This is an interesting article that appears online in The Washington Monthly.

It was written by a former law student of Jonathan Turley, who appeared as a legal expert to defend President Trump and to argue against his impeachment.

I watched the panel of constitutional scholars and was puzzled by Turley’s claim that the House needed more evidence to impeach Trump. The evidence of the Ukraine scheme–to give that nation $400 million in military aid in exchange for announcing an investigation into the Bidens–was verified repeatedly by foreign service officers in the Intelligence Committee hearings. The only question should be whether asking a foreign nation to interfere in our national election is grounds for impeachment, and the other three lawyers agreed that it was.

But more evidence is needed, more testimony, said Turley. He surely knows that Trump has instructed the members of his administration–current and former–not to testify but to ignore subpoenas from the House. How can their testimony be gathered?

It was disturbing to learn that Turley had testified in favor of impeaching President Clinton in 1998, whose lying concerned sex with an intern, not national security or the sanctity of our elections. At that time, he said he had voted for Clinton.

Now, defending Trump, he insists he voted for Clinton in 2016.

Now, he is a regular on Fox & Friends. But he says he is a liberal Democrat.

Very strange.

The media received early copies of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s plan for K-12 education. Like Warren and Sanders, he proposes a large increase in funding for the neediest children and for early education. He wants to see a reduction in college tuition. He does not propose a wealth tax on the 1%. He is against for-profit charters but, unlike Warren and Sanders, would not eliminate or freeze the federal Charter Schools Program, which currently dispenses $440 million a year, mostly to big corporate chains like KIPP and IDEA.

Mayor Pete’s plan is a centrist program, which could have been drafted by the Center for American Progress, the think tank for the Obama administration.

Valerie Strauss describes the plan here.

She writes:

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is unveiling a broad new education plan on Saturday that pledges to spend $700 billion over a decade to create a high-quality child care and preschool system that he said would reach all children from birth to age 5 and create 1 million jobs.

The 37-year-old, openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., also promised to spend $425 billion to strengthen America’s K-12 public schools, targeting federal investments and policy to help historically marginalized students. He would boost funding for schools in high-poverty areas as well as for students with disabilities, and promote voluntary school integration. And he said he would ensure that all charter schools — which are publicly funded but privately operated — undergo the same accountability measures as schools in publicly funded districts…The more than $1 trillion in his plan would be spent over 10 years and would come from “greater tax enforcement” on the wealthy and corporations, according to a Buttigieg campaign spokesperson, who asked not to be identified. He would not impose a new tax on the super-rich, the spokesperson said, who did not detail how much money the mayor believes he can realize from uncollected taxes…

Buttigieg’s new education plan details a push to help communities integrate their schools racially and economically, which research shows is beneficial to black and white students. The mayor pledged to invest $500 million into communities that want to undertake integration efforts. And he said he would reinstate Obama era guidance on the voluntary use of race in state- and district-level strategies to achieve integration, removing current restrictions on the use of federal funds to pay for busing that would be part of integration efforts.

He also pledged triple funding for Title I — the largest federally funded educational program, intended to help schools with high concentrations of students who live in poverty. But that added funding would be targeted to states and districts that “implement equitable education funding formulas to provide more state and local resources to low-income schools….”

Both Sanders and Warren have called for free college tuition for all, while the mayor’s recently released higher education and workforce development plan calls for lowering college tuition and fees on a sliding scale, with free college for those students whose families early up to $100,000. Former vice president Joe Biden, who has topped the polls more consistently than any of the other candidates, has also taken education positions less expansive than Warren and Sanders.

Buttigieg’s big initiative in this plan is around early childhood, for which he has pledged to spend $700 million to create a new system to provide child care and prekindergarten to all children, which he said is more than 20 million, and that would create 1 million new jobs in that sector.

For additional insight on Mayor Pete’s plan, read Matt Barnum and Kalyn Belsha’s account here in Chalkbeat. 

Tufts University is taking the Sackler name off the buildings and programs endowed by the billionaire family because of its relationship to the opioid crisis. The Sackler billions were mostly derived from the sale of Oxycontin, which is a highly addictive opioid (and effective painkiller).

Jonathan Sackler is a major funder of charter schools. He helped to start Achievement First, ConnCAN, and 50CAN.

The Boston Globe posted a list of the institutions that have buildings with the Sackler name on them. 

1. Tufts University: The Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences; the Arthur M. Sackler Center for Medical Education; the Sackler Laboratory for the Convergence of Biomedical, Physical and Engineering Sciences; the Sackler Families Collaborative Fund for Cancer Biology Research; and the Richard Sackler Endowed Research Fund. The Sackler name will be removed.

Harvard has the Arthur Sackler name on a museum but won’t remove it because Arthur Sackler died before the family got into the opioid business.

Yale has institutes and professorships with the Sackler name. It won’t change that, but won’t accept any new Sackler money.

University of Connecticut has multiple Sackler-named facilities. It is not changing anything and has made no announcements about future donations.

Columbia has a Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology. It won’t accept new money from the Sacklers.

The Smithsonian has an Arthur Sackler Gallery and no plans to change the name.

The Louvre has the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities. It removed the name in July 2019.

The Tate Galleries in London has accepted $5 million but won’t take any more.

The National Portrait Gallery in London turned down $1.3 million from the Sackler family.

This is not a complete list.

The Metropolitan Museum in New York City has a major wing named for the Sacklers.

The New York Times wrote in May of this year:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art said on Wednesday that it would stop accepting gifts from members of the Sackler family linked to the maker of OxyContin, severing ties between one of the world’s most prestigious museums and one of its most prolific philanthropic dynasties.

The decision was months in the making, and followed steps by other museums, including the Tate Modern in London and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, to distance themselves from the family behind Purdue Pharma. On Wednesday, the American Museum of Natural History said that it, too, had ceased taking Sackler donations.

The moves reflect the growing outrage over the role the Sacklers may have played in the opioid crisis, as well as an energized activist movement that is starting to force museums to reckon with where some of their money comes from.

“The museum takes a position of gratitude and respect to those who support us, but on occasion, we feel it’s necessary to step away from gifts that are not in the public interest, or in our institution’s interest,” said Daniel H. Weiss, the president of the Met. “That is what we’re doing here.”

 

Andre Perry led a charter chain in New Orleans. He became disillusioned. As a black scholar, he questions the Walton-funded effort to portray black support for charters as monolithic, which it is not. 

Perry wrote in response to the controversy that occurred when pro-charter demonstrators disrupted a speech by Elizabeth Warren in Atlanta. He is aware of the white Republican money behind the demand for more charters.

He wrote:

Warren needs to learn from black voices — but the charter school movement is not ours to defend.

Organizations such as the charter school advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools have orchestrated statewide campaigns using dark money to influence state ballots to increase the number of charter schools, hiding who’s actually behind the movement. The Associated Press reported in December 2018 that an advocacy group that received $1.5 million from the Walton Family Foundation, one of the biggest funders of education reform, paid for 150, mostly black parents from Memphis to travel to Cincinnati two years prior to protest at a meeting of the NAACP. The parents sought to lobby against an NAACP proposal — which the organization passed despite the protests — to call for a moratorium on charter schools. They denied that the Walton Family Foundation asked them to carry out the protest.

This political season, black people cannot afford to be human shields for white leaders who don’t have the legitimacy to enter black communities on their own.

Perry notes that most Democratic candidates, notably Sanders and Warren, have abandoned charters.

He writes:

This reversal of position by Democrats is a sign that members of the party are listening to black communities….

Over the course of more than two decades, charter school expansion resulted in a significant loss in black-held jobs and a reduction in black political power in several black-majority cities. Black teachers were fired en masse in New Orleans, Washington D.C., and Newark, N.J., decimating the black middle class there.

Hundreds of millions of dollars directed towards electing pro-charter candidates ultimately empowered Republicans in many states. The pro-charter group Students First realized that its funding of Republican candidates had backfired. The association of the charter cause with the Republic party lead to the defeat of pro-charter proposals. Democratic voters showed they will not support movements that bolster the Republican Party — the same party that refuses to check Trump’s blatant racism. Democrats who support the idea of charter schools should make it clear to Republicansthat they will not tolerate a charter system that offers improved academic performance for some black students only by harming the communities in which those students live.

However, Democrat reformers developed a bad habit of accepting this Faustian bargain, and staying silent in red states on issues like jail expansion, cuts to higher education and attacks on organized labor because dissent ran the risk of slowing the proliferation of charters. Yes, black families want and need choice, but the current charter school movement is too tightly braided with Republican causes; a defense of one is a defense of the other.

To embrace charter schools in 2020 is to embrace Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump and other Republicans who stand to gain more politically from charter support than black communities have gained in jobs and educational benefits. Black kids lose when Democratic educational reformers act like Republicans.

Perry quotes the EdNext poll, noting that the publication is “pro-reform.” It is more accurate to acknowledge that EdNext (on whose board I once served) is a very conservative, pro-charter, pro-voucher publication funded by rightwing foundations. Frankly, polls about charters are worthless because most people admit when asked that they aren’t sure what a “charter school” is. If they don’t know what a charter school is, how can their view—positive or negative—signify anything?

Perry is right to point out that the Dark Money behind charters has a different agenda than most black parents. The Waltons and DeVos and their allies in ALEC want to bust teachers’ unions and privatize public schools. Perry is right to peer behind the curtain and see whose interest is served by the well-funded attacks on public schools.

He writes:

The funders of charter schools continuously put black parents and teachers in the position of fighting against their own interests. White-led philanthropy and education groups will eventually abandon public policy experiments when it is no longer popular, politically expedient or, in some cases, lucrative. For-profit charters are in education ostensibly for the money.

Some black charter leaders feel they must defend the schools because black children attend them. But we don’t need to fall into that trap. We can defend black children and workers without defending charter schools. Black people need systemic change. We can’t allow the cry for charters to drown out the demands for school financing reform, better work conditions, higher teacher pay, universal pre-K, free college, teachers’ training and recruitment programs, stronger labor protections and workforce housing initiatives.

 

Social scientists have repeatedly documented the close correlation between child poverty and academic achievement. You don’t have to be a social scientist to look at any graph that displays both test scores and family income: the kids from the richest families are at the top, and the kids from the poorest family are at the bottom. It is not surprising, because those with the least income have the least access to food security, medical care, decent housing, and all the other basics of living that affluent families take for granted.

In this blog post, Marc Tucker reviewed the data on child poverty and its relationship to education outcomes. He cites a feature in the Economist magazine about poverty in the United States. He includes a graph showing the dramatic increase in child poverty from 2000-2016. Tucker goes back even further, to 1960, to note that income inequality was not as great then as it is now. Those at the top had “more,” of course, but were not billionaires inhabiting a totally different universe than those at the bottom or those in the middle. Something is terribly wrong with hundreds of people are billionaires, some of them with assets of more than $100 billion, at the same time that more and more families and children live in poverty.

Both the standard measure of poverty and the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which takes benefits and cost of living into account, show that about one in six children in the U.S. is poor. (The current official poverty level is $25,750 for a family of four.) While there are poor families all over the country, the averages are misleading, because the poor are usually concentrated in clusters.

When educators think about poverty among their students, the measure that comes first to mind is the percentage of public school students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, which is available to children in households with incomes at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. In the 2000-01 school year, 38.3 percent of public school students were eligible.  That figure climbed to 48.1 percent in the 2010-11 school year, 51.8 percent in the 2014-15 school year and 52.1 percent in the 2015-16 school year. But these figures, like those for poverty overall, are often far higher where poverty is concentrated and its effects far worse and much longer lasting there.

Percent of US students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch keeps growing 

The Economist points out that, when Jack Kennedy was President and Lyndon Johnson became President, it was different. Then, the poorest among us were the elderly. Now, with the growth in Medicare and Social Security, the elderly are doing much better and the young much worse.  The experience of the elderly, however, is instructive. Policy changed the outcomes for them dramatically. There is no reason why that should not be equally true for the young. What is most interesting about The Economist’s article on child poverty is not the statistics, which are well known. It is their comments on the policy options for dealing with the problem of child poverty in the U.S.

The simplest solution is cash transfers. The Economist refers to the work of Stanford professor David Grusky, who calculates that California could end child poverty in that state by spending only $2.8 billion a year, one quarter of what it spends annually on its prisons. Conservatives often oppose cash transfers to poor people on the grounds that they stifle initiative. But we could probably all agree that transfers for young children will not destroy their initiative. Many first-world countries in Asia, North America and Europe award means-tested and non-means-tested allotments to families with young children, especially countries where the domestic fertility rate is falling below the birth rate. The Economist quotes Jane Waldfogel, a Columbia economist, saying that a relatively small universal child credit could cut the U.S. child poverty rate in half all by itself.

But, says The Economist, the problem cannot be dealt with solely with a transfer program, because poverty in the U.S. is so concentrated. Researchers have shown that young children who are doing very poorly in schools serving students in concentrated poverty do much better if they can go to schools serving families in wealthier communities. Those other communities don’t necessarily have more money per student, but they provide much more support to the student in the form of higher expectations, a wider range of experiences and more rigorous schooling. While this strategy is not fully scalable, it could certainly be ramped up.

In this vein, we note that Howard County, Maryland, recently redistricted its schools to allow many more children whose schools were made up of large numbers of students in concentrated poverty to go to schools with wealthier children and spread the number of children in poverty more equitably across that district. They did this because their own research showed that earlier efforts to do this same thing worked to lift performance in students who come from impoverished backgrounds. 

Many of the schools that are economically segregated are also racially segregated. The Economist points to data showing that moving students from racially segregated schools to unsegregated schools can, over five years, improve student incomes by 30 percent and greatly reduce the likelihood of incarceration. But, just as poverty is rising among school children, our schools are becoming more, not less, segregated.

In the early days of desegregation, inner-city predominantly African-American school districts were merged with predominantly white ones into a single district. But, in recent years, white, relatively well-to-do areas within large urban districts have been applying to their state legislatures for the right to form their own school districts, or, failing that, their own cities or towns (which would enable them to get their own school district), thereby contributing to the isolation and concentration of low-income, often minority, families in communities where hope for a better future is dying.

The Economist article ends with a reminder of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s warnings, back in the Nixon administration, about trouble in the African American family. Around a quarter of African Americans then were born out of wedlock. That proportion is now 70 percent for African Americans, 50 percent for Hispanic children and 30 percent for whites. The proportion for poor whites living in poverty is, of course, much higher. Research shows that households with single parents are more likely to live in poverty and the children in those families are more likely to experience lower academic achievement than households with two parents. When critics insist that American teachers need to be held accountable for the poor performance of American school children, the teachers shoot back that they are being held accountable for the failure of American parents and taxpayers to take care of their children. 

When some of us point out that there has been no improvement in the performance of all high school students or of protected subgroups of students in the United States on NAEP measures of reading and mathematics in 30 years, they tell us we should consider ourselves lucky that we have teachers who have been able to hold student performance steady while the American people have been sending them students who get poorer and more isolated every year.

I think they have a point.  Don’t you?

 

Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider reveal the secret ingredient to the success of the Resistance to privatization/portfolio district strategy in Denver in this podcast.

For years, Denver had been a feather in the cap of DFER and other advocates of privatization. Betsy DeVos lauded Denver for its commitment to school choice, although she was disappointed that it had not yet adopted vouchers. the Brookings Institution praised Denver for its deep commitment to choice.

Michael Bennett rose from Denver superintendent to the U.S. Senate and still touts his success as a school reformer.

But in the last school board election, the critics of school closings, portfolio strategies, and charter schools won the seats to control the board, to the amazement of everyone.

How did it happen?

Jennifer Berkshire wrote: It’s a fascinating and inspiring story. The movement to “flip the board” started in Denver’s Black community and was then taken up by teachers. But the most amazing part of the story may be how young people – the products of the Denver reform experiment – have risen up to demand change. I don’t think that’s what DFER envisioned! 

Listen to the podcast.

Alan Singer calls out Common Core for the poor showing of US students on PISA. 

Remember all the promises about how Common Core would raise all test scores and close gaps? Nada.

Of course, the deeper issue is that decades of test-and-punish reforms failed, not just Common Core.

it those who pushed these failed policies will not abandon them. They will say—they are saying—that we must double down on failure.

The consensus among governors and policy elites that followed “A Nation at Risk” in 1983 was that common standards, tests, and accountability would lead to high levels of performance (ie, test scores).

They didn’t. They haven’t. They won’t.

Almost four decades later, we can safely say that this theory of reform has failed. Billions of dollars wasted!

 

In case you didn’t know, a murmuration is the sound of lots of birds flapping their little wings.

Mercedes Schneider defines it here:

The name, “murmuration,” refers to “hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky.”

Why does it matter?

Because Emma Bloomberg, daughter of multibillionaire Michael Bloomberg, has created a new “ed reform” organization that uses that term as its name.

Schneider has scoured the websites and also the tax forms of this new group.

What they do is not obvious, but they do have millions of dollars, probably from Pappa Bloomberg.

They apparently spend it on data technology, technology integration, and, of course, it is all about the children.

As Schneider writes:

Our focus is on driving change and accelerating progress toward a future where every child in America has the opportunity to benefit from a high-quality public education.

And how do the unnamed, Murmuration change-drivers propose to drive said change?

We provide sophisticated data and analytics, proprietary technology, strategic guidance, and programmatic support to help our partners build political power and marshal support so necessary changes are made to improve our public schools.

Our precise, predictive intelligence and easy-to-use tools are used by practitioners and funders, on their own and working together, to make informed decisions about who they need to reach, what they need to say, and how to achieve and sustain impact.

Of course, in typical ed-reform fashion, its *for the kids*:

We envision a public school system that ensures every child across our nation – regardless of race, income, background, or the zip code where they live – receives an education that prepares them to lead productive, fulfilling, and happy lives.

We believe public servants must recognize that providing a great education to every child is necessary to our prosperity, and be willing to invest in real, systemic and sustainable change which may come at a political cost.

We want our political systems to function and benefit from a rich discussion of the important role of public schools.  We want everyone who is impacted by public education to participate (or be represented) in the discussion and decision-making process.  And, we want the voices of those most reliant on our public education system to be heard.

What all this adds up to is hard to say, other than providing another honey tree for practitioners of disruption to shake.

I am trying to imagine how “those most reliant on our public education system to be heard” when the loudest voices are those with the most money.

Billionaires usually don’t send their own children to public schools and do not have a habit of listening to those who do, but they have plenty of dough to spread around to those who agree with their agenda to privatize the schools, monetize the data, and make technology our master.

The one thing that is clear from Schneider’s post is that Murmuration has plenty of money to spend. What it intends to to is not yet clear. Maybe they plan to visit public schools and listen to parents. Ya’ think?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on a federal audit that had surprising findings.

A national audit of charter school management companies by the U.S. Department of Education has spotlighted an unnamed Chester City school where, auditors say, the CEO wrote checks to himself totaling $11 million without board approval.

The report by the Office of Inspector General did not accuse the CEO of wrongdoing, but offered its finding as an example of a conflict of interest and lack of financial controls that could make the schools vulnerable to fraud. The report cited similar issues at four unnamed Philadelphia charter schools…In the instance of the Chester school, federal auditors reported that the CEO of the management organization wrote checks to himself in 2008-09.

While the audit did not name the school, there is only one charter in Chester City – Chester Community Charter School…

The school, which has more than 3,000 K-8 students, is the largest brick-and-mortar charter in the state. The most recent annual report from the state Department of Education shows that the school had total revenue of $45.1 million in the fiscal year 2013.

Vahan H. Gureghian, a lawyer and entrepreneur who has been active in Republican politics, is the founder and CEO of CSMI Education Management, which manages Chester Community Charter School.

Auditor General Eugene De Pasquale repeatedly has criticized the ties between Chester Community and Gureghian’s firm….

In addition to Pennsylvania, the states where charter schools were reviewed were California, New York, Florida, Michigan, and Texas.Investigators found internal control weaknesses with charter management organizations at 22 of the 33 schools reviewed. They spotted 24 cases of conflicts of interest and transactions with related parties at 17 of the charter schools.

John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, writes here about the use and misuse of NAEP scores to advance disruption in the schools.

 

A new wave of “misnaepery” is heading towards Oklahoma and other states. After most or all of the corporate reform agenda became law in about 90 percent of states, reading scores dropped so much that even a reform true believer dubbed NAEP as “National Assessment of Educational Stagnation and/or Decline.”

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/07/24/37naep.h32.html
https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cDovL2VkdWNhdGlvbmdhZGZseXNob3cubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M%3D&episode=NzEzNTA2MzJjMDI0NDA0YmJmMjM4NjVhNzAwODE4NzE%3D&hl=en

After test-driven, market-driven reform was implemented, from 2013 to 2019, the nation’s 8th grade math scores for African-Americans dropped by five points. But I would argue that 8th grade NAEP reading scores are the most important and reliable metric, and they dropped seven points in six years for African-American 8th graders.

Today, Oklahoma’s 4th grade NAEP reading scores have dropped to four points below the 1990s pre-HB1017 tax increase level. And since accountability-driven, competition-driven reforms were supposed to improve outcomes for our poorest children of color, it is shocking that from 2013 to 2019 black student 8th grade scores dropped 15 points!

https://www.educationnext.org/make-2019-results-nations-report-card/

https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/commentary/worst-news-naep?utm_source=Fordham+Institute+Newsletters+%26+Announcements&utm_campaign=f22e67acec-20160918_LateLateBell9_16_2016_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5fa2df08a3-f22e67acec-71894457&mc_cid=f22e67acec&mc_eid=3095764e3b

Rather than admit their mistakes, reformers have retained their original meme that was used to justify hurried and risky reforms to blow up the education “status quo,” so that “disruptive innovation” can spark “transformative change.”

Two contradictory misnaepery themes are being rushed into the breach by the Fordham Institute. The smiley-faced meme is that teachers and students will naturally rise to meet far more “rigorous” standards. On the other hand, the conservative Fordham Institute has been blaming states like Oklahoma for supposedly hurting student performance by ending high school graduation exams. It is also arguing that we should return to the punitive policies of the former Chief for Change State Superintendent Janet Baressi and retain even more 3rd graders based on reading tests. 

First, ignoring the damage done by their experiments, accountability-driven, competition-driven reformers argue that radically higher testing standards will produce transformative improvements. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was a leader in the reaction against Baressi’s privatization agenda, so I can’t be too critical when she has to adopt some policies pushed by Education Next and other “astroturf” think tanks. Rightly or wrongly, she revised the state’s standards and assessments. There are no stakes attached to these metrics, and they allow the State Department of Education to say, “Oklahoma’s new standards [are] one of only 17 ‘A’ grades in the nation, up from the previous rank of 47th and a grade of ‘D.’”

So, for instance, Oklahoma’s 2017 8th grade math tests set a proficiency level which is at the NAEP proficiency level, basically comparable to around a 300 on that rigorous standard. The only groups in the United States were average scores reach that level are white and economically advantaged students in Massachusetts, a state where per capita income is nearly 50 percent greater. Oklahoma’s NAEP scores currently correlate with a level just above Kazakhstan.  Advantaged students in Massachusetts perform at the level of the counterparts on PISA and TMMS in the top performing states and nations, except for South Korea.

https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies/naep_timss/profiles.aspx
https://www.oecd.org/pisa/PISA-2015-United-States-MA.pdf
https://www.epi.org/publication/bringing-it-back-home-why-state-comparisons-are-more-useful-than-international-comparisons-for-improving-u-s-education-policy/#_note11

Of course, now that we listened to conservative reformers at the Fordham Institute and raised our expectations, Oklahoma students will soon join students at the top of the world’s education systems …

Fordham and other national reformers are also launching a second round misnaepery memes.  The 2015 NAEP was its first test of 4th graders after Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act required the retention of 3rd graders who don’t pass a reading test. Once Chief for Change Baressi was defeated by a pragmatic Republican, Hofmeister, educators were allowed more judgment in deciding whether to retain students. Until last year, however, little funding was available for interventions to assist struggling readers, much less adequate training and supports for inexperienced and emergency teachers in early elementary grades. (Oklahoma has hired more than 3,000 emergency certified teachers in a year.)

The 2015, 4th grade test scores increased by 2-1/2 percent. A conservative Republican reformer claimed they “were attributed to the 2014 implementation of a law that barred students from being promoted to the fourth grade if they read at lower than a second-grade level.” Those gains disappeared during the next two NAEPs. So, it is argued that more teeth needs to be restored to the retention policy.

But we also need to ask what really prompted the one-year jump in test scores. As in other states, the retention of low-performing readers can provide a temporary boost in NAEP scores. If you add up the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders who would have been in 4th grade during 2015, but who were retained, the total comes to about 9,000. Before the RSA, the more typical number of retentions was about 4,000. That means that about 5,000 more of the lowest performing students were missing from the 2015 4th grade class of about 47,000. The retention of more than 10 percent of the tested class could explain the one-time test score boost. As those students subsequently entered 4th grade, test scores dropped back to normative levels.

https://ocrdata.ed.gov/DistrictSchoolSearch#
https://oklahomawatch.org/2018/12/14/oklahoma-nearly-tops-nation-in-holding-back-early-grade-students/
https://journalrecord.com/2019/11/07/free-market-friday-student-results-continue-to-decline/

And what happened to that year’s economically disadvantaged students when they took 8th grade tests in 2019? Their scores were down by 2-½ percent in comparison to their 2015 8th grade peers.

Who knows what will be Fordham’s next misnaepery-driven attack on public education. After all, they were one of the think tanks who argued that the No Child Left Behind Act, which was enacted in 2002 deserved credit for the NAEP gains of the late-1990s! And now it is proclaiming an “Agincourt-level disaster” is the result of weakening NCLB accountability. The thing we know is that the Fordham spin will be picked up, amplified, and used by rightwing lobbyists throughout the nation to slander public schools.