Archives for category: Hoax

Vicki Cobb has written many science books for children.

She writes:

I write science books for children. People are confused about what science is.

Is it a body of knowledge?

Yes, one that has been growing incrementally and exponentially for the past 500 years.

How is this knowledge accumulated?

By experimental procedures that are verifiable by others and corrected by others.

It is produced by a community and is the original wiki. Why do some people distrust science?

Partly because much of it is non-intuitive or counter intuitive.

Why should we believe that the earth circles the sun, when it looks like the heavens circles us? What is its value that no other discipline has? It predicts with accuracy.

It doesn’t need to be believed in. For those who are questioning our faith in science when it comes to the course of this pandemic, they may be dead before they learn that they are wrong.

Keith E. Benson is president of the Camden (New Jersey) Education Association. In his view, the underlying goal of the charter industry is gentrification, and he worries about its long-term implications for his community and its families.

He writes:

Admittedly [my] fight for Camden’s public schools is personal. Both my grandmothers were teachers, numerous aunts, and two of my uncles were employees of the District where I, myself, taught before becoming president of the city’s teacher union in 2017. My daughter goes to school here and has since she was three. My wife went to school here until her freshman year of high school, and she grew up here. We all live here now. Because of such deep and intimate connections I have with this public school district and city, anything that threatens the sustainability is triggering.

The planned dismantling of our public-school system coupled with a massive redevelopment effort dubbed “Camden Rising”, reduces merely existing here in the future to a tenuous proposition for many working class and poor residents. For generations of Camden’s current residents, and new arrivals here from Latin America, this city is one of the last affordable places in New Jersey folks can reside. Redevelopment after all, is not singularly about buildings and urban spaces, but also demographics. Municipal redevelopment always has a human cost; and those often left footing the bill through rising rents and displacement are typically those who can least afford it.

The deliberate dismantling of urban school districts as witnessed in Chicago, Philadelphia , Atlanta, Newark, NYC and other urban localities is central to remaking cities and courting new potential residents. As covered in Education Reform and Gentrification in the Age of #CamdenRising, what is taking place in Camden now, is no different than what we’ve seen unfold across America. If places that were once affordable for the impoverished and working class, cease to be affordable, what happens to them? Where do they go? How do they fare? As such I have developed a disdain for anything that threatens the tenuous sense of tranquility and order those at the margins may have – with residential housing, and the right to exist in their domicile being central to that sense of order. As such, I recognize the dismantling of urban school systems as more than simply a takeover of buildings and upending of staff, but as central to neoliberal cities’ efforts to separate from vulnerable populations they deem undesirable.

Which brings me to Reason Number 1 as to the Problems I have with the Education Reform Community: Their Committed Ignorance that Urban Education Reform aka “School Choice”, through Dismantling Public Schools is More Subversive than Simply Improving Educational Trajectories for Students of Color.

To be clear, I am making a distinction between parents who send their children to charter schools, and the platformed (Black) Education Reform Proponents. I recognize that parents in many cases are trying to do what they believe is best aligned with their living situation, and for their child. This critique is NOT for them. (In fact, to be clear, it is my position that it is a parent’s responsibility to do what they deem best for their child, including deciding what school is a good fit for them.)

The Education Reform establishment however, refuses speak to, and remains unconcerned about, the connection between low income housing, rental rates and the dismantling of urban public schools low income housing, rental rates and the dismantling of urban public schools. Worse yet, while occupying ample space on the internet, social media, and in top newspaper’s Op/Ed columns, they also never make such connections known to the largely ignorant (and trusting) public while advocating for the destruction of urban schools; never mention the connection between real estate prices and the establishing of charter schools; and never mention how the existence of urban schools labeled “failing” frustrates development in keeping rent and taxes low, while keeping potential gentrifiers out. In Reformers’ advocacy, urban schools have no connection to neighborhood affordability worth mentioning, future availability of affordable housing for students and their parents. As such, they have actively chosen to keep their focus on the “quality schools” talking point. They are willfully deceptive, or negligently myopic in focusing solely on schools as if students’ output is not impacted by the housing uncertainty which initiates greater student mobility, family transience, and increasing student homelessness. increasing student homelessness.

It is my contention that if Education Reformers really cared about school quality, they’d recognize that schools are indicators of larger urban policy priorities. Schools are building charged with educating observant children who arrive with experiences and awareness that may not prioritize learning content as their first concern. Afterall, what is more fundamental to anyone’s sense of security and normalcy than their right to a secure space to sleep and call “home”? My suspicion is not that allies of the reform movement aren’t aware of this, it’s that they don’t care because all along, it was never really about the kids and their learning in the first place.

Donald Trump is in charge of the nation’s response to the coronavirus, which may or may not become a global pandemic. He oversees the Centers for Disease Control, whose spokesperson warned that it was no longer a question of if but when the virus would affect the U.S. Trump sought to reassure the public by putting VP Pence in charge of coordinating federal agencies that are involved, despite the fact that Pence has a long record of belittling and ignoring science.

At a rally in South Carolina, Trump said the coronavirus is a hoax invented by Democrats and the liberal media to make him look bad.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — President Donald Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation.

He blamed the press for acting hysterically about the virus, which has now spread to China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy and the U.S, and he downplayed its dangers, saying against expert opinion it was on par with the flu.

The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They’re politicizing it,” he said. “They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.”

Then Trump called the coronavirus “their new hoax.”

Trump’s comments came as the White House has struggled to adequately respond to and contain the coronavirus’s increasingly sweeping path. At the rally — held here on the eve of the Democratic primary in South Carolina — he sought to manage Americans’ expectations about the White House’s ability to fight it.

By undermining the news reporting on the virus and by trying to hold liberals responsible for a potential public health crisis that has little to do with politics, Trump did what he often does best: He sought to deflect blame at a time when many Americans sought leadership and scientific facts.

Trump portrayed his efforts to close the southern border as the best response to coronavirus, even though the virus originated in China.

His treatment of the coronavirus as a political issue whipped up by Democrats contradicts the judgment of every international public health organization and guarantees that he has no plan or personnel to prepare for the spread of the disease. Actual people are dying. But Trump has repeatedly cut the budget and personnel of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes for Health. He thinks he is still playing the host of ”The Apprentice.”

Trump is not only a danger to democracy but a danger to our lives.

Strange as it may seem, the best education reporter in New York City works for Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. Her name is Susan Edelman, and she regularly reports on what is happening in the city’s schools without fear or favor. Unlike the New York Times, where reporters cycle in and out of the education beat, Sue has been writing on the subject for many years.

One of her best articles appeared in 2011, when she revealed the source of the non-existent “New York City Miracle.”

The title: “New York’s School Testing Con.”

Mayor Bloomberg trumpeted the 2009 scores as proof of the success of his mayoralty, as proof that the Legislature was wise to give him total control of the school system, and as reason #1 to re-elect him to a third term (which broke the City Constitution’s two-term limit).

Edelman began:

In a stunningly short time, from 2006 to 2009, New York schools celebrated what was presented as a tremendous turnaround. The number of city students passing statewide math tests in the third through eighth grades surged from 58% to 82%. At the same time, the Big Apple graduation rate rose from 49% to an all-time high of 63% last year.

The figures were miraculous.

They were also, for the most part, a lie.

While the scores have risen, real achievement has lagged. Behind the curtain, an erosion of standards has led to a generation of New Yorkers who have been handed high school diplomas but can’t handle the rigors of college or careers.

A new state report finds just 23% of city grads leave high school ready to succeed in college or the work world. About 75% who enrolled at CUNY community colleges flunked the entrance exam, and must take one or more remedial classes in math, reading and writing.

Many blamed State Commissioner Richard Mills, who set graduation standards so high that he had to lower the bar or face the possibility that most students would not get a diploma.

But others saw a coverup of huge proportions when the 2009 scores went through the roof. In response to the spectacular scores, Regent Betty Rosa asked,

 “Why are we celebrating these scores as a miracle, when there is no miracle?” Rosa said she asked.

Another insider said Big Apple officials were urged not to “exaggerate” the results. But Mayor Bloomberg hailed the increase in 2009 as an “enormous victory.” At the time, he had a lot riding on the scores — he was seeking a third term and pushing for legislation to extend mayoral control of the schools.

City officials “got very angry,” the insider said, when Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch publicly downplayed the results, citing “troubling gaps” between the stellar state scores and lackluster outcomes on national exams.

Mills has maintained the scoring was backed by his panel of experts. But Rosa and other members of the Board of Regents say he kept them in the dark.

“I basically asked, ‘Who sets the cut scores? How is this determined?’ ” said Rosa, who joined the board in 2008. “There was no real explanation. I never got a straight answer.”

Mills and his testing chief, David Abrams, had rebuffed requests in 2008 to investigate the inflation. Faced with a lack of confidence, Mills was “encouraged” to leave in June 2009, insiders said. He declined to comment last week, saying, “I have nothing to add.”

Many city students soon discovered their Big Apple diploma was little more than a piece of paper.

Jasmine Gary, 18, a graduate of Port Richmond HS on Staten Island, was surprised when she scored a 70 on the Regents math exam.

“I don’t know how I passed, because I failed a lot of math classes,” she said.

She applied to CUNY but bombed on the entrance exam. Now she’s required to take a no-credit, $75 remedial class at Borough of Manhattan Community College, but is catching up. “I learn more here,” she said.

Rossie and Angely Torres, 18-year-old twins from The Bronx, earned 76 and 75 respectively on the math Regents at Philip Randolph HS in Harlem. They, too, take remedial classes at BMCC.

“In high school it was just people talking and the teacher would just give us an assignment. It was just to graduate. But here, people work hard and the teacher is more serious,” Rossie said.

Former Chancellor Joel Klein, who left office several months ago to join News Corp, which owns The Post, declined to be interviewed. But he defended his eight-year record via e-mail sent by a city DOE spokesman.

“We’ve long called for higher standards and . . . we still made real gains,” Klein said.

For instance, city fourth-graders have boosted their scores on national reading tests since 2003, though eighth-grade scores have remained flat.

And NYC has outpaced the state’s other big cities, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers, the DOE says. In 2002, New York City’s fourth-grade math results were 27% lower than the statewide average, while the other four cities showed a 31% gap. In 2008, New York City was just 8% behind the rest of the state, while the “big four” were 25% behind.

But the more spectacular results have vanished.

The Board of Regents commissioned a study, led by Harvard professor Daniel Koretz, which concluded in 2009 that the statewide grades three-eight tests had become too easy. Mills’ successor, David Steiner, recruited for his experience in teacher development as dean of Hunter College of Education, was charged with making the 2010 tests more comprehensive and less predictable. He also hoisted the cutoff points, requiring students to do more to pass.

Scores plunged. Just 54% of all city students in grades three-eight showed proficiency in math tests last year, compared with 82% in 2009. Reading proficiency citywide fell from 69% to a dismal 42%.

Even so, the tougher tests continued the practice of giving “partial credit” for wrong answers — or no answer at all — if the kids showed some understanding of the concept or did one step right.

On the fourth-grade test, for instance, a kid who answered that a 2-foot-long skateboard is 48 inches got half-credit for adding 24 and 24 instead of the correct 12 plus 12. “They were giving credit for blatantly wrong things,” said a teacher hired to score the tests.

A state report released this month delivered a new blow. It found that most kids who earn less than 75 on the state Regents English test or 80 on the math exam — 65 is passing for both — must take remedial classes before starting college.

That 65 score is misleading as well. It’s based on an adjustable scale — and the state has whittled down the points needed to pass. Back in 2003, students had to get 61.2% of math questions right for a 65 score, the minimum required for a Regents diploma, and 50.5% of questions right for a 55 score, enough for a “local diploma.” Today, students need just 30 points out of a maximum 87 — or 34.5% — to get a 65 score.

“When Johnny or Jenny comes home with a 65 or 70, their parents might think they’ve mastered about two-thirds of the material. In fact, it’s slightly more than a third,” said Steve Koss, a retired city math teacher who has railed against the bloated test scores. “Sadly, most parents don’t understand how the scoring works. If they knew the truth, many would be outraged at what amounts to a fraud perpetrated against them by state and local education officials.”

Last month, the state launched a shorter English Regents exam, cutting it from two days to one, six hours to three, and four essays to one. Instead of three other essays, kids have to write two “well-developed paragraphs.”

To bring matters to the present, the Regents are now debating whether to retain or discard their storied exams, which students must pass to graduate.

But that’s a topic for another post.

A front group for the California Charter Schools lobby, which calls itself “Families and Teachers United,” released a flyer that attacked school board member Scott Schmerelson, a pro-public school member of the LAUSD school board and well-qualified educator. Schmerelson has been endorsed by every Democratic club in Los Angeles.

The scurrilous flyer accuses him of investing in mutual funds that include products that are harmful to children (tobacco). Anyone whose pension is invested in large mutual funds knows that individual shareholders do not choose the stocks in the fund’s portfolio. My own pension fund includes companies I find abhorrent and there’s nothing I can do about it.

The flyer accuses Schmerelson of “double dipping” because he collects a pension for his decades of service as an educator in the LAUSD schools and a salary as a board member, like other board members.The flyer does not mention that board salaries were increased in 2017 based on the recommendation of an independent commission.

Should he give up his well-earned pension? Of course not! Should he refuse to take the same salary as other board members? Of course not!

Who paid for this vile, lying, unethical anti-Semitic ad?

Ad paid for by Families and Teachers United, sponsored by California Charter Schools Association Advocates. Committee major funding from
Charter Public Schools PAC
Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.
Funding details at http://www.fppc.ca.gov.

This may be the most expensive school board election in LA history, even though the billionaires have no ideas other than charter schools. None.

Who are they? Blogger Sara Roos names names. 

How about full public disclosure of the income and investments of the billionaires who fund the CCSSA?

Sara declined to reproduce the flyer, so as not to give more visibility to this trash.

Methinks the charter billionaires  are angry at Scott for telling the public that more than 80% of LA’s charters have empty seats.

Schmerelson, a man of unblemished integrity, responded to the anti-Semitic flyer with a statement denouncing the depths to which the charter lobby is willing to sink. He notes that the group that produced the flyers by the billionaire Waltons and Reed Hastings.

The election is March 3 but early  voting has started.  VOTE  FOR SCOTT SCHMERELSON!

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Laura Chapman writes:

“EdReports, an independent curriculum review nonprofit, rates curriculum on three gateways: Text Quality, Building Knowledge, and Usability. Amplify CKLA earned a green rating in all three.”

This should not be regarded as a trustworthy endorsement. Here is Why. Recall that the Common Core State (sic) Standards were first marketed as if they were not intended to be about curriculum (but they were), because the owners of the CCSS soon offered up “publisher’s criteria” for curriculum materials (2011). Those criteria morphed into a system for reviewing curricula, based on absolute compliance with the CCSS, including grade-by grade alignments. In 2013, the initial criteria for reviewing curriculum materials for compliance with the CCSS were called “drop dead” (meaning comply with these criteria or do not waste the time of reviewers). A year later, the language was softened to the idea that materials had to meet “gateway” criteria (2014), but with the same meaning,—comply or else the reviewers will not bother to look at anything else.

By 2015, the promoters of the CCSS had set up a non-profit called EdReports.org to function in the capacity of a consumer-reports of newly published math and ELA materials. The purpose was to rate publications that claimed to be in compliance with the CCSS.

EdReports is said to be the result of a meeting at the Annenberg estate of “the nation’s leading minds in math, science, K-12 and higher education.” I have not been able to find a list of participants in that meeting or the sponsors, but in 2014 professionals in branding and communications were hired to promote EdReports. You can see the strategy and their pride in getting coverage in national news, http://www.widmeyer.com/work/edreports-org.htmlincluding from Peter Greene at http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/search?q=EdReports

In August 2015 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $1,499,988 to EdReports for operating support followed in 2016 with $6,674,956 for operating support. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation gave EdReports.org $1.5 million in 2015 and $2 million in 2016.

Ed Reports.org is also funded by Broadcom Corporation (Board member from Broadcom is with EdReports), the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Overdeck Family Foundation, the Samuel Foundation, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation.

You can find more about the quest for absolute continuity from the writing of the CCSS, largely funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to current efforts to impose “approved curriculum materials” for any state that has adopted the CCSS… https://www.edreports.org/about/index.html

EdReports is a Gates funded review process initially marketed to ensure that “approved” curriculum materials were in compliance with the common core. Any curriculum materials that did not pass muster with three gateway “drop dead criteria” would not be subjected to further review.

Amplify does not want you to know the history of this phony system of rating materials. Bob Shepard has offered another excellent history of this absurdly wrong effort to standardize ELA curriculum.

I see that Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of Education, has found a position at Amplify. She also serves on the board of Gates’ relatively new lobby shop. She is not competent to make judgments about education, but that seems to qualify her to be a crony of the disrupters who will do almost anything to please a billionaire.

Domingo Morel is a professor of political science at Rutgers University who has studied school takeovers across the nation. He is the author of Takeover: Race, Education, and American Democracy. 

In this post, he describes the proposed state takeover of the Houston Independent School District as a hoax. 

It is a manufactured crisis. It is a theft of political power, and it is based on race.

If the state of Texas had its way, the state would be in the process of taking overthe Houston Independent School District.

But a judge temporarily blocked the takeover on Jan. 8, with the issue now set to be decided at a trial in June.

The ruling temporarily spares Houston’s public school system from joining a list of over 100 school districts in the nation that have experienced similar state takeovers during the past 30 years.

The list includes New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Oakland and Newark. Houston is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the U.S.

While the state of Texas claims the planned takeover is about school improvement, my research on state takeovers of school districts suggests that the Houston takeover, like others, is influenced by racism and political power.

States fail to deliver

State governments have used takeovers since the late 1980s to intervene in school districts they have identified as in need of improvement. While state administrations promise that takeovers will improve school systems, 30 years of evidence shows that state takeovers do not meet the states’ promised expectations. For instance, a recent report called Michigan’s 15-year management of the Detroit schools a “costly mistake” because the takeover was not able to address the school system’s major challenges, which included adequately funding the school district.

But while the takeovers don’t deliver promised results, as I show in my book, they do have significant negative political and economic consequences for communities, which overwhelmingly are communities of color. These negative consequences often include the removal of locally elected school boards. They also involve decreases in teachers and staff and the loss of local control of schools.

Despite the highly problematic history of state takeovers, states have justified the takeovers on the grounds that the entire school district is in need of improvement. However, this is not the case for the Houston takeover because by the state’s own standards, the Houston school system is not failing.

By the state’s own standards, the Houston Independent School District is not failing!

Although the state has given the Houston Independent School District a B rating, it plans to take over the Houston schools because one school, Wheatley High School, has not met state standards for seven years. According to state law, the state can take over a school district or close a school if it fails to meet standards for five years.

The Houston Independent School District has 280 schools. The district serves over 200,000 students. It employs roughly 12,000 teachers. Wheatley High School serves roughly 800 students and has roughly 50 teachers.

So why would a state take over a school district that has earned a B rating from the state? And why base the takeover on the performance of one school that represents fewer than 1% of the district’s student and teaching population?

The takeover is nothing more or less than a bald-faced attempt to strip political power from black and Hispanic communities.

No one believes that software developer Mike Morath (the current state commissioner) has a single idea about how to improve Wheatley or any other school. He has never been a teacher, a principal, or a superintendent. He is there to carry out the rightwing agenda of Governor Gregg Abbott.

Count on it. This is a bald-faced power grab.

During the Clinton administration, Congress enacted a program called EB-5, which promised green cards to foreign investors who put their money into job-creating projects. One of those designated projects for foreign investors was charter schools. Give a lot of money, invest in charter school construction, get a green card.

The middle-men quickly figured out how to make this exchange pay off in profits.

Example: a charter school in North Carolina that won $3 million from foreign investors (six green cards), but has accumulated staggering debt.

The Center for Immigration Studies tells this sordid tale:

We have suggested in the past that the combination of the loosely run charter school movement with the loosely managed EB-5 immigrant investor program shows every sign of being a disaster for everyone involved(students, teachers, and taxpayers) — except for the middlemen.

They usually do just fine, thank you.

We have been following, among others, the case of one specific charter school in the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C., where until recently the state government has been, at the very least, more lax than most states in its supervision of charter schools.

This is a school in which six (probably Chinese) aliens have invested $500,000 each in the hopes of getting a family-sized set of green cards through the Homeland Security-managed EB-5 program. It is the Lakeside Preparatory Academy in Cornelius, N.C., sometimes known as the Lakeside Charter Academy, and as Thunderbird Preparatory Academy, Inc.

Financial Background. The struggling school opened a few years ago with four financial handicaps:

  • As we recorded in some detail, the campus had been sold, and resold and resold, apparently never at arms’ length, among Utah-based firms, some with the same postal address, so that several middlemen made major profits as its paper value moved up from $1.3 million to $9.5 million — despite a real estate assessment, for tax purposes, of $3.3 million (there was also a couple of million dollars worth of remodeling done during this time);
  • Somewhere along the way, the campus’ landlords collected $3 million from the alien investors which helped underwrite the aforementioned profits;
  • There was a falling-out among the middlemen that resulted in the school accepting a $450,000 judgment against it, a sum it had to borrow; and
  • Much of this debt remains, and is subject to a 20 percent interest rate (public school debt rarely exceeds 2 percent or 3 percent).

Bear in mind that the campus is owned by a for-profit entity in Utah, which had the advantage of the EB-5 funding; the school itself, though apparently controlled by the landlord, is a non-profit entity, and receives tax moneys for the education it provides.

In this dismal setting, a recent audit found that the school lost $103,875 in the 2017-2018 school year, and then a loss of $292,463 in the more recent 2018-2019 school year. The most recent loss occurred while the school reported a gross income of $983,091, down from a gross of $1,252,807 the prior year. So the gross was falling and the loss rising. At the end of the last school year, the cumulative loss was $363,471.

The Prospect of Bankruptcy. If one reads the audit carefully — what follows is not stressed anywhere — one finds that during the most recent school year the school paid the Utah landlords only some $23,000 in rent, and that in its current year it is obligated to pay 25 percent of its gross or, if the experience of the most recent year is to continue, $246,522, or about $223,000 more in rent than the previous year, which, if income and expenses remain the same, would suggest a loss in the current year of well over $500,000.

This would mean that the school went from about $100,000 in losses, to about $300,000 in losses the most recent school year, to more than $500,000 in losses for the current year.

Given those prospects, how in the world will the EB-5 investors get their money back?

The True Numbers. What we have reported above reflects the most recent audit by Rives & Associates, a North Carolina CPA firm. Local critics of the audit say that even these grim numbers do not reflect the dire state of the school.

We have a copy of an invoice, for example, that shows that the non-profit school owed the for-profit landlord (Lakeside Charter Holdings LLC) $1,720,503 at the end of the 2018-2019 school year; the date that debt is due is not shown, this debt is about double the school’s entire income for that year, and it apparently is not recorded in this audit. What we do see, on p. 14 of the audit is this, perhaps Delphic, statement: “Some liabilities, including bonds payable and accrued interest, are not due and payable in the current period and therefore are not reported in the funds.”

So, discounting a bit of auditing sleight of hand, the true debt of the school — with about 100 pupils — is well over $2 million!

It may well be in the interest of the landlord, and of the EB-5 middlemen, to seek to hide the true level of the school’s debt.

With all this in mind, EB-5 investors should look carefully at the proposed investments, and they should look at least twice if a charter school is involved.

The EB-5 program calls for 10 new jobs to be created by each $500,000 investment; since charter schools do not create jobs (they just take them away from the public schools), it is hard to agree with the underlying DHS decision to accept any charter school investment as appropriate in the EB-5 program.

One can only hope that the taxpayers will not be forced to bail out this little school.

The following statement was released on New Year’s Day by Community Voices for Public Education, a coalition of parents and students in Houston. As their statement demonstrates, the state takeover is a fraud intended to strip the school district of its elected school board and to replace it with a hand-picked governing board selected by a non-educator who wants to privatize public education.

 

It is New Years’ Day and public education is on our minds.

Will you make a commitment to fight the immoral, unAmerican and racist takeover of HISD?  Call your elected officials and then bring five friends with you to the January 9 rally opposing this takeover. 

Recently, the Houston Chronicle editorial board used misleading facts and misrepresentation to misinform its readers. The Chronicle seems mission-driven to legitimize the state takeover of HISD no matter the cost to its journalistic integrity or actual facts.

When they do this over three editorials, it is no longer an accident; it is propaganda. 

Here are some examples from the most recent editorials.

HISD at a crossroads: Looming State Takeover: The editorial compared HISD’s 81% graduation rate to Dallas’ 88% and Fort Worth’s 87% leaving the reader with the impression that they were better school districts.  The reality is Fort Worth has a TEA 2019 Accountability Rating of “C”(79) and only 53% of their graduates are college, career or military ready versus HISD’s “B”(88) and 63% graduate readiness. Dallas ISD has a “B” (86) rating and only 57% of their graduates are college, career or military ready. By the TEA’s own standards HISD is the better district. How did the Houston Chronicle and Mr. Morath manage to come to a completely different conclusion? Didn’t any of them bother to check the Texas Schools website? https://txschools.gov 

HISD must learn from others and our own past:  This editorial starts with the statistic of 56% of HISD students not meeting grade level expectations as measured by the STAAR test but it never mentions that Dallas ISD has the exact same STAAR performance rating as HISD. Once again, the Chronicle incorrectly leaves readers with the impression that Dallas is a better school district. (Source https://txschools.gov

HISD needs improvement, but where to start? How could the Chron fail to mention the Superintendent? The person who actually runs the district. The person who hires and places the all important principals. The person who would have to actually implement the LBB recommendations. This piece misleads the reader into thinking the Board of Trustees run the district. They don’t! They are a governing body elected by us and accountable to us. If the state takeover proceeds, our democratically elected school board members, four just elected, will be replaced with a board of managers serving at the pleasure of the governor and the TEA.

A call to all Houstonians to participate: In its final editorial in the series, the Chronicle asks us to put blind faith in TEA Commissioner Mike Morath as our unelected torchbearer. His educational experience is one term as Dallas ISD Trustee in which he unsuccessfully tried to turn Dallas ISD into a “home rule” giant charter using the same tactics he is now employing in Houston ISD. Truly, his resume is thinner than most substitute teachers. 

Throughout the series, the Houston Chronicle disregards overwhelming evidence that state takeovers harm students and communities. They also turn a blind eye to the fact that takeovers have been used disproportionately against school districts of color. Furthermore, they have ignored a preponderance of evidence that high stakes testing is a flawed method for evaluating students, teachers and schools. 

And the series pays the barest lip service to poverty/inequity and the effect on children and families. When seven children share one mattress, they do not need a state takeover to do better in school; they need six more mattresses.

If the Editorial Board wanted to facilitate meaningful change in HISD, their editorials should have been grounded in complete facts and they should have used data to inform, not obfuscate. There is no such thing as problem solving through propaganda.

Community Voices for Public Education
http://www.houstoncvpe.org/

 

I just opened my email and discovered this brilliant post by Audrey Watters, whose critical voice on EdTech is indispensable.

Watters lists the 100 biggest EdTech debacles of the past decade, and seeing them all in one place is astonishing.

What strikes me is the combination of unadulterated arrogance (i.e., chutzpah), coupled with repeated failures.

What is also impressive are the number of entries that were hailed by the media or by assorted journalists, then slipped quietly down the drain, without impairing the reputation of the huckster who took the money and ran.

Again and again, we encounter EdTech start-ups and innovations that are greeted with wild acclaim and hype, but whose collapse is ignored as the parade moves on to the next overpromised miracle technology.

Whatever happened to the promise that half of all courses in school would be taught online by this year (false) or that most colleges and universities would die because of the rise of the MOOC (false)? Why do virtual charter schools make money even though they have horrible outcomes for students (lies, lies, lies)?

This post is stuffed with flash-in-the-pan technological disruptions that planned to “revolutionize” education, from K-12 through higher education but then tanked.

Please read it. Share it with your friends and colleagues.

Lessons: Learn humility. Believe in the power of human beings, not machines designed to replace them. Don’t let them sell you stuff designed to control the brains, emotions, and social development of students. Be wary. Be skeptical. Protect your privacy and the privacy of children.

Protect your intellectual freedom.

Read Audrey Watters.