Archives for category: Bush, Jeb

Sue Legg is a leader of the League of Women Voters in Florida and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education.

She writes here about Miami, a district that is “all in” for school choice. 

Miami seems to have taken the place of Denver as their favorite district, now that the choice Majority was booted out of power.

Legg writes:

Miami is the school choice capital!  According to this EducationNext article, 20% of Miami’s public schools are charters.  Another 20% of students are in private schools, and approximately half of those are paid for with vouchers and tax credit scholarships.  It does not stop there.  District-run choice programs now enroll 61% of public school children.  Is this a school choice dream or a nightmare?

Dade County schools tout high academic achievement.  The district receives an ‘A’ grade from the state and no failing school grades.  Of course, there are only 15 schools in the state that have an ‘F’ rating, so Miami is not unique there.  An ‘A’ school only has to earn 62% of the possible points based on state assessment test scores etc.  Over one-half of all Florida’s schools earn an ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade.

Miami’s  fourth grade students rank above the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test, but there is no statistically significant difference between Duval, Hillsborough and Dade Counties’ scores.  Could it be that third grade retention pushes Florida scores up because so many fourth graders were retained?

The Dade County eighth grade NAEP scores also seem to be higher in comparison to other cities.  Yet, the average Miami-Dade score is right at the national average.  Miami’s high school graduation rate is just below the national average.  It would seem that Miami-Dade is good at hype.  The reality is quite different on the ground.

According to the report ‘Tough Choices‘, Miami is the second most segregated district in the state.  Of 460 schools in Miami, 214 are considered isolated.  They are more than 85% single race.   Miami’s lowest performing schools are overwhelmingly black.  Hispanic students also tend to be enrolled in segregated schools.

Is this what Florida is striving for?  Our schools are driven by grades which are easy to manipulate.  Yet, Florida, the third largest state in the nation, is just average in student achievement and children are increasingly separated by race and economic status.

Florida is ground zero for school choice, since it has been controlled by Jeb Bush and his allies since 1998. By now, it should have surpassed Massachusetts on the NAEP, but its eighth grade scores continue to be mediocre.

 

I am not sure that I agree with Steven Singer’s point here, that NAEP scores tell us nothing other than that students from affluent homes have higher test scores than students who live in poverty. 

His main point is undeniable. All standardized test scores are highly correlated with family income.

We could use income and poverty data to learn what the test scores tell us, without wasting billions on standardized tests and corrupting instruction.

But I think that NAEP does tell us something we need official confirmation for: the utter failure of Disruptive Corporate Reform.

The Disrupters have promised since No Child Left Behind was proposed in 2001 that they knew how to raise test scores and close achievement gaps: Test every child every year and hold schools accountable for rising or falling scores. That will do it, said George W. Bush, Margaret Spellings, Rod Paige and Sandy Kress. They rode the wave of the “Texas miracle,” which turned out to be non-existent. Texas in 2019 is stuck right in the middle of the distribution of states.

Then came Jeb Bush, with his fantastical claims of a “Florida miracle,” which are now repeated by Betsy DeVos. Look at the NAEP scores: Florida is right in the middle of the states. No miracle there.

Arne Duncan has been promoting Tennessee, which as one of the first Race to the Top states, which is also ensconced in the middle of the distribution.

Look for yourself.

Two states that were firmly under the control of Reform heroes, Louisiana and New Mexico, are at the tail end of the distribution.

What do the NAEP scores tell us?

Don’t look for miracles.

Don’t believe propaganda spun by snake-oil salesman.

Look to states and districts that are economically developed and that fund their schools adequately and fairly.

The scores in states may go up or down a few points, but the bottom line is that the basics matter most. That is, a state willing and able to support education and families able to support their children.

 

Nancy Bailey writes here about a zombie policy launched by Jeb Bush called third grade retention. Students who can’t pass a third grade reading test are flunked and held back. Nineteen states have adopted this practice despite a large body of research showing that it hurts kids and leads to future failure, even dropping out.

Children who are held back feel humiliated.

There is one big benefit to this policy, however. Holding back the kids who have not yet mastered reading does wonders for the state’s fourth grade reading scores on national tests like NAEP.

Bailey offers specific ways to help third graders instead of humiliating them.

The Resistance won a big victory in Los Angeles.

Thanks to newly elected LAUSD board member Jackie Goldberg, a key committee of the school board rejected a plan to assign a single grade to every school. 

The idea of grading schools with a single letter was first hatched by Jeb Bush, in his relentless push to impose test-based accountability on every public school in Florida and to set up those with the worst grades to be privatized.

Several states have adopted the Jeb Bush plan, and in every case, the letter grade was a reliable proxy for students’ family income. The schools where poor students predominated received the lowest grades and were fair game for the charter industry.

Jackie Goldberg has a long history as a teacher, school board member, and state legislator, and she strongly opposed the plan.

Nick Melvoin, who was elected with the help of millions of dollars contributed by Eli Broad and other friends of the charter lobby, proposed the plan.

The Los Angeles Unified school board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee approved a resolution introduced by board member Jackie Goldberg that calls for the district to suspend implementation of “any use of stars, scores, or any other rating system” for its schools. 

The committee’s action includes a shift in support by Kelly Gonez, who says she now opposes assigning single ratings to schools. Gonez last yearco-sponsored a resolution with board member Nick Melvoin that called for creating a school performance framework that would include a “single, summative rating for each school.”  The board approved that resolution in April 2018. 

Goldberg’s resolution, which is expected to pass when it goes before the full board Nov. 5, would effectively kill the idea to give all schools in the district a single rating, which Melvoin says would allow the district to better identify and help struggling schools…

The three board members on the committee — McKenna, Scott Schmerelson and Gonez — voted unanimously to send Goldberg’s resolution to the full board, where it needs four votes to pass. Board member Richard Vladovic also indicated to EdSource that he supports the new resolution. Goldberg’s expected vote would give the resolution a five-vote majority on the seven-member board…

Goldberg’s resolution says that summative rankings “promote unhealthy competition between schools” and “penalize schools that serve socioeconomically disadvantaged student populations.” 

Jackie Goldberg proves that one person can make a difference. She does so by dint of superior experience, knowledge, and intellect.

The billionaires once owned the LAUSD. They bought it, fair and square.

No longer.

Be on alert for the next school board election. The sharks will gather round again.

 

The charter Industry faction on the Los Angeles School Board wants to introduce a Jeb Bush-style evaluation system to rank and rate schools. It hasn’t worked anywhere else in the nation, so why not introduce it in Los Angeles.

Every other state has demonstrated that the school grading system ranks schools by the income of parents. Schools that enroll the poorest children get the lowest grades. Schools that enroll affluent children get the highest grades.

The purpose of school grades is to set schools up to be privatized.

Sara Roos, who blogs as Red Queen in L.A., writes that the school district does not need a Yelp system. She is right.

She points out that board member Jackie Goldberg wants the school system to help schools that are in need of support, not devise a system to call them “failures.”

The charter advocates are pushing the Jeb Bush Plan because it will help build the charter industry. It will do nothing for children.

Public Schools First in North Carolina posted an analysis of the grades given to schools by the state, based mostly on test scores. Not surprisingly, the school grades measured income, not school quality, since standardized tests measure income.

School Performance Grades

School Performance Grades

Source: N&O analysis of Public Instruction data

School performance grades started in 2013-14 modeled after a program in Florida started by Gov. Jeb Bush. All North Carolina public schools, including charters, have received A-F performance grades since 2013. 

Critics of a single school measurement believe that grades:

  • Do not reflect the learning in our schools
  • Undervalue student growth and other important measures of school quality
  • Could result in more attention to borderline students while underserving the lowest and highest performing students
  • Are often used by privatization advocates to support school choice measures and state takeovers of schools, removing these schools from local control and community input.
  • Will have negative economic impacts on a community (lower home values/sales)
  • Do not come with resources/financial support to improve grades

How did North Carolina’s Schools do This Year? Results show that these grades continue to be closely correlated with a student’s family income level.

  • Schools with greater poverty earned fewer A/A+NG’s and B’s and earned more C’s, D’s, and F’s than schools with less poverty.
  • Of the 21.7 percent of schools receiving a D or F grade, 95 percent were serving high poverty populations
  • In schools with more than 80 percent low income students, 60 percent received a D or F grade. Less than one percent of schools with less than 20% low income student populations received a D or F grade
  • Of schools with high concentrations (41 percent or more) of students who are economically disadvantaged, 71 percent met or exceeded growth, compared with 79 percent of schools serving fewer students in poverty.
  • For the 2018–19 school year, 73.3 percent of all schools met or exceeded growth expectations, a slight increase from the previous year.

Read more in our fact sheet about A-F grades here!

Source: N&O analysis of Public Instruction data

School performance grades started in 2013-14 modeled after a program in Florida started by Gov. Jeb Bush. All North Carolina public schools, including charters, have received A-F performance grades since 2013. 

Critics of a single school measurement believe that grades:

  • Do not reflect the learning in our schools
  • Undervalue student growth and other important measures of school quality
  • Could result in more attention to borderline students while underserving the lowest and highest performing students
  • Are often used by privatization advocates to support school choice measures and state takeovers of schools, removing these schools from local control and community input.
  • Will have negative economic impacts on a community (lower home values/sales)
  • Do not come with resources/financial support to improve grades

How did North Carolina’s Schools do This Year? Results show that these grades continue to be closely correlated with a student’s family income level.

  • Schools with greater poverty earned fewer A/A+NG’s and B’s and earned more C’s, D’s, and F’s than schools with less poverty.
  • Of the 21.7 percent of schools receiving a D or F grade, 95 percent were serving high poverty populations
  • In schools with more than 80 percent low income students, 60 percent received a D or F grade. Less than one percent of schools with less than 20% low income student populations received a D or F grade
  • Of schools with high concentrations (41 percent or more) of students who are economically disadvantaged, 71 percent met or exceeded growth, compared with 79 percent of schools serving fewer students in poverty.
  • For the 2018–19 school year, 73.3 percent of all schools met or exceeded growth expectations, a slight increase from the previous year.

Read more in our fact sheet about A-F grades here!

Feeling the backlash in a big way, Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change” issued a call to end the “Toxic Rhetoric” about school choice, especially charters. 

Chiefs for Change are strong proponents of privatization. Here are the current members. Is your superintendent a “Chief for Change” who wants to divert money from public schools to the Betsy DeVos agenda of school choice?

They say:

Recent attempts to halt or severely limit school choice—including legislative debates over caps or moratoriums for charter schools—are misguided at best. Effective mechanisms of school choice—those that ensure quality, accountability, equitable access, and equitable funding—provide opportunities that our students need and deserve. 

Families with financial means in America have always been able to choose the school that is best for their child, by moving to a certain part of town or by sending their children to private schools. But most American families do not have that opportunity. The school in their neighborhood may fall short in meeting their child’s needs in any number of ways—but they’re stuck. 

Our nation’s history of redlining to separate both housing and schooling based on race and income, along with local zoning ordinances that restrict and confine affordable housing, alongside the recent wave of “school district secessions” by higher-income neighborhoods, have compounded the problem. Our nation’s children often live in neighborhoods just a short distance from each other but worlds apart in terms of school quality. This is unacceptable. Every child deserves school options where they will learn and thrive. 

That is why today we are calling on policymakers across the nation to end the destructive debates over public charter schools. Proposed caps and moratoriums allow policymakers to abdicate their responsibility to thoughtfully regulate new and innovative public school options: like banning cars rather than mandating seatbelts. They are a false solution to a solvable problem. 

The backlash against school choice, the demand to halt charter expansion, comes from an outraged public that supports their community public schools.

Only 6% of the students in the U.S. attend charter schools, most of which perform no better than or much worse than public schools. An even smaller number of students use vouchers, even when they are easily available, and the research increasingly converges on the conclusion that students who use vouchers are harmed by attending voucher schools.

The claim that poor kids should get “the same” access to elite private schools as rich kids is absurd. Rich parents pay $40,000-50,000 or more for schools like Lakeside in Seattle or Sidwell Friends in D.C. The typical voucher is worth about $5,000, maybe as much as $7,000, which gets poor kids into religious schools that lack certified teachers, not into Lakeside or Sidwell or their equivalent.

Perhaps Chiefs for Change should advocate for for housing vouchers worth $1 million or more so that poor families can afford to live in the best suburban neighborhoods where “families with financial means” live.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

What this press release really means is that the advocates of privatization know that the public is turning against them.

That’s good news.

The public wants to invest its tax dollars in strong, equitable public schools that meet the needs of all students, not in ineffective charters or vouchers that divert money from community public schools.

The reason that parents and teachers are giving Nick Melvoin a rating on YELP is in response to his plan to rate teachers, mainly by the test scores of their students.

Jeb Bush invented the template for grading schools from A-F, based mainly on their test scores. It became a convenient way to close public schools and turn them over to charter operators. It is an dumb idea for many reasons, because schools are complex institutions with many staff and many functions. Students are not randomly assigned.

In state after state, school grades reflect the proportion of needy kids enrolled. The lowest scores go to schools with high proportions of students who are poor, don’t speak English, and have special needs. Schools with the greatest challenges are wrongly labeled an stigmatized as “failing schools.”

So now Los Angeles is considering a school grading scheme in which most of the grades will depend on standardized test scores.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-13/lausd-schools-ranked

Even the Los Angeles Times ridiculed this bad idea.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-08-16/grading-los-angeles-schools

According to documents obtained by Times reporters, the proposed measurement system, which hasn’t come before the board yet, would include a rating for each school on a scale of 1 to 5, based mostly on test scores. In the case of elementary and middle schools, the scores themselves and students’ improvement on them would make up 80% of the ranking. In high schools, it would be 65%, and since the state’s annual standardized test is given in only one grade in high school, it would show nothing about whether any particular cohort of students is improving on the tests as they move from 9th to 12th grade….

But what’s wrong might not be the quality of the teaching or the running of the school. The reality is that students in some neighborhoods face considerably more challenges of poverty, family disruption and the like, and those issues often affect their academic performance and test results.

Charter schools and magnet schools draw their enrollment from parents who go out of their way to find out about different schools and who have the time and ability to sign up their children for possible acceptance. Even if those students are poor and enter school not yet knowing English, they tend to have a leg up on students whose parents are less involved, perhaps because they’re ill or working too many jobs. Neighborhood schools shouldn’t be made to look comparatively bad over factors they can’t control.

Why is Los Angeles copying Jeb Bush’s bad ideas?

 

Jan Resseger writes here about the difference between Superintendents who understand the importance of collaborating with and respecting the community they serve, and the Superintendents connected to Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, who believe in state takeovers and imposing their views on their communities. She might have added the Brodie’s to the latter category, those who are “graduates” of the Broad Superintendents Academy. The BS Academy teaches Eli Broad’s corporate-style of Top-Down management.

She writes:

There is an ongoing battle of values and language that shapes the way we think about and talk about education.  The current threats across several states of state takeover of school districts are perhaps the best example of this conflict.  According to the Chiefs for Change model, the school district in Providence has recently been taken over by the state of Rhode Island.  Texas now threatens to take over the public schools in Houston. In Ohio, four years of state takeover has created chaos in Lorain and dissatisfaction in Youngstown.  East Cleveland is now in the process of being taken over, and the Legislature has instituted a one-year moratorium while lawmakers figure out whether to proceed with threatened takeovers of the public school districts in Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Canton, Ashtabula, Lima, Mansfield, Painesville, Euclid, and North College Hill.

Among the most painful situations this summer is the threatened closure of the high school or the state takeover of the school district in Benton Harbor, Michigan, a segregated African American community and one of the poorest in the state.  Michigan has actively expanded school choice with charter schools and an inter-district open enrollment program in which students carry away their school funding. The statewide expansion of charters and inter-district school choice has undermined the most vulnerable school districts and triggered a number of state takeover actions.  Michigan State University’s David Arnsen explains: “In Michigan, all the money moves with the students. So it doesn’t take account of the impact on the districts and students who are not active choosers… When the child leaves, all the state and local funding moves with that student. The revenue moves immediately and that drops faster than the costs… In every case they (districts losing students to Schools of Choice) are districts that are predominantly African American and poor children and they suffered terrific losses of enrollment and revenue….”

Benton Harbor—heavily in debt and struggling academically—has been threatened with state intervention like Inkster, Buena Vista, Highland Park, and Muskegon Heights—whole school districts which were closed, charterized, or put under emergency manager control by former governor Rick Snyder.  Now the new Governor Gretchen Whitmer has threatened to close the high school in Benton Harbor or eventually close the district.

If your superintendent supports state takeovers, mass firings, replacing public schools with charter schools, or other corporate management strategies, he is not on the side of your community.

 

John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, posts frequently about education in his state.

 

Last week, National Public Radio’s Alexandra Starr first reported on Florida’s mandatory retention of 3rd graders who don’t pass a reading proficiency test. Even though it is stigmatizing for children to be retained, and “multiple studies have found that flunking a grade makes it much more likely students will fail to graduate from high school,” the high stakes testing law has spread to about 40 percent of states.

States Are Ratcheting Up Reading Expectations For 3rd-Graders

NPR’s Starr draws on experts like Pedro Noguera, Nell Duke, and Diane Horm, while explaining how short-term benefits of 3rd grade retention “dissipate over time.” She also cites Marty West, a Big Data researcher who sidesteps the anxiety imposed on children and pressure on teachers to increase pass rates through ill-conceived instructional practices, and says that Florida’s well-funded mandatory retention law doesn’t hurt students’ graduation rates. Neither does West address states like Oklahoma, with chronic underfunding of education.And that leads to the first slippery slope created by Florida’s willingness to scale up punishments for young children and their teachers in order to improve student performance. At least it invests more than $130 million per year on its reading sufficiency act. When Oklahoma legislators, who were often persuaded by Jeb Bush’s public relations campaign, passed its reading act, they intended to invest $150 per struggling reader, but they only came up with $6 million, which was enough for only about $75 per student. It took six years to find money for about $153 per student.

For First Time, ‘Read or Fail’ Law Is Fully Funded. Will It Reduce Retentions?

In NPR’s second report focusing on Tulsa Ok., Starr shows the benefits of well-funded, holistic pre-kindergarten instruction. Oklahoma and edu-philanthropists fund such classes for 4-year-olds; nearly 3/4ths of Oklahoma students enroll in pre-k. And, next door to a comprehensive pre-k partnership, the majority-Hispanic Rosa Parks Elementary School illustrates the promise of partnerships for improving public schools. It is a part of the Tulsa Union community school system which so impressed David Kirp that his New York times article that featured Rosa Parks was entitled “Who Needs Charters When You Have Schools Like These?”  Oklahoma Among States Setting Higher Reading Expectations For 3rd-Graders

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/opinion/sunday/who-needs-charters-when-you-have-public-schools-like-these.htmlA Rosa Parks elementary teacher explained the dilemma schools face regarding kids who aren’t on track to pass the high stakes 3rd grade test, “Very early on, we have to put them on a plan if we think that they’re going to be held back in third grade for a test.” Unfortunately Starr didn’t have time to dig into those plans the way that Oklahoma Watch’s Jennifer Palmer has done. It leads to the second slippery slope created by high stakes testing for 3rd graders.

Palmer cites a librarian who explained, “‘RSA allows two years of retention, and two years in third grade would be worse,’ she said. ‘They would be completely destroyed.’” And that raises the question about the risks educators can/must take in order to not completely destroy their students.

The Oklahoma Watch’s study of federal data showed that 2,533 3rd graders were retained in 2015-16. Worse, she found that “repeating a grade is actually more common in kindergarten and first grade,” and “the high-stakes third-grade test appears to drive many of the early retentions.”  Oklahoma retained 3,977 kindergarteners, and a total of 10,345 students in the kindergarten through 2ndgrades.

These retentions were not evenly spread across the state. Next door to Tulsa Union, the Tulsa Public Schools, for instance, has about 2-1/3rds as many students as Union. The TPS retained 823 students through kindergarten and second grade, or more than 4-1/3rds as many. We can only hope that the edu-philanthropists who fund worthy early education programs, as well as their opposite – the corporate reform policies of Deborah Gist’s TPS – will realize how and why those two approaches are the antithesis of each other..

Palmer also touched on the third slippery slope when she explained the benchmark assessments that are used in predicting failure on the end-of-year tests. She writes, “Schools also rely on computerized benchmarking programs to glean more information on students’ skillsets and how they compare to other students their age.” But, to say the least, they are “not an exact science.” This leads to crucial, potentially life-changing and risky decisions being made by parents and teachers using data on a computer screen that they acknowledge they don’t understand.

Lastly, the dehumanizing slide down into systems where the punitive is seen as normal, even for our youngest students, might or might not have been predictable. Twenty years ago, the reward and punishment of kindergarteners would have seemed despicable. Market-driven reform may have begun as a way to force teachers to comply. Then it was dumped on teenagers. Now, when such stressful incentives and disincentives are imposed on 5-year-olds, it doesn’t seem surprising to read Big Data studies that claim that those who fail tests in the states with the most funding for competition-driven reform may not be damaged as much as previously thought …