David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post has written a series of stories about the Trump Foundation. He reported that Trump has put any money into his foundation since 2008; that he collects contributions from other people and then makes splashy donations, claiming credit even though the money did not come from him. Fahrenthold then learned that Trump owed some business debts and used the money in the foundation to pay them off, which lawyers may call “self-dealing.” The foundation is currently under investigation by the New York State Attorney General.

Today, the Washington Post excoriated Trump for the campaign’s response to Fahrenthold’s stories, which raise serious legal and ethical questions. The letter assailed the reporter for his “bias,” slammed his articles as full of factual errors and omissions, but did not bother to mention a single fact or omission in Fahrenthold’s reporting.

This seems to be Trump’s style. If you can’t answer the question, smear the person who raised it. You can anticipate that any question about his actions or words will be answered with an attack on Clinton or Obama or both. Watch him as he deflects and blames. The letter in this post is a good example of that strategy.

Peter Greene read a new publication from the U.S. Department of Education that is chock-full of useless and redundant information.

He sums it up:

Okay, listen carefully boys and girls, because this is some pretty heavy-duty stuff. Here’s the process for implementing evidence-based interventions:

1) Figure out what problem needs to be solved
2) Pick a solution that looks like it would work
3) Get ready to implement the solution
4) Implement the solution
5) Check to see if it worked

Oh, and there’s a graphic– five balls in a circle with arrows pointing from one to the next. I think I speak for Americans everywhere when I say thank God there are federal bureaucrats out there willing to provide us with this kind of hard-hitting guidance, because God knows, we would all be out here spinning our wheel randomly. Granted, I’ve translated the Department’s guidance into what I like to call “Plain English,” but I am absolutely stumped as I try to imagine who was sitting in DC thinking that this needed to be published. Was someone sitting in the Department saying, “You know, I bet people don’t understand that they should pick out solutions that will fit the problem. They’re probably picking some other solution. Probably a bunch of school districts out there thinking they need a new math series to get their reading scores up. We’d better address this. Oh, and add a graphic.” , listen carefully boys and girls, because this is some pretty heavy-duty stuff. Here’s the process for implementing evidence-based interventions:

1) Figure out what problem needs to be solved
2) Pick a solution that looks like it would work
3) Get ready to implement the solution
4) Implement the solution
5) Check to see if it worked

Oh, and there’s a graphic– five balls in a circle with arrows pointing from one to the next. I think I speak for Americans everywhere when I say thank God there are federal bureaucrats out there willing to provide us with this kind of hard-hitting guidance, because God knows, we would all be out here spinning our wheel randomly. Granted, I’ve translated the Department’s guidance into what I like to call “Plain English,” but I am absolutely stumped as I try to imagine who was sitting in DC thinking that this needed to be published. Was someone sitting in the Department saying, “You know, I bet people don’t understand that they should pick out solutions that will fit the problem. They’re probably picking some other solution. Probably a bunch of school districts out there thinking they need a new math series to get their reading scores up. We’d better address this. Oh, and add a graphic.”

Someone was paid to write this. Really.

Considering that this came from a federal agency that has been trumpeting the success of Race to the Top, you may rightly assume that the department has no idea what evidence based interventions are. What was the evidence for closing schools as a “reform”? What was the evidence that firing entire staffs and calling it a “turnaround” was evidence-based (it hasn’t worked in Chicago)? What was the evidence for evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students (answer: none)?

The ED needs to find out more about what constitutes “evidence.” It is not what you feel like doing, or a hunch, or a whim, or something Bill Gates told you to do.

It means that the approach was tried out and the results were reviewed to see what effects were produced. And then this was repeated again and again, to be sure that the relationship between cause and effect are genuine.

http://childrenaremorethantestscores.blogspot.com/2016/09/who-decides.html?m=1

Jesse Turner is known as “the walking man.” He walked from Connecticut to D.C. inn 2010 to protest the overuse of mandated testing and its negative effects on children. He did it again in 2015.

His blog is called “children are more than test scores.”

This is his latest. It is called “Who Decides?”

It begins like this. Please open the link and see where he goes with it.

I hear some educational activists want to be the deciders?
Who is authentic?
Who is a sell out?
Who is weak?
Who is pure?
Who is a real activist?

Who decides?
Who decides if you are an education activist?
Who decides if you can join the rallies against NCLB, RTTT, or ESSA?
Who decides if you can make your own sign for the cause?
Who decides if you can march?

Who decides?
I know something about activists.
I have been an activist since I was eight years old.
My first march was August 28, 1963.
I was the tag along company for my grandfather who decided he needed to be part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
At eight years old I had no idea I was an activist, but activist I became.
The only thing about the March on Washington I really knew was,
No one from the union hall would go with him.
No one from our church would go with him.
No one from his VFW would go with him.
I knew my grandmother was afraid to go.
My mother was afraid to go.
I knew they both loved Dr. King.
But, they read the newspapers,
They watched the news, and everywhere Black people marched back in 60’s they were met with hatred and brutality.
My mother loved justice, but she was afraid.
For weeks my grandfather asked friends and everyone he knew to go to DC,
He said I’ll drive,
I’ll pay for the gas,
I’ll buy lunch,
But no one would go.
My grandmother and mother prayed no one would go.
Why, because they loved him, and were afraid something would happen, and he would be hurt.
Finally he stopped asking people.
My grandmother hoped he would decide not to go.
He was going?
He fought in World War I, lived through the great depression, believed every American deserved a good job, and everyone had the right to vote.
My grandmother and mother prayed he would change his mind.
God did not answer their prayers.
They were afraid for their stubborn old man with a love for justice.
God did answer his marching prayers.
On the day before the march he washed his car, changed the oil, checked the tires, and filled up the gas tank. Laid out his best Sunday suit. Asked my grandmother if she could pack some sandwiches and his thermos. He said please in his best please voice.
There was an argument, my grandmother tried to get him to change his mind. He would not.
She called my mother crying. My mother went over. She took me with her.
They came to accept he was going to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
They were afraid, but proud of their stubborn old man.
They made sandwiches, brought an extra thermos one for the drive down, and one for the drive back. In 1963 he was 68. They calculated the drive time down would take 4 to 5 hours and another 4 to 5 hours on the way back, and figured the march would last at least 6-8 hours.
He would need to leave at 4:30 AM. They figured he would get there around 9:00, stay until 4 or 5, and drive home. They determined he needed coffee for ride down and back. None of this change the fact that they were afraid for him. People today have no idea how brave those 250,000 marchers were in 63.
My mother had brought a bag with pajamas and my only suit to my grandmother’s house. She had decided if the old man is going to Washington he needs company for the ride. She told my grandmother it’s a long ride, he’ll be lonely, and he could get tired. He needs someone to keep him awake.
Little Jess is the perfect person for that. He can’t stop talking. Plus if we send him with the boy he’ll be extra careful not to get into any trouble. If trouble starts he’ll take the boy and run.
So I began marching in 63 at the age of 8.
No one asked my grandfather are you for freedom?
No one asked are you for jobs?
No one asked my grandfather why is a White man marching with Black people?
Why did you bring a little boy?

Who decides?

All of us do what we can. I write. Jesse walks. I couldn’t do what he does. I say it is time for him to join the honor roll of this blog for his persistence, his goodness, his love for children, and his physical stamina.

Jake Guth is a New Orleans native who graduated from public schools in that city and wanted to “give back.” So he signed up to teach in a charter school. It happened to be one of New Orleans’ super-star schools. Jake worked there four years. He has since moved on. He concluded that the school was setting students up to fail.

Guth writes:

There’s an old adage that if something seems too good to be true, than it likely is. Sci Academy, one of New Orleans’ top-rated charter schools, exemplifies that adage. As a success story/victim of New Orleans Public Schools, depending on which way you want to view it, I approached my job interview at Sci Academy with a big grain of salt. The Craigslist ad for a coach described an academically-driven school that was attempting to start an athletics program.

I still remember how blown away I was by my first visit to the school—how it was unlike any *public* school I’d ever seen: the polite kids I interacted with, the noticeable absence of discipline problems. The red flags should have gone up right away. Like the fact that I had no experience coaching. Or that I was given the keys to a room that was used as the school storage closet and told to clear it for a weight room. Or that there was no budget and the equipment was all donated, meaning that the helmets were well past the three-year certification usage limit and many of the pads were moldy. None of it mattered. I was 24 years old, a minority from New Orleans, and I’d landed what seemed like a dream job.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I drank the Kool-Aid and asked for refills. Being surrounded by mostly young, many non-certified educators, all of whom have really big dreams and aspirations of making a difference in the lives of kids, while being force-fed a steady diet of talk about perseverance and the *Stockholm Paradox* will do that to you.

I could see for myself that Sci was doing all the wrong things, yet claiming phenomenal graduation rates and supposedly putting kids in college *to succeed.* The Kool-Aid was losing its flavor. But I didn’t quit. I’d started advising students my first full year at Sci and I quickly built powerful relationships with them. I worried that, if I left, they might completely shut down towards an adviser who wasn’t able to reach them like I could, and who would then respond by punishing them for their failure to cooperate. I made a commitment to the 12 kids I was advising that I’d stay for a full four years in order to see them graduate….

The year after I signed on to start Sci Academy’s athletics program I joined the school’s mental health staff. I was picked to run an intervention group for behaviorally-troubled kids with IEPs, despite the fact that my only experience consisted of the six months I’d worked at the school.

The year after I signed on to start Sci Academy’s athletics program I joined the school’s mental health staff. I was picked to run an intervention group for behaviorally-troubled kids with IEPs, despite the fact that my only experience consisted of the six months I’d worked at the school. My Sci story isn’t unusual. The staff has a multitude of first-year teachers and teachers without completed certification, including the teacher of a SPED program for students with mild-to-moderate learning abilities. Burnout and frustration mean that *veteran teachers*—those with at least two years of experience at the school—end up leaving at an alarming rate. This past year alone saw nine staff members quit, eight of whom were *veterans,* in addition to four staff members who left mid-year. The result is that new staff members, including non-certified teachers, end up holding positions they aren’t qualified for, doing a further disservice to Sci Academy’s students.

While staff turnover has always been a problem at Sci, it got measurably worse two years ago as the school responded to a lawsuit alleging that by suspending students for trivial matters, Collegiate Academies, the network that Sci is part of, was violating their civil rights. The lawsuit resulted in a *drastic sweep* to install an In-School Suspension System as part of a concerted effort to keep more students within the school. Now, instead of suspending kids for disciplinary infractions, these students would be sent to a Positive Redirection Center (PRC). In theory the new system was intended for kids whose egregious misbehaviors were *disrupting the learning environment,* and included proper documentation, calls to parents, a *reflection guide* and mediation if necessary. In reality, however, teachers now had free license to send kids out of classes for trivial matters such as sucking their teeth, rolling their eyes, or my personal favorite, not working hard enough, a subjective judgment that was left up to the teacher.

Before long, the in-school detention center was overcrowded. The interventionists who ran the PRC quickly grew alarmed, then frustrated and finally exhausted by the sheer number of kids being sent out of class. It isn’t hard to imagine what happened next: kids started working the system and choosing to opt out of class when they didn’t want to be there. Once the school day was half over, kids would be sent home for disciplinary reasons without being counted against Sci’s suspension numbers. Other kids would simply walk off of campus. A divide formed between teachers and discipline staff, with both sides losing trust that the right decisions were being made. Meanwhile, significant numbers of kids, while technically *in school,* still weren’t in class. The system soon devolved into a mess that ended up burning out the very staff who’d been tasked with implementing the new system….

The school’s numbers games have added up to college persistence rate that’s far lower than Sci’s marketing materials would have you believe. I spoke recently to a member of Sci’s class of 2015, now at the University of Louisiana. I could hear the sadness in his voice when talking about what his classmates are up to and how so few of them are succeeding in college: *It is real sad how poorly my classmates are doing when they were told they were doing so great a year ago,* he told me. *It’s clear as day that we aren’t ready to be in a world that negates what Sci taught us about multiple chances and being able to extend deadlines. *

Of the 12 students I advised at Sci Academy, I saw seven of them finish with a diploma. As an adviser, I often went *off script* with my students. I didn’t force on them meaningless lessons about the Stockdale Paradox or insist that they believe in an ideal if they weren’t invested in it. I spent my time and energy building them up for whatever their futures might actually hold: teaching them how to write resumes, finding jobs and holding real conversations about life if college wasn’t an option. Some are studying, some are working on job training, some are working on independence—and that’s okay. I only wish that Sci Academy would have better prepared them for a realistic future.

Peter Rawitsch has been teaching early childhood education for 35 years. He was selected by the state of New York to participate on a committee reviewing the state standards. His post was published by the Albany Times Union and reposted on Susan Ochshorn’s blog. I think you will enjoy reading his commentary, and I am reposting it here.

Peter described how the group for Pre-K-grade 12 met and were briefed. Then they broke into sections.

The Common Core State Standards were adopted by the New York State Regents in 2011. Its original group of authors did not include any early childhood experts. If it had, it would have started with kindergarten and progressed forward, instead of starting with 12th grade and mapping backward. It would have acknowledged that children learn and develop at different rates, which is much better reflected by a learning continuum and not inflexible of end-of-year benchmarks. The continuum would have included the physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive areas of child development. It would have stressed the critical role of play-based learning for young children.

As the week went on, we were able to tackle these larger issues, but we didn’t reach a consensus. A concern for some members of our group was how teachers would know what to teach without standards. My response is that we observe, listen and get to know our students so we can determine what they know, what they are ready to learn and how we can best support their learning.

Our work is not done. When our draft is finished in August, the state education department will review the whole P-12 document to ensure there is consistency in the language and a progression of skills. Then there will be a public comment period, followed by still more editing and revisions. Finally, it will be presented to the Regents for their review.

It will be interesting to see how our original work evolves through this process. Ideally, the state would put a moratorium on the current Common Core ELA and math standards until the standards can address all of the developmental areas. The unintended consequences of rolling out only the ELA and math standards have been: a narrowing of the curriculum, almost to the exclusion of science and social studies; devaluing of play, the primary mode of learning at the P-2 level; and over-testing. These have all been harmful to young learners.

New York parents and teachers will have an opportunity to be heard. Let’s let the Education Department know that childhood cannot be standardized.

In a warning to the people of Massachusetts and Georgia, this parent in Red Bank, New Jersey, explains her community’s fight against a charter school that has drained resources from the town’s public school and increased segregation by luring mostly white students.

She writes:

Many years ago, a small group of Red Bank parents started talking about how upset they were that the Red Bank Borough schools were terribly underfunded and terribly segregated, mostly due to the charter school in our small town.

For years, a group of us did our best to ignore the negative effects the Red Bank Charter School was having on our schools and community. We hoped these effects would go away, and magically we would be properly funded and less segregated. We worked tirelessly on fundraising, asking for community support (for arts, music, etc.) and doing our own recruiting of parents to help even out the segregation issue.

But as time went on, evidence of the negative effects caused by the charter school continued to present themselves — whether it was in annual cuts to our school programs, broken friendships and neighborhoods, or simply being exposed to class pictures from the mostly white charter school.

I tried to turn the other cheek and focus on our schools and making them better. I became highly involved in the Parent Teacher Organization and worked with state politicians on our arts programs and underfunding.

Success was achieved. We restored our string instruments program with the help of our superintendent and many community partners. We also maintained our valuable elective classes such as Chinese, AVID (college-prep) and Project Lead the Way (engineering). We were making great strides through the leadership of our very smart administration, involved parents and community.

Then everything came to a head last year when the charter school asked to expand. We were faced with the already existing negative effects multiplying — less funding, deeper segregation. Our community was floored. But we pulled together to block the expansion. As we did, we had a chance to educate our larger community even more about the negative effects the charter school has on our district.

It was like unpeeling an onion, one layer at a time, and examining the funding model, segregation, student academic achievement, programming, budgeting, school communications, and more. And with each layer, we became more and more astounded and shocked. The data supported our deepest fears: We were indeed living in the most segregated neighborhood in New Jersey — yes, our “hip town,” our cool little town of Red Bank, the same Red Bank that Smithsonian magazine, The New York Times and many others have written about as one of the best small towns in America. The data and information we uncovered was the dirty little secret that creeped below the headlines.

Leading advocates for student privacy warn that the Senate Commerce Committee is close to approving legislation that will NOT protect student privacy.

For Immediate Release: September 21, 2016

Contact: Rachael Stickland; rachael@studentprivacymatters.org, 303-204-1272

Parent Coalition for Student Privacy opposes passage of Daines/Blumenthal SAFE KIDS Act

Coalition members fear the bill would open up the floodgates of commercialism

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, composed of parents, advocates and educators throughout the nation, and whose members led the fight against inBloom, came out against the SAFE KIDS Act, co-sponsored by Senators Daine and Blumenthal, scheduled to be marked up in the Commerce Committee today.

Rachael Stickland, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy said, “While we appreciate the sincere motivation of these Senators to put controls on how personal student information is used by companies and organizations, we believe that this bill would inadvertently further erode student privacy. Right now, both the Student Privacy Pledge and FERPA, as well as other federal laws, actually ban the use of student data for non-educational purposes including behavioral advertising, while this bill would seem to allow for that possibility. There is also much confusion and ambiguity in the bill’s language about how parents would be informed about how their children’s data is being used by companies, how to request its deletion, and when this will occur, as well as what specific security protections will be required to protect against breaches.”

Josh Golin, Executive Director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, said: “The bill, though well-intentioned, has far too many loopholes to give children the protection from commercial exploitation that they deserve. It allows unlimited targeted ads to students through the use of apps assigned by schools, as long as these ads are based on personal information gained through an individual online session. It also exempts some of the most frequently assigned websites and apps such as YouTube. This is unacceptable, as advertising is harmful to children and detracts from any educational benefits the program might otherwise provide.”

Leonie Haimson, the Executive Director of Class Size Matters and the co-chair of the Parent Coalition concluded, “We would like to work with Senators Daine and Blumenthal and the other members of the Commerce Committee, on improving this bill to ensure that student privacy is strengthened rather than further eroded. Right now, we cannot support this legislation given the huge push from the ed tech industry to exploit our children’s personal information and to treat them as consumers rather than as students. Parents are increasingly concerned about the accelerated adoption of so-called educational apps in schools; we strongly believe their use must be approached with caution and regulated with a firm hand, to ensure that they do not violate children’s privacy and safety or undermine the learning experience. We fear this bill would further open up the floodgates of commercialism.”
###

Mike Klonsky comments this evening on an especially meretricious list of “children’s rights.”

http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-tribunes-so-called-schoolchildrens.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+mikeklonsky+(SmallTalk)&m=1

A reformer’s dream. School choice (vouchers and charters).

No collective bargaining for teachers.

Merit pay.

School closings.

Here is Mike’s bill of rights for kids:

“A real student Bill of Rights might include items like:

The right to learn in a safe environment in a safe community.

The right to be well-fed, rested and clothed.

The right to opt-out of high-stakes, standardized testing.

The right to attend a racially desegregated public school.

The right to gender equality including freedom from LGBT discrimination.

The right to vote and have voice on important matters concerning school policy.

The right to think critically, free from censorship, locker searches and book banning.

The right to have a qualified, certified teacher in every classroom.

The right to the same level of funding and resources as students in the wealthy suburbs.

The list of student rights could and would be a lot longer, if students had any voice in compiling it. I’m quite sure that didn’t happen over at the Tribune.”

Daniel Katz points out that the number of states still signed with the federally funded PARCC tests has dwindled dramatically, from 25 (including DC) to a lonely 7.

Yet New Jersey won’t concede that PARCC stinks; it was designed to fail most students.

Instead, New Jersey is doubling down: PARCC will be its high school graduation test and will count for 30% of teachers’ evaluation.

What will New Jersey do about the majority of students who snt graduate high school?

Who made these dumb decisions?

New Jersey <3's PARCC

Dana Milbank, who writes for the Washington Post, had a good column yesterday about Donald Trump’s incitement of political violence.

Perhaps you remember the crowds chanting “Lock her up!” at the GOP convention.

That’s the least of it.

His longtime confidant Roger Stone has talked about a “bloodbath” — rhetorical, he insists — if Trump loses, and Stone has suggested that Clinton should be “executed.” There have been a score of violent confrontations at Trump events, among supporters, opponents, journalists and staff. Shouts of “hang the bitch” are not uncommon at Trump rallies.

Trump has made a point of hinting, implying, and encouraging physical actions against demonstrators and against his opponent.

He has the mindset of a dictator, a strong man, a guy who must flaunt his testosterone. He is scary.

The smell of fascism is in the air.