WE CAN GENTRIFY AND DISPERSE CONCENTRATED POVERTY IN BALTIMORE WITH JUSTICE-----STOP ALLOWING THESE STALINISTS TO USE THESE REPRESSIVE POLICIES THAT DENY CITIZENS THEIR RIGHTS!!!
The first step back to a first world Democratic education system is to rebuild oversight and accountability in Baltimore's education system and this means not only grades and Federal policy----it means accounting for the flow of education funding and making sure it goes where it is supposed to and does what it is supposed to. Taking Johns Hopkins School of Education building and making it a Baltimore City public education agency doing just that IS THE FIRST STEP. Hopkins has been dismantling public K-12 for decades closing schools to get the working class and poor to move out of city center. Hopkins and Wall Street's Baltimore Development dismantled all oversight and accountability in Baltimore City government just so all revenue coming and moving in the city could be fungible and that includes what little education funding that ended up making it to Baltimore.
The Enterprise Zone model was created just to move concentrated poverty out of city centers and expand the socio-economic model having communities of mixed income. ALL OF THAT ENTERPRISE ZONE MONEY WOULD HAVE PROVIDED A JUST WAY TO MOVE PEOPLE TO BETTER AREAS AND GIVING THEM THE COMMUNITY STRUCTURES----LIKE SCHOOLS, PUBLIC HEALTH, AND PUBLIC SERVICES. At the same time, Federal education funding would have augmented the addition of new schools in city centers while still funding existing schools largely low-income. There is no reason we cannot accommodate new middle-class citizens to Baltimore's city center with more new schools---not plans for ways of getting rid of existing citizens and children using schools as development tools.
THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REAL PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL POLICY AND CLINTON NEO-LIBERAL/BUSH NEO-CON POLICY----
You can Google topics on public policy like education and get all kinds of article written around the nation but you rarely see any stats listed for Maryland and especially Baltimore because there are no public agencies creating these stats. Needless to say, Baltimore City has closed almost as many public schools as Chicago over a few decades and its a much smaller city. Each time it does-----no new schools are built elsewhere----the availability of school space just disappears. This is absolutely the worst education policy in the world----and it comes from Johns Hopkins. If southern cultures are as they are-----classism and racism----AT LEAST BUILD SEPARATE BUT EQUAL AND WE CAN ADVANCE FROM THERE.
Had we known all the media about the state of Obama's Chicago----we would have known Obama would be the face of this Bill Gates Wall Street education privatization. There's MS Pritzker----money mogul and education privatization queen herself funding Obama.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 Obama Taps Billionaire Fundraiser Penny Pritzker for... Chicago to Shutter 50 Public Schools: Is Historic Mass Closure an Experiment in Privatization?
Guests Diane Ravitch, assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. She is a historian of education and best-selling author of more than 20 books, including The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.
Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Sep 11, 2012 | Story
This is viewer supported news Printer-friendly 3,231 SHARED As the academic year winds down, a record number of Chicago schools are preparing to close their doors for good in the largest mass school closing ever in one U.S. city. Last week, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 of the city’s public schools in a move that will impact some 30,000 students, around 90 percent of them African American. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed for the closures in order to save the city more than $500 billion, half of its deficit. "Rahm Emanuel actually does not have an educational plan, he has an economic development plan," says our guest Diane Ravitch, who served as the assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. Proponents say the closures will hit schools that are both underperforming and underutilized. But a vocal coalition of parents, teachers and students has fought back, warning that the closures will lead to overcrowded classrooms and endanger those students forced to walk longer distances to their new schools. We go to Chicago to speak with Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which helped lead the campaign against the school closures. "They are making a very massive, radical and, frankly, irreversible experiment here on other people’s children," Sharkey says.
Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AARON MATÉ: It’s almost June, and students across the country are counting down to the summer break. But today we look at Chicago, where a record number of schools are preparing to close their doors for good. In a controversial move last week, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 of the city’s public schools. It’s the largest mass school closing ever in one U.S. city. Some 30,000 students will be affected, around 90 percent of them African American.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed for the closures. He says the city will save more than $500 billion, half of its deficit. Proponents also say the closures will hit schools that are both underperforming and underutilized. But a vocal coalition of parents, teachers and students has fought back.
AMY GOODMAN: At protests and public hearings, closure opponents have denounced the plan as discriminatory for overwhelmingly targeting African-American and Latino neighborhoods. They warn the closures will lead to overcrowded classrooms and endanger those students forced to walk longer distances to their new schools. After last week’s vote, Alex Lyons of the group Save Our West Side Schools said the school district is putting children in harm’s way.
Closing schools in communities make families desperate and with that comes the willingness to accept any education policy that comes. It also makes parents think twice about protesting as school choice and lotteries keep people out that are agitators. That's right---no one monitors public school lotteries to see that they are actually random----we know they are not.
Allowing communities to become urban wasteland is something a far-right wing SHOCK AND AWE neo-conservative would do----or in Chicago's case----Wall Street Clinton neo-liberals. The reason this was done was not only to move people out of communities----but to direct all Federal, state, and local funding that would have stabilized those communities to Wall Street and Johns Hopkins. Baltimore citizens in third world poverty with bad health care and education----Johns Hopkins a global corporations running Baltimore City and making themselves a FOXCONN totalitarian structure all with the help of people in underserved communities simply wanting to lift themselves out of poverty made to work for Hopkins and against their own communities.
Baltimore City has charters with high chain link fences around them because the poverty is so great----and this is where Sarbanes, Cardin, Mikulski, and Cummings call themselves progressive Democrats while working to expand the most neo-conservative institution in the world --all of this causes any person to lose their sense of civility -----it drives people into illegal actions to survive,
AND IT MAKES LEARNING FAR MORE DIFFICULT FOR GENERATION AFTER GENERATION. THESE CITY CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO LEARN---THEY SIMPLY ARE SUFFERING FROM POST TRAUMATIC STRESS SYNDROME IN MANY CASES.
I have to listen to leaders in Baltimore saying things like-----black children cannot learn----making it seem OK to place them is this K-career job training apprenticeship tracking. All of this is marketing-----and it is the most repressive propaganda machine in the US. Keep in mind this is a decades long plan ----bringing cities to decay and poverty, feeding off the Federal funding that should have gone to these communities, and then pushing the disempowered out at will.
'School closings are happening in urban landscapes across America, and Philadelphia is one of the most vivid examples. After years of neglect and disinvestment in public education, elected and policy officials — with business elites at every level leading behind the scenes — plan to replace these public schools with charter schools. But charter schools deflect responsibility and accountability by fragmenting the system, shattering it into too many pieces for the public to keep track of. They are not the city’s responsibility. Their performance is not as transparent, and they do not have to take all students'.
How closing schools hurts neighborhoods
By Valerie Strauss March 6, 2013 (thenotebook.org)
On Thursday, the Philadelphia school district’s governing board, the School Reform Commission, will be voting on the most massive one-time downsizing of the system ever proposed. The district’s recently revised plan, which has encountered widespread community and teacher opposition, calls for closing 29 out of 239 district schools next fall – a step down from the original proposal to shutter 37 schools. The system is grappling with a budget gap of $1.1 billion over five years and has seen enrollment decline as more than 80 charter schools have been created since the late 1990s.
Here’s a piece on what the school closing really mean to neighborhoods, by Elaine Simon, co-director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She has studied and written about Philadelphia school reform for almost three decades and for the last six years taught a project-based learning course, “Schools and Community Development,” in collaboration with teachers in West Philadelphia high schools. This appeared on the Philadelphia Public School Notebook (www.thenotebook.org), a nonprofit watchdog news organization that has covered the school system since 1994.
By Elaine Simon
Recent analyses show that most students from schools recommended for closing in Philadelphia would not end up in better-performing schools. They are likely to wind up in schools much like the ones they were in before, as a recent study by Research for Action shows.
Most of the displaced students will not benefit academically from the closings as planned. In addition, they would have to travel a distance outside their neighborhoods, because the closings would create education deserts in areas of the city with the highest concentration of minority and low-income residents.
Disturbingly, this scenario echoes the urban renewal of the mid-20th century. Just as urban renewal decimated neighborhoods and dispersed the mostly poor and minority residents without benefiting them, the school-closings agenda of the current wave of school reform probably will lead to the same outcomes.
Countless analysts have deemed urban renewal wrong-headed and unfair. Although its architects predicted that tearing down housing in poor neighborhoods would lead to revitalization through private investment, rarely did that occur. When a neighborhood rose again, it took decades, with the improvements usually not benefiting the original residents. Scholars and professional planners generally agree that urban renewal was a misguided policy that, rather than revitalizing neighborhoods, doomed them to long-term decline.
What were people thinking back then? Going back to the origins of urban renewal, neighborhoods were labeled “blighted,” community life “disorganized.” These were places that mostly housed the poor, immigrants, and minorities. The buildings were in need of repair. With their proximity to downtown areas, municipal power brokers considered them to be ruining the city’s image. Of course, these neighborhoods were places that no one had invested in for decades. Banks would not make loans in areas marked with red lines on a map according to race and ethnicity. This long-term disinvestment led to the deterioration of buildings and the seeming decline of community life.
The buildings and their inhabitants were, in a sense, victims of others’ interests and actions. The poor and the minority groups who had resided in these spaces had to find housing they could afford, housing that was often more distant from kin and friends, and often less desirable than where they came from. They didn’t move to better neighborhoods, and often found their situations worse in terms of social support.
In the meantime, the old neighborhoods and the housing that survived declined further. Neighborhood assets, like churches, stores, and parks that had been important community centers for generations, became abandoned or disappeared. Without these assets, why would anyone have chosen to move in or stay if they could leave? So the neighborhoods emptied out, either from the wrecking ball or from defection.
Schools are often the one institution still surviving in low-income neighborhoods, and they serve as a point of pride and community for families. Are schools important to their neighborhoods? Ask the more than 4,000 people who attended community meetings on school closings over the last few months. Nonetheless, the new “education reformers” prioritize closing schools over improving them, using the argument that we are in a time of public sector austerity, which means a need to orient to market forces.
Just as planners labeled urban renewal neighborhoods as blighted, education officials justify closing schools with labels like failing, decrepit, and underutilized, based on statistics analyzed at a distance.
Education officials and the politicians and elites that influence them are wrongly judging and wrongly displacing students and communities that are slated to lose their schools. As the architects of urban renewal did, they are blaming the victims of long-standing neglect, failed policies, and lack of will to serve the students most in need.
Proponents of this reform say that public school enrollment is decreasing because people are “voting with their feet.” Is that what the residents of West Philadelphia’s Black Bottom did when the Redevelopment Authority declared their neighborhood blighted in the late 50s, condemned and tore down their houses, destroyed their institutions and their communities? After the long-term neglect of their schools, parents are hardly voting — they are merely in survival mode.
Just as neighborhoods targeted for renewal collapsed when key institutions disappeared, the School District of Philadelphia’s closings plan – affecting majority black and low-income neighborhoods – threatens to deal them a death blow. When a neighborhood loses its schools, it also loses an institution that builds relationships among local residents and binds generations, while it serves local children. Losing schools makes it all the more likely that these neighborhoods will deteriorate further.
Who would stay or move into a neighborhood that doesn’t even have a school in which parents and community members can invest their energies? Granted, not all these schools slated for closure have strong neighborhood and parent engagement. Nurturing that involvement authentically is a paradigm shift that public schools have to make if they are going to improve.
School closings are happening in urban landscapes across America, and Philadelphia is one of the most vivid examples. After years of neglect and disinvestment in public education, elected and policy officials — with business elites at every level leading behind the scenes — plan to replace these public schools with charter schools. But charter schools deflect responsibility and accountability by fragmenting the system, shattering it into too many pieces for the public to keep track of. They are not the city’s responsibility. Their performance is not as transparent, and they do not have to take all students.
Looking back, historians lament the devastating impact of urban renewal on low-income, largely minority communities and on those displaced. History is repeating itself in the process in the pattern of school closings taking place in other cities and about to take place in Philadelphia. These policies are assuring that there will be no institution left behind in minority neighborhoods, particularly institutions that we can hold accountable for serving all students and that can bind neighbors.
Let’s hope that future urban historians will not look back at the current school-closing agenda as having been one more contribution to urban decline and displacement.
Obama's tying of Federal funds to an education reform aimed at segregating and tracking of children was not legal-----the the hundreds of billions of dollars awarded to build the structures for privatizing K-12 could have easily paid for building new schools in Baltimore for a growing middle-class. Simply sending the subprime mortgage fraud award of $700 million would have upgraded existing public schools---SO ALL THE MONEY WAS THERE FOR BUILDING A STRONG PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM FOR THOSE CITIZENS ALREADY HERE AND THE NEW CITIZENS THE CITY WANTS TO ATTRACT. We don't have to create a model that has small school children getting on city buses traveling across the city each day just to get to a good school. WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO THIS? SOCIOPATHS.
GRASMICK HAS BEEN THE JOHNS HOPKINS EDUCATION POLICY FAILURE FOR DECADES IN MARYLAND JUKING THE STATS FOR YEARS and handing Maryland children unable to read and do math. AND SHE'S BACK UNDER HOGAN!
Keep in mind all of this testing and evaluation policy----Common Core----schools as businesses ARE REPUBLICAN POLICIES FOR EDUCATION---NOT DEMOCRATIC.
So, Obama and Congressional Clinton neo-liberals flooded funding for this education reform calling it progressive to help city schools with low performance. Meanwhile, Bill Gates and corporate billionaires having written all of this education policy sending billions to push the installation of what few Americans want.
Meanwhile, Obama and the Federal government is ignoring corporate tax collection by the hundreds of billions each year----Baltimore City losing billions to its government coffers that could fully fund public schools without any of these policies.
ALL BALTIMORE CITY HAS TO DO IS GET RID OF THE MAYORS AND CITY COUNCIL THAT WORK FOR WALL STREET BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT AND JOHNS HOPKINS AND VOILA----WE REVERSE ALL THESE POLICIES NO ONE WANTS AND HAVE PLENTY OF MONEY TO BUILD AND UPGRADE SCHOOLS. Easy peasy in a city having over 600,000 citizens mostly working class and poor. Hopkins is sweating bullets sending out all that pay-to-play jobs for keeping these 600,000 people with no rights as citizens.
There is Alonzo----king of juking stats to make it look like his tenure was anything other than complete failure----and O'Malley acting like embracing Republican corporate policy was a must for his future as a Democrat.
Maryland wins Race to the Top funds
State to receive $250 million for schools
August 24, 2010|By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun
Maryland was one of nine states and the District of Columbia declared a winner Tuesday in the $4.3 billion education competition designed to reshape teaching in schools across the country.
The $250 million the state will receive by Sept. 30 will help to fund what state leaders call a new wave of education reforms.
In the past year, state education officials and lawmakers have changed the rules governing teacher tenure and evaluations, adopted a new set of standards for what will be taught in the classroom, agreed to overhaul failing schools and pledged to develop a new system for collecting student data — all in hopes of winning the federal money.
"Maryland had a great application," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, noting that the state made significant changes to its laws and regulations last winter after forgoing an application during a first round of funding.
"That time they took got them to a very good place," Duncan said. Maryland, he said, "has been one of those states that have helped to shape the conversation around education for some time."
Both the governor and the state superintendent of schools, Nancy Grasmick, had staked much on the Race to the Top, a U.S. Department of Education program that sparked a fierce competition among states by dangling the prospect of hundreds of millions in additional money. In the round of winners announced Tuesday, $3.4 billion was distributed; only Tennessee and Delaware were awarded money in an earlier round.
Grasmick, who said she had not slept for two nights in anticipation of the announcement, was visibly relieved when the news came during a state school board meeting. "I am very excited," she said during a standing ovation and hugs. "Thanks to everyone in this room."
Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat in a tight re-election race, visited the state school board later in the day to mark the victory. "We think of this as an opportunity, not so much to race to the top," he said, adding that the state has been judged to have the best schools on several measures. "But this is an opportunity to give our students in Maryland an education that is world-class."
O'Malley called it "a tough competition and not without its risks."
If the state had not won, Grasmick's reputation as leading the state to the forefront of education could have been tarnished, and O'Malley could have had a tougher time campaigning on his education record.
Besides Maryland and the District of Columbia, winning states included Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.
Observers began picking apart the results immediately, with critics noting that winning states were concentrated on the East Coast and have large urban areas. The Fordham Foundation and the Center for Education Reform both said Louisiana and Colorado — which have recently enacted reforms — should have won, while Maryland and Hawaii should have been excluded.
Most of the federal money will be passed to local school districts for new programs. The remainder will go to statewide projects, including training teachers in a new national curriculum and building a more sophisticated data-collection system to track teachers and students.
Baltimore City will get at least $46 million; Baltimore County, $15 million; Prince George's County $20 million; Anne Arundel, $6 million; and Howard, $700,000. Montgomery and Frederick counties, which refused to sign the application, will not receive any money.
Baltimore schools chief Andrés Alonso said the award was "tremendous in terms of our ability to do some really great things. It has been quite a journey, so if I am happy today, I can imagine how the governor and Nancy [Grasmick] feel," he said. "They took risks and this is an election year."
The contest became as much about the prestige of a state and its ability to launch a complex initiative as it did about the money.
Unlike No Child Left Behind, which was a top-down federal law for improving schools, Race to the Top was a carrot held out to states that agreed to go along with the Obama administration agenda for how to improve schools.
No state had to take part, but 46 did. And the competition has been credited with accomplishing in a short time what most observers thought would take years. For instance, the common standards, developed by the National Governors Association and the state superintendents, were adopted in a short few months by a majority of states, although such a move was considered unlikely last year.
"We have unleashed this unbelievable creativity," said Duncan.
States like Maryland adopted laws that raised the ire of teachers unions and school districts as they pushed through reforms. As a kind of educational World Series, bloggers and educational advocates assessed each state's chances of success in detail. Education junkies guessed the number of points each state would get.
This isn't a heavy lift----it is a development tool that cannot wait. 2016 was chosen because of the elections----you can bet voters will be mad as heck as they see how this plays out for students and teachers.
'But teachers, parents and legislators argue that schools haven't had adequate time to adjust to the program, which is still underway. Legislation introduced by Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery, a former school board member, would give teachers a reprieve until 2016'.
Again, people who worry about race and class and think all of what is happening in poor city communities HAD BETTER WAKE UP. WALL STREET IS ONLY USING THESE POOR COMMUNITIES TO BUILD PLATFORMS FOR ALL PRIVATIZED PUBLIC K-12.
So, in Baltimore, our School Board and Superintendent allows tiered funding of students, allows individual schools to be called Advanced Placement, allows private corporate donations to selected schools---ALL WHILE THESE SCHOOLS ARE CALLED PUBLIC AND THAT IS ILLEGAL. None of this would be happening if the mayor and city hall enforced Federal education laws AND THEY CAN.
We have a school like Dunbar High attached to Johns Hopkins called an Advanced Placement filled with underserved students almost none of which test as advanced placement----these students are averaging slightly better than all other schools. UnderArmour donated a nice football field in a pay to play for Hopkins making sure no corporate taxes are paid downtown----Dunbar is a health sciences high school apprenticing at Hopkins. When the No Child Left Behind requirement that students test scores/evaluations lead to grade failure------ is reinstated next year---IT WAS TEMPORARILY STOPPED BECAUSE EVERYONE PROTESTED-----the students at Dunbar not able to make the Advanced Placement material will be forced to leave----WHICH IS THE GOAL FOR HOPKINS. Clearing schools of underserved students with this testing and failing policy will have parents taking their children out of what will be good schools en masse. So, Baltimore city center schools are simply in a holding pattern waiting for these Race to the Top laws to kick in to clear public schools of existing children opening it up for middle-class families. My question for these middle-class families----
THIS VOCATIONAL K-CAREER COLLEGE IS NOT GOING AWAY----YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE TESTED, TRACKED INTO VOCATION, AND FACE TEACH TO THE TEST JUST AS UNDERSERVED----YOU WILL SIMPLY HAVE SEGREGATED SCHOOLS ACCORDING TO RACE AND CLASS.
Whereas middle-class students may perform better than poor students on the coming standardized Common Core----it is middle-class families that value the broad democratic curricula and experiential learning that will not be happening in Baltimore City schools because of this very corporate vocational tracking and schools as businesses model installed by Alonzo. The poor students may be pushed out of city center schools----but these policies stay taking all American students into this lower-tiered vocational education. Remember, the Ivy League schools will have this broad education that allows people to develop critical thinking and communications needed for leadership and they say ----THAT'S ALL WE NEED. THE RICH OF THE WORLD WILL REPLACE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ALL BEING PUSHED TO POVERTY.
Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing The companies that create the most important state and national exams also publish textbooks that contain many of the answers. Unfortunately, low-income school districts can’t afford to buy them.
Meredith Broussard Photos by Matt Stanley July 15, 2014 The Atlantic
You hear a lot nowadays about the magic of big data. Getting hold of the right numbers can increase revenue, improve decision-making, or help you find a mate—or so the thinking goes. In 2009, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a crowd of education researchers: “I am a deep believer in the power of data to drive our decisions. Data gives us the roadmap to reform. It tells us where we are, where we need to go, and who is most at risk.”
This is a story about what happened when I tried to use big data to help repair my local public schools. I failed. And the reasons why I failed have everything to do with why the American system of standardized testing will never succeed.
A few years ago, I started having trouble helping my son with his first-grade homework. I’m a data-journalism professor at Temple University, and when my son asked me for help on a worksheet one day, I ran into an epistemological dilemma. My own general knowledge (and the Internet) told me there were many possible “correct” answers. However, only one of these answers would get him full credit on the assignment.
“I need to write down natural resources,” he told me.
“Air, water, oil, gas, coal,” I replied.
“I already put down air and water,” he said. “Oil and gas and coal aren’t natural resources.”
“Of course they are,” I said. “They’re non-renewable natural resources, but they’re still natural resources.”
“But they weren’t on the list the teacher gave in class.”
I knew my son would start taking standardized tests in third grade. If the first-grade homework was this confusing, I was really worried about how he—or any kid—was supposed to figure out the tests. I had been spending time with civic hackers, the kind of people who build software and crunch government data for fun, and I decided to see if I could come up with a beat-the-test strategy derived from a popular SAT prep course I used to teach.
In essence, I tried to game the third-grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), the standardized test for my state. Along with a team of professional developers, I designed artificial-intelligence software to crunch the available data. I talked to teachers. I talked to students. I visited schools and sat through School Reform Commission meetings.
After six months of this, I discovered that the test can be gamed. Not by using a beat-the-test strategy, but by a shockingly low-tech strategy: reading the textbook that contains the answers.
A Philadelphia third-grader reviews math exercises in preparation for the PSSA.Philadelphia is the eighth-largest school district in the country, and its public students are overwhelmingly poor: 79 percent of them are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The high-school graduation rate is only 64 percent and fewer than half of students managed to score proficient or above on the 2013 PSSA.
When a problem exists in Philadelphia schools, it generally exists in other large urban schools across the nation. One of those problems—shared by districts in New York, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities—is that many schools don’t have enough money to buy books. The School District of Philadelphia recently tweeted a photo of Mayor Michael Nutter handing out 200,000 donated books to K-3 students. Unfortunately, introducing children to classic works of literature won’t raise their abysmal test scores.
This is because standardized tests are not based on general knowledge. As I learned in the course of my investigation, they are based on specific knowledge contained in specific sets of books: the textbooks created by the test makers.
All of this has to do with the economics of testing. Across the nation, standardized tests come from one of three companies: CTB McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, or Pearson. These corporations write the tests, grade the tests, and publish the books that students use to prepare for the tests. Houghton Mifflin has a 38 percent market share, according to its press materials. In 2013, the company brought in $1.38 billion in revenue.
Pearson came under fire last year for using a passage on a standardized test that was taken verbatim from a Pearson textbook.Pennsylvania currently has a multi-million-dollar contract with a company called Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) to grade the PSSAs. DRC works with McGraw-Hill as part of a consortium that has a $186 million federal contract to write and grade standardized tests for the rest of the country. McGraw-Hill, meanwhile, also writes the books and curricula schools buy to prepare students for the tests. Everyday Math, the branded curriculum used by most Philadelphia public schools in grades K–5, is published by McGraw Hill.
Put simply, any teacher who wants his or her students to pass the tests has to give out books from the Big Three publishers. If you look at a textbook from one of these companies and look at the standardized tests written by the same company, even a third grader can see that many of the questions on the test are similar to the questions in the book. In fact, Pearson came under fire last year for using a passage on a standardized test that was taken verbatim from a Pearson textbook.
The issue often has as much to do with wording as it does with facts or figures. Consider this question from the 2009 PSSA, which asked third-grade students to write down an even number with three digits and then explain how they arrived at their answers. Here’s an example of a correct answer, taken from a testing supplement put out by the Pennsylvania Department of Education:
Here’s an example of a partially correct answer that earned the student just one point instead of two:
This second answer is correct, but the third-grade student lacked the specific conceptual underpinnings to explain why it was correct. The Everyday Math curriculum happens to cover this rationale in detail, and the third-grade study guide instructs teachers to drill students on it: “What is one of the rules for odd and even factors and their products? How do you know that this rule is true?” A third-grader without a textbook can learn the difference between even and odd numbers, but she will find it hard to guess how the test-maker wants to see that difference explained.
Unlike college professors, who simply assign books and leave it to the students to buy them, K–12 teachers have to provide students with books. But it’s not a simple matter of ordering one book per student per subject. Based on the schools I visited and the teachers I interviewed, each student needs at least one textbook and one workbook per class, plus a bunch of worksheets and projects the teacher pulls from assorted websites (not to mention binder clips and construction paper and scissors and other project-based materials). Books can be reused year to year, but only if the state standards haven’t changed—which they have every year for at least the past decade.
First-grade students tear up their workbooks on the last day of classes at Smith Elementary, one of 23 Philadelphia schools closed by the state-run School Reform Commission in May 2013.Once I realized the direct connection between textbooks and standardized-test success, I tried to find out exactly how many Philadelphia schools were missing books from the Big Three publishers. I was also curious how much money it would take to make up for the shortfall.
The first challenge came when I asked the School District of Philadelphia for a list of which curricula were being used at which schools. If you want to know which books should be in a school, you need to know the name of the curriculum the school uses. (Using a branded curriculum like Everyday Math allows a school to place its orders more efficiently and negotiate a bulk discount.)
“We don’t have that list,” an administrator at the Philadelphia Office of Curriculum and Development told me. “It doesn’t exist.”
“How do you know what curriculum each school is using?” I asked.
There was silence on the phone for a moment.
“How do you know if the schools have all the books they need?”
According to district policy, every school is supposed to record its book inventory in a centralized database called the Textbook Storage System. “If you give me that list of books in the Textbook Storage System, I can reverse-engineer it and make you a list of which curriculum each school uses,” I told the curriculum officer.
“Really?” she said. “That would be great. I didn’t know you could do that!”
So I did what computer programmers do in this kind of situation: I created a workaround. I built a program to look at each Philadelphia public school and see whether the number of books at the school was equal to the number of students. The results of the analysis did not look good. The average school had only 27 percent of the books in the district’s recommended curriculum. At least 10 schools had no books at all, according to their own records. Others had books that were hopelessly out of date.
I visited some of these schools and asked students how much access they had to textbooks. “We had books at my high school, but they were from, like, the 1980s,” said David, a recent graduate of Philadelphia public schools. A junior at a public high school complained to me that her history textbook had pictures of testicles drawn on each page.
Seventh-grade teacher Sheldon Jackson uses a Star Wars book to help a student improve his reading skills.When I visited an algebra class at the Academy at Palumbo, a magnet school in South Philadelphia, a math teacher, Brian Cohen, seemed surprised by the information I presented to him. Palumbo’s records showed that the school used Fast Track to a 5: Preparing for the AB and BC Calculus Exams, a book published by Houghton Mifflin. However, the quantity of books in the system read “0.”
“That’s strange,” said Cohen after I sat in on his Algebra I class. “I’m not sure why it says we have zero copies.” Had that branded curriculum had been selected but never ordered? Or had the books had been ordered but intercepted somewhere along the way?
I asked if we could go look in the book closet and Cohen took me down the hall. On the way, we stopped to chat with a colleague of his who taught calculus. “Do you have enough books?” Cohen asked.
“I do now,” she said. “Some school in West Philadelphia closed, and I managed to get all the textbooks from there. I had a friend who hooked me up.” But she wasn’t using Fast Track to 5; she had a different calculus book that wasn’t on my record sheet.
“My daughter is not allowed to bring her textbook home because they don’t want it to get lost.”Urban teachers have a kind of underground economy, Cohen explained. Some teachers hustle and negotiate to get books and paper and desks for their students. They spend their spare time running campaigns on fundraising sites like DonorsChoose.org, and they keep an eye out for any materials they can nab from other schools. Philadelphia teachers spend an average of $300 to $1,000 of their own money each year to supplement their $100 annual budget for classroom supplies, according to a Philadelphia Federation of Teachers survey.
Cohen and I arrived at the math department “book closet,” which was actually just a corner inside the locked and empty office of the math department chairperson. “Here’s where we keep the extra books,” he said, gesturing to two short wooden bookshelves. A medium-sized box with open flaps sat on the floor. Cohen looked inside. “Well, we found the AP Calculus books,” he said. The box was filled with brand-new copies of Fast Track to 5.
It would have been easy to blame this glitch on the lack of a centralized computer system. The only problem was, such a computer system did exist, and I was looking at a printout from it. The printout said Palumbo had zero copies of the book, but 24 books were sitting in front of me in a box on the floor of a locked office.
Goldie Ross asks her first graders questions during story time. “These are smart kids,” she says, “but sometimes it takes a while to bring that out of them.”The Philadelphia schools don’t just have a textbook problem. They have a data problem—which is actually a people problem. We tend to think of data as immutable truth. But we forget that data and data-collection systems are created by people. Flesh-and-blood humans need to count the books in a school and enter the numbers into a database. Usually, these humans are administrative assistants or teacher’s aides. But severe state funding cuts over the past several years have meant cutbacks in the school district’s administrative staff. Even the best data-collection system is useless if there are no people available to manage it.
Michael Masch, the vice president of finance and chief financial officer at Manhattan College and the former chief financial officer of the School District of Philadelphia, told me that he used to routinely send his staff into schools to do bookkeeping and other tasks that overworked principals couldn’t handle. “Principals weren’t good at managing cash accounts or student accounts. They needed support in performing administrative functions because they were understaffed,” said Masch. “If the principal doesn’t meet with every parent, deal with every crisis, they get criticized. If they don’t do the invisible stuff, like the paperwork, they’re not going to read about it in the newspaper. So they triage.”
When it comes to the book scarcity, Philadelphia principals react in predictable ways. “They are very possessive of their textbooks," Rebecca Dhondt, the parent of a second grader and a fourth grader at Jenks Elementary School, told me. “My daughter is not allowed to bring her textbook home because they don’t want it to get lost.” For the past two years, she has surveyed teachers to find out what’s on their wish lists (mostly trade books and basic school supplies) and then collected donations from the community. “When I first did it last year, the principal said, ‘Oh, we have some of that stuff,’” said Dhondt. As with the AP calculus books at Palumbo, the missing items were sitting somewhere in the school but hadn’t made it into the right hands. “There’s not enough support to connect the supplies in the supply closets or the libraries with the teachers in the classroom,” Dhondt said. “They need to have enough money to connect the dots.”
Keeping track of supplies is one problem; keeping track of the students who will use them is a whole other challenge. In Philadelphia schools, many students are in foster care or navigating other precarious living situations, which means they frequently switch schools. A recent report by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia showed that one in five Philadelphia public high school students has been involved with the child welfare or juvenile-justice system. One teacher told me that when she taught in a West Philly high school, she gained or lost a student at least every two weeks.
“There is a set of logistical issues in a district this big that most districts in the U.S. don’t face,” explained Donna Cooper, the executive director of an organization called the Public Citizens for Children and Youth. “Everything isn’t what it appears.”
Students perform during the kindergarten “bump up” ceremony at Smith Elementary, just before the school permanently closed its doors in May 2013.After I finished the first round of data analysis in 2013, I went to the school district and asked to present my findings to Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite. The district spokesperson told me Hite wasn’t available and instead offered me a meeting with Stephen Spence, the deputy for the office of school-support services.
Spence, a former gym teacher in his early 60s, was in charge of school openings and closings. His job used to be handled by a whole staff, but ever since the cutbacks, Spence had been singlehandedly taking care of everything from desks to carpets.
I asked him how he verified that schools had enough books at the beginning of each year. He explained that every principal was supposed to submit a school opening checklist and a school-closing checklist. On that checklist (a Microsoft Word document that he emailed to all the principals), there was a box the principal could tick to indicate that the school had all of the books it needed to operate.
“Inventory is not micromanaged at a central- office level,” said Spence. “A principal that has very good skills with technology might develop an inventory system that they keep online. Another principal who is not so good with technology might have just a person who counts the books, carries them from one location to another, puts them in the closet, and visually checks that they’re there.”
I wondered about this, since a district-wide electronic system had been created several years back. In 2009, a student stood up at meeting of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission and proclaimed, "I don’t have a book." After that, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman had resolved to computerize the District’s inventory. Chief Information Officer Melanie Harris had told me that the system had been developed using internal resources.
“You’re saying that the online system is no longer in use?” I asked Spence.
The principals preferred to use their own systems, he said, and report their inventory to him. “I rely on the principals and, I’m going to say, real-time data. It gets tracked through the documents we talked about previously: the school-opening and the school-closing checklists.”
Last year, Philadelphia schools were allotted $0 per student for textbooks.As Spence receives the principals’ checklists, he enters the information into an Excel spreadsheet on his computer.
“Does this Excel document get shared with anyone?” I asked.
“It gets shared with assistant superintendents,” said Spence. “We have meetings. We put the Excel spreadsheet on a projector on a large screen during our school-opening meetings.”
As a data-science professional, it was clear to me that Spence was in over his head. Millions of books, hundreds of thousands of desks—it is impossible to keep track of all of these objects without technology and sufficient people to track them. It’s just as difficult to figure out how to use the data correctly.
The end result is that Philadelphia’s numbers simply don’t add up. Consider the eighth grade at Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia. According to district records, Tilden uses a reading curriculum called Elements of Literature, published by Houghton Mifflin. In 2012–2013, Tilden had 117 students in its eighth grade, but it only had 42 of these eighth-grade reading textbooks, according to the (admittedly flawed) district inventory system. Tilden’s eighth grade students largely failed the state standardized test: Their average reading score was 29.4 percent, compared with 57.9 percent districtwide.
One problem is that no one is keeping track of what these students need and what they actually have. Another problem is that there’s simply too little money in the education budget. The Elements of Literature textbook costs $114.75. However, in 2012–2013, Tilden (like every other middle school in Philadelphia) was only allocated $30.30 per student to buy books—and that amount, which was barely a quarter the price of one textbook, was supposed to cover every subject, not just one. My own calculations show that the average Philadelphia school had only 27 percent of the books required to teach its curriculum in 2012-2013, and it would have cost $68 million to pay for all the books schools need. Because the school district doesn’t collect comprehensive data on its textbook use, this calculation could be an overestimate—but more likely, it’s a significant underestimate.
At the end of the 2012–2013 school year, the book budget was eliminated altogether. Last June, the state-run School Reform Commission—which replaced Philadelphia’s school board in 2001—passed a “doomsday budget” that fell $300 million short of the district’s operating costs for the 2014 fiscal year. (The governor of Pennsylvania had already cut almost a billion dollars from public education funding in 2011.) Philadelphia schools were allotted $0 per student for textbooks. The 2015 budget likewise features no funding for books.
It may be many years until Philadelphia’s education budget matches its curriculum requirements. In the meantime, there are a few things the district—and other flailing school districts in America—can do. Stop giving standardized tests that are inextricably tied to specific sets of books. At the very least, stop using test scores to evaluate teacher performance without providing the items each teacher needs to do his or her job. Most of all, avoid basing an entire education system on materials so costly that big, urban districts can’t afford to buy them. Until these things change, it will be impossible to raise standardized test scores—despite the best efforts of the teachers and students who will return to school this fall and find no new books waiting for them.
As Baltimore's underserved students will feel the brunt of these Race to the Top policies----Bill Gates and the privatization movement pretend it is the privileged white middle-class that is the only group fighting against this education reform. Parents in poor communities with decades of bad schools and education are being sold a bill of goods when they are told these policies are meant to help these poor students.
Once Common Core culls a large number of students out of mainstream K-12 education----and it will-----where will this large group of low-income students go?
THEY WILL GO TO WORK-----WITH APPRENTICESHIPS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS STARTING KIDS WORKING AT THE EARLIEST AGES.
That is what will happen with most of Baltimore City's underserved students as Equal Protection and Opportunity education disappears. Remember, the goal of Clinton neo-liberal and Bush neo-con global corporate tribunal rule is having 90% of Americans in poverty so your child or grandchild will fall into what these global pols are trying to create today in US cities.
The middle-class need to stop looking at their own communities and look to cities and help the poor families fight this----
AN INJUSTICE FOR ONE DOES BECOME INJUSTICE FOR ALL!
Poor families are being told all this testing and evaluation will be a good challenge for poor students when it will simply be used to boost these students into an even lower tier of K-12.
Nowhere do these articles ever address what will happen with students that will take far longer to reach a passing grade on these Common Core tests. As the Harvard analyst in this article leaves one to believe-----uninformed middle-class parents are harming what would be of aid to low-income students. THIS IS NOT TRUE. We do not want to add pessimism to the chances of underserved children----but we do not want generations of families losing opportunity while this learning curve changes.
Middle-class families lead opt-out movement
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, firstname.lastname@example.org 9:02 p.m. EDT April 23, 2015
An examination of opt-out rates in the Lower Hudson Valley suggests that the anti-testing movement is being pushed almost exclusively by middle class families. Socioeconomic factors appear to be the driver of the movement — a culture of academic achievement at one end, poverty and a real need for better schools at the other. But if socioeconomics is the driver, politics is clearly sitting shotgun and holding the map.
More than 11,000 students refused to take the state-administered English language arts exams in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties last week. All told, roughly 20 percent of students on average opted out of the exams in 41 of 54 districts that responded to data requests from The Journal News.
But the differences in participation, district to district, were stark. In nine Lower Hudson Valley districts, fewer than 5 percent of students refused to take the test.
Gus Ashley, 10, talks about taking the state test with his mother, Mary Ashley, outside Upper Nyack Elementary School on Wednesday. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)
Districts with a high test participation rate fell into one of two categories — they are either home to a large number of adults with advanced degrees and high household income, or where more than half the students are categorized by the state as "economically disadvantaged."
At the high end, in districts with fewer students opting out of tests (5 percent or less of eligible students), more than 65 percent of adults have a bachelor's degree or higher, and median annual household income levels are higher than $130,000. Of the districts with the lowest opt-out rates this year, seven were the top-performing school districts in state tests last year.
For instance, Bronxville, which had the lowest test refusal rate in the area —1.4 percent — also ranked No. 1 among districts in the region in 2014, with 71 percent of its students judged to be "proficient" in the English exams.
The median household income in Bronxville is among the highest in the Lower Hudson Valley, $195,000. Among people 25 and older calling Bronxville home, 81 percent have at least a bachelor'sdegree, according to U.S. Census data.
Perhaps for the wealthiest families, tests are not something you decide to take, they're something on which you score well. According to Robert Schwartz, professor emeritus of practice in educational policy and administration at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, parents who believe that testing can help prepare a student for the college admission process will expect their children to succeed regardless of their opinions of the tests.
Parents' politics included in opt out decision
Experts: 'Opt-out' campaign could cost Cuomo clout
"Parents most focused on keeping their kids on track to get them into competitive colleges are not opting out of these tests," Schwartz said. "Parents who may not be as sophisticated about college education pressures and of the importance these tests play in preparing them could be more easily persuaded, especially when cheered on by teachers unions. The interests of the adults are getting in the way."
Aimee Pollak of New City with her son Ryan, a fifth-grader at New City Elementary School, outside the school Friday. Pollak has two children in the Clarkstown schools. She and her husband refused to have them take this state’s standardized tests. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
The stated purpose of the statewide tests is to level the playing field, to hold teachers, schools and school districts, regardless of economic advantage or academic achievement, accountable to the same benchmarks and parameters. This year, districts where more than 50 percent of students were categorized as "economically disadvantaged" reported low opt-out rates.
Only 1.5 percent of students in Mount Vernon refused the test, for example, and 5 percent in Greenburgh.
On the other hand, districts where more than than 30 percent of students refused to sit for tests have adults with lower levels of education, an average income for the area, and less than half a student body considered proficient.
As opt outs swell, battle rages over teacher evaluations
Uncertain futures await districts with high opt-out rates
In Mahopac, where 50 percent of eligible students opted out, only 36 percent of students were deemed proficient on the English exams last year. There, 43.5 percent of residents 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher. The median household income was $100,458 in 2013.
Across the Hudson River, the North Rockland school district had a 49 percent opt-out rate and only 33 percent of students were proficient in English language arts last year. In Pearl River, which had an opt-out rate of 38 percent, the median income was $84,951 in 2013, which mirrors the median for the county. There, 40 percent of adults 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher and student proficiency levels were at 49 percent on state English tests last year.
Beyond socioeconomics, the politicization of the issue has played a major role in driving the number of students opting out higher this year, though it's very difficult to come to any conclusions regarding the partisan nature of the debate.
The opposition to testing is not distinctly Republican or Democratic. Majority Republican Bronxville had some of the lowest opt-out numbers in the region, but of the nine towns with the lowest numbers of students refusing the test, eight have Democratic majorities.
Looking within the Democratic Party, lawyer and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, who launched a primary challenge in 2014, lent her voice to a robo-call urging parents to refuse the test. The New York State United Teachers union got into the game, too, encouraging its members to refuse the tests.
NYSUT President Karen Magee was vocal in encouraging parents to opt out. Some local teachers unions, including those in New Rochelle, Ramapo Central and Mahopac, adopted resolutions supporting the parents' rights to refuse the tests.
The fact that test results were tied directly to teacher evaluations became one major bone of contention, as was the hurried implementation of the associated Common Core standards, and the necessary time devoted to test preparation to the exclusion of creative elements of teaching. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2015 budget, adopted by the state Legislature, teachers deemed ineffective on two rounds of state tests could be fired.
"The state politicizing the issue is contributing to the problem," Schwartz said. "In a sense, they helped create the opt-out movement. It's an unfortunate distraction."
It's a problem buffeted by rhetoric and less-than-effective implementation practices, Schwartz said. The tests are aligned with the Common Core state standards, and teacher evaluations did not have to be linked to the tests until the rollout of Common Core was well underway.
"From a sheer practical point of view, the schools need to support the learning of teachers as they teach the rigorous Common Core standards," Schwartz said. "It's a pretty significant shift. It focuses on deep learning, analyzing and conceptual understanding that requires a significant shift in the instructional strategies of teachers."
The issue, however, has been framed not as a way to support teachers but a way to identify and weed out weak ones, resulting in backlash from both educators and parents.
"If parents see that teachers are upset and angry, they are going to try to support them," Schwartz said. "It's the spillover effect."
Here is the National Urban League headed by Clinton friend----Marc Haydel 'Morial (born January 3, 1958) is an American political and civic leader and the current president of the National Urban League. Morial served as mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, from 1994 to 2002. He is married to Michelle Miller, who has won awards as a CBS News Correspondent'. Morial was Mayor of New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina debacle and is no friend of the underserved.
Below you see why white middle-class are fighting and underserved families of color are being told this is a good thing. None of the discussion of how in the short term this will clear public schools of underserved children which the National Urban League works with Wall Street to do----no where does it tell of the harm standardized education, testing, and evaluation does to the quality of education, quality of teacher, that comes with corporate education. Look at the nerve of National Urban League calling this education reform a civil rights movement in education NOT ONCE MENTIONING THE PEOPLE DENYING EQUAL PROTECTION AND OPPORTUNITY IN EDUCATION AND GAVE CITIES CRUMBLING AND DECAYING SCHOOL BUILDING ARE BEHIND COMMON CORE. This is exactly what Clinton is doing in low-income communities----making these corporate changes sound like the new civil rights while spending two decades killing the original equal opportunity and access education.
'This, equitable implementation of standards, then – more than concerns about the rigors of the tests – will be what makes or breaks the Common Core mold.”'
- This is the very problem in Baltimore as regards fighting against these education privatatization policies and in shouting out against the failure to enforce Federal Equal Protection Opportunity and Access laws in the Constitution. These black national organizations like NAACP and National Urban League are being used to make it seem like these are NEW CIVIL RIGHTS policies.
Common Core: Creating Gold “Standards,” Not Dictates
- Nov 4, 2014 By National Urban League
Part of the mission of the Put Our Children 1st campaign is to facilitate an understanding of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in simple terms. Over the past year, we have been concerned about the propensity to mislabel CCSS as a federal dictation of curriculum across the nation. The truth, however, is stated in the name itself: “standards.”
Simply put, the CCSS are guidelines. Teachers are free to create the curriculums and lesson plans that work best for their students so that they are excited and engaged in the learning process, and challenged in the classroom.
We believe that all children can do well in school when given the proper environment, resources, and supports. CCSS is only a beginning, and a guide, rather than a dictum. Further means of assisting children to reach and surpass the new standards can include enhancements such as regular in-school “clinics” with math and language experts, after-school homework clubs, and of course, teacher training and support.
Educational expert Linda Darling-Hammond sits on the Gordon Commission, which is charged with evaluating the implementation of national educational assessment policy, practice and technology, including the CCSS. She recently co-authored an essay with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one that tracks the roll-out of Common Core to date. They said:
“Implementing the standards well will not be accomplished by targets and sanctions. It will require more adequate and equitable resources and greater investments in professional capacity, especially for currently underfunded schools that serve the highest-need students. This, equitable implementation of standards, then – more than concerns about the rigors of the tests – will be what makes or breaks the Common Core mold.”
There is a lot that we know about the failures of education, particularly for the underserved. We know that classrooms are overcrowded, resources cut, crucial elements like recess and lunchtimes trimmed, and teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof further outlines how these failures have led to America’s lower standing on global education scales.
While no one program or initiative can address all of these challenges, Kristof aptly frames the urgency to act: “Fixing the education system is the civil rights challenge of our era. A starting point is to embrace an ethos that was born in America but is now an expatriate: that we owe all children a fair start in life in the form of access to an education escalator.” The equitable implementation of Common Core standards allows our children to begin this journey.