Archives for the month of: November, 2017

Is there a difference between being a rape victim and getting an unwanted touch or kiss or pinch on the backside?

Read this and see what you think.

Last July, I wrote about a struggling high school in D.C. where 100% of the seniors graduated and were accepted by colleges. The story appeared on NPR, and I wrongly assumed that they had done fact checking. I am not a reporter, and I do not have a staff to check out claims. NPR does. But they took the claim by D.C. administrators at face value, without checking.

Now NPR reports that the original story was fishy. Better late than never.

“An investigation by WAMU and NPR has found that Ballou High School’s administration graduated dozens of students despite high rates of unexcused absences. WAMU and NPR reviewed hundreds of pages of Ballou’s attendance records, class rosters and emails after a DCPS employee shared the private documents. The documents showed that half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year, unexcused. One in five students was absent more than present — missing more than 90 days of school.”

“According to DCPS policy, if a student misses a class 30 times, he should fail that course. Research shows that missing 10 percent of school, about two days per month, can negatively affect test scores, reduce academic growth and increase the chances a student will drop out.”

The majority of the graduating class missed more than six weeks of school.

So now we understand how the reformers in charge of the DC school system got the graduation rate up. By lowering standards. By lying.

Remember Campbell’s Law.

“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

When you reward schools for higher scores, they will get higher scores, by hook or by crook. When you reward them for higher graduation rates, they will do what it takes—including lowering standards—to reach the goal.

Peter Greene has unearthed another libertarian, this one writing for CATO (founded by the Koch brothers), who explains why government should not run schools, but private corporations should.

Corey DeAngelis is a scholar (I know because he says so) who has had a busy couple of years suckling off various Libertarian teats. He’s a Fellow for the Cato Institute, policy adviser for the Heartland Institute, and a Distinguished Working-on-his-PhD Fellow at the University of Arkansas, all of this built on a foundation of a BBA (2012) and MA (2015) in economics from the University of Texas in San Antonio (because nobody understands education like economists). And while plugging away on that Masters, he worked first as the Risk Management Operations Coordinator and then the Fraud Coordinator for Kohl’s. So yet another education expert with no education background.

He also hangs out with the fine folks at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE, not to be confused with the Jeb Bush FEE), where he writes pieces with catchy titles like “Legalizing Discrimination Would Improve the Education System” and “Governments Shouldn’t Even Certify Schools, Much Less Run Them.” So we should not be surprised to find his name attached to an article arguing that schools should belong to businesses.

A “Fraud Coordinator” for Kohl’s? Is that a security guard? Someone checking to see if customers are shoplifting? An accountant in the main office?

In South Carolina, funding for schools is both inadequate and inequitable.

Blogger Jean Jacques CrawB writes “They are destroying our children.”

“Evidently the current Supreme Court of the state of South Carolina has no trouble decimating our schools for the sake of some political purpose. The Abbeville equity case has gone on since 1992. It was finally decided in 2014 by a 3-2 vote affirming the plaintiff’s contention that the funding system is unfair and inequitable.

“Now, in the last few months of 2017, having replaced two judges, the Supremes now say, by a 3-2 vote that they are relinquishing control of the case and giving it back to the legislature to attend to. The court also praised the legislature for what they have already done. No one here can figure out what large things have been done to ameliorate the lack of resources and the lack of qualified teachers in rural school districts.

“South Carolina educators have not been aggressive in their lobbying efforts. The Abbeville case was their greatest hope for a reversal of policies that always disadvantaged poor and rural schools. As a simple example: whenever funds are dispersed in some sort of novel way, the condition of dispersal is the number of children in the district. Therefore, a small rural district might get an increase of $100 per student and in the same distribution a wealthy district would get the same amount per person.”

Paul Thomas summarizes the long conservative tradition of racism and classicism in South Carolina, once the property of the Democrats, now the domain of Republicans.

The politicians never wanted to spend money on black and poor children. Even the judiciary says it’s time to stop throwing money at schools, which has never happened.

“SC public schools (and public universities, in fact) exist in 2017 as a bold middle finger to everything promised by a democratic nation. But despite the political rhetoric, SC has failed its public schools; public schools have not failed our state, whose political leaders care none at all about poor, black, or brown children being currently (and historically) mis-served by K-12 education….

“Political and judicial negligence in SC—a microcosm of the same negligence nationally—remains entrenched in commitments to ideology over evidence, hard truths neither political leadership nor judicial pronouncements will admit.

“First, and foremost, one hard truth is that public schools in SC are mostly labeled failures or successes based on the coincidence of what communities and students those schools serve. Schools serving affluent (and mostly white) communities and students are framed as “good” schools while schools serving poor (and often black and brown while also over-serving English language learners and students with special needs) communities and students are framed as “bad” or “failing.”

“This political lie is grounded in the three-decades political charade called education reform—a bureaucratic nightmare committed to accountability, standards, and testing as well as a false promise that in-school only reform could somehow overcome the negative consequences of social inequity driven by systemic racism, classism, and sexism.

“The ironic and cruel lesson of education reform has been that education is not the great equalizer.

“Education reform is nothing more than a conservative political fetish, a gross good-ol’-boy system of lies and deception.

“Second, and in most ways secondary, another hard truth is that while education is not the great equalizer, public schooling tends to reflect and then perpetuate the inequities that burden the lives of vulnerable children.

“In-school only reform driven by accountability, standards, and testing fails by being both in-school only (no education reform will rise about an absence of social/policy reform that addresses racism and poverty) and mechanisms of inequity themselves.

“Affluent and white students are apt to experience a higher quality of formal schooling than black, brown, and poor students, who tend to be tracked early and often into reduced conditions that include test-prep, “basic” courses, and teachers who are early career and often un-/under-certified.

“Nested in this hard truth is that much of accountability-based education reform depends on high-stakes standardized testing, which is itself a deeply flawed and biased instrument. Tests allow political negligence since data appear to be objective and scientific; in fact, standardized testing remains race, class, and gender biased.

“Like school quality, test scores are mostly a reflection of non-academic factors.”

Bottom line: racism and classism.

Kevin Ohlandt reports that the former principal of the Academy of Dover (Delaware) pled guilty to stealing from the school, using several of its credit cards for personal expenses. “He spent the money on electronics, travel, car expenses, gardening and camping equipment, home improvement items and a dog house.”

Ohlandt writes:

“Rodriguez got a $250,000 fine and will assuredly be facing jail time at his sentencing, up to ten years. What I would like to know is if part of that $250,000 fine goes back to Academy of Dover. I think it should. Taxpayers were robbed by Rodriguez, they deserve to have their tax money go back to what it was allocated for.”

The State Auditor was surprised that the school received no oversight. Not from its private board of directors. Not from its auditors. Not from the state Department of Education. Not from the Charter School Accountability Committee.

It is taxpayer money, and no one is minding the cash register or the books. That is an invitation to theft.

Jeb Bush is a seminal person in the privatization movement. He developed high-stakes testing and accountability, A-F school grades, so as to produce a steady supply of failing schools every year, ripe for privatization. He and his friends in the Florida legislature are alert to every opportunity to demean the teaching profession and to shovel public money to private interests.

Today begins the annual conference of His Foundation for Educational Excellence [for none]. Betsy DeVos was a member of the board but stepped down when she became Secretary of Education.

Review the agenda, and you will see who is on the train (it includes Clay Christensen, advocate of disruption, and Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas, independent evaluator of vouchers in Milwaukee and D.C.).

Here is a chance to buy a wonderful gift for yourself or your favorite bibliophile.

I am auctioning off my 50-volume set of the Charles Eliot’s Harvard Classics. It is in good-to-very good condition. Some of the pages are uncut. None of the books are damaged.

The volumes are: (1) Franklin, Woolman, Penn (2) Plato, Epictetus, Marcus, Aurelius (3) Bacon, Milton’s Prose, Thomas Browne (4) Complete Poems in English: Milton (5) Essays and English Traits: Emerson (6) Poems and Songs: Burns (7) Confessions of St. Augustine. Imitation of Christ (8) Nine Greek Dramas (9) Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny (10) Wealth of Nations: Adam Smith (11) Origin of Species: Darwin (12) Plutarch’s Lives (13) Aeneid Virgil (14) Don Quixote Part 1: Cervantes (15)Pilgrim’s Progress. Donne and Herbert. Bunyan, Walton (16) The Thousand and One Nights (17) Folk-Lore and Fable. Aesop, Grimm, Andersen (18) Modern English Drama (19) Faust, Egmont Etc. Doctor Faustus, Goethe, Marlowe (20) The Divine Comedy: Dante (21) I Promessi Sposi, Manzoni (22) The Odyssey: Homer (23) Two Years Before the Mast. Dana (24) On the Sublime French Revolution Etc. Burke (25) Autobiography Etc. Essays and Addresses: J.S. Mill, T. Carlyle (26) Continental Drama (27) English Essays: Sidney to Macaulay (28) Essays. English and American (29) Voyage of the Beagle: Darwin (30) Faraday, Helmholtz, Kelvin, Newcomb, Geikie (31) Autobiography: Benvenuto, Cellini (32) Literary and Philosophical Essays: Montaigne, Sainte Beuve, Renan, Lessing, Schiller, Kant, Mazzini (33) Voyages and Travels (34) Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes (35) Chronicle and Romance: Froissart, Malory, Holinshed (36) Machiavelli, More, Luther (37) Locke, Berkeley, Hume (38) Harvey, Jenner, Lister, Pasteur (39) Famous Prefaces (40) English Poetry 1: Chaucer to Gray (41) English Poetry 2: Collins to Fitzgerald (42) English Poetry 3: Tennyson to Whitman (43) American Historical Documents (44) Sacred Writings 1 (45) Sacred Writings 2 (46) Elizabethan Drama 1 (47) Elizabethan Drama 2 (48) Thoughts and Minor Works: Pascal (49) Epic and Saga (50) Introduction, Readers Guide, Indexes (–) Lectures.

It is known as the Five Foot Shelf.

It is a first edition, dated 1910. I bought the set about 35 years ago from a bookstore in Philadelphia. Some sets, like this one, have 50 volumes; others have 51 or 52.

I was going to sell it on EBay, but I decided instead that it would be a good fundraiser for the Network for Public Education.

The opening bid is $200.

Here is the way it works. Send your bid to Carol Burris. She will report the highest bid to me each night. I will announce it at 8:30 a.m. each day, and the “auction” will end Friday night. The winner will be announced Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. (anonymously, if you prefer).

The winner will send a check or money order made out to “The Network for Public Education,” along with name and address to Carol Burris. I will pack the books and mail them to the winner.

The winner will get a fabulous set of great classics and the satisfaction of helping a good cause.

Send your bid to Carol Burris at:

If you win, send your check to her at:

The Network for Public Education
PO BOX 150266
Kew Gardens, NY 11415-0266

If you want to make a donation to the Network, please send it to this address.

Carole Marshall is a retired high school teacher in Rhode Island. She has been frustrated by the Providence Journal’s relentless cheerleading for charter schools. When she complained, she was told that as a retired teacher with a pension, she has a vested interest and lacked standing to comment. After much back and forth with an editor, she finally got her letter published.

It turns out that the charter school beloved by the newspaper has entrance requirements. Guess what? The school gets higher scores because students with low scores are not admitted!

Good work, Carole. Keep fighting against ignorance!

Four years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 public schools in one day, something that has never happened before in American history. Now, with enrollment continuing to decline, reporters Sarah Karp and Becky Vivek ask if he is likely to do it again.

They write:

“Nearly five years after shuttering a record number of under-enrolled schools, Chicago once again confronts the same stark realities: plummeting enrollment and more than 100 half-empty school buildings, most on the city’s South and West sides, according to a WBEZ analysis of school records.

“Chicago Public Schools has lost 32,000 students over the last five years, nearly the same enrollment drop as in the 10-year period leading up to the closures of 50 elementary schools in 2013. Those missing students could fill 53 average-sized Chicago schools.

“This massive enrollment decline comes as a self-imposed five-year moratorium on school closings lifts in 2018. Despite that, political observers and CPS insiders said they are not betting on Mayor Rahm Emanuel closing 50 more schools — at least not all at once.

“They say if Emanuel opts to close more schools, they hope he does it more slowly and over time. In fact, that’s already underway, despite the moratorium. Since 2013, CPS has quietly shuttered more than a dozen schools, many of them charter schools.

“The school system must announce by Dec. 1 any proposed closures for its more than 600 schools. Officials have already indicated they will recommend closing only a handful of schools for next year, the first without the moratorium.”

But they note a curious anomaly: the city has been opening new schools even as it closed existing ones:

“Since 2013, a total of 39 new schools serving 16,000 students have opened, and 29 of them serve high school students. This includes several new charter high schools and 15 alternative high schools for dropouts. Those alternative schools are mostly in neighborhoods with the most severely under-enrolled high schools.”

I asked several of my friends in Chicago what was going on. Why the drops in enrollment? Who was leaving?

Mike Klonsky, community activist, responded.

He wrote:

“Why the loss of enrollment?
“Losing about 10K students/year mostly due to huge out-migration of black and poor families. New state voucher law will only make it worse.

“Where are the kids going?
“Many to inner-ring black suburbs, to neighboring states, or back to the south.

“Is Chicago losing population?
“Yes, I call it ethnic/racial cleansing. Quarter million black people have left Chicago in past few decades. Result of deindustrialization, lack of jobs, educational opportunities, resulting rise in crime and violence, tearing down of public and low-income housing, police brutality, blighted communities. Has led to a weakening in black and progressive political power within the city.

“Which neighborhoods?
“Westside, ie Lawndale and southside,ie. Englewood. Mass school closings, opposed by the communities, plus loss of social services, mental health clinics and other medical facilities, markets, police coverage, have led to further blighting of these neighborhoods, driving out more residents.

“Loss of 100k of poorest and academically challenged students has led CPS leaders to claim statistical bump in test scores and grad rates. City leaders celebrating supposed10% drop in shootings.

“This is why it’s not enough to just oppose more school closings. Must be seen for what it is — the whitenizing of the cities, as I’ve been saying for years.”

Mike added this link about the black exodus from Chicago:

Jitu Brown, director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, Read Mike Klonsky’s comment and added this response:

“I agree. This is why independent, clear political leadership is so important. The whitening of Chicago has happened on the watch of a city council that has significant African American representation. This is a national crisis, as we see a similar evacuation in cities like DC, New Orleans, Detroit, Oakland, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Cleveland.

“In the case of Chicago, families are moving to the south suburbs, believe it or not thousands have relocated to the quad cities in Iowa, and as Mike stated, back to the south. The removal of black people is not just limited to the coasts and the Midwest however. The black population in Atlanta has declined in the past 5 years. Troubling is a huge understatement.“