Archives for category: U.S. Department of Education

Gary Rubinstein entered teaching via Teach for America, but unlike most TFA recruits, he made teaching his career. He is also TFA’s most incisive critic, sometimes a critical friend, other times a critic of TFA hypocrisy.

In this post, Gary deconstructs TFA’s statement on Trump’s nomination of choice zealot Betsy DeVos. TFA, like other reform organizations, is in a dilemma because they want to be on the side of social justice, but they also want to be on the side of the new administration, which will be very good indeed for TFA. More charters mean more jobs for young recruits. Billions of dollars for school choice are heading the way of the “reformers,” and it is hard for them to seem sad about that. Gary wishes the TFA statement had included a few good words on behalf of public schools and on behalf of teachers. It didn’t.

The TFA statement includes 11 policy priorities, and Gary analyzes each of them. He wishes TFA had called on DeVos to stop the teacher bashing. It didn’t. He wishes it had called on DeVos to protect the funding of public schools while promoting choice. It didn’t.

Read the whole post for links and analysis.

Gary concludes:

Accountability has been used as a weapon to fire teachers and close schools throughout the country based on highly flawed metrics. Obama and Duncan did a lot of damage with this one and maybe TFA feels that they used it in a fair way, even if I don’t. But that same weapon in the hands of Trump and DeVos should be something that TFA should be concerned about. I don’t think that this was something that TFA needed to ask the new Secretary to be vigilant. Based on the contempt she has shown for public schools and teachers over the years, it’s pretty clear that DeVos will use her power to try to make it even easier to fire teachers and close schools. This could have a negative effect on not just all the TFA alumni who are still working in public schools, but also for the ones who are at the few charter schools that try to keep their most needy students and whose test scores suffer for it. In the bigger picture, I think that having DeVos too strong on accountability will negatively affect so many students in this country.

Finally there’s policy number nine about using “evidence and data” to ‘drive’ “teacher improvement and development over time.” This is code for trying to use test scores and value-added metrics to rate teachers, no matter how inaccurate those metrics are.

More telling than the policies TFA chose to include on this list is the ones they chose to exclude. Knowing that DeVos is planning to use her power to divert funds from the public schools (and charter schools too) for vouchers for private schools, perhaps TFA could have asked that she not cut funding to schools. Knowing how much contempt DeVos has shown toward public school teachers, TFA could asked her not to bash teachers so much. Knowing that DeVos has funded reform propaganda sites like Campbell Brown’s The Seventy Four, TFA could have suggested that she spend time in public schools and see what great work is being done.

There’s a lot they could have said to help stave off the at least four year battle everyone in non-charter schools is going to have to fight daily. Instead they padded their valid concerns about discrimination with a bunch of reform code.

Of their nine policies that TFA is urging DeVos to consider (three of the eleven are basically saying, make schools safe for all students), six of them are things that she was already on board with. It’s the TFA way of saying “We are already in agreement with you on most things so you can trust us and work with us to help you out in general.” They seem to care more about their own survival and the continuation of Duncan’s reform strategies than they do about the potential damage that the Trump / DeVos duo can wreak on the children of this country.

Mercedes Schneider reports that Jerry Falwell Jr. was offered the job as Secretary of Education before Betsy DeVos.

Trump, never known in the past to be a man of religious faith, shows how little importance he attaches to education.

First, the unqualified Falwell, then the unqualified DeVos.

Mitchell Robinson is a professor of music education at Michigan State University. He writes here about the Betsy DeVos that the people of Michigan know, the one who wants to monetize education spending and voucherize the schools so that families can spend their education dollars wherever they want.

 

Robinson writes:

 

The news that Donald Trump has named Betsy DeVos as his choice for Secretary of Education is just another brick in the wall for Mr. Trump’s plan to turn the US into a giant flea market, selling off the bits and pieces of a once great nation for parts to the highest bidders.

 

I had to laugh in recent weeks as folks set off alarms at the rumors of Michelle Rhee or Eva Moskowitz being appointed to this position. The truth is Rhee and Moskowitz are mere amateurs at this school privatization scheme. For Pete’s sake, Ms. Moskowitz still spends her days actually stepping foot in to schools in NYC, terrorizing students and teachers. And Rhee, a former Teach for America recruit, whose “go to” classroom management technique was taping the mouths of her reluctant “scholars”, has been in hiding after a disastrous run as Superintendent of DC’s schools, an experiment that ended in failure for all concerned, and threatened to dim the rising star of the corporate reform movement–until recently, when she and her icky hubby reemerged for a photo op at Trump Tower.

 

Betsy DeVos, on the other hand, is a pro at this game. And unlike Rhee and Moskowitz, who depend on the kindness–and financial backing–of others, Betsy has the financial wherewithall to bankroll her own plans. Like her new boss, Ms. DeVos–allegedly–won’t be beholden to any “special interests” in her efforts to turn our public education system into a Sotheby’s auction.

 

Rest assured, also, that unlike Ms. Moskowitz, Betsy DeVos hasn’t been spending any of her valuable time in…”schools” lately, and certainly hasn’t been close enough to a real, live student to tape them up–even though I’m sure she approves of Ms. Rhee’s approach to building a safe and welcoming classroom learning environment. No, Ms. DeVos has been busy dreaming up new ways to capitalize on the billions of taxpayer dollars currently being wasted on children, teachers, and schools, and helping her puppet in the Michigan governor’s residence with his plan to destroy the state’s schools.

 

Remember, Michigan is the state where the Governor poisoned the water in one of the city’s largest cities, and more than 400 days later has still refused to replace a single water pipe. And the state whose lawyers recently claimed–and I swear I’m not making this up–that the state’s children had no “fundamental right to literacy.”

 

This is Betsy DeVos’ and Rick Snyder’s dream for how a state should govern–that a state and its elected officials have no responsibility to provide clean drinking water or a quality education for its children. It’s a dystopian vision of the future that absolves a state’s leaders and institutions from providing, maintaining, repairing, and supporting its schools, roads, water systems, and infrastructure, or protecting its most vulnerable citizens from the permanent damage caused by a poisoned water supply.

 

So, if you want to know what our new federal education policy is going to look like under Secretary DeVos, what has happened in Michigan under Gov. Snyder–and bankrolled and supported by the DeVos family–provides perhaps the best example of what to expect…

 

Robinson tells the story of the “skunk works,” which was a secret gathering of Snyder allies intent on turning public schools into “a virtual bonanza for profiteers.”

 

The idea behind the “skunk works” plan was to radically increase the use of technology (i.e., virtual charters, online classes) to dramatically reduce the number of teachers needed, and to decouple tax dollars from schools by providing every student in the state with an “education debit card” that could be used for a wide range of educational experiences (i.e., music lessons, art classes, sports teams).

 

The ultimate goal here was to create a new “value school” model in the state, delivering schooling at a per-student cost of roughly $5000, over $2000 less than the average reimbursement provided by the state for each child enrolled in a district’s schools–with “edupreneurs” pocketing the balance. For Snyder and DeVos, the purpose of education is not to help develop a more informed and educated citizenry, or to help children to become more fully human by providing a comprehensive, high quality curriculum, including music, art, and physical education in addition to the rest of the disciplines. The purpose of education under Snyder and DeVos is to turn the state’s once excellent system of public schools into an educational WalMart, boasting “low, low prices” in place of quality instruction….

 

Ms. DeVos is the perfect ideological mate for Mr. Trump: neither seems concerned with allowing petty little things like rules, regulations, or ethics get in the way of them pursuing their agendas. The Constitution only applies to the “little people,” not the billionaire “deciders” who will make the rules in the Trump administration.

 

Betsy DeVos was the absolute worst possible choice for Secretary of Education, so it’s no surprise that Trump chose her for this cabinet post. Her appointment is much closer to Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist than it is to his choice of Reince Preibus as Chief of Staff. One is a party insider who will make the “trains run on time”: the other is an arsonist who would happily burn the train station to the ground.

 

Betsy DeVos’ mission is no less than the total destruction of public education. Her apparent support for charters is merely a head fake to the right to distract us from for her ultimate goal of “decoupling” state and federal dollars from supporting schools of any type.

 

Under Secretary of Education DeVos we will see the emergence of a two-tiered educational system:

 

One, a system of elite private and religious schools for well-to-do, mostly White parents with the means to afford expensive tuition payments, staffed by qualified, certified teachers, with a rich curriculum based on face-to-face instruction in clean, safe, well-maintained schools…

 

The other, a parallel system of “fly by night” virtual and online “schools” that open and close seemingly at random, and for-profit charters operated by scam artists like Northern Michigan’s Dr. Steve Ingersoll, with little to no state or federal regulation or oversight, and a bare bones, “back to the basics” curriculum delivered by unqualified and uncertified “teachers”.

 

I’m guessing that the leadership at Teach for America is practically salivating today.

 

For the rest of us, welcome to the Hunger Games of public education….

 

Betsy DeVos needs to hear, loudly and clearly, that her cynical, selfish, profit-focused vision of public education isn’t constitutional; it’s predatory.

 

Her approach is not that of an educational leader; it’s that of a vandal.

 

Tell her that these are OUR public schools, and we value them and need them. And that we won’t let her, and her new Boss, destroy them.

 

A few days ago, I said that I support Michigan billionaire and hard-right voucher advocate Betsy DeVos, because she would show the world that “reformers” are out to destroy our public schools. No ambiguity there. She would demonstrate the close link between “reform” and the rightwing.

 

But I hereby formally withdraw my support for DeVos’s candidacy. To be sure, it was meant in jest, but many readers failed to see the humor in supporting someone who would totally privatize education.

 

Why am I withdrawing my support? Well, I just learned that DeVos has more flaws than I thought. Not only does she want all children to have vouchers (charters apparently are a fall-back form of privatization for her), she opposes any regulation or oversight for the private schools she supports. When the Michigan legislature made an attempt to create some oversight for charter schools, DeVos spent over $1 million to block the effort, and she won. In Michigan, 80% of the charters operate for-profit, without regulation or oversight, and DeVos is happy with that. The scandals and waste of taxpayers’ dollars don’t concern her. I also object to her because she supports the Common Core. My reasons for opposing the Common Core are different from that of people on the Trump team. I oppose them because they were imposed without a field trial, without any evidence that they were good standards. I oppose them because I oppose standardization in education. I oppose developmentally inappropriate demands on young children. If any teacher loves them, use them, but they are not and never will be national standards, nor will they reduce achievement gaps. If anything, they increase  the gaps and reduce achievement.

 

So, sorry, Betsy, you are not my choice.

 

Who is my choice? Glad you asked that question. I support Williamson (Bill) Evers, whom I have known for nearly 20 years. He is not mean, unlike some of the other candidates. He is at heart a libertarian and won’t shove federal policies down everyone’s throats. He is the only choice Trump might make that would do the least harm.

Reading politico.com’s daily education brief today is like being trapped in a nightmare and wishing you could wake up. In this case, it is not a bad dream, it is an ugly reality with familiar faces intent on giving public dollars to private and for-profit schools. Add to that the reports of students fearful for their future, and the outlines of an frightening new world emerge.

Politico reports that Indiana’s approach to school reform–based on privatization–will guide the Trump education reformers. The key to Trump reform is diverting public dollars to charters–including for-profit charters and virtual charters–and vouchers for religious schools.

http://www.politico.com/tipseets/morning-education/2016/11/hoosier-policies-head-to-washington-217478

HOOSIER POLICIES HEAD TO WASHINGTON: The same players who sparked intense education battles in Indiana – and transformed schools in the Hoosier State – are poised to enact those policies on a national stage. Just as George W. Bush brought Texas-style accountability to the Education Department and President Barack Obama tapped Chicago basketball buddy Arne Duncan, Donald Trump’s education policies are expected to reflect the Indiana imprint of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Already, three Hoosiers key in shaping Indiana’s school choice landscape are considered contenders to serve as Trump’s education secretary: Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University; former Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett; and Rep. Luke Messer, a former state representative who served as executive director for School Choice Indiana when the state’s 2011 school choice law was passed under Daniels’ watch. Indiana ties also played a role in Trump’s selection of the campaign staffer who helped him craft his $20 billion school choice plan that encourages vouchers and charter schools: Robert Goad, an aide on loan from Messer.

– Pence used his platform as Indiana governor to aggressively expand a voucher program that allows taxpayer money to flow to religious private schools. Pence also pushed for more charter schools, and choice has now become a defining element of Trump’s vision for education. Indiana’s voucher program allows nearly 33,000 students to go to private school on the public’s dime – making it the single largest voucher program of any state in the country. John Jacobson, dean of Teachers College at Ball State University, said the state’s voucher program hasn’t been around long enough to fully understand the long-term impact. Because of that, Jacobson said, “I would hope they are cautious at the national level.” Has Indiana’s voucher program been a positive change for families? “If you were to ask a parent who received a voucher to a school of their choice, they would say yes,”Jacobson said. “For the general public, I think it’s been difficult for the public to accept, taking public dollars and allocating that to private entities.”

Bennett, you may recall, was at the center off a grade-fixing scandal. The grades of a charter school founded by a major campaign contributor were mysteriously increased by adjusting the formula for calculating grades. Bennett was defeated in his bid for re-election as state chief in Indiana, but quickly hired by Florida as chief (he is a protege of Jeb Bush). He resigned as chief in Florida after the grade-fixing scandal broke.

For many of us who believe in the importance of public education, the Obama administration was a great disappointment. The President is a man of great dignity, but he gave the Department of Education to the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and John Podesta’s Center for American Progress. Race to the Top prioritized truly dreadful policies that closed schools, evaluated teachers by test scores (because Bill Gates liked the idea, not because of any evidence that it was right to do so), encouraged states to open more privately managed charter schools, and made data and test scores the heart and soul of education. President Obama may have been great in many other policy arenas, but on education, his Race to the Top was (in my view) a flop. With the support of the Obama administration, the public became familiar with the claim that school choice advances civil rights, despite clear evidence that school choice accelerates segregation by race, religion, and social class.

Now the U.S. Department of Education has commissioned a study to evaluate Race to the Top. Peter Greene here reviews this study by two of our leading research institutes that asks and answers the question: Did Race to the Top Work?

Of course, your reading of the study depends on what “work” mean?

Did RTTT succeed in getting most states to authorize charter schools or increase the number of charter schools in the state? The answer is yes.

Did it incentivize most states to adopt a test-based evaluation of their public school teachers? Well, yes, it did.

Did it encourage states to close schools and fire teachers and principals when test scores were low? Yes indeed.

Did RTTT make high-stakes testing the central way of measuring American education and the ultimate goal of education? Yes.

Voila! It “worked.”

But Peter wonders if implementation of bad ideas is really the best way to define “works”?

He begins:

Did Race To The Top Work?

Not only is this a real question, but the Department of Education, hand in hand with Mathematica Policy Research and American Institutes for Research, just released a 267-page answer of sorts. Race to the Top: Implementation and Relationship to Student Outcomes is a monstrous creature, and while this is usually the part where I say I’ve read it so you don’t have to, I must confess that I’ve only kind of skimmed it. But what better way to spend a Saturday morning than reviewing this spirited inquiry into whether or not a multi-billion-dollar government program was successful in hitting the wrong target (aka getting higher scores on a narrow, poorly-designed standardized reading and math tests).

Before We Begin

So let’s check a couple of our pre-reading biases before we walk through this door. I’ve already shown you one of mine– my belief that Big Standardized Test scores are not a useful, effective or accurate measure of student achievement or school effectiveness, so this is all much ado about not so much nothing as the wrong thing.

We should also note the players involved. The USED, through its subsidiary group, the Institute of Educational Sciences, is setting out to answer a highly loaded question: “Did we just waste almost a decade and a giant mountain of taxpayer money on a program that we created and backed, or were we right all along?” The department has set out to answer a question, and they have a huge stake in the answer.

So that’s why they used independent research groups to help, right? Wellll….. Mathematica has been around for years, and works in many fields researching policy and programs; they have been a go-to group for reformsters with policies to peddle. AIR sounds like a policy research group, but in fact they are in the test manufacture business, managing the SBA (the BS Test that isn’t PARCC). Both have gotten their share of Gates money, and AIR in particular has a vested interest in test-based policies.

[As someone who worked in the U.S. Department of Education many moons ago, I know that the folks who get millions to evaluate federal government programs tend not to be overly critical or they might deal themselves out of future contracts for evaluations. There is a large number of inside groups in D.C. who live for government grants, known as Beltway Bandits.]

He continues:

And right up front, the study lets us know some of the hardest truth it has to deliver. Well, hard of you’re a RTT-loving reformster. For some of us, the truth may not be so much “hard” as “obvious years ago.”

The relationship between RTT and student outcomes was not clear. Trends in student outcomes could be interpreted as providing evidence of a positive effect of RTT, a negative effect of RTT, or no effect of RTT.

Bottom line: the folks who created the study– who were, as I noted above, motivated to find “success”– didn’t find that the Race to the Top accomplished much of anything. Again, from the executive summary:

In sum, it is not clear whether the RTT grants influenced the policies and practices used by states or whether they improved student outcomes. RTT states differed from other states prior to receiving the grants, and other changes taking place at the same time as RTT reforms may also have affected student outcomes. Therefore, differences between RTT states and other states may be due to these other factors and not to RTT. Furthermore, readers should use caution when interpreting the results because the findings are based on self-reported use of policies and practices.

Hmm. Well, that doesn’t bode well for the upcoming 200 pages.

Peter then proceeds in his jolly and inimitable fashion to evaluate the evaluation. And it does it for free!

Did it misdirect the goals of American education? Did it cause a national teacher shortage? Did it demoralize experienced teachers and cause an exodus of talented teachers? Did it help grow the charter movement? Did the charter movement sap resources from public schools? Those question were not part of the “scope of work.”

Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy invited me and several others to submit questions for John King’s press conference at the National Press Club. I was interested in knowing what he thought about the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on new charter schools until there were assurances of accountability and unless they stopped diverting resources from public schools. You will note that Secretary King continued his full-throated advocacy for more charters and said that it was up to states to make the rules. Not only does he completely ignore the existence of the nation’s public schools, not only does he disregard the NAACP, he intends to keep shoveling hundreds of millions of federal dollars to new charter schools with no expectation of accountability or transparency.

Husseini wrote:


Some of the questions I got from folks were asked at the “news maker” event with Education Secretary John King at the National Press Club yesterday. Here are those questions — as asked by the moderator, which may be slightly different than how they were submitted — along with King’s responses. Here’s full PDF. Here’s full video. (Part of the first question here was from Diane Ravitch, as was the last question, below. The middle question was from my partner, Emily Prater, who is a third grade teacher at a Title I school in Washington, D.C.

MR. BALLOU: Charter Schools. You’ve said, “What I worry most about is we have some states that have done a really great job with charter authorizing and so have generally high quality charters and have been willing to close ones that are underperforming. On the other hand, you have states who’ve not done as good a job, 17 places like Michigan. We have a history of a low bar for getting a charter and an unwillingness to hold charters to high standards. What’s your view on where charter authorizing should be by the time you leave office, and how do you plan to get there? As someone who cites your own education in New York for saving your life and trajectory, and what of non-charter public schools? For some time, one of the arguments against charters was over resources about charters getting better resources than public education.

And there’s actually a second question sort of tied to this. A few days ago, the NAACP’s national; board called for a moratorium on new charter schools until laws are revised to make charters as accountable and as transparent as public schools. Do you agree with them, that charter schools should meet the same standards of accountability as public schools? And if you do, will you stop funding new charter schools as they recommend?

SECRETARY KING: So, let me start with this. We are fortunate, I think, as a country to have some high performing charters that are doing a great job and providing great opportunities to students. Charters that are helping students not only perform at higher levels academically, but go on to college at much higher rates than demographically similar students and succeed there. That’s good, we should have more schools like that and I think any arbitrary gap on the growth of high performing charters is a mistake in terms of our goal of trying to improve opportunity for all kids.

That said, where states are doing a bad job on charter authorizing, that has to change. You know, I’ve talked about the example of Michigan. We have states that have set a low bar for getting a charter, and then when charters perform poorly, they fail to take action to either improve them or close them, which is the essence of the charter school compact. Charter schools were supposed to be a compact, more autonomy in exchange for greater accountability. And yet, some states have not followed through on that compact. That is a problem.

Now, those decisions are made at the state level, they’re made based on state law. What we’ve done in the administration over the last eight years is two things. One is we’ve provided resources to improve charter authorizing in states and worked with states to strengthen their practices around reviewing the quality of charters, reviewing the quality of charter applications.

And two, we’ve invested in increasing the supply of great high performing charters. But, to the extent that what folks are saying is they want states to do a better job on charter authorizing, I agree. But where we have states that are doing a good job on charter authorizing and we have charters that are doing great jobs for kids that want to grow, they should be able to. And I think this is an issue where we’ve got to put kids first. We’ve got to ask what’s best for the students and parents.

As Arne would often point out, students and parents aren’t as concerned about the governance model as they are about is my child getting a quality education? We’ve got to be focused on that, which is one of the reasons why I think arbitrary caps don’t make sense, is we shouldn’t limit kids’ access to great opportunities.

MR. BALLOU: A lot of teachers have been writing. (Laughter) What do you propose to do about the equality of pay between teachers and administrators, for example, like yourself? One teacher says, “I worked 12 hours yesterday, I didn’t have time for lunch. Did you have time for lunch? I make $47,000 a year. How much do you make,” which of course is public record. “I can’t go to the bathroom when I need to. Can you go to the bathroom when you need to? And please don’t talk about how great teachers are. We don’t need empty rhetoric. We need resources, we need policies that actually help us teach, not help profiteers.” How do you– a pretty upset teacher there.

SECRETARY KING: Yeah, look. I think we see across the country, we see states that have not made the investment they should in their education system. We did a report earlier this year, the department, looking at the difference in state investment in prisons versus K-12 education. And what we found is that we see over the last 30 years rate of increase in investment spending on prisons that is three times as high as the rate of increase in spending on K-12 education.

That suggests to me that as a society, we haven’t put our resources where we should. So, are there states that should be spending significantly more on teacher salaries? Absolutely. And should we be paying more to teachers, especially teachers who are willing to serve in the highest needs communities and the highest needs fields where we have real demand? Absolutely. And the President’s proposed that. The President proposed a billion dollars for an initiative called Best Job in the World that would support professional development, incentives, career ladders for teachers who teach in the highest needs communities.

So we agree about the need for more resources and focusing those resources on teachers. One of the places I worry most about is in early leaning. We did a study on preK pay and found that in many communities around the country, pre-K teachers are making half what they would be making if they were working in an elementary school, which again suggests that our priorities are not right.

So this is a place where I agree with the questioner, we need to invest more resources in educators. We should pay our teachers very well because we know that teachers are essential to the future of our country. And we need to make sure the working conditions are good. It’s not just a question of teacher pay. I think of a place like Detroit, you know. If the water is leaking from the ceiling and there are rodents running across the floor, those working conditions are not ones that are going to make teaching a profession that people want or a profession people will want to stay in over the long term. And so we’ve got to make sure that working conditions are strong.

And the final point I’d make, is this is one of the reasons that supplement, not supplant, is so important because if you consistently under-resource the highest needs schools, the result will be poor working conditions in those schools and the inability to retain the great teachers that our highest needs students need.

MR. BALLOU: We’re running quickly out of time. Had an issue with one of your senior staff who had to resign over waste fraud and financial abuse. Have you been able to clean up the issues in the Inspector General’s office?

SECRETARY KING: So, this is about an employee in our IT department who made mistakes and was accountable for those mistakes, chose ultimately to resign. He’s no longer with the department. We have a very strong team around our IT and we are very focused, as folks are across the administration, on continuously strengthening cyber security. This is actually cyber security awareness month. Just came from a cyber security convening at the department this morning. We’re very focused on making sure that our IT systems are as strong as possible, that we protect the security of data. And that we insure that we’re providing good services.

So for example, Collegescorecard.ed.gov is a tool that we’ve built and through our investment in the strength of our IT systems, and work across the administration to leverage technology on behalf of taxpayers and students, Collegescorecad.ed.gov allows students to find information about every college, to find out about their graduation rates, how much people make who’ve graduated from that school, how able folks who’ve graduated from that school are able to repay their loans. It’s a great tool that we’ve made available and that is continuously evolving to try to provide services.

So IT is really a strength now of the department. But as is true across– for any employer, there are sometimes employees who make mistakes and we have systems in place to insure that that’s dealt with.

Brilliant reader Chiara, who lives in Ohio, wrote this timely observation:

“U.S. Education Secretary John King on Wednesday weighed in on a swirling schools controversy, criticizing what he called “arbitrary caps” on the growth of high-quality charter schools, publicly funded but, in many cases, privately operated K-12 schools in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Appearing at the National Press Club, King said the USA is “fortunate, I think, as a country, to have some high-performing charters that are doing a great job providing great opportunities to students — charters that are helping students not only perform at higher levels academically, but go on to college at much higher rates” than students at similar neighborhood public schools. “That’s good. We should have more schools like that, and I think any arbitrary cap on that growth of high-performing charters is a mistake.”

Obama Administration continues their 8 year practice of advocating exclusively for charter schools and completely ignoring the existence of public schools.

King’s statement is nonsense. He has it backward. Obama and DC REQUIRED states to arbitrarily lift caps on charter schools regardless of quality in order to receive federal money. They made no distinctions on ‘quality’ or which states- they cheerled every single charter school expansion in all 50 states.

They just handed 71 million dollars to expand the worst charter sector in the country in Ohio. They weren’t even aware that Ohio’s charter sector is a disaster.

This isn’t about “quality”. It’s about an ideological preference for privatized schools and outright hostility to existing public schools and it permeates DC.

None of these people ever talk about improving public schools. It is all charters all the time in the echo chamber. They couldn’t be bothered to act as advocates for public schools when state after state gutted funding during Obama’s terms. Not a peep out of any of them. But, threaten charter schools and the whole gang rises up in anger!

Ridiculous that they’re all public employees. Public employees who oppose public schools. They should find work in the private sector.

Secretary of Education John King refuses to believe that the new federal law restricts his ability to control U.S. education. Today he released regulations that would threaten the federal funding of teacher education programs if their graduates teach low-scoring students.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, blasted King’s overreach and poor judgment

AFT’s Weingarten on Teacher Preparation Programs Regulations

“WASHINGTON—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the Department of Education’s final regulations for teacher preparation programs.

“It is, quite simply, ludicrous to propose evaluating teacher preparation programs based on the performance of the students taught by a program’s graduates. Frankly, the only conceivable reason the department would release regulations so out of sync with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and President Obama’s own call to reduce high-stakes testing is that they are simply checking off their bucket list of outstanding issues before the end of their term.

“The final regulations could harm students who would benefit the most from consistent, high-quality standards for teacher preparation programs. The regulations will create enormous difficulty for teacher prep programs and place an unnecessary burden on institutions and states, which are also in the process of implementing ESSA.

“Instead of designing a system to support and improve teacher prep programs, the regulations build on the now-rejected high-stakes testing system established under NCLB and greatly expanded under this administration’s Race to the Top and waiver programs. It’s stunning that the department would evaluate teaching colleges based on the academic performance of the students of their graduates when ESSA—enacted by large bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate last December—prohibited the department from requiring school districts to do that kind of teacher evaluation.

“Teacher prep programs need to help ensure that teachers are ready to engage their students in powerful learning and creating an environment that is conducive to learning. These regulations will not help achieve that goal. These regulations do not address ways to help the current status of the teaching profession: the shortages, the lack of diversity or the high turnover.

“While the department has made minor tweaks, the flawed framework remains the same. The regulations will punish teacher prep programs whose graduates go on to teach in our highest-needs schools, most often those with high concentrations of students who live in poverty and English language learners—the exact opposite strategy of what we need. As we brought up in January 2015—in our comments to the department’s proposal— if programs are rated as the department proposes, teacher prep schools will have incentive to steer graduates away from assignments in our toughest schools, and that will only make matters worse.

“If we want to get it right, we should look to countries like Finland, where prospective teachers receive extensive training in their subject matter and teaching strategies combined with clinical training. Finland has no alternative prep programs. Programs are highly selective and free of cost; their graduates go on to work in supportive, professional environments with strong unions, fair pay and benefits, and without high-stakes testing.”

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Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, said to be a progressive worked out a deal where his state will get $71 million in federal funds, with oversight by the charter-loving US Department of Education. As readers of this blog know, Ohio has large numbers of low-performing charters and some of the worst for-profit charters in the nation.

“Sen. Brown said various measurements will be used in oversight by DOE to monitor how the money is spent. If Ohio doe not satisfactorily comply with the conditions, he said federal officials can suspend or terminate the grant. “They [DOE] know a lot more now than before,” he said, adding, “The days of the federal government throwing money around is over.”

And here is the oversight entrusted to John King:

ED will require the Ohio Department of Education to:

Hire an ED-approved independent monitor to oversee the Ohio Department of Education’s implementation of the special conditions ED has placed on its grant;

Create a database that indicates public charter schools’ academic, operation, and financial performance;

Submit expenditure documentation to ED for review and receive approval for all withdrawals from the grant account;

Submit semi-annual budgets to ED for review and approval;

Submit to ED and post publicly semi-annual financial reports related to the use of the grant; and

Form a Grant Implementation Advisory committee of parents, teachers, and community members to create transparency.