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Jeanne Allen: Remembering Education Equity at the March

The commemoration of the March on Washington (Aug 28,1963) this weekend is cause to remember that while struggles in economic and educational equity did and do exist, there were people who for years had been working to integrate schools, even before the Brown v Board of Education ruling in 1954.

One such person was DC Archbishop and later Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle who led the integration of Catholic schools here before any mandate caused him to do so. O’Boyle believed that “we are all God’s children regardless of race.” That principle today may live  in most hearts but is sadly not always put to practice. Despite the clear superiority of equality as a principle that should guide the manner in which we educate children, our governments’ leaders in all but a handful of communities and states still assign children unequally to schools based on their zip code. While many religious and spiritual leaders joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr in calling for equality and indeed were like Archbishop O’Boyle welcoming all races to school together, too many of our current civil rights leaders reject publicly supported school choice programs that involve the same religious entities that once freed children. Many work to change their hearts and minds. We must do that, and more. To that end I share excerpts from D C’s Archbishop O’Boyle’s opening prayer on August 28, 1963 at the historic March on Washington:

“Bless this nation and all its people. May the warmth of Your love replace the coldness that springs from prejudice and bitterness. Send in our midst the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of all to the great truth that all men are equal in Your sight. Let us understand that simple justice demands

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Can you spot a real education reformer?

When trying to separate real reformers from “talkers,” it helps to see how they behave in various habitats. For example, how does this alleged reformer act when invited to participate in a forum where the education establishment may well be present? Does (s)he:

a. Change the word “choice” to “options”?
b. Use accountability fifteen different times but never define what it means?
c. Say there is no silver bullet and we simply have to “do it all.”
d. Advocate for “early childhood education” without mentioning that existing schools that don’t work can’t do a better job just by having the kids early and neglect to discuss how low-quality is an issue in most public pre-schools as well.
e. Banter on about the dropout rate, the state of joblessness, homelessness, foodlessness and more as excuses for poor performing schools?
f. Frequently use the words “non-profit solutions?”

For more about How to Spot a Real Reformer go to look here.

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Reporting From the DNC in Charlotte

Coverage of the conventions continues today in Charlotte, where veteran CER staffer Kara Kerwin has been hob-knobbing with Edreformers… and some not-so-edreformers! Here at a Dems for Ed Reform event the two major union bosses flank entrepreneur, Princeton Review Founder John Katzman. (Note they look a little peeved to have to listen to someone else!) Now that it’s their turn to speak, they use the time to bash organizations like K-12 Inc. and Edison who do good work serving children in non-traditional public schools.

Earlier at the same event, on a panel of state legislators, OH State Senator Nina Turner described the need for education reform in Cleveland: “if your hair is on fire, then you better act like it’s on fire”

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GOP Convention Highlights Ed Reform; Now it's the Dems Turn

It’s the moment one waits for, a bit of a dream come true, when day after day members of a major political party endorse and embrace the work to which you have devoted your professional career. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa was the icing on the cake – demand for high standards, the imperative for school choice, respect for teachers and their good performance, and a resolve to no longer tolerate the false promises of unions who want to defend the status quo of tenure over results. Condoleezza Rice implored us to understand that school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. A parade of Republican Governors who have fought the reform wars and won also embraced the cause and the bi-partisan agreement that has allowed real reform to thrive. Whatever ones politics, it is a real milestone when leaders of a party rarely credited with education as a signature issue demonstrate that it is just that. CER is in the middle of a campaign to educate the public and politicians about what real education reform is and why it is crucial to the future our country. It’s heartening to see that some officials already understand that. With the need for education reform to be a national – not a partisan imperative – the Democrats must now ante up.

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New SAT analysis: We’re Dropping Back

“Learning is like rowing upstream – to not advance is to drop back.” – Chinese proverb.

Well, get ready to go backward … again. Today’s SAT Breakdown for college-bound seniors shows that student improvement is going nowhere and that Hispanics and African-American students continue to face a wide achievement gap.

When you take into account this year’s SAT analysis and recent ACT scores, which reveal that only 25 percent of the 2011 class could meet the benchmarks for college readiness in all four core subjects, it’s no surprise that we’re dropping back.

The United States has slipped from 12th to 16th globally in college education attainment, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report released this week.

How much more writing needs to be on the wall before we reach a consensus that how we continue to educate our kids is not working?

We’re not adequately preparing our K-12 students for college and therefore we’re falling behind other nations around the globe both educationally and economically. It’s time that we all step back, admit its not working and then work to reform our education system to emphasize student achievement.

We, and especially our kids, need a system that puts them first and rallies against the backward trends evident in our education system.

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New SAT analysis: We're Dropping Back

“Learning is like rowing upstream – to not advance is to drop back.” – Chinese proverb.

Well, get ready to go backward … again. Today’s SAT score analysis for college-bound seniors shows that student improvement is going nowhere and that Hispanics and African-American students continue to face a wide achievement gap.

When you take into account this year’s SAT analysis and recent ACT scores, which reveal that only 25 percent of the 2011 class could meet the benchmarks for college readiness in all four core subjects, it’s no surprise that we’re dropping back.

The United States has slipped from 12th to 16th globally in college education attainment, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report released this week.

How much more writing needs to be on the wall before we reach a consensus that how we continue to educate our kids is not working?

We’re not adequately preparing our K-12 students for college and therefore we’re falling behind other nations around the globe both educationally and economically. It’s time that we all step back, admit its not working and then work to reform our education system to emphasize student achievement.

We, and especially our kids, need a system that puts them first and rallies against the backward trends evident in our education system.

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Putting the Ill in Illinois

Illinois’ education blob is giving themselves a pat on the back. Their “collaboration” helped pass a bill, almost unanimously, that institutes some form of teacher evaluations based on “multiple measures” yet to be defined, and changes tenure rules, slightly. There are longer school days, strike rules requiring 75 percent of teachers to agree, but not much more. There’s not much here that helps students immediately, or parents, but makes it look like it does. Indeed, the back patting seems to be more about how it was done, not what was done.

Says the press propaganda:

“Unlike our neighbors in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states, stakeholders here worked together to craft an aggressive bill that makes our state the leader in education reform. At a time when many teachers understandably feel under attack, this bill celebrates effective teachers, recognizes their accomplishments and helps keep them in classrooms.”

We’re so glad that no one had to flee a state to keep from voting on major changes to education. Maybe that’s because there was nothing really to flee about, no controversy, no major changes. Time will tell, but a rose by any other name is not a rose. And this bill is not reform.

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Obama Administration Flips on School Vouchers

WASHINGTON, DC – In a stunning turn of events, the Obama Administration today reversed course on the issue of school choice and vouchers, detailing an ambitious plan to create national school choice options through a competitive grant program for states.

“Unfortunately, I had not actually sat down and read the research on school choice and achievement for myself,” Obama admitted during a press conference this morning. “I trusted the counsel of those who supposedly had. I can admit when I am wrong, and in this case, I see that offering options to parents is not only changing lives, but, on a large scale, can lift our entire school system to new heights. That’s exactly what this White House is all about.”

Joined at the podium by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the President outlined their proposal to launch a competition that, like its predecessor ‘Race to the Top’, asks states to collaborate with stakeholders to win gobs of cash. Only, this time, according to Duncan, “the stakeholders will not be teachers unions and school boards, but parents and students. We screwed up last time and relied on the input of those we thought had the best interests of kids in mind. We wanted urgency. What we got was a pile of promises that have not only been sitting in limbo for over a year, but in some cases abandoned entirely.”

Duncan also revealed that no outside consultancy would be accepted to boost the chances states have to win. “For ‘Race to the Top’, my staff was reading the same application over and over again. Only the state names changed.”

To prove his point, he brought up the winning applications of Maryland and Hawaii. “Honestly, we were just flipping coins at the end,” he said.

Details of the plan are still being put in place, but

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Borrowed Time

clock(Originally posted to the National Journal‘s Education Experts blog)

The common theme running through many (too many) teacher evaluation proposals is time. We need time to create new evaluations. We need time to observe a teacher (after taking the time to build them up). We need time to create a plan based on our observations. We need to give them time to prove they can get better (or not). We need time to figure out if they should be doing something other than teaching.

The problem with ‘borrowing time’ is that no one wants to quantify what that means – how much we need, how soon, and whether we really even need more to begin with.

Before ‘Race to the Top’, states grappled with the notion of paying teachers based on performance, and some attempted modest measures, but most fell short. ‘Race to the Top’ further encouraged evaluation systems, but guidelines conveyed no urgency and states needed simply to promise changes. Evaluation systems adopted have proved fuzzier than many originally thought. Now with budget struggles in states and more understanding that first-hired/last-fired policies actually harm kids (what a discovery!), state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing hard to put hard, firm measurements with consequences in place…

Read the entire post HERE.

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