Monday, July 8, 2013

Ed Beat: The Price Is "Right;" Color Lines; Pipeline; Standardz; Marketz

An Intriguing Question:
Would you pay $6,300 in tuition to send your child to a private school with uncertified teachers, insufficient computers and no proper classrooms, and at which the "teaching" occurred mostly by plopping students in front of televisions to watch lessons on DVDs? Of course you wouldn't. But the Louisiana Department of Education would.
No. Really!

Louisiana has not actually accustomed itself to the reality of white kids and black kids going to the same schools. They do it, but grudgingly. By the late '70s, when it was becoming apparent that the precedent of "Brown v. Board of Ed" was NOT gonna be overturned any time soon, and due to a spate of lawsuits, the State BoE initiated a decades-long effort to do everything possible to stem the dark tide, particularly sanctioning "religious" schools to take white students while sending the black kids to the increasingly dismal PUBLIC ones. The Charter School movement in the state is a further out-growth of that earlier sentiment and pattern.


Either Privatize or Close:
Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda. But rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students. Chicago's gauleiter in chief, Rahm Emanuel, is closing 49 elementary schools serving traditionally under-privileged and marginalized students. One of them, with no intended irony, I'm sure, one which US Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan STARTED as a model school.

Click here to learn about alternatives that support students rather than close school doors on them.


The School-to-Prison Pipeline: The topic has become more common as more and more examples of it are exposed. Recent investigations centered in places like Meridian, MS, have revealed utterly cynical practices which have operated to direct 'marginal' children into programs of state supervision. In May,  a federal judge in Jackson, MS, approved a deal Thursday between the U.S. Justice Department and a Mississippi school district to end discriminatory disciplinary practices in which it was alleged that black students face harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.
Interestingly, according to the authoritative EdWeek, there is a growing concensus among school researchers that there is evidence that so-called "exit" exams are closely correlated with students' involuntary induction into the same pipeline. It's a return to the dread and deadly "deficit model" of understanding childrens' cognitive abilities.
Exit exams have been heavily promoted over the past decade or so, supposedly to insure employers of the value of a high school diploma. About half the states in the nation now have an exit exam as a precondition for a diploma, and billions are spent annually on the tests, and preparation for them. ...(M)any of the charter schools there have very strict discipline policies, and the students who fail to comply are sent back to a residual public school that has been all but abandoned. Students who act out are increasingly being given psychiatric diagnoses, as early as kindergarten. The expectation that all students reach the same set of academic goals at the same time creates a rigid structure that makes students who are not "on schedule," or not capable of sitting and receiving information for long periods of time "abnormal."
The very good, very smart folks at Rethinking Schools have weighed on on the matter, too.


Rethinking Schools: Standards are NOT the currirulum.

So proclaim the standardizers. But any and everyone associated with the schools must know that the standards will soon enough BECOME the curriculum, because the tests--high-stakes, promotion and graduation tests for students--will inevitably be focused on the standards, and performance by students on those tests will inevitably  become the metrics by which teachers are judged.

And the "Common Core Standards" being promoted by the Gates Foundation, among others, are at BEST "imperfect."
It is a reasonable projection based on the history of the NCLB decade, the dismantling of public education in the nation's urban centers, and the appalling growth of the inequality and concentrated poverty that remains the central problem in public education.
Nor are we exaggerating the potential for disaster. Consider this description from Charlotte Danielson, a highly regarded mainstream authority on teacher evaluation and a strong supporter of the Common Core:
I do worry somewhat about the assessments—I'm concerned that we may be headed for a train wreck there. The test items I've seen that have been released so far are extremely challenging. If I had to take a test that was entirely comprised of items like that, I'm not sure that I would pass it—and I've got a bunch of degrees. So I do worry that in some schools we'll have 80 percent or some large number of students failing. That's what I mean by train wreck.
Reports from the first wave of Common Core testing are already confirming these fears.
And states and school districts are flocking to the "standards" standard because that's where the private, foundation, and Fed money is. (By the way: Rethinking Schools is a vital resource for ANYONE involved in education, either parent, teacher, or admin.)

Chile: The Perils Of "Friedmanizing" The Schools: The dictator Pinochet invited Milton Friedman to help "modernize" and "marketize" Chile's schools.



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