Archives for the month of: February, 2019

Leonie Haimson explains in this testimony why NYC’s Renewal Schools Program failed, after spending nearly $800 million. The one Reform it refused to make in the city’s lowest performing schools was to reduce class size. And that, she believes, was a fatal flaw.

 

This testimony was made almost a year ago.

 

in case the formatting doesn’t make sense, here is the link:

https://www.classsizematters.org/testimony-on-the-does-failure-to-reduce-class-size-at-renewal-schools-as-promised/

 

Testimony of Leonie Haimson before the NYC Council Education Committee on the Renewal School Program
February 27, 2018

Thank you for providing me the opportunity to speak here today. My name is Leonie Haimson, and I’m the Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a citywide advocacy group devoted to providing information on the benefits of small class size to parents in New York City and across the country.

The Department of Education refers to the Renewal Program as a “call to action.”

Action is indeed desperately needed to improve New York City’s struggling schools, but the Renewal Program by and large has been a disappointment. An analysis by Aaron Pallas of Columbia University shows that Renewal Schools have not performed better than comparable non-Renewal Schools.

Why is the Renewal program not living up to expectations? Why are many of these schools not exhibiting the improvements we need?

Reducing class size is the education intervention most strongly supported by rigorous evidence and has been shown to be particularly effective for students with disadvantaged backgrounds.3 Since 2007, DOE has made special promises to the state to reduce class size in its lowest-performing schools, as part of its Contract for Excellence obligations. For the first seven years or so, this involved a list of 75 low- performing schools with especially large class sizes. Yet many of these schools never lowered class size to acceptable levels, and many are now closed.

Others have continued to struggle. Promises have been repeatedly made to these children, to parents, and to the state that were repeatedly broken. Starting in 2014, DOE has promised to focus its class size reduction efforts more specifically at the Renewal schools.

1 Quoted from http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/schools/RenewalSchools/default

2 Pallas’ research is discussed here: https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/09/18/in-year-three-of-new-york-citys-
massive-school-turnaround-program-the-big-question-is-whats-next/

3 Institute of Education Science, Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence: A User Friendly Guide, 2003.

See also research studies at https://www.classsizematters.org/research-and- links/ and fact sheets at https://www.classsizematters.org/fact-sheets-on-the-benefits-of-class-size/

1

“To better align with the Chancellor’s priorities, C4E’s class size reduction plan will now focus on the 94 schools in the School Renewal Program.”4

This hasn’t happened either.

According to our analysis, in nearly half (or 42 percent) of Renewal Schools, there was no reduction in average class size from November 2014 to November 2017.5 Of the schools that did not reduce class size, the average increase in class size was more than two students per class, with some schools increasing class sizes by significantly more than that.6

Even among those schools which did lower class sizes, 18 percent did so by less than one student per class on average. Not one of the Renewal schools this fall capped class size at the levels in the city’s original C4E plan, that is, 20 students per class in grades K-3, 23 students in 4th-8th grades and 25 students per class in high school. Worse yet, in 73 percent of the Renewal schools, there were maximum class sizes of 30 or more.

The turnover in teaching staff has not helped either. In October of 2017, the DOE announced that at two of the Renewal Schools, Flushing High School and DeWitt Clinton High School, all teachers would have to reapply for their jobs.

That both schools are still struggling is not surprising, given that the previous year, these schools had the highest and third highest class sizes of any in the Renewal program, with classes as large as 43 students per class in science, and 39 in English respectively, according to DOE data.

Hiring inexperienced teachers and large classes are a surefire way to undermine a school’s progress and this policy reveals a profound lack of vision on behalf of this administration.

DOE had promised the state since at least 2013 to reduce class size in at least one of the Renewal schools currently planned for closure, PS 50 Vito Marcantonio in District 4, according to the city’s
4NYC DOE Assessment 2014-2015 Contracts for Excellence Public Comment, December 30, 2014, p. 4
at: http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/AF304521-9C1E-4EA6-B694-5F9CC80487E9/175614/C4EP ublicCommentAssessment20142015FINAL.pdf

This statement is repeated in every DOE proposed C4E plan since then, as posted and archived here: http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/funding/c4e/default.htm

The November 2014 and November 2017 Preliminary Class Size Reports are used for the data discussed in this testimony, reflecting class sizes as of Oct. 31 of each year. We do not use the Feb. reports, reflecting class sizes as of Jan. 31, since many students have been discharged or dropped out of school by that date, especially in high school. The Nov. 2014 report is posted here:

http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/schools/data/classsize/classsize_2014_11_14.htm We archived the Nov. 2017 class size data, reflecting class sizes as of Oct. 31, 201 though the DOE has now deleted that data from its website and improperly substituted Feb. 2018 data.

For example, at the Leaders of Tomorrow, a Bronx middle school in District 11, which resulted from a merger of two struggling schools in Sept. 2016, the average class size increased from 21.1 in that year to 27.9 this fall.
The November 2016 Preliminary Class Size Report is archived at
http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/schools/data/classsize/classsize_2016_11_15.htm

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/10/19/the-entire-staffs-at-two-troubled-new-york-city-high-schools- must-reapply-for-their-jobs/

These data from the November 2016 Preliminary Class Size Report.

Contract for Excellence plan.

Yet the DOE never followed through. Instead, this fall, class sizes at PS 50 are 28 in 1st grade and 30 in 2nd grade, which are far too large, especially for a struggling school that has 32 percent of its students with disabilities, and an 89 percent economic need index.

In contrast, another Renewal school, PS 15 Roberto Clemente in District 1, has seen great strides and has moved off the Renewal list. This school, which the New York Times called the Renewal program’s “best performer,” reduced class sizes from an average of 18.3 students per class in November 2014 to 15.7 in November 2017, with most classes far below 20 students this fall.11 According to the DOE’s performance dashboard, PS 15 also demonstrated the second highest positive impact of any public elementary school in New York City in terms of achievement, when adjusted for the need level of its students.

Our analysis of Renewal school data reveals a significant correlation between each school’s positive impact as measured by the DOE’s Performance Dashboard and its average class size, at -.33, meaning the smaller the class size, the larger the school’s positive effect on achievement, adjusted for the need level of its student body.

The Renewal Program has come at substantial cost. In 2016-2017, per-student expenditures at these schools were twice that of New York City’s most elite public schools, such as Brooklyn Tech and Stuvesant.14 Yet much of the money spent on the program has been wasted. According to an investigation by the New York Post, millions have been spent on “instructional coaches” and “leadership coaches” making up to $1400 dollars a day.15 Many of these consultants already earn hefty six-figure pensions, and some of them, including former principals, have a history of scandal or poor performance.

The New York Times estimates that the four-year cost of the program at the end of this academic year will be $582 million.17 Yet for the same amount, or $144 million dollars a year, the city could have hired roughly 1,450 teachers (at $100,000 dollars each), an average of more than 15 additional teachers per school to reduce class size. Simply hiring more teachers would have provided students at these schools a
9 http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/funding/c4e/ClassSizeReduction2013-14 10 This data from the DOE’s performance dashboard for PS 50 here:

https://tools.nycenet.edu/dashboard/#dbn=04M050&report_type=EMS&view=City

See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/nyregion/new-york-city-schools-test-scores.html

https://tools.nycenet.edu/dashboard/#dbn=01M015&report_type=EMS&view=City

See appendix for details. The average class size in November 2016 of schools leaving the Renewal Program to become Rise Schools was 21.5, compared to 22.8 for Renewal Schools that will remain in the program, close, or be consolidated.

https://nypost.com/2017/03/05/citys-renewal-program-costs-big-bucks-but-shows-few-results/
https://nypost.com/2017/03/05/citys-renewal-program-costs-big-bucks-but-shows-few-results/
https://nypost.com/2017/03/07/de-blasios-questionable-school-consultants-cost-taxpayers-millions/ 17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/nyregion/renewal-schools-program-progress.html

a far better chance to succeed. Instead, by closing these schools, many capable teachers will be put on the Absent Teacher Reserve, used as substitutes or roving teachers, and never assigned to a permanent class and thus available to reduce class size.

One more point: among the schools that the DOE has now proposed closing is one that is not on the Renewal list: PS 25 Eubie Blake in Brooklyn. According to the DOE’s own analysis on its School Performance Dashboard, PS 25 is the second best elementary school in Brooklyn and the fourth best public elementary school in the entire city, when the need level of its students is taken into account.

The school recently was named a Reward School by the state.19 PS 25 also outperforms every charter school in terms of its positive impact on learning — except for Success Academy Bronx 2. If it closes, the entire building will be left to Success Bed Stuy 3, which is now co-located with PS 25.

Last year, PS 25 enrolled a large percentage (31 percent) of students w/ IEPs, 10 percent with serious disabilities in self-contained classes, and its students had a high economic need index (85 percent). And yet this school has improved sharply on the state exams in recent years — to levels substantially above the city average.

Last year, the school outperformed other elementary schools with similar populations in their proficiency on the state exams by an astonishing 21 percent in ELA and Math. Its students with IEPs in inclusion or general ed classes outperformed similar students by 47 percent in ELA and 20 percent in math. PS 25 students in self-contained classes outperformed similar students by an astonishing 53 percent and 51 percent respectively.

So why does the Chancellor want to close PS 25, given this stellar record of achievement? The DOE’s Educational Impact Statement says the school is being closed “based on low enrollment and lack of demand from students and family.”20 According to the EIS, PS 125 is serving only 94 students this year.

Yet many of the public schools in District 16 have lost enrollment, in part because of the super- saturation of charter schools in the district. Moreover, families in these neighborhoods are unaware that according to the DOE’s analysis, the school is the second best in Brooklyn in terms of its positive impact on student achievement, and the fourth best in the entire city; if they knew this, they would likely flock to enroll their children in the school. The Chancellor could also put another preK in the school or place a 3K in the building if she wanted its enrollment to grow.

https://tools.nycenet.edu/dashboard/#dbn=16K025&report_type=EMS&view=City The only three public elementary schools which have a greater positive impact on student achievement, out of 661 elementary schools citywide, according to the DOE, are the Walton Ave. school in the Bronx, PS 15 in Manhattan and PS 172 in District 15. One can see the impacts of all NYC schools on this spreadsheet:

https://tools.nycenet.edu/dashboard/data/dashboard/impact_performance.xlsx

http://www.nysed.gov/news/2018/commissioner-identifies-155-high-achieving-and-high-progress-schools- reward-schools

20 http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/AE8473F1-3A8B-4C65-9F8F- 3C63C9DA32C9/220056/EISPS25closure_vFinal.pdf

The fact that the school is under-enrolled is also likely one of the reasons it has succeeded so brilliantly, with exceptionally small class sizes that range from 10 to 18 students per class — the sort of class sizes and close instructional support that all high-need kids in poverty should receive. Yet the DOE has repeatedly refused to align its school capacity formula with smaller classes, despite the strong recommendations of the Blue Book Working Group, composed of teachers, DOE officials and parent leaders.

Closing a public school which has provided its students with such a rare opportunity to succeed would be a travesty in my view. The DOE should be celebrating, emulating and expanding this school rather than closing it. Closing any of the Renewal schools without first giving them a real chance to succeed by reducing their class sizes is also unfair and fundamentally destructive, to both its students and teachers. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

Appendix
Table 1- Correlation Between Renewal Schools’ Average Class Sizes and School Impact
** Correlation is Significant at the .01 Level (1-tailed)
Data Sources:
November 2016 Class Size Data http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/schools/data/classsize/classsize_2016_11_15.htm February 2016 Class Size Data http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/schools/data/classsize/classsize_2017_2_15.htm DOE Dashboard with School Impact Data https://tools.nycenet.edu/dashboard/
2016-2017 Renewal Schools http://teachnyc.net/assets/RenewalDirectory201617.pdf
21 See articles in Chalkbeat: https://ny.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2015/07/28/city-to-tweak-how-it-calculates-school- space-needs/#.VbjIDIH3arU ; WNYC/Schoolbook: https://www.wnyc.org/story/city-make-changes-how-it- accounts-space-schools/ ; and DNAinfo: https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150729/sunset-park/de-blasio-not- doing-enough-fix-school-overcrowding-critics-say
Class Size Data N
Pearson Correlation (R
Value) P Value
November 2016 Class
Size 85
-0.326** 0.002
February 2017 Class Size 85 -0.314** 0.003

Tonight, history was made in Chicago. Two African American women won the top two slots.

Chicago’s next mayor will be an African  American woman.

Farewell to Rahm Emanuel; your disgraceful historic legacy will be closing 50 public schools in a single day.

William Daley, the business establishment’s candidate, came in third. Au revoir.

Paul Vallas, school privatizer supreme, trailed the field.

CHICAGO — Two African-American women are headed for a runoff in the Chicago mayor’s race, setting up an election that will make history.

Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and sharp critic of the status quo at City Hall, and Toni Preckwinkle, the county board president and chairwoman of the county’s Democratic Party, will face one another in a runoff election set for April, according to The Associated Press.

The third top vote-getter — William M. Daley, a member of Chicago’s political dynasty of Daleys — earlier conceded defeat.

Either Ms. Lightfoot or Ms. Preckwinkle would be the first African-American woman to lead the nation’s third largest city, succeeding Mayor Rahm Emanuel as mayor. Only one other woman, Jane Byrne, has been elected mayor, in 1979. If Ms. Lightfoot were to win, she also would be the first openly gay mayor of Chicago.

Ms. Preckwinkle, 71, a long established politician who has often been urged to run for mayor, had been widely expected to do well in Tuesday’s balloting amid a cast of 14 candidates. The success of Ms. Lightfoot, 56, who has never run for elective office before, was far more surprising; she was less well known in Chicago’s political sphere and had far less money.

Her win, too, was seen as something of a rebuke to Mr. Emanuel’s tenure as mayor and to Chicago’s old political history. Ms. Lightfoot had tried to define her campaign as a rejection of machine politics and a refocusing on Chicago’s struggling neighborhoods, not just its gleaming downtown.

Ms. Lightfoot emerged at a gathering of supporters late Tuesday night, and seemed to take note of people who hadn’t expected her success. To applause, she called out: “So what do you think of us now?” She added: “This, my friends, is what change looks like.”

The historic nature of the runoff was not lost on Ms. Preckwinkle’s supporters, who gathered at a party on another side of town. The crowd cheered when Bridget Gainer, a county commissioner, noted from the stage that Chicago city would, one way or another, have an African-American woman as mayor later this year.

 

As Oakland teachers were striking, the rightwing propaganda machine hired a private plane to spread lies about Keith Brown, the union president. During the teachers’ demonstration, the plane flew over them trailing a banner saying that Brown is paid $350,000 a year. Lie. He makes a teacher’s salary. Maybe the Koch machine confused him with a charter school leader.

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement by Keith Brown

President, Oakland Education Association,

on

Status of Contract Talks

 

I do not believe that it is helpful to bargain contracts through the media. Up until now I have refrained from discussing details to give the negotiating team on both sides room to bargain. However, after seeing a series of misleading reports come out of the administration today, I think it’s time to set the record straight.

 

The district says they have moved closer to OEA’s position on salary. Implied in their statement is that significant movement has happened since the strike began. This is untrue. The fact is they have yet to make an offer that will keep experienced teachers in Oakland.

 

The administration would lead you to believe this is only about salary. The state trustee has now joined this disinformation campaign.

 

Let me be clear, the union believes our students should have access to school nurses, counselors, school psychologists, librarians and other specialists. Class sizes are just too big and hinder the ability of our educators to give students the attention they deserve. These were also the issues on the table in the recent teachers’ strike in Los Angeles. In that strike, labor and management, with the help of outside mediators, crafted solutions that brought in dollars from the county and state to fund more nurses and counselors and lower class size. We should find similar creative solutions here.

 

We also join Los Angeles in their fight for a cap on the rapid expansion of charter schools that comes at the expense of much needed resources at our neighborhood public schools – to the tune of $57 million a year.

 

School closings are a critical issue in Oakland. It should be discussed at the bargaining table – they refuse.

 

The district’s bargaining team either lacks the creativity or the authority to craft solutions to our students’ needs and our educators’ demands.

 

We appreciate the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s dedication to finding a solution that puts our teachers and students front and center in this fight.

 

It is clear that the district does not have the support of parents and the community and are resorting to lies and misinformation to try to bring the public to their side. We ask that people be mindful of these tactics. We should expect more from our district officials. When 19 out of every 20 teachers is walking the picket line joined by parents, when our rallies attract thousands, when 97 percent of our students stay home – it’s clear that this community wants what OEA demands.

###

The Oakland Education Association represents 3,000 OUSD educators, including teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, therapists, substitutes, and early childhood and adult teachers. OEA is affiliated with the 325,000-member California Teachers Association and the 3 million-member National Education Association.

 

Arizona blogger David Safier reports that an investigative team of reporters at the Arizona Republic has won a prestigious Polk Award, one of the highest honors in American journalism, for its fearless reporting about charter school scandals in the state.

Safier writes:

The Arizona Republic’s thorough, ground-breaking stories about charter school corruption and profiteering have received scarce press coverage in southern Arizona from anyone but your faithful education blogger. That’s a serious omission. Though the stories tend to be based in Phoenix-area charter schools, they speak to statewide problems stemming from the lack of adequate charter regulation and oversight. One of the bad actors discussed in the series, for example, is state representative Eddie Farnsworth, who is making millions by selling his for-profit charters, which run on taxpayer dollars, to a non-profit company. That piece of news is definitely relevant everywhere in Arizona.

Also nearly absent in local reporting (I can’t say it hasn’t been reported, but I haven’t seen it) is the team of reporters who put together the articles that won the prestigious Polk Award in Journalism.

So let me be [among] the first in the southern Arizona news media to congratulate reporters Craig Harris, Anne Ryman, Alden Woods and Justin Price for sharing the honor, as well as the investigative editor Michael Squires.

The reporters received the Polk Education Reporting award, one of 14 Polk awards given in 2018, for:

“disclosing insider deals, no-bid contracts and political chicanery that provided windfall profits for investors in a number of prominent Arizona charter schools, often at the expense of underfunded public schools that educate all but 30,000 of Arizona’s 1.1 million students.”

This is one of those series that demonstrates the power of the press.

 

This comment was posted by a reader who teaches in Tulsa. It was written in response to a post on the blog that Broadies have now taken charge of all the top positions in the District of Columbia schools. The Broadies use unusual titles because they lack the credentials to hold jobs that require certification. A Broadie, for the uninitiated, is someone “trained” in the top-down management philosophy of Eli Broad at the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy. They are known for setting high goals and meeting none of them. They are devotees of high-stakes testing and charter schools. They love to disrupt schools and communities. As you will see, when one Broadie gets in, others swarm.

 

Washington DC – Welcome to my Hell in Tulsa

Superintendent – Deborah Gist – $241,000 + +
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/deborah-gist/

Chief Learning Officer – Devin Fletcher – $155,700
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/devin-fletcher/

Chief Financial Officer – Nolberto Delgadillo – $151,300
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/nolberto-delgadillo/

Chief Operating Officer – Jorge Robles – $150,000
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/jorge-robles/

Design and Innovation Officer – Andrea Castaneda – $136,600
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/andrea-castaneda/

Director of School Talent Services – Coy Nesbitt – $95,230
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/coy-nesbitt/

Director of Organizational Impact – Martin Green -$95,300
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/martin-green/

Talent Management Partner – Carlos Lopez – $95,230
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/carlos-lopez/

Design and Innovation Specialist – Joseph Fraier – $93,520
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/joseph-fraier/

Manager of District Strategy and Implementation – Vanessa Portillo – $93,200
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/vanessa-portillo/

Director – Talent Acquisition, Development and Retention – Quentin Liggins – $105,312
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/quentin-liggins/

Director of Strategic School Support – Shannon Doody- $90,000
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/shannon-doody/

Director of Portfolio Management – Becky Gligo- $90,000
https://www.broadcenter.org/alumni/directory/profile/becky-gligo/

 

Peter Greene writes here that the invisible hand of the market doesn’t work well for schools.

There is no magic in the market.

Shelby County in Tennessee is overwhelmed with charters and of course they want more.

He writes:

“Shelby County is running up against two of the fallacies embedded in most charter school policy.

“One is the modern charter policy lie– the notion that you can run multiple parallel school systems with the same money that used to run one system. The other is that charter systems don’t need a lot of regulation because the invisible hand of the market will take care of it all.

“Shelby County Schools in Tennessee has noticed that it has problems with both of those principles.

“The issue was raised back in August when the board considered nine more charter applications– which would have brought the grand total to 63 charter schools in the county. Superintendent Dorsey Hopson put his finger on the problem:

“No surprise, we have too many schools in Memphis,” Hopson said. “If you got 12 schools in a three-mile radius… and all of them are under-enrolled, we’re not serving kids well.”

“Shelby County is home to Memphis, one of the great early charter playgrounds in a state that has always ridden on the reformster train. About 14% of students in the county attend charter schools, and that’s enough to leave some schools feeling a financial pinch (the overhead of maintaining a building does not go down whether you lose one student or one hundred). That’s also before we count schools being run by the state in the Achievement School District (a method of state takeover of school districts with low test scores).

“Nor are the schools well-distributed. Check this map and you’ll see that some neighborhoods have clusters of charter schools, while other areas of the county have none at all. It’s almost as if market forces do not drive charter businesses to try to serve all students, but only concentrate on the markets they find attractive! Go figure. (Note: charters in Tennessee can be run by profit or non-profit organizations or, of course, non-profits that funnel all their money to for-profit businesses.)

“The problem did not happen overnight– a local television station did a story entitled “Charter Schools– Too Many? Too Fast?” back in 2017. The answer was, “Probably yes to both.” But it also included the projection that SCS would some day be all charter. It does appear that Shelby County is in danger of entering the public school death spiral, where charters drain so much money from the public system that the public system stumbles, making the charters more appealing, so more students leave the public system, meaning the public system gets less and less money, making charters more appealing, so students leave, rinse and repeat until your public system collapses.”

 

 

John Thompson writes from Oklahoma:

The Tulsa World’s headline nailed the big picture, “‘Staggering’: 30,000 Oklahoma Teachers Have Left Profession in the Past Six Years, Report Shows.” The World’s Michael Dekker cites State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister who explained, “The loss of 30,000 educators over the past six years is staggering — and proof that our schools must have the resources to support a growing number of students with an increasing number of needs.”

https://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/staggering-oklahoma-teachers-have-left-profession-in-the-past-years/article_32479aa7-9877-55c9-959c-76f7332a7e7d.html

These huge losses occurred in a state which employed only 50,598 teachers in 2017-18.

Hofmeister addressed the immediate problem, “Steep budget cuts over the last decade have made the teaching profession in Oklahoma less attractive, resulting in a severe teacher shortage crisis and negative consequences for our schoolchildren.” The analysis, 2018 Oklahoma Educator Supply and Demand Report, by Naneida Lazarte Alcala, also touched on the ways that the lack of respect and the decline of teachers’ professional autonomy contributed to the massive exodus from the classroom.

https://sde.ok.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/Oklahoma%20Teacher%20Supply%20and%20Demand%20Report%202018%20February%20Update.pdf

The report showed that Oklahoma’s annual attrition rate has been 10 percent during the last 6 years, which was 30 percent more than the national average. This prompted an increase from 32 emergency certifications in 2012 to 2,915 in 2018-19. As a result, the median experience of state teachers declined by 1/5th in this short period.

Given the challenges faced by the Oklahoma City Public School System, it is noteworthy that the highest turnover rate in 2017-18 (almost 25 percent) occurred in central Oklahoma. Over 11 percent of teachers in the central region are new hires.

It should also be noted that charter schools have the highest turnover rate (almost 42 percent), even higher than that of middle schools. 

I kid my colleagues in middle school. But there is a serious point. Choice advocates have had success in their political campaign to defeat traditional public schools, but their turnover rate is another sign that the oversupply of charters shows that privatization isn’t a viable, educational alternative to neighborhood schools. 

But the financial cutbacks were not the only cause of the crisis. Alcala cites a survey of teachers who have left Oklahoma schools; 2/3rds said that increased compensation would not be enough to bring them back to the classroom.  Citing reasons that were beyond the scope of the report, 78 percent said that the quality of the work environment had declined, and nearly half said it had deteriorated a great deal.

On the other hand, the report suggested aspects of teaching conditions that merit further examination. It cited research on the negative effects of teacher turnover on student achievement, especially for low-income students. This stands in contrast with research cited by accountability-driven, competition-driven school reformers who argue that turnover isn’t necessarily bad. After all, they invested heavily in trying to identify and dismiss low-performing teachers.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228248764_Who_Leaves_Teacher_Attrition_and_Student_Achievement

The SDE study cited the value of low student-teacher ratios in terms of raising student achievement, especially for low-income students. It also noted the national pattern where education degrees have “notoriously” declined, as well as the drop in graduates in Oklahoma teacher preparation programs.

And that brings us to the unintended results of features, as opposed to bugs, in the corporate school reform movement which peaked during this era. Reformers who lacked knowledge of realities in schools misinterpreted research on California schools which supposedly said that class size reductions don’t work, and then ignored the preponderance of evidence on why class size matters. Reformers often blamed university education departments for poor student test scores, and experimented with teacher preparation shortcuts. Some reformers even said what many others felt about wanting to undermine the institution of career teaching.

https://gspp.berkeley.edu/research/featured/the-class-size-debate-what-the-evidence-means-for-education-policy

https://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Summary-of-US-Class-Size-Reduction-Research.pdf

https://aacte.org/news-room/aacte-in-the-news/312-education-depts-reform-plan-for-teacher-training-gets-mixed-reviews

To understand the decline of working conditions for teachers, the teacher strike in Denver, as well as those in Oklahoma and other states, must be considered. Senator Michael Bennet, the former superintendent of the Denver schools, called for incentives in urban schools by twenty-somethings who would work for 7 to 9 years.  His hugely expensive and complicated incentive system provoked the recent strike.

http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1105/01/sotu.01.html

It should have been obvious that teacher churn is bad for students, who need trusting relationships with educators who love them. A decade ago, however, edu-philanthropists and the federal government essentially imposed a rushed and risky experiment on schools in Oklahoma and across the nation. These noneducators praised the gambles as “disruptive innovation.” But they incentivized primitive teach-to-the-test malpractice and drove much of the joy of teaching and learning out of schools.

Evidence that excellent teachers were being “exited” by a flawed statistical model used in these teacher evaluation systems was ignored.  Since these policies incentivized the removal of highly paid veteran teachers during the budget crisis prompted by the Great Recession, Baby Boomers were often targeted.  This resulted in schools such as Upper Greystone, an elementary school with 24 certified staff,  which had 21 teacher vacancies at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.   

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-teacher-churn-undermining-real-education-reform-in-dc/2012/06/15/gJQAigWcfV_story.html?utm_term=.fa0c4f7e5a2c

http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2015/04/05/cognitive-dissonance-and-segregated-oklahoma-schools/

During the 1990s, education experts frequently warned that Baby Boomers would soon be retiring, and sought ways for veteran teachers to pass on their wisdom. During the last decade, however, corporate reform made the staggeringly serious mistake of undermining teachers’ autonomy in order to force educators to comply with their technocratic mandates. Veteran teachers were rightly seen as opponents to their teach-to-the-test regimes, and often they were pushed out of the profession so they wouldn’t undercut the socializing of young teachers into opposing bubble-in accountability. 

Even if we had not made another unforced error and dramatically cut education spending, failed reforms would have wasted educators’ time and energy, damaged teachers’ professionalism, and sucked much of the joy of teaching and learning out of classrooms. When the retirement and the pushing out of Baby Boomers, funding cuts, and drill-and-kill pedagogy came together during and after the Great Recession, this staggering exodus of teachers was triggered.

 

Bob Braun, veteran education journalist, reports that the New Jersey Assembly leaders pulled the bill to expand PARCC testing bee cause they didn’t have the votes to pass it.

The protests of parents and teachers must must have been heard. Twenty-six states signed up for PARCC in 2010, which was designed to fail most students with artificially high passing marks. All but five states have dropped PARCC.

The privatizers who paid to keep PARCC aren’t giving up. Stay tuned to see if the zombie is dead.

Max Boot, who now writes a column for the Washington Post, says that U.N ambassadors have typically had distinguished careers before they were nominated. Not so the latest nominee.

 

Kelly Knight Craft was chosen to be U.S. ambassador to Canada, and now to the United Nations, because she and her third husband, the billionaire coal baron Joe Craft, are mega MAGA-donors. According to The Post, they gave “about $1.5 million to GOP candidates in 2016, including $270,800 to Trump’s campaign committee or his joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee.” Perhaps just as important from this president’s perspective, they are also “repeat, high-paying customers at Trump’s hotel in Washington.” Craft’s other recommendation is that, as a Kentucky native, she is a supporter of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and is said to be friends with McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao….

The only thing Craft said that anyone will remember is even more embarrassing than Nauert’s D-Day comment. This is her stance on climate change: “I believe there are scientists on both sides that are accurate. … I appreciate and respect both sides of the science.” This was widely and rightly ridiculed because, while there is a debate about what to do about global warming, there is no legitimate debate about whether global warming is real. There is a scientific consensus on the subject — one that Craft is either ignorant of or simply denies. According to the New York Times, her electronic signature has even included: “Sent by my coal powered iPad.”

If confirmed, Craft will arrive at the United Nations as a laughingstock — just like her boss. It’s hard to escape the suspicion that this is precisely what Trump intends: He is showing his contempt for the United Nations, and indeed the world, by appointing an ambassador who is singularly unqualified for the position.