The Very Important Four-Letter Word That Most Charter Schools Leave Out of Their Sales Pitch

Peter Greene explains it clearly, as usual. The word is “SOME”.


Published in: on September 24, 2016 at 8:40 pm  Comments (3)  

Why you shouldn’t join TFA — a serious video by a young woman who did 

Among other things, she says that the TFA organization is actually designed to INCREASE achievement gaps, not close them.

Here’s the link to the video (and thanks to Mercedes Schneider):

Published in: on September 23, 2016 at 6:12 pm  Comments (1)  

How Finland Handles Education: By Doing About the Opposite of Everything Advocated by American Educational ‘Reformers’

Yet another article on the Finnish education miracle, this one in The Guardian. Definitely worth reading.

How Trump Thinks

Somehow I got on a list of Carson and Trump supporters and they beg me for donations. You might be curious as to how Trump makes his pitch. I am pasting the entire thing.

His argument, made without any evidence whatsoever is that it’s utterly shocking that Hillary and her “cronies” accuse him and his supporters of racism even though there is none, which shows that she’s “crooked”. Meaning that he, Trump, is honest.

I never have  considered myself a “crony” of Ms Clinton, but Mr Trump has a many-decade-long long, documented history of racist rental practices and shady, corrupt and dishonest business ethics Which he learned from one of the shadiest lawyers – Roy Cohn. Not all of his supporters are racist, but some of them definitely are (unless you also swallow the belief that Nazis and Kluxers aren’t racists!!).

Anyway, here goes:

Sent from my iPhone
On Aug 31, 2016, at 9:10 AM, Donald J. Trump <> wrote:
Please find a special message from one of our advertisers, Trump Make America Great Again Committee.

Make America Great Again
Can you believe the latest lies and smear tactics from the Clinton campaign?
They have no shame, and they are panicking. They see our tremendous momentum on the ground and they will do ANYTHING to stop it.
So now they’re resorting to the most desperate play in the tired Democrat playbook – claiming racism where there is zero basis in fact. It is gutter politics at its worst and shows how scared Crooked Hillary is.
Our campaign is about UNITING the American people, so that we can fight together to build a stronger and more prosperous country for ALL of us!
Don’t let them get away with these horrible lies, Guy. JOIN us today and help fight back, and I’ll match your contribution up to $1 million. But ACT NOW, because our end-of-month deadline is coming up fast at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!
These desperate attacks are based on outright lies, and it’s really pathetic and disgraceful.
But when it comes to Crooked Hillary, nothing surprises me anymore!
The worst part about it is she’s not just lying about me.
She’s lying about every one of my TENS OF MILLIONS of supporters across the country. She’s disparaging YOU. This is what she thinks of ALL of us.
Don’t let her win, Guy. There could not be a better time to get involved.
Join our campaign today, and I’ll match your contribution so that it will make DOUBLE the impact in our efforts.
Together, we can win this historic race and shut down the corrupt Clinton political machine for good!
Thank you, Guy. I hope you choose to get involved, and I greatly appreciate any support you’re able to help with.
Best wishes,
Donald J. Trump
Donald J. Trump
P.S. It’s clear that Crooked Hillary and her cronies will say and do anything to divert attention from the scandal that has engulfed her – more details about her shady dealings through Clinton Foundation emerge every day! We can’t let her LIE her way into the White House, and we know the liberal media will NEVER hold her accountable for her dishonesty. That’s why I’m counting on your help to fight back and WIN!
I’ll match your support dollar-for-dollar if you JOIN right now with a special contribution. Don’t wait Guy – time is running out!



Contributions to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Paid for by Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee

Published in: on August 31, 2016 at 10:58 am  Comments (1)  

Yes, Donald Trump has Long Been a Racist POS

Details in this NYT article show that Donald J Trump and his father have long discriminated against blacks by systematically refusing to rent them housing.

So his racist remarks during his presidential campaign are not accidents. 

Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 12:40 pm  Comments (2)  

Donald Trump is a Sociopath Who Has Fooled a Lot of People

Readers of this blog will note that I haven’t written much recently.

They will also probably be able to predict that I don’t like the current Republican candidate for President of the United States.

In fact, I think that Donald Trump is a classic example of a master sociopath. He has no remorse for any of his evil deeds, such as the thousands of contractors and employees whom he has stiffed. He doesn’t care at all that his positions on any given matter often change overnight, and that he has scapegoated many groups of honest, hard-working people, and that he has literally no actual political program.

Quick: what do the KKK, the various neo-Nazis around the world, former Iraqi Baath regime loyalists, Vladimir Putin, the current Turkish government, ISIS, and Donald Trump all have in common? They all go out of their way to repeat lies that have been repeatedly shown to be utterly false.

What’s even more scary is that Trump’s uncanny media savvy has fooled literally millions of Americans into thinking that he cares about them. He represents everything bad in American history: the racism, the super-exploitation of immigrants and blacks, the conniving with open criminals like the Mafia, the maldistribution of wealth upwards to the schemers and con-men, and overall corruption.

I strongly recommend that you read what Trump’s former ghost-writer now says about Trump. Tony Schwartz followed the con-man around for several months back in the late 1980’s in order to write “The Art of the Deal”, and now is very much alarmed. He says,

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it.

And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

“Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said. “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.” Often, Schwartz said, the lies that Trump told him were about money—“how much he had paid for something, or what a building he owned was worth, or how much one of his casinos was earning when it was actually on its way to bankruptcy.”

Predictably, Trump has sent his lawyers to counter-attack. Schwartz is standing his ground. 

I think it is really, really important that Donald Trump NOT be our next president.

[By the way, I disagree with a number of Hillary Clinton’s past and present positions on certain foreign and domestic issues. She is way too chummy with millionaires and billionaires like Donald Trump. (Let’s keep in mind that Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Mike Pence were all in favor of invading Iraq!) And like Bill Clinton, GWBush and Obama, I think she is completely wrong on all of the solutions that they offer to our very real educational problems. When people scream about Benghazi, they utterly ignore the fact that their hero, Ronald Reagan, just plain pulled out of Lebanon after a suicide bomber killed 241 Marines asleep in their beds.

[But the attacks on Ms. Clinton are simply nutty — way too many Americans get their views from the fact-free vitriol provided by Fox News (sic). Just like way too many people listened to the racist, anti-semitic diatribes of Father McCoughlin during the 1920s and 1930s.]



Is Raising Test Scores in “No-Excuses” Charter Schools Actually Harmful to Those Students?

This is very, very significant. I am copying and pasting this from Jerry Becker.


From Jay P. Greene’s Blog (With Help From Some Friends), Tuesday, June 14, 2016. See

The Disconnect Between Changing Test Scores and Changing Later Life Outcomes Strikes Again


The Disconnect Between Changing Test Scores and Changing Later Life Outcomes Strikes Again
I’ve written several times recently about how short term gains in test scores are not associated with improved later life outcomes for students. Schools and programs that increase test score quite often do not yield higher high school graduation or college attendance rates. Conversely, schools and programs that fail to produce greater gains in test scores sometimes produce impressive improvements in high school graduation and college attendance rates, college completion rates, and even higher employment and earnings. I’ve described at least 8 studies that show a disconnect between raising test scores and stronger later life outcomes. [SEE AND ]
Well, now we have a 9th. Earlier this month MDRC quietly released a long-term randomized experiment of the effects of the SEED boarding charter school in Washington, DC. Because SEED is a boarding school, there was a lot of hope among reformers that it might be able to make a more profound difference for very disadvantaged students by having significantly more time to influence students and structure their lives. Of course, boarding schools also cost significantly more – in this case roughly twice as much as traditional non-residential schools. [SEE ]
While the initial test score results are very encouraging, the later life outcomes are disappointing. After two years students admitted to SEED by lottery outperformed those denied admission by lottery by 33% of a standard deviation in math and 23% in reading. If we judged the quality of schools entirely based on short term changes in test scores, as many reformers would like to do, we’d say this school was doing a great job.
In fact, SEED may be doing a great job in a variety of ways, but when we look at longer term outcomes for students on a variety of measures the evidence demonstrating SEED’s success disappears or even turns negative. Of the students accepted by lottery to SEED 69.3% graduate from high school after four years compared to 74.1% for the control group, a difference that is not statistically significant. And when asked about their likelihood of attending college, there was no significant difference between the two groups. SEED students also score significantly higher on a measure of engaging in risky behavior and lower on the grit scale.

We’ve seen this pattern before. Research by Marty West and colleagues of no excuses charter schools in Boston found large gains in test scores but also significantly lowered student performance on noncognitive measures. And Josh Angrist and colleagues found that those schools actually decrease four year high school graduation rates despite large gains in test scores. In their words [SEE AND ]:
Perhaps surprisingly given the gains in test score graduation requirements reported in column 2 of table 4, the estimates in column 4 of this table suggest not. In fact, charter attendance reduces the likelihood a student graduates on time by 14.5 percentage points, a statistically significant effect.
It’s time that people start paying a lot more attention to this pattern of a disconnect between short term test score gains and long term life outcomes. We can’t just dismiss this pattern as fluke. And the reduction in noncognitive skills may be important for explaining this pattern. Reduced grit scores may not just be the product of reference group bias. It appears that certain types of charter schools that are able to produce large test score gains also lower character skills and fail to yield long term improvements in life outcomes. Conversely other types of charter and private schools in choice programs fail to improve test scores but yield large gains in later life outcomes.
If we think we can know which schools of choice are good and ought to be expanded and which are bad and ought to be closed based primarily on annual test score gains, we are sadly mistaken. Various portfolio management and “accountability” regimes depend almost entirely on this false belief that test scores reveal which are the good and bad schools. The evidence is growing quite strong that these strategies cannot properly distinguish good from bad schools and may be inflicting great harm on students. Given the disconnect between test scores and later life outcomes we need significantly greater humility about knowing which schools are succeeding.

Published in: on June 18, 2016 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Blackmailing Teachers – Curmudgucation

Read the sordid story here
Anyone can write and post a complaint about a teacher, of any sort (gives too much homework, too strict, immoral, not fair to my little Jacob or Becca), true or imaginary, for all to see. For free.

(Of course, it’s also free to file an official complaint through the usual channels. And we are not living in a dictatorship where a complaint against a school employee lands you in a prison camp. Not yet.)
But to remove the complaint a teacher must pay a fee that starts at $250.00 and goes up from there. No attempt is made to ascertain any facts in any of the cases, so any readers have no way of knowing whether any of it is true or not.
It’s slander. And it’s also blackmail, plain and simple.
And neither I nor Perer Greene is making this up. 

Published in: on June 2, 2016 at 7:58 pm  Comments (1)  

Peter Singer on Charters and Segregation

This is an excellent article by Peter Singer on how charter schools are in fact helping to re-segregate American schools, and what should be done about it.

Published in: on June 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lousy PARCC items from Pearson released by a brave yet anonymous teacher


This is from Leonie Haimson:

Important! Collective action needed by bloggers

As some of you may know, Celia Oyler of TC posted an anonymous teacher’s critique of the 4th grade PARCC exam a few days ago that identified a few texts and the questions asked. Yesterday Celia received a threatening email from PARCC and removed the name of the text sources & the wording of the questions. She is now looking into challenging PARCC’s position legally. 

My tweet and many others linking to the piece were deleted after PARCC complained to Twitter of copyright infringement Diane Ravitch wrote a blog post about this last night that she insists was somehow deleted. 

As a collective act of defiance, I propose that as many of us as possible re-post the original blog post and challenge PARCC’s authority and capacity. Other points that could be made:  

It should be required that all high-stakes tests be released after they are given to check for accuracy and fairness. If kids, teachers, and schools are to be judged on the basis of these exams, the test-makers shouldn’t be allowed to escape accountability by keeping their tests secret after they are given.

It is ridiculous that Pearson, PARCC or any organization would even try to keep secret the items on a test that is given to millions of students nationwide.

It is especially important to publicize as widely as possible the awful quality of the Pearson/PARCC exams– designed to find as many kids as possible failing. Pearson in particular has been known for producing crappy tests for years (witness the Pineapple.)

You could also mention the fact that most of the writing responses on the PARCC exam will be scored by computers that are unable to distinguish sense from utter nonsense.

[I wrote about this here:

The full blog post is pasted below, and attached as a word doc as well. Please consider posting this on your blog and let me know if you do. thanks!

Leonie Haimson

The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.
I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?
There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.
A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.”

[Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]
The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).
Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?
So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response. 

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”
However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it.

[Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]
The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

 Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.
It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. Even CCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.
However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3

In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.
Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)
Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.
Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)
So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.
We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.
In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.




Published in: on May 14, 2016 at 6:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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