Sunday, April 11, 2010

Two more interesting pieces on schools

A diagram of the education system in the Unite...Image via Wikipedia

The saddest part is that the morans who are pushing the No Child Left Behind nonsense and 99.99% of the critics are both arguing about which camp has the better model for training kids for a future that is not going to happen at all.

Neither group has thought about how we're going to manage rapid descaling of all large institutions as militarism, peak oil, and economic reversals caused by climate destabilization become progressively more intense. If ever the metaphor about deck chairs on the Titanic applied it's to the discussion about how we're going to continue to fund the factory models of public education (K-16).

A great question here: "Suppose we give a high school test to everyone in Congress, with scores listed in rank order and serious penalties--including deselecting the bottom 10 percent?" -- Deborah Meier


BOSTON GLOBE - The news says we are watching the death of public education before our eyes. Detroit is closing more than 40 schools, Kansas City wants to close more than 40 percent of its school buildings. Other cities have been closing schools over the last decade. Boston avoided closings in its most recent budget deliberations, but still must slash custodial staff and postpone building repairs.

It is no secret that American education is at a great divide, unrivaled in most of the developed world. The United States spends $9,800 per public primary and secondary education student, which is technically high by global standards.

But meanwhile, children of the wealthy are being trained at private schools at more than triple the expenditures. In the Boston area, day school tuition rates are closing in on $35,000.

Our investment in public school teachers is paltry for the wealthiest country in the world. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the United States ranks in some measures behind England, Italy, Japan, Scotland and way behind Germany in starting teacher pay. The average expenditure on college students in the United States amounts to $24,400 per college student, two and a half times more than the $9,800 per-pupil spending in the public schools.

Beneath the numbers is the resegregation of children on the basis of class, race and immigration status. Prison spending soared so much, that by 2007, five states spent as much or more on corrections than on higher education, according to the Pew Center on the States.

In monetary terms, we have given up on millions of children. 'I don't think necessarily that public education is dead, but certain parts of it are dying," said Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor who headed President Barack Obama's education transition team. 'The programs of the 1960s and 1970s that helped make education more equitable were mostly eliminated in the 1980s and never put back.

'We're disinvesting in a significant way. With the huge decline in America of manual labor jobs that are being off- shored or digitalized, the vast majority of jobs are knowledge based. If we do not invest that way, we really can't survive as a nation. To deeply underfund public education as we are doing does not make any sense."

Author of the 2009 book, 'The Flat World and Education," Darling-Hammond says neither poverty, nor the diverse nature of the American population are excuses not to educate everyone. Several countries were behind the United States decades ago in education and now have passed us.

She cites the example of Korea, which 'in the space of one generation . . . moved from a nation that educated less than a quarter of its citizens through high school to one that now ranks third in college-educated adults."

She noted how Singapore, where 80 percent of families live in public housing, was tops in the world in fourth-grade and eighth-grade math assessments in 2003. 'When children leave the tiny, spare apartments they occupy in high-rises throughout the city," she wrote of Singapore, 'they arrive at colorful, airy school buildings where student artwork, papers, projects, and awards are displayed throughout, libraries and classrooms are well-stocked, instructional technology is plentiful, and teachers are well trained."


Delaware was one of the winners in Arne Duncan's so-called 'race to the top' contest, which is to say, his bizarre idea of what a school system should look like. Here are a few excerpts from the Delaware submission uncovered by Susan O'Hanian. If you are a parent in Delaware you might want to move, unless you want your child talking like this instead of using conventional English:

With the implementation of a new testing system, Delaware's teachers will have a wealth of data and information available to them. This data is only useful, however, if teachers can translate the information into classroom solutions and use it to inform their teaching. To make sure that each teacher has those skills, Delaware will deploy data coaches to all [local education authorities]. The State will provide 4.5 hours of data coaching per month to each professional learning community (of 6-7 teachers) for two years. The coaches will be contractual in nature and work on a full time basis. 15 data coaches will be provided to the first waive of schools beginning in January 2011. At the peak of the program, 35 data coaches will cover all schools in 2011-12. In sum, each school will have access to a data coach for two years with State support. These data coaches will be fully funded for non high-need schools at a rate of $104,000 per data coach annually ($54 hourly rate). Because of the importance of this initiative, high-need schools will be required to contribute 50% of the cost for data coaches. This will help ensure that these schools have a high level of engagement and investment in the successful use of the data coaches and the influx of funds that high-need schools will receive through the Title I allocation formula will ensure that they have sufficient resources to contribute to this initiative.

For all LEAs/charters, the State will. . . Create the technological base for instructional improvement systems1 (e.g., reports based on formative assessments) and integrate into the Educational Dashboard Portal--Appendix A-7

For all LEAs/charters, the State will. . . Review and adopt CCSSO standards by August 2010, as appropriate, and align grade-level expectations to guide curriculum

For all LEAs/charters, the State will. . .

- Build an Educational Dashboard Portal that Makes State longitudinal data easily accessible to stakeholders

- Provides differentiated "dashboards" based on stakeholder role, with data of interest to the stakeholder (as determined by research), full longitudinal and trend information, and correlations between key statistics

Build the capacity to use data to inform instruction by implementing instructional improvement systems and providing support from data coaches The state will. . .

- Create the technological base for instructional improvement systems (e.g., reports based on formative assessments) and integrate into the Educational Dashboard Portal

- Define criteria and quality standards for instructional improvement systems

- Pre-approve methods and/or providers of instructional improvement systems meeting these expectations

Data coaches will facilitate collaborative planning time to help teachers and leaders develop the technical skills to analyze data and the pedagogical skills to adjust instruction based on data

For all LEAs/charters, the State will. . . revise DPASII to meet regulations requiring student growth for effective and highly effective ratings. . . define rigorous and comparable measures of student growth in consultation with stakeholder groups

The State will. . .provide high-quality training to assessors on conducting evaluations and providing specific and actionable feedback using the State's 4- level rubric. . . define the teacher leader role and responsibilities (which will include daily teaching time) and create an evaluation supplement for DPAS II for teacher leaders. . . propose legislation requiring teachers to show appropriate levels of student growth prior to offering continuing licenses and tenure protections

Improve the coherence, quality, and impact of support for teachers and leaders through more rigorous certification and prioritization of instructional leadership

Identify schools to turn around through the State Partnership Zone, give the State authority to intervene in reform plan following collective bargaining, and provide support with a strong turnaround office.

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Why budgetary hard times are going to be much harder than you think

PRINCETON, NJ - OCTOBER 13:  Princeton Profess...One of the very few economists worth reading. Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The always-excellent Paul Krugman of the NY Times and the Swedish-Bank-Prize-That-is-Often-Wrongly-Described-as-the-Nobel-Prize-in-Economics Fame describes, at the federal level, exactly what is happening in Oregon and Salem: people urging cuts in government based on a fantasy about what government actually is and does.

Fiscal Fantasies

. . . The basic picture of the federal government you should have in mind is that it’s essentially a huge insurance company with an army; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — all of which spend the great bulk of their funds on making payments, not on administration — plus defense are the big items. Salaries aren’t.

But the Kudlow picture is nonetheless a key part of conservative imagery; the idea of vast rooms full of government employees doing nothing productive is central to their vision of painless spending cuts. The fact that it’s not remotely true is irrelevant; they want it to be true, and that’s enough.

P.S. Krugman has a long piece in the NY Times Magazine about greening the economy. Haven't read it yet but it's here, and he's one of the few growth-oriented economists who has the intellectual honesty to confront the contradictions between a sustainable planet and our currently dominant incomplete capitalism (that ignores environmental capital and focuses only on cash flow, not net worth).
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