There’s a role for our college as WSU plans take off in Everett



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(cross posted from my dean's blog)

I didn’t expect to spend the Thursday before the Independence Day holiday traveling to Western Washington. Especially not in a four-seater charter plane out of Pullman-Moscow International in the company of President Elson S. Floyd and Murrow College Dean Larry Pintak. But when the university president invites you to a meeting and offers you a ride …

When we landed at Paine Field, our plane was dwarfed by Boeing jets stacked up, awaiting insignia painting for many countries around the world. From there, we drove to three meetings with stakeholders in WSU’s initiative to operate the present University Center in Everett, starting in 2014.

We met in the lovely new convention center in Everett’s harbor area, joined by several other WSU deans and partner institution officials. Also present was WSU Spokane Chancellor Brian Pitcher, whose Riverpoint campus is seen as a model for what WSU’s effort in Everett could become.

WSU’s first order of business in Everett will be to establish mechanical and electrical engineering programs, modeled on what we already offer in Bremerton. The programs will involve a clinical faculty member, distance education via video, and summer study in Pullman. But the stakeholders in Everett — including the mayor, Chamber of Commerce representatives, and state legislators — also want programs in nursing, media arts and, importantly, education. At the meeting, I shared my eagerness for the College of Education to provide educational opportunities to local school administrators, and to teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Western Washington University has traditionally provided education course work in Everett, and I look forward to working with them.

President Floyd said it is premature to think of Everett as being the fifth WSU campus. For now, we are exploring the opportunity and learning how we can collaborate. An advisory board and planning committee are already at work.

I am proud that the College of Education is so well represented in the leadership of this initiative. Paul Pitre of our Vancouver faculty will oversee WSU’s developments at Everett in the coming year. Joan Kingrey, our academic director in Spokane, led the discussions at the Everett meeting. And President Floyd has his faculty appointment in our college.

Our plane took off from Paine Field just before 5 p.m. I rode shotgun. Heading east, we flew above a blanket of clouds over the Cascades, with Mount Rainier peeking above that, off the right wing. A half hour later, I could see in the distance lush green fields, and Kamiak and Steptoe buttes. It was thrilling to see Pullman edge closer as we sped home. It was a fun and inspiring day.

War on Teachers?



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Cross-posted from JDS Social Issues:

From my inbox almost two months ago:

So, where did this war on teachers, and other public employees come from? I certainly didn't see that coming.

A former colleague (a faculty member in a humanities department) was responding directly to word that Pennsylvania was cutting P-12 funding and slashing state support for public higher education. But her consciousness was framed by events in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

So I have been paying attention to the news in a new way. Is my colleague right? Is there a “war on teachers”? I think she may right that there is a “war” going on but I’m having a little more difficulty determining just what it is we are fighting about and fighting for. Are teachers the target? Or are teachers collateral damage in a larger struggle –because teachers (and their students) don’t fight back and because everybody feels entitled to an “expert” opinion about educational matters generally?

I hope to think more about this over the summer and invite any readers to join in with news items, anecdotes and analyses that help us all figure out where we want to stand in what is clearly a struggle for the social, economic, political and educational terrain within our own communities and our nation.

Here are a couple for starters:

· Randy Turner, commenting on the Huffington Post about new education legislation in Missouri, asks whether public school teachers are an “endangered species”? His question is motivated by regulatory proposals that seem to suggest that all teachers are lazy perverts.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-turner/public-school-teachers-ar_b_861407.html

· Paul Mucci, a fifth grade NBPTS certified teacher, asks

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/may/16/paul-mucci-since-when-did-teachers-become-the/

“since when did teachers become the bad guys?” Mucci is in Florida where education is rapidly being “reformed” on the backs of teachers: “elimination of teacher tenure, teacher pay based on student performance, increasing teacher contributions to the Florida Retirement System, raising the retirement age/years of service, increasing student testing and reducing the number of "core" classes to name a few.”

He conveys his demoralization clearly:

“More important, gone is the respect teachers once had. The steady erosion of respect is palpable in parent conferences, in line at the grocery store and in politicians' statements in the media.

As one legislator said to me, ‘The public deserves accountability they deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent.’ In one respect, he is right, but what good are numbers and test results if we lose our integrity, our compassion, our humanity along the way?”

Mucci notes that it is ironic that the rhetoric is all about “good teachers” but in the process they are destroying any chance of respect [for teachers].

· Bill Haslam, Governor of my new home state of Tennessee apparently hasn’t met any Paul Mucci type teachers. Last week he rejected the Tennessee Education Association’s claim that “teacher morale is flagging,” despite passing measures that limit collective bargaining and proposing others that would end any licensure for educational professionals. (More on events in Tennessee in the days to come.)

http://www.dnj.com/article/20110527/NEWS01/110526017/Haslam-rejects-claims-teacher-morale-flagging

As someone who spends a fair amount of time cultivating partnerships with public schools so that we can jointly (university/school) provide substantive and challenging but guided practical experience for teacher candidates, my sense is that teacher morale is fragile at best. Neither principals nor teachers – no matter how accomplished --generally feel free to take on novice teacher candidates. Even when they can identify the value of teaching collaboratively with a young person with energy and ideas, they are hesitant, even fearful, about jeopardizing their compensation and even their jobs (based largely on student test scores). Everybody is looking over both shoulders at once.

What do these snippets suggest?

Whether or not there is a war on teachers, teachers are feeling under siege. And the march of legislation that targets the teaching profession is undeniable. But the point of the legislation is harder to tease out. Limiting collective bargaining might be a cost-cutting measure. It might be an undercut-the-unions measure (my favorite theory with thanks to Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow). The undercut-the-unions theory is supported by proposals in Tennessee to get rid of teacher licensure all together. Put this together with the appointment of a new Commissioner of Education with a Teach for America and charter school background and it does appear that the war is not on “teachers” per se but on the public school “establishment” (whatever that is).

The point then is an utterly free market for education? (Odd that we would seek a free market for the development of human capital when we have no such truly free market for any other commodity – oil subsidies, farm subsidies, interstate highway systems anyone?)

But this is a kaleidoscopic phenomenon, I think, and this particular ideological interpretation is just today’s turn of the barrel. What does it look like to you? What will it look like tomorrow?

Scholarship winners, life's winners



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(cross posted from my dean's blog)

Forty-seven percent. Within that statistic is news both wonderful and sobering.

Nearly half of all of the graduate students who received College of Education scholarships for 2011-12 are the first in their families to go to college. That’s the wonderful part. Those future educators are realizing the American dream of self-improvement. But the number also speaks to the need for financial support, which is especially acute for first-generation students and their families.

This spring, faculty and staff volunteers reviewed the scholarship applications. They weighed the students’ accomplishments and goals and stretched the contributions of our generous donors to award 96 scholarships totaling $171,150. The average per student was $1,782.

Amy Cox of our development team, who coordinates the scholarship selection effort, provided those statistics. Others that might interest you:

In all, 98 graduate students and 453 undergraduates applied for scholarship assistance.
Scholarships were awarded to 24 juniors, 31 seniors, and 41 master’s and doctoral degree candidates.
Twenty-eight percent of the scholarship winners are minority students. The largest groups represented were Hispanic/Latin America (seven) and Asian Pacific American (five).
Seventy percent of scholarship winners are women.
Seventy-six are enrolled in Pullman, six in Vancouver, eight in Tri-Cities.

More compelling than the numbers, of course, are the people they represent. Here are two examples:

Israel Martinez of Walla Walla starts our Master in Teaching program this summer.  Israel, the first in his family to get a college degree, wrote in his application: “It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication, such as working two part-time jobs while being a full-time student, working overtime in the orchards during the summers to save enough money to stay in school.”

Kelly Frio’s home town is Brush Prairie, Washington. That’s near Vancouver, where she is working on an undergraduate teaching degree. She has a perfect 4.0 grade point average. One of her goals, she wrote, is to instill an appreciation of the elderly in her own children and those she works with. “The wealth and skills and knowledge that our senior citizens possess is often not only unappreciated, but dismissed.”

My congratulations to all of our scholarship winners and my thanks to those who support our scholarships. We only wish we could do more, for more. If you would like to help, look here for information.

When Engagement is Not Enough



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One of my goals as a dean of a school of education has been to expand the notion of what teacher preparation includes. To that end, I have been strongly pushing for the development of community engagement courses and academic programs in my own school and across the college. This is grounded in my ongoing academic research and in my belief that one cannot be a good teacher, administrator or staff in a PreK-12 school without realizing (on academic, experiential, and conceptual levels) that schools are deeply embedded within and an important part of their local communities. To that end, I have been working on series of pieces that expands on the notion of community engagement as much more than just service, service-learning, or experiential education. This is the first part of this series.
***
The community engagement movement – after a generation of activism and research and immense energy and effort – has reached an “engagement ceiling.” It is now time to plot the second wave.

This movement – composed of a loosely inter-related set of programs, practices, and philosophies such as service-learning, civic and community engagement, public scholarship, and community-based research – has become an assumed and expected part of the higher education landscape. More than half of all faculty, according to UCLA’s ongoing American College Teacher surveys, believe that instilling a commitment to community service is a very important or essential aspect of undergraduate education; NSSE data suggest that service-learning is one of very few “high impact practices” that deepen undergraduates’ learning; and the Carnegie Foundation recently released its third round of colleges and universities selected as worthy of the “community engagement” classification, whose membership now numbers over three hundred such institutions.

Yet even as the public face of community engagement becomes ever more embraced, there are troubling signs of its internal malaise. Key groups and scholars have begun to openly talk of a movement that has “stalled.” Strong research suggests that co-curricular engagement continues to be a more meaningful variable than singular curricular service-learning courses in fostering a range of key student outcomes. And the plethora of programs, centers, and practices that intermix community service, service-learning, and civic engagement contributes to frustratingly opaque notions of even basic definitions, categories, and hoped-for outcomes in the field.

The trouble is not that service-learning and its ilk have not been successful enough. The problem, I suggest, is that they have been too successful. Too successful, that is, at positioning themselves as a social movement for the transformation of higher education to reclaim and rediscover its civic purpose and meaningful engagement with, for, and in their local communities. But in so doing, in becoming a movement that attempted to reach everyone across the academy, the community engagement movement has become unmoored from some basic precepts. There is neither a core vision nor an overarching network able to guide or link the disparate centers, groups, scholarly communities, national organizations and activists all attempting to, ironically enough, foster an engaged campus and community. The gap between the rhetoric and reality of the “engaged campus” is ever increasing.

The reasons for this are complex, intertwined, and not easily changeable given the long-term economic retrenchment sweeping across the academy: the expanding demographics of “non-traditional” part-time commuting students; the outsourcing of labor to contingent and adjunct faculty; and the “wickedly” complex and contested problem of engaging with (much less solving) community issues enmeshed within multiple racial, political, economic, social, and historical realities. If the goal of the first generation of scholars and activists was to transform higher education, the real issue is who is transforming whom.

I am not suggesting that we wipe our hands, shut the classroom door, and walk away from the pressing societal problems that colleges and universities must indeed be a part of solving. Rather, we must reframe how we think about the engaged campus: namely, community engagement must become an intellectual movement. If the next generation of scholars, students, and community members are to have a chance in fostering a deep, sustained, and ultimately powerful campus and community collaborations, then we must embrace a second wave of criticality towards civic and community engagement in the academy.

By this I mean what other movements, such as Women’s Studies and Black Studies, have accomplished in the last thirty years. They have created, through majors and minors and interdisciplinary concentrations and research centers, a means to influence and impact the knowledge production and dissemination of their respective areas of study. They have succeeded in the impressive accomplishment that it is no longer possible to speak simply or “obviously” about what feminism or blackness “is,” either within their respective fields, across the academy, or, for that matter, in the larger world.

Interestingly enough, academic programs (such as majors and minors) focused on community engagement have indeed begun to spring up helter skelter across the academy. I helped organize a research institute this past summer for academics interested in developing or expanding such academic programs. We expected twenty or thirty people to show up. Instead, we had to stop registration at ninety, as scholars, administrators, and doctoral students poured in from across the country, as well as a few from Canada, Mexico, and even Ireland. We have now documented over sixty academic programs at varying stages of development across the United States and will be hosting another institute this summer to continue to deepen this dialogue and support such program development.

There are longstanding and deeply impressive programs, such as Providence College’s major in Public and Community Service Studies and UC-Santa Cruz’s department of Community Studies. There is the newly developed Civic Engagement minor at Mary Baldwin College, and the Department of Justice and Policy Studies at Guilford College. In each case, there are dedicated faculty members attached to each program, doing the deliberate, careful, and critical work that is necessary for any successful academic program: advising students, creating introductory courses, questioning the quality of the capstone experience, reaching out to colleagues across the institution and community members outside of it for perspective and feedback and collaboration, advocating for additional tenure-track lines, and questioning whether what they do is ultimately of value and relevance to its critical stakeholders.

This, then, is the face of the next generation of the scholarship of engagement. It is the critical work that cannot take for granted the practice and philosophy of community engagement. For community engagement is a complex and contested practice that claims to engage in “border crossing” and as such engages issues of power, race, and class. It is a practice that has real-world ethical, legal, and political implications as to what our undergraduates actually do out in the world. And it is a philosophy of practice that is seemingly at the heart of a liberal arts education. As such, what we do with, for, and in the community must be open to the same type of scrutiny as any other legitimate academic practice. It needs to be done in academic spaces that foster and strengthen the very qualities we are looking for in the community partnerships we espouse: deep, sustained, and impactful reflection, engagement, and action. That is an intellectual movement.

In the end, of course, this is not an either/or proposition. The academy must embrace both the community engagement and the critical academic spaces. To have engagement without the criticality is to succumb ultimately to a cheerleading mentality of a social movement with thin skin unable to withstand the critique of the academy. To have disciplined academic inquiry without a deep and sustained experiential community-based component is to succumb to an ineffectual model of “hallway activists” where theory and practice are disjoined and disjointed and where the thick skin of academic debate cannot feel or see the needs of the community all around it. But without the next stage, without the second wave of critique within academic spaces, the next generation of the engaged campus will be ever more imperiled.

"Quite a Lot, Really . . ."



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Been meaning to write something substantive, but then I found this as part of a review of a book on Wittgenstein and couldn't resist:
Then there is the question of the role of the endnotes in Klagge's study: some are simply references, some elucidations, and yet others mini-essays almost. They constitute some two-fifths of the book, which seems quite a lot really, as Monty Python put it with respect to the amount of rat in the tart.

Now that's what academic writing should aspire to. :)

From H-Net.

No Child Left Behind: What Lies Ahead?



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(Crossposted from my dean's blog)

In March, the Obama administration announced its plans to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The last time the act was reauthorized, in 2001, it was called No Child Left Behind and became the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s education efforts. NCLB brought with it an increased focus upon testing and accountability in schools.

What have we learned from the act during the past decade? What changes would improve it? In my own search for answers, I asked faculty members from various education specialties for their views, which I share here.

Professor David Slavit on accountability

Right now Secretary Duncan talks about NCLB as being too punitive and prescriptive because of its accountability measures. Why do we have accountability? Because we don’t trust people to do their jobs.

Surveys show that most people think their own children’s teachers are quite good, but that teachers in general are not. This says a great deal about the kind of negative messaging people receive in this country about teachers, and the political harm this has been doing to teachers for the past decades. The basis of any reauthorization needs to assume one thing: Teachers are professionals deserving of trust and respect. The many teachers whom I visit on a regular basis are some of the hardest working people I know. And certainly some of the most caring.

Associate Professor Judy Morrison on science education

Under the NCLB, science education has not received the same attention that reading and mathematics have, because the law did not require yearly science assessments.

Though not necessarily advocating for yearly assessments, science educators would like to see students taking more science courses and being exposed to the reality of science in their science courses. There also needs to be an ongoing conversation about which important scientific knowledge and skills our students should be exposed to so that they become scientifically literate citizens. We need to open their eyes to the development, meaning, value, and limitations of scientific knowledge. As students engage in more authentic science in their K-12 science courses, they will be exposed to the creativity and innovation that science involves, strengthening their passion and causing them to consider careers in science.

If higher standards and more assessments can produce more opportunities for students to receive quality science instruction, then these certainly should be a part of the ESEA revisions involving science education.

Clinical Associate Professor Gay Selby on support for teachers, leaders

There is much about No Child Left Behind that I personally support—most important to me is that it requires schools to examine data, including student achievement data, high school graduation rates, and the qualifications of teachers as to teaching assignments. These areas of examination have “shined a light” on important areas that all too often prior to NCLB were not well examined.

I believe most teachers and principals today are intentional in their efforts to address the learning needs of all students and to improve high school graduation rates. Many teachers have changed how they work together and many innovative programs have emerged to provide the needed support to students. The role of principals also has changed from one of manager to leader—an instructional leader focused on assisting teachers with their classroom practice and student needs.

The downsides of NCLB are the heavy reliance on standardized tests data to determine how well a school is doing and the use of test results to punish teachers and principals as a means of motivating them. It is my hope that a reauthorized NCLB will focus on targeted support for teachers and principals.

The public and policy makers have every right to expect high performance from their schools and every right to hold teachers and principals accountable, but should be realistic about the challenges schools face and recognize that schools need authentic support in their efforts to improve. Only after such efforts should punitive measures be taken.

Assistant Professor Janet Frost on the intent of the law

I greet reauthorization of the act with mixed feelings. The intentions of actually meeting the educational needs of all children were noble, and the federal funding provided the opportunity for extensive professional development work my colleagues and I do that seems to be making a difference for teachers and students. However, the means of accountability and implementation of NCLB seemed misguided.

Most teachers and administrators with whom I have worked have felt that this legislation forced them to take steps that seemed educationally bizarre and the opposite of the legislation’s intent. They learned to focus their efforts on those students whose scores were just below passing, cutting back attention for lower or higher students. Schools reduced or eliminated time for science, social studies, the arts, and physical education — all areas of study that engage students who may be less interested or successful in mathematics or literacy learning. Teachers’ emotional energy became so focused on meeting Adequate Yearly Progress that they were less aware or considerate of their impact on students. I learned of students who couldn’t sleep the night before the high-stakes tests because their teachers had told them they were responsible for the school’s score and future. Some principals couldn’t be bothered with improving grade 11-12 students’ preparation for college success because yearly progress was focused on grade 10 scores.

Associate Professor Brian French on achievement testing

The attention given to achievement testing will not wane with reauthorization. It will only increase as common standards are applied to schools nationwide. First, there is the challenge of producing high quality assessments. The timeline and budget may not be sufficient to ensure proper development and implementation of tests.

Second, the magnitude of the common core project is almost overwhelming to the states and organizations charged with implementing the assessment system. For example, changing from paper-and-pencil tests to computer adaptive assessments sounds simple. However, having enough adequate working computers is a major barrier to implementation. Plus, there is a heavy bet being placed on technology for success for this system–technology that may not yet exist.

Third, achievement tests are designed for measuring individual student progress. However, the scores are put to many other uses (such as promotion, grades, teacher effectiveness, program accountability) with no assurance that they are valid measurements for those purposes.

Fourth, teachers will be asked, if not required, to make use of assessment scores to modify instruction, see and understand individual student mistakes, and convey student progress to parents. The challenge is to ensure they are prepared to do so.

Miracle schools, vouchers and all that educational flim-flam



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is the title of this piece by Diane Ravitch. It appeared at the website of Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, as part of the "Ask This" which is subtitled "Questions the Press Should Ask." Oh if only reporters and writers on education were knowledgeable enough about education to ask questions such as those posed by Ravitch, perhaps we could cut through all the misleading and inaccurate information, the attempts to manipulate the public discourse on education to exclude the voices of those - including both Ravitch (a personal friend) and myself - who say that our supposed pattern of educational "reform" is like the emperor's new clothes - there is no there there, as Gertrude Stein once opined of Oakland.

You should read Ravitch's piece. To whet your appetite, let me offer Diane's first paragraph here, and then explore a bit more below the fold:
Be skeptical of miracle schools. Sometimes their dramatic gains disappear in a year or two or three. Most such claims rely on cheating or gaming the system or on intensive test prep that involves teaching children how to answer test questions. These same children, having learned to take tests, may actually be very poorly educated, even in the subjects where their scores were rising.


Please keep reading.

Diane offers some very tough questions to consider. Understand that as an educational historian and as someone very involved in policy questions, the questions she poses are derived from the record, from extensive reading/research into the information that is actually available. For example:
When a charter school reports miraculous results, be sure to ask about the attrition rate. Some highly successful charters push out low-performing kids and their enrollment falls over the years (and the departing students are not replaced). Recently Arne Duncan hailed a “miracle” school in Chicago—Urban Prep—where all the students who graduated were accepted into college. But 150 students started and only 107 graduated. The 107 graduates had much lower test scores than the average for Chicago public school students. The school did a good job of getting the students into college (perhaps that was a miracle) but they were not better educated than students in the regular public schools.

In another instance, one of the “amazing” schools singled out by the 2010 documentary “Waiting for Superman” admits 140 students, but only 34 graduated. That’s a 75 per cent attrition rate. Some miracle.



Or try the brief paragraph before what I just quoted:
Whenever a district has a dramatic increase in test scores, look for cheating, gaming the system, intensive investment in test prep. Testing is NOT instruction. It is meant to assess instruction, not to substitute for it.
Take this points one at a time

cheating - explore the recent USA Today examination of test results in DC public schools under Michelle Rhee

gaming - the so-called Texas miracle on their state tests, given in tenth grade, was accomplished by holding back lower performing kids in 9th grade. Some were held back several times until they dropped out, and if they said they MIGHT get a GED, they were listed at having transferred to an alternative educational program, not as dropouts. Or perhaps after having been held back one year they were skipped to 11th on the grounds they had made so much progress. In either case, they were not tested. All this was documented BEFORE No Child Left Behind was passed into law, and people in Congress cannot say they were unaware. Walt Haney of Lynch College of Education at Boston College wrote about it, as did others, and a number of us passed on the literature to key people in Congress. Yet somehow Rod Paige won a superintendent's award and got promoted to Secretary of Education, in part because of a claimed 90% graduation rate in Houston schools, when in reality only a bit over 40% of those entering 7th grade graduated with their cohorts.

intensive investment in test prep - these seems to be the pattern in a number of charter schools and some public schools claiming significant gains. But what evidence there is that the "gains" on tests are not maintained in subsequent grades, and students as they ascend the educational grades arrive less and less prepared to do the kind of work necessary to be successful even in a high school course of students, to say nothing of what is necessary in colleges, which is why post-secondary institutions have had to expand the number of places in remediation courses.

Ravitch remind us - at least those of us who have been paying attention - that improving pass rates on state tests may mean merely that states are manipulating their cut scores. It is possible to pass some state tests with less than half the questions answered correctly. Since all that are published are scaled scores, converted from raw scores, unless one can see the conversion formula, the scaled scores are subject to manipulation for all kinds of reasons, including the state (or school district for district wide tests) wanting to be able to show "success" or to avoid the politically unacceptable prospect of large numbers of students not being promoted or not graduating from high school.

Not all "studies" are peer-reviewed by independent scholars. Some are not even rigorous, as Ravitch points out about the claim by Carolyn Hoxby that students who spent 9 years in a NYC charter could close the achievement gap differential between, say, Harlem in inner city NY and Scarsdale, perhaps the wealthiest of the New York suburbs. As Ravitch writes:
The press gave that study huge attention and credibility, but no one noticed that there were very few students who had attended a charter in NYC for nine years or that Hoxby did not provide a number for the students who had closed the gap. It appears that her study was an extrapolation, and it was an extrapolation based on NYC and NY state’s inflated and unreliable test scores (see above). When NYC’s charter scores are reported, they range widely from very abysmal (a six per cent pass rate) to exceptional (100 per cent pass rate).


Ravitch also reminds us of the wisdom of the words spoken by Hal Holbrook in "All the President's Men" - Follow the Money. In the case of education, we have the likes of Philip Anschutz, a billionaire who advocates for free market solutions (and for whom, I might mention, Michael Bennet worked before becoming Superintendent in Denver, and then a US Senator, and now apparently the successor in waiting to Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education). He was a funder of "Waiting for Superman" as was a man "previously CEO of a string of for-profit postsecondary institutions." Similarly, the so-called Democrats for Education Reform has a board full of Wall St. hedge fund managers and big real estate moguls. Ravitch suggests asking why they are so interested in charters, and how they are connected with other 'reform' groups such as" Education Reform Now, Stand for Children, the state CAN organizations (e.g., ConnCAN), and a host of other groups promoting privatization and de-professionalization?" She also reminds us, as she did in her book, about the influence of the 'billionaire boys' club" of foundations such as Gates, Broad and Walton.

No high performing nations, as Ravitch reminds us, are pursuing the kinds of approaches we are seeing advocated by such groups and foundations, and unfortunately by the Obama administration. She challenges the administration with a number of questions, on continuing Bush administration accountability problems, on school choice, on merit pay (which lacks any supportive research base in education or in industry, and has clearly been shown to have no effect on test scores, which of course are the measurement of choice of the so-called reformers). Given the President's recent remarks at Bell Multicultural High School in the District, in response to a question from a student, it is worth noting this question from Ravitch:
Why does the president publicly say he is against standardized testing at the same time that his administration is demanding more emphasis on standardized testing?


Read Ravitch. Perhaps pass on the article to the editors, editorialists, and reporters dealing with education at your publication of choice.

Ravitch concludes her piece with simple statement:
Principles for reporters: Be skeptical; don’t believe in miracles; follow the money.


Perhaps were these principles followed, we might actually be able to have a meaningful public discussion on how to address the real needs and issues confronting our schools and our students.


Perhaps were these principles followed, we might actually be able to have a meaningful public discussion on how to address the real needs and issues confronting our schools and our students.
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