Archives for category: Bush, Jeb

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 …     

 

Governor Gina Raimondo is a bona fide neoliberal  who is part of the DFER clique, having been a hedge fund manager herself.

She recently selected Angelina Infante-Green as State Commissioner of Education. Infante-Green is a member of Jeb Bush’s cohort of Future Chiefs for Change. Now that she is a State Commissioner, she will qualify to join the big boys and girls as a full-fledged member of Jeb’s Club.

Chiefs for Change support privatization and high-stakes testing. It is Jeb’s vehicle to spread Florida’s failed model, whose ultimate goal is the elimination of public schools, unions, and professional teachers.

 

Jeb Bush created an organization called Chiefs for Change, whose original membership consisted of state superintendents who shared Jeb’s ideas: high-stakes testing, evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, school grades of A-F, and school choice (charters and vouchers).

Chiefs for Change has now become a clearinghouse for district superintendents.

You can be sure that anyone recommended by Chiefs for Change is dedicated to disrupting and privatizing your district.

Here are some of the district superintendents that Chiefs for Change points to with pride.

Lewis Ferebee, the new Superintendent of the schools of the District of Columbia.

Susana Cordova, the new Superintendent of the Denver schools.

Jesus Jara, Superintendent of the Clark County (Nevada) Schools. Nevada’s State Commissioner Steve Canovera is a member of Chiefs for Change.

Donald Fennoy, Superintendent of Palm Beach County, Florida.

Deborah Gist, Superintendent of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Schools, along with Andrea Castenada, the district’s “chief innovation officer.”

There are more.

This is the Jeb Bush pipeline, the leaders committed to his vision of disruption and privatization. Of course, you won’t find those two words on Jeb’s website, but those are the results of his convictions, and the proof of those convictions can be found in Florida, the state whose education policy he has controlled for 20 years.

Valerie Jablow, parent activist and blogger in D.C., wrote a scathing indictment of the leadership of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

She is sure that the districts leaders are actively undermining public schools–a policy of benign neglect– and promoting charter expansion.

A few weeks ago, the D.C. Public Charter School Board [sic] approved five new charter schools, despite the large number of empty seats in both public and private charter schools.  Only one of the new charters will locate in Anacostia, the city’s highest poverty district.

Many of the public schools enrolling students with high needs are suffering devastating budget cuts. At the same time, the Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn testified that the city was “over investing” in these same schools. She notes that the Deputy Mayor sends his own child to an expensive private school where it is just fine to “overinvest” in education.

Chancellor Lewis Ferebee was hired away from Indianapolis, where he was actively collaborating with those who supported the privatization of public education. Now he oversees the harsh budget cuts inflicted on D.C.’s public schools, while declaring that more seats are needed for charter schools. Conditions are so bad in many of the district’s public schools that students are literally being pushed out of public schools and forced to seek “choices” other than their neighborhood public schools.

Chancellor Ferebee is a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, which actively promotes vouchers, charter schools, and high-stakes testing.

And here is a voice in the D.C. wilderness, a teacher and Vice Chair of the Ward 7 Education Council, calling for a moratorium on charters in D.C., because they open and close at will and have no allegiance to their community, nor do they fill any need. Venola M. Rolle wrote in a letter to the Washington Post:

Stories regarding sudden closures and substandard performance justify a moratorium on establishing charter schools in this city. I do not know what information could be more damning. It’s time to have an open discussion about how to cease the proliferation of charter schools in the city and, instead, devise approaches to strengthening the schools we already have and that are the anchors of our communities.

With the current leadership of D.C., its mayor, its deputy mayor for education, and its chancellor, that discussion is not likely to happen.

 

Peter Greene read an unusually annoying article in the Detroit News that showed just out of touch the authors are.

Michigan is a state that went overboard for school choice, thanks to former Governor John Engler and the billionaire DeVos family.

Michigan has dropped down to the bottom of NAEP, as scores have collapsed for every group.

Jeb Bush arrives to tell Michigan what they need to do is double down on their failed strategies. More choice. More testing. More accountability. More threats. More punishments.

Bush claimed that these strategies worked in Florida but they didn’t.As Greene notes, fourth grade score went up only because the state holds back third graders who don’t pass the third grade reading test. By eighth grade, students in Florida are at the national average.

Who aspires to be average?

Things are so bad in Michigan that average looks good. It is not.

Florida has a large teacher shortage, about 10,000 at last count. Under the tutelage of Jeb Bush, the Florida Legislature has made testing and privatization the centerpiece of state education policy, while treating public schools and their teachers as enemies for almost 20 years. Florida holds public schools to strict accountability, based on test scores, but imposes no accountability for the religious schools that get vouchers, and showers state money on charters. The Legislature seems to be intent on replacing public schools with charters (half of which operate for-profit) and vouchers and replacing teachers with computers.

This teacher from Polk County has had enough. 

Shanna L. Fox writes:

Stand Up and Fight – An Open Letter of Resignation
There is no business model that can fix education. Students are not products and services that can be quantified. They are living, breathing human beings and their complexity cannot be reduced to cells on a spreadsheet.
Each child comes with their own set of needs, strengths, and abilities. Teachers must be provided the freedom to address those in the way that they professionally know is best based on their training and education.
My expertise is in a Language Arts classroom, so this is what I see most clearly. Students can analyze the hell out of a text. But testing has chipped away at the time teachers have to help their students write to inspire, write to express, write to create, write to change the world. Because what matters, in today’s education system, is one single way of writing. The thing is, our students are whole people, and this only provides them a chance to show a tiny sliver of who they are.
It’s not only Language Arts, though. This toxic testing nightmare has stripped students of the opportunity to foster their creativity in every single subject area. Children are being denied the right to express themselves in their own unique ways. They yearn for the chance to be artistic and imaginative, to be inspired and inspire others, and to innovate and build and solve. They are capable of more than simply working toward a test score. They deserve more.
And it is time for me to stand up and fight for them and the profession I love.
After twenty years, the decision to resign did not come easily. In fact, it has taken me two months to process and collect my thoughts and to muster up the courage to share them here.
Leaving my stable, secure career as a classroom teacher was risky. I was willing to risk everything because giving it all up feels like freedom in comparison to the restriction in which I was living.
My decision to walk away was not impulsive. It was years in the making. I almost walked away last year. I almost walked away two years ago. When I finally gained the courage, it wasn’t the administration, the school, or the students. And it certainly wasn’t my wonderful colleagues. None of those things drove me away. Instead, I was battle weary from years of working in a broken system. And honestly, I could not face another testing season.
I thought this transition would be more difficult than it has been. I thought I would be devastated and depressed. But I haven’t been. Now, I realize why. The truth is, I have been grieving the loss of my profession for years. I was grieving the time I used to have to foster meaningful relationships with my students. I was grieving a time when I was trusted to teach well, based on my training and knowledge. I was grieving a time when student creativity was valued over a test score.
But that simply isn’t the reality anymore. 
Over the past six years, I changed grade levels, campuses, and roles. I even returned to the school that felt like “home” with the people who I consider family. I searched tirelessly for the thing that would reignite my passion for teaching and renew my sense of hope for the future of the public school system. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find it. 
And I’m not alone. This has been called a silent strike – teachers exiting the profession prematurely or retiring early. But I, for one, will not leave silently. Although I can no longer work within this broken system, I will stand and fight from where I am now. I will work to fix it.
I am not writing to encourage others to leave teaching. This was a personal, individual decision that I made to preserve my physical, mental, and emotional health. But if you do decide to walk away, as I did, please do not be silent. If you’ve already exited or retired early, for your very own unique reasons, please speak up. This shouldn’t be a silent strike. It should be the loudest protest of all time because speaking up for public education is speaking up for our children and, quite frankly, for the foundation of our democracy.
To my colleagues who continue to work for change within their classroom walls, I am standing by your side. I support you. I know you are doing what is best for your students, even with mounting pressures, longer task lists than ever before, and mandates upon mandates. I applaud your strength and dedication. I can’t wait to meet Bella’s amazing teachers during her upcoming journey as a public school student. I hope they are just like you.
To my former students, you are the reason I stayed for twenty years. As a teacher, I learned so much from you. And now, I marvel at your continued success, your ability to achieve your dreams, and your capacity to tackle the obstacles of life. I was proud of you then, and I am proud of you now – every single day. 
To the Polk Education Association, I thank you for your tireless efforts to quell the overwhelming tide of negativity. I know that you fight tooth and nail for every single right, benefit, and dollar that PCPS employees get. I am proud to have been a member of the union. I may not be working from the inside anymore. But I will be here, battling right alongside you. After all, you’re the ones who taught me how.
I’ll be honest. When I was a Polk County Public Schools employee, I didn’t take a stand each time there was an opportunity to do so. But I know that I did not take this career risk to sit on the sidelines and watch.
I’m standing now.
I am standing for our students.
I am standing for our teachers. 
I am standing for public education.
In solidarity,
Shanna R. Fox