which equates freedom to providing the resources teachers need to teach and the students with more opportunities to learn.

“Schools, for example should act as community centers that provide tutoring and library materials, and possibly food and health services,” the authors maintain. “Students need the inputs of basic resources to survive and thrive.”….

“Calls for “better testing” and evermore complicated “accountability” metrics are pruning around the edges of a dead shrub. With a new way to think about education, with the language of learning as growth, we can get beyond today’s failed remedies. Let’s talk it up.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that KIPP plans to double its enrollment in Los Angeles over the next six years.

 

KIPP has received many millions in gifts from the U.S. Department of Education, the Walton Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and others committed to privatizing the public schools.

 

“KIPP LA currently operates 11 schools that serve about 4,000 students; by 2020, the organization wants to grow to 9,000 students in 20 schools.”

 

In the second-largest district in the nation, 9,000 is not a significant number, but the ripple effect will cause the closure of public schools in the district.

 

 

 

 

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey seems to be running for the Republican nomination for President in 2016. If he does run, please remember his repeated attacks on public school teachers. Jersey Jazzman documents them here.

JJ shows how he fabricates his claims against teachers. He flat out makes up the facts. He accused the New Jersey Education Association of running billboards accusing him of “hating children.” That was supposed to make NJEA look cruel and paint him as a victim of this vicious and unscrupulous union. Except it wasn’t true.

This man should not be President. He is reckless with the truth. He is not trustworthy. He has no respect for teachers. Don’t forget.

Warren Simmons, president of the Annenberg Institute, here releases a set of rules for the operation of charter schools intended to make them transparent and accountable. The question he raises is whether charters can become not only more transparent and accountable, but can they operate without damaging public schools.

 

The report recognizes that some charters have no interest in accountability or transparency. Indeed, there are so many well-documented cases of fraud and abuse that it is hard to be sure that this industry can be regulated, especially when it has often made sizable campaign contributions to legislators in a position to write regulations.

 

The Annenberg report begins:

 

In the last two decades, charter schools have grown into a national industry with 2.5 million students, more than 6,000 schools, and a burgeoning market of management services, vendors, policy shops, and advocacy organizations. State laws and charter authorizing standards have not kept up with this explosive growth.

Although most charter operators work hard to meet the needs of their students, the lack of effective oversight means no guarantee of academic innovation or excellence, too many cases of fraud and abuse, and too little attention to equity. The standards and policy recommendations in this report aim to ensure that there is a level playing field between traditional public schools and public charter schools and that charters are fully transparent and accountable to the communities they serve.

 

Frankly, we can’t even be sure that the majority of charter operators are in the business for themselves or for their students. Many of the small one-off charters have been replaced by charter chains that operate as chains usually do: with a commitment to the bottom line. I don’t think that White Hat in Ohio or Imagine or K12 Inc. or Academica in Florida will change their operations in response to this report.

 

Here is a summary of their recommendations: Read the full report for the detailed recommendations:

 

Traditional school districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure a coordinated approach that serves all children

School governance should be representative and transparent

Charter schools should ensure equal access to interested students and prohibit practices that discourage enrollment or disproportionately push-out enrolled students

Charter school discipline policy should be fair and transparent

All students deserve equitable and adequate school facilities. Districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure facility arrangements do not disadvantage students in either sector

Online charter schools should be better regulated for quality, transparency and the protection of student data

Monitoring and oversight of charter schools are critical to protect the public interest; they should be strong and fully state funded

 

Meanwhile, Peter Greene has a test to tell whether or not a charter school is a public school. It must meet four criteria.

 

It must be financially transparent.

 

It must be accountable to the voters.

 

It must “play by the rules,” for example, hiring accredited teachers.

 

It must serve the entire population, not just those it wants to serve.

 

How many charters would pass this test?

 

 

Wendy Lecker, a civil rights attorney in Stamford, joins the many others who complain that charter schools have been allowed to proliferate in an irresponsible manner, with minimal or no supervision. She writes that it is time to reassess the charter movement and to set new standards for accountability. Across the country, charter school frauds have been exposed, in which the operators are profiting handsomely while refusing to accept the same children as the neighboring district. The latest example is in North Carolina, where a local businessman is making millions of dollars by supplying goods and services to his four publicly-funded charter schools while insisting that he has no obligation to open the books to public scrutiny. Connecticut has had its own charter scandal, with the implosion of Jumoke Academy.

 

 

Lecker writes:

 

Almost daily, headlines are filled with stories of charter school fraud or mismanagement. Recent revelations about possible illegal practices in charter schools in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere have led even charter supporters to try to distance themselves from the “crony capitalism” fueling this sector.

 

It is cold comfort that Connecticut officials are not alone in allowing unscrupulous charter operators to bilk taxpayers. It is time to reassess the entire charter movement in Connecticut.

 

Recall the original promises made by charter proponents: that they would benefit all public schools — showing public schools the way by using “innovative” methods to deliver a better education to struggling students in an efficient, less expensive manner.

 

None of those promises have been kept. Charters cannot point to any “innovations” that lead to better achievement. Smaller classes and wraparound services are not innovations — public schools have been begging for these resources for years. Charter practices such as failing to serve our neediest children, e.g., English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and “counseling out” children who cannot adhere to overly strict disciplinary policies, are not “innovations” — and should be prohibited.

 

Charters often spend more than public schools. Charters in Bridgeport and Stamford spend more per pupil than their host districts. And while it appears that charters in New Haven and Hartford spend comparable amounts, they serve a less needy, and less expensive, population. Moreover, Connecticut charters need not pay for special education services, transportation, or, if they serve fewer than 20 ELL students, ELL services.

 

While Connecticut owes billions of dollars to our neediest districts, officials provide higher per-pupil allocations to charters. For example charter schools receive $11,500 per pupil from the state, but Bridgeport’s ECS allocation is only $8,662 per pupil. Bridgeport is owed an additional $5,446 according to the CCJEF plaintiffs, not including the cost of teacher evaluations, the Common Core, and other unfunded mandates imposed over the years.

 

Connecticut increased charter funding over the past three years by $2,100 per pupil, while our poorest school districts received an average increase of only $642 per pupil.

 

 

Here are Lecker’s proposals for reform of privately managed charter schools:

 

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s “Public Accountability for Charter Schools,” is a good starting point. The report outlines areas that demand equity, accountability and transparency: such as enrollment, governance, contracts, and management.

 

Connecticut must require, as a condition of continued authorization, that charters serve the same demographics as their host districts, through clearly delineated controlled choice policies.

 

Charter schools must maintain transparent and publicly available annual records and policies regarding enrollment, discipline and attrition. Charters must ensure that they do not employ subtle barriers to enrollment, such as strict disciplinary policies or requirements for parent participation as a condition of attendance. No such barriers exist in public schools.

 

Charters must prove that they meet the specific needs of the host community in a way the public schools do not. Charters must not be imposed over community opposition. State officials must assess the negative impact of charters on a district, including segregation and funding effects.

 

Charters must post all contracts and fully disclose revenues and expenditures. Charter officials, board members and employees must undergo background checks and disclose any relationships with contractors, state officials and others dealing with their school. Parents in charter schools must be allowed to elect charter board members.

 

Charters must show evidence annually that their unique educational methods improve achievement.

 

 

 

This may seem unthinkable, but Pearson–the mega-giant British publisher of tests and textbooks–might lose its $500 million dollar testing contract for the state of Texas. So says the British publication,
The Telegraph. The entrepreneurs and profiteers of education are worried about the future. How sad. Will they buy each other up? Will they make money or lose money? So many problems when you live or die by profit margins. So many lobbyists to hire. So many campaign contributions to make. Welcome to the new and tawdry world of the education industry.

 

 

Katherine Rushton writes:

 

Most people have, at some point in their lives, felt a bout of nerves as they awaited a crucial set of exam results. Pearson’s chief executive, John Fallon, could be forgiven for having the same feeling.
Next month, the London-listed education giant will face its own version of this peculiar kind of torture, as it learns whether Texas plans to renew its contract for Pearson to provide testing in schools. The deal is a valuable one, worth around $500m (£310m) over five years. It is also a matter of particular strategic importance.
Texas is amongst America’s biggest and most influential states when it comes to education spending – the linchpin in the North American market, which accounts for 59pc of Pearson’s revenues and 66pc of its profits. And it has a long history of doing business with the British company, whose chief executive cut his teeth in the US textbook market, and whose former boss, Dame Marjorie Scardino, is herself American.
If the educational testing business were an election, this would count as Pearson’s safe seat. Yet there are signs Pearson may be about to lose its grip on its traditional stronghold. An audit of the Texas Education Agency recently found problems with the way the Pearson contract was tendered and managed.

 

Pearson has had other setbacks, like the loss of the Apple-Pearson iPad deal in Los Angeles.

 

The e-industry is facing difficulties, says Rushton:

 

“In this transition from print to digital, we don’t have all the infrastructure, but directionally things are moving the right way,” a Pearson spokesman said.
“There are short-term headwinds and long-term opportunities. It is not going to be a clear, straight path. It’s hard work. It’s a case of trial and error as you innovate. The question is, ‘How quickly do you learn?’”….

 

Some analysts argue that Dame Marjorie carefully timed her exit at the end of 2012. Pearson expanded enormously under her tenure, using a series of acquisitions to develop digital products and expand in emerging markets, notably China.
Mr Fallon, these analysts argue, is now unfairly having to grapple with a ragtag bag of companies, shouldering the blame for a combination of changing market dynamics and decisions taken by his predecessor.
Others claim Dame Marjorie is the one being scapegoated. They argue that the FTSE 100 business she led for 16 years is wobbling because of much more recent decisions, and that Fallon has lost key staff and contracts because of a reduction of investment in digital projects.
Whichever interpretation one adopts it is clear that Pearson’s troubles are not all of its own making. Its current turbulence started at a time when the tectonic plates of the education industry were already shifting rapidly. Part of this is down to a redrawing of the battle lines between established rivals. In America, McGraw-Hill Education has lately sharpened its focus on digital products under new chief executive David Levin, the former boss of UBM.
News Corp’s education division has also upped its game, under the guidance of Joel Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor.
But there are also a number of new rivals bearing down on the sector: Some of these are start-ups. We are in the midst of an unparalleled splurge in investment in new digital education businesses. In 2008, venture capital firms ploughed just $200m into the sector. This year, that sum is on course for $1bn.
Meanwhile, established technology giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are all making inroads into the industry, in the hope that they will build loyal audiences to sell other products to down the line. “We’ve handed education to the big software and hardware providers,” says a senior industry figure. “Google is slated to have 20m teachers working on Google apps, and it’s all free. The margins are different because the motivations are different. Google can give away education because it is securing customers for the future.”
At the moment, the big technology companies tend to partner with the traditional players – Apple was supposed to provide the iPads for LA’s $1bn digital project, for example, but Pearson was responsible for the content. However, we have already seen this story play out in other industries. It is only a matter of time before these technology giants start producing their own content, and try to disintermediate the traditional publishers altogether.
“Partnering with one of these guys is like going to bed with a serial rapist,” one senior source says. “It is only a matter of time.”
He identifies Amazon as the biggest single threat. Its motivation is clear. The more educational content it provides, the more likely it is users will become dependent on its ecosystem and use it for future purchases.
Organisations that are not trying to make money arguably pose an even greater challenge, however. In 2011, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, ring-fenced between $1.5bn and $2.5bn to fund education projects. The endowment, informally dubbed the Zuckerberg fund, is a relatively low-key operation at the moment, but industry figures speculate that he will end up tackling education, in much the same way as Microsoft founder Bill Gates established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve world health.
Those sorts of initiatives should only ever be welcomed, but they do not make life easier for traditional education companies.
One former Pearson executive argues that “for-profit” organisations in education are “seriously under threat”, and could end up losing their footing altogether.
But the Pearson’s spokesman feels differently. “The private sector has a pivotal role to play,” they say.
Either way, Pearson has reached a crucial moment in its trajectory. Fallon has to whip the ragtag bag of businesses he inherited into a smart, digital company. Otherwise, the venture capital firms could soon start circling and pick-pick-pick it away.

 

Three incumbents on the Indianapolis school board have collectively raised about $6,000.

Their opponents have raised over $100,000 from corporate reformers who want to bring more charters to the district. Follow the money.

 

The challengers are heavily funded by groups like anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-privatization Stand for Children, the Chamber of Commerce, and big contributors from across the nation. Clearly, the corporate reformers want to hasten the pace of privatization.

 

Stand for Children has sponsored anti-teacher, anti-union legislation in Illinois and in Massachusetts.

 

Will voters in Indianpolis allow the corporate reformers to buy control of their public schools and turn them into privately managed charters? If you live in Indianapolis, defend your community’s public schools. Tell the corporate reformers they are not for sale.

 

Here is Fairtest’s weekly report on the anti-testing movement, which grows daily. Major national organizations recognized the resistance and proclaimed they want to reduce the overdose of testing. Hmmm.

 

 

Bob Schaeffer of Fairtest writes:

Top national policy-makers finally took notice of the growing testing resistance and reform movement this week. The Council of Chief State School Officers (aka state superintendents) and the Council of the Great City Schools (urban supers) published a report admitting that standardized exam overkill was rampant across the country. In response, both U.S. Secretary of Arne Duncan and President Barack Obama issued statements of concern.

But none of these long-time defenders of test misuse and overuse has spelled out how to address what they concede are serious problems. That’s why grassroots activists — parents, students, teachers, administrators, community leaders, school board members, etc. — need to keep ratcheting up the pressure !

School Standardized Testing Is Under Growing Attack: Leaders Pledge Changes

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/school-standardized-testing-is-under-growing-attack-leaders-pledge-changes/2014/10/15/bd1201b8-549b-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html

As Over-Testing Outcry Grows, Exam Promoters Pull Back Slightly

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2014/1016/As-overtesting-outcry-grows-education-leaders-pull-back-on-standardized-tests

Poll Finds Coloradans Concerned About Too Much Testing

http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/10/20/union-poll-finds-negative-public-attitudes-on-testing/#.VEZxCnvvdBw

Pearson Scoring Error Delays Release of New Test Results

http://www.9news.com/story/news/education/2014/10/16/state-delays-release-new-tests/17356299/

Delaware School Board Will Support Families Who Opt Out of Tests

http://delaware.newszap.com/centraldelaware/135877-70/standardized-test-opt-out-gets-show-of-support-from-capital-board

Florida Teachers Fed Up With Volume of Testing

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/marion-county-teachers-fed-amount-testing-kinderga/nhjHs/

Revolt Against Testing Spreads Across Florida

http://www.tallahassee.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/10/15/kathleen-oropeza-revolt-testing-begun/17326837/

Florida Fights With Feds Over Testing English Language Learners

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/state-federal-government-wrestle-over-testing-for-students-learning-english/2202760

Time for Georgians to Rise Up Against Student Testing Regime

http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2014-10-18/blackmon-time-rise-against-student-testing-regimen

Indiana School Grade Gaming Earns Failing Results

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20141017/EDIT07/310179995/1147/EDIT07

Maryland Educators Seek Delay in Common Core Testing Requirements

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/blog/bs-md-graduation-requirements-20141016-story.html#page=1

Mississippi School Grading Change Leaves Schools Confused, Frustrated

http://www.sunherald.com/2014/10/16/5859825/districts-caught-in-transition.html

Suspend New Jersey Exit Exam Requirement During Transition to PARCC

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/10/14/commentary-make-exit-exam-optional-parcc-changes/17247379/

New Mexico State Senator Seeks Moratorium on Test Score Consequences

http://www.abqjournal.com/480653/news/nm-senator-calls-for-moratorium-on-using-test-scores.html

Testing Policy A Contentious Issue in New Mexico Race for Governor

http://www.abqjournal.com/482493/news/gov-candidates-offer-different-policy-visions.html

New York Rethinks Rush to Computerized Testing: Plans Multi-Year Phase-In

http://www.nyssba.org/news/2014/10/10/on-board-online-october-13-2014/sed-rethinks-computerized-testing-plans-phase-in-over-several-years/

Opt-Out Movement Builds Across New York State

http://www.recordonline.com/article/20141019/NEWS/141019385

Ohio School Superintendents Label Added Common Core Testing an “Abomination”

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/test_mania_local_superintenden.html

Grades From Spring 2015 Ohio Common Core Tests May Not Be Available Until 2016

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/grades_from_spring_common_core_tests_may_not_be_available_until_2016.html

Ohio School Board Candidate: Test-Centric Education Cannot Replace for Effective Learning

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/2014/10/14/column-test-centric-education-replacement-effective-learning/17278543/

Oklahoma Plays Test Vendor “Musical Chairs” Firing One Company and Hiring Another

http://oklahomawatch.org/2014/10/17/oklahoma-to-consider-new-testing-contract-replacing-mcgraw-hill/

Portland Oregon Schools Refuse to Be Judged By Common Core Tests

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/10/portland_public_schools_wont_f.html

Too Much Testing in Texas Schools

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20141017-failing-grade-for-testing.ece

Former Utah Teacher of the Year, Now NEA President, Says Don’t Punish Educators With Test Scores

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58530434-78/eskelsen-utah-garcia-education.html.csp

Powerful Video Short: “Refuse the Tests”

Testing Mania and Uncle Sam’s Clumsy (Over)Reach

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2014/10/testing_mania_and_uncle_sams_clumsy_reach.html

New Research: Grade Retention, Even in Kindergarten, Is Harmful to Children

http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/new-research-failing-students_2034/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

A coalition of pastors in Dallas has issued a stirring call for public support of public schools.

This comes at a time when billionaire John Arnold has been organizing a campaign to turn Dallas into an all-charter district.

Leading pastors in Dallas–George Mason and Frederick Haynes, joined with four others–wrote an opinion piece, in which they said that public support for public schools is vital and that “choice” is illusory. .

They write:

Eighty-four percent of children in this country attend public schools. Slightly more than 60 percent (over 3 million of our 5 million Texas public school students) are identified as poor. These children in our public education system are our neighbors, and we are called to love them by providing a vibrant and thriving school system. That’s why Dallas-area pastors are calling on elected officials and leaders in the business, faith, parent, labor and neighborhood communities to support the public schools of greater Dallas…..

By investing in public education, we invest in the future of 5 million Texas schoolchildren. This basic investment is the key to a child’s future economic mobility, the financial stability of Texas families and the state’s long-term economic prosperity. Dallas residents know the direct correlation between education achievement and economic viability.

We must prioritize the adequate funding of our institutions of public education for the benefit of all Texans. The past two sessions of the Legislature have seen contentious fights over public education policy. Because public education is such a sound investment in our children’s future, one wonders: What’s the dispute?

There are two competing visions for public education: one weakens the public portion, and one strengthens it. On one side, there is a drive to defund public education, de-professionalize teaching, misuse test scores to declare schools as failing, and institute paths to privatize schools in the name of school reform. These privatization schemes take the form of private school vouchers, for-profit virtual schools, and corporate chain charter schools that do not serve all students equally.

The other vision, a vision which we embrace, is to provide adequate funding for all schools, raise the bar with higher standards and more respect for the teaching profession, focus on a rich instructional program instead of a narrow overemphasis on testing, and engage community partners in support for neighborhood schools and the children and families they serve.

Those advocating privatization have attacked the public school system and falsely labeled neighborhood schools failures. This arbitrary judgment has been exposed as a cynical strategy to divert public education money for private purposes, and has brought advocates like us to the fight against privatization and in support of initiatives that tell the true story about the value of our public schools.

The “choice” that corporate chain charters and private schools claim to offer parents and students is illusory. It is really these private operators who exercise their own freedom to choose which students they will recruit and retain and which students they will exclude or filter out. And the latter group will disproportionately include Hispanics, African-Americans, English language learners, students with disabilities and students who are at risk because of disciplinary or academic difficulties. These children are our neighbors, too.

We join with Dallas community leaders and parents who understand that we must keep our attention upon the real and pressing — and constitutionally mandated — need for full funding for public education. Dabbling in political diversions that are peripheral to the adequate education of all the children of Texas is dangerous and foolhardy. This is not the time to divert funding away from our neighborhood schools, which provide a place of refuge and support for all Texas children, no matter their background, situation or educational need. More important, it is the loving thing to do.

George Mason is senior pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church. Reach him at gmason@wilshirebc.org. Frederick Haynes is senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church. Reach him through the church at friendship west.org/main/contact-us.

OPEN LETTER: Other signers
Joe Clifford, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Bryan Carter, senior pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Dallas
Joel Sanchez, preaching minister, Skillman Church of Christ, Dallas
Andy Stoker, senior minister, First United Methodist Church

The blog has its own poet, who signs as “Some DAM Poet—Devalue Added Model.” Here is his or her poem for Imagine charters in Ohio:

“”Imagine” (sincere apologies to John Lennon)

Imagine no regulation
It’s easy if you try
No tax below us
Above us only $ky

Imagine all the charters
Living for today

Imagine there’s no oversight
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to sweat or lie for
And no inspections, too

Imagine all the charters
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the charters will cheat as one

Imagine no prosecutions
I wonder if you can
No need for lawyers and trials
A brotherhood of scams

Imagine all the charters
Ruling all the world

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the charters will rule as one

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