Peter Greene: Progressives Do Not Endorse Privatization of Public Schools

Diane Ravitch's blog

As a rule, if a progressive shares any part of Betsy DeVos’s agenda, chances are he or she is not a progressive. Progressives usually support public schools governed by a democratic entity; progressives believe that teachers should have the right to bargain collectively and to seek better funding and better working conditions for the students and staff; progressives think that all teachers should be well educated and certified; progressives believe that educators, students, and families should be treated with respect; progressives believe that civil rights law should be enforced; progressives work towards a society that is fair and just to all its citizens. Progressives do not defend racial segregation.

That’s my peroration.

Now comes Peter Greene’s response to Conor Williams’s loopy claim that progressives should defend charter schools even though they are segregated and non-union. Peter notes that Conor’s teaching experience was limited to a couple of years at the…

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New York: Parents Demand Complete Repeal of State Teacher Evaluation Law

Diane Ravitch's blog

Just posted:

More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
Jeanette Deutermann (516) 902-9228;
NY State Allies for Public Education – NYSAPE

Link to Press Release

Parents Demand the NY Legislature Repeal the Education Transformation Act & APPR; Stop Playing Political Games with Our Children’s Education

NY State Allies for Public Education, a coalition of over 50 parent and educator groups active across the state, vehemently opposes the new teacher evaluation bill, passed by the NYS Assembly and now being considered by the NY Senate as S08301. This bill would change the teacher evaluation system in the state for the fourth time since 2010. This bill, like the current evaluation system, fails the most important measure, it does absolutely nothing to alleviate the impact a test-and-punish system has had on our children.

Contrary to the claims of some of its supporters, a careful…

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What’s Wrong with Charter Schools? A Short Explanation for the Uninitiated

Diane Ravitch's blog

Every so often, a friend who is not deep into education issues asks for a short explanation of why I oppose charter schools. Didn’t Obama and Duncan support them? But now Betsy DeVos and the Koch brothers support them? I keep meaning to write a brief summary but have not had time.

Recently a friend in California wrote an explanation that might serve the purpose.

What’s wrong with charter schools? The picture in California*

Charter schools take resources away from the public schools, harming public schools and their students. All charter schools do this – whether they’re opportunistic and for-profit or presenting themselves as public, progressive and enlightened.

Charter schools are free to pick and choose and exclude or kick out any student they want. They’re not supposed to, but in real life there’s no enforcement. Many impose demanding application processes, or use mandatory “intake counseling,” or require work hours…

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Jake Jacobs: Test-Based Teacher Evaluation is Absurd

Diane Ravitch's blog

Jake Jacobs, an art teacher in New York, commends Cynthia Nixon for calling for the repeal of New York State’s teacher evaluation law, which was imposed to comply with Race to the Top. After Nixon spoke out, the State Assembly cobbled together a pretend repeal of the law, which does not actually change anything since districts will still be required to use a test, but only a test approved by the state commissioner. Critics of the bill fear it will double the amount of testing by adding local tests to state tests.

At lest, Nixon had the courage to call for a flat out repeal of a useless and ineffective method of evaluating teachers.

Consider how Jake Jacobs is evaluated.

“Where I teach, we have two days of federally mandated math tests, two days of English Language Arts tests, and two days of Science tests for 8th graders. Then, because…

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DeVos: State Bans on Funding Religious Schools Should Go to “Ash Heaps of History”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Betsy DeVos is opposed to separation of church and state. She thinks that state bans that prohibit the funding of religious schools should be ended. In a speech yesterday in New York City to the Alfred E. Smith Society, which is allied with the Archdiocese of New York, she said that such bans originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and should be eliminated.

DeVos noted that these amendments are still on the books in 37 states. And though she didn’t get into this in her speech, that includes her home state of Michigan. Back in 2000, DeVos helped lead an effort to change the state’s constitution to allow for school vouchers. It failed.

She said that “there’s hope that Blaine amendments won’t be around much longer.” She noted that last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a state-funded playground restoration program in Columbia, Mo., to exclude a…

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Justin Parmenter: Here Come the N.C. Teacher Thugs!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Justin Parmenter writes here about a state legislator in North Carolina who denounced the teachers who plan to protest on May 16 as “thugs.”

He says, here come the teacher thugs!

He writes:

Brody is right to be concerned about the more than 13,500 thugs who will be storming Raleigh on Wednesday. After all, these thugs bring a very special skill set that make us extraordinarily effective advocates:

We are black belts in sarcasm and penmanship. Just wait til you see our signs.

We can hold our pee all day long.

We reserve a special teacher voice that demands attention.

We are very good at waiting in line (no cutting).

We can go 8 hours without sitting down once. The secret is in the shoes.

Most importantly, these thugs are experts in fact-based arguments.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Thank You, Jeff Foster, Who Teaches AP Government at MSD High School!

Diane Ravitch's blog

So how did those teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School become so well informed?

Thank their teachers!

Emma Gonzales’ teacher in AP government is Jeff Foster. 

If all our high school students were as poised, well-informed, and ready for political action as Emma, this would be a dangerous world for crackpots and conspiracy theorists.

This might be a reason that red-state legislatures work so hard to defund the schools and demoralize teachers. A good education is a dangerous thing!

After she delivered her speech, González was so confident in front of news cameras that conspiracy theorists quickly accused her of being a crisis actor. Critics questioned how a high school senior could have such tight talking points. Rumors spread on YouTube and Twitter that the Stoneman Douglas students like her who were making repeat appearances on cable news networks were actually 30-year-old pawns of gun-control advocates. Others, like,

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Jay P. Greene: The Disconnect Between Changing Test Scores and Changing Life Outcomes

Diane Ravitch's blog

Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, test scores have been defined by federal law as the goal of education. Schools and teachers that “produce”higher scores are good, schools and teachers that don’t are “bad,” and likely to suffer termination. The assumption is that higher test scores produce better life outcomes, and that is that.

In late 2016, Jay P. Greene produced a short and brilliant paper that challenged that assumption. I have fallen into the habit of asking myself whether the young people who are super-stars in many non-academic fields had high scores and guessing they did not. Fortunately, it is only in schools where students get branded with numbers like Jean Val Jean of “Les Miserables.” Outside school, they can dazzle the world as athletes, musicians, inventors, or mechanics, without a brand.

Greene writes:

“If increasing test scores is a good indicator of improving later life outcomes…

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