DC Mayor goes “all in”, but the wrong way: Chooses a professional education privatizer for Deputy Mayor for Education

Valerie Jablow spills the beans on the new DC Deputy Mayor for Education, who is not a career educator but someone with very tight financial, foundation, family, and business to the folks (like Pearson) who’ve been profiting mightily off privatizing public education across the US.

Read her excellent article here:

Published in: on September 29, 2018 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Charity is no Substitute for Justice”: the Jeff Bezos Boondoggle

Just think: the richest man in the world wants to open up early childhood centers that run like Amazon — where low-paid workers work like, and are paid like, serfs.

Larry Cuban and Audrey Waters explain.

Published in: on September 24, 2018 at 2:50 pm  Comments (1)  

Interesting: How the Great Recession Should Have Been Handled

In brief: instead of bailing out the banks (and their billionaire stock- and bond-holders) and their CEOs, bail out the poor folks who got stuck with all those fraudulent and impossible-to-pay mortgages and student loans.

Here is the link.

(This erasing of bad debts is by the way precisely the wording of the last lines of the Lord’s Prayer! It’s not “trespasses” in Greek, Latin, or Aramaic: it’s “debts” that are supposed to be forgiven!)

Published in: on September 20, 2018 at 10:31 am  Comments (2)  

Sunspot Has Re-Opened

The strange recent shutdown of Sunspot Solar Observatory is over. I was told by someone purportedly from their visitor center by phone, an hour or so ago, that they are open for visits again.

AURA, the agency that owns the place, wrote that it the mysterious shutdown was neither because of aliens nor the need to hide important military secrets, but rather just a way of capturing a dangerous criminal.

Here is the press release from AURA, which runs the observatory.  I extract a few paragraphs:

“The facility closed down in an orderly fashion [one September 6] and is now [Sept 17] re-opening. The residents that vacated their homes will be returning to the site, and all employees will return to work this week. 

AURA has been cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak. During this time, we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location. 

The decision to vacate was based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat. AURA determined that moving the small number of on-site staff and residents off the mountain was the most prudent and effective action to ensure their safety. 

In light of recent developments in the investigation, we have determined there is no risk to staff, and Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th. Given the significant amount of publicity the temporary closure has generated, and the consequent expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the site, we are temporarily engaging a security service while the facility returns to a normal working environment. 

We recognize that the lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some. However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take.

(I’m quite sure it wasn’t aliens, but I am a little dubious about the dangerous fugitive explanation. After all, if you were running such an investigation, wouldn’t you WANT to have the public alerted as to what the suspect(s) supposedly looked like?)

What do you think?

And here are a few other links for the paranoid and/or the curious:


This next one has been updated to indicate that the place re-opened yesterday.







Published in: on September 18, 2018 at 1:52 pm  Comments (1)  

A Thorough Analysis of DC’s PARCC Scores

Valerie Jablow of EducationDC has a lengthy and thorough column, guest-written by one Betsy Wolf, with way more analysis of the recently-released PARCC scores for DC’s charter schools and regular public schools than I could ever accomplish.

The conclusions that I draw are that:

(1) There is a huge amount of variation in PARCC test scores and proportions of ‘at risk’ students from school to school, both in the regular public schools and the charters;

(2) The public schools have slightly higher scores than the charter schools;

(3) There is a very strong and negative correlation between the proportion of ‘at risk’ students and the proportion of students scoring at the highest levels on this test;

(4) There is a much greater concentration of ‘at risk’ students in the regular public schools than in the charter schools;

(5) No, we have not overcome socio-economic segregation, and

(6) No, the charter schools do not have a secret method for achieving success for every kid, no matter what.

Here is the link: https://educationdc.net/2018/08/27/how-did-dcs-parcc-scores-grow/

I reproduce here a couple of Ms Wolf’s graphs, showing that close correlation between income and PARCC scores in both the charter and regular public sectors. The horizontal axis is the percentage of the student population at the school that is ‘at risk’ (a composite measure including the fraction of families being on food stamps, welfare, incarcerated, free and/or reduced lunch, etc), and the vertical axis is the percentage of students scoring either a 4 or a 5 on the PARCC (that is, the highest levels). Both are for mathematics; the first one is for regular DC public schools, and the second is for the charter sector.

atrisk-dcps - Rebecca Wolf


atrisk-charters - Betsy Wolf

(Both of these graphs are copyright 2018 by Betsy Wolf, and if you click on them you can see enlarged versions.)

The first one shows that Janney, Ross, SWS, Key, and Mann elementary schools all have zero percent of their students classified as ‘at risk’, and have some the highest percentages (about 80%) in the entire city of their students scoring 4 or 5 on the math portion of the PARCC in all of DC.

Conversely, Luke Moore, Washington Metropolitan, and Roosevelt STAY — all alternative high schools — have nearly 100% of their students ‘at risk’ and have zero percent of their students scoring 4s or 5s on the PARCC. There are roughly 30 regular DC public schools that have over 75% of their students ‘at risk’. That’s a lot of kids. So the segregation by socio-economic status in the regular public schools is rather extreme. (Luke Moore happens to be about 6 blocks from my house; I’m not sure how often the students there actually attend class on a regular basis, based on how often, and when, I see students come and go.)

By comparison, there are only about six charter schools with over 75% of their students ‘at risk’. The negative correlation between the fraction of ‘at risk’ students and the fraction that ‘passes’ the PARCC with a 4 or a 5 is very strong in both the charter schools and the regular public schools, but more so in the latter (the first graph).

In the charter sector, there are many fewer schools with greater than 60% of their students scoring 4s or 5s (that is, above the fourth gray horizontal line, counting from the bottom). Also, there are fewer charter than public schools with less than 25% of their students at risk (that is, to the left of the second gray vertical line, counting from the left).

Interestingly, there are a number of somewhat anomalous charter schools that don’t seem to fit the stereotypes: Lee Montessori, Shining Stars and Roots have NO students ‘at risk’, but fairly low fractions of their students scoring high on the math PARCC, and we have four of the KIPP Schools (Spring, Lead, Promise, and Heights) which have middling concentrations of ‘at risk’ students but relatively high scores on the PARCC. (Shining Stars happens to be less than a block from my house, and I see apparently prosperous, professional families, many European-American, dropping off and picking up their kids every morning and every afternoon.)

Why these anomalies? That bears some further investigation, but my colleagues who have taught at various KIPP schools have told me me that the KIPP system is quite effective at weeding out non-compliant students.


Answer: NO.


It’s getting harder and harder for teachers to do their jobs

As Peter Greene of “Curmudgucation” puts it, teachers have long wished to ignore bad suggestions from on high, close the door, and teach as well as they can.

That’s no longer possible: bad mandates are now national, state-wide, district-wide, and are imposed by principals who want to stay employed. Every moment of nearly every class is micro-managed, badly.

“Many teachers took quite a while to catch on. A building principal would announce a new bad idea, like test-centered schooling and senseless teacher evaluation systems, and teachers would roll their eyes and prepare to give the administrator a bad time, not understanding that his orders came from far up the food chain. Many teachers assumed they were suffering under local idiocy; it took a while to understand that this was state-and-national level foolishness.”

Then …

“came policies that could easily have been entitled The Just Shut Up And Get These Kids Ready For The Big Standardized Test Act. To teachers’ collective plea for assistance and support came replied like Teach for America and charter schools which said, essentially- “Help you?! We intend to replace you!” And it has come consistently from both parties.”

Greene …

“would argue that there are some positive side effects to the current condition of teaching. For one thing, it demands that you commit and become intentional about your work. When you say you “just want to teach,” what do you mean, exactly? What are the important parts? What does the work mean to you? What is it that you are going to fight for? These are good questions to know the answers to. Focus. Keep your eyes on the real destination as long as you can.

Because teaching is still hugely important work, and the students are hugely important people, and both deserve to have warriors to defend them. Yes, it shouldn’t be this hard, and yes, we are losing a whole generation of teacher might-have-beens because the education landscape has been turned into a dangerous, scary-looking place.”

But try to do so anyway!

Full article here.

Published in: on August 18, 2018 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Only Good Nazi?

Is a dead Nazi.

That was settled in 1945. That was over 70 years ago.

And the only good Kluxer?

A dead Kluxer.

There are some former Nazis and KKK members who have renounced their racist,murderous ways.

But active ones?

Even putting them in prison isn’t enough because the intensely racist nature of American prisons gives them opportunities to twist other prisoners’ minds and enlist them into Aryan (ie Nazi) gangs as well.

So, the only good Nazi?

A dead one.

Published in: on August 10, 2018 at 9:37 pm  Comments (6)  

Was there really an academic miracle in New Orleans?

Some folks at NPR and the NYT seem to think so. Jan Resseger disagrees, and has numbers to back it up her explanations.

(So does Mercedes Schneider, but I think she could use a good editor to shorten her posts and prevent her from burying the lede…)

Published in: on July 24, 2018 at 12:46 pm  Comments (1)  

Satirical ICE Recruitment Video from Michelle Wolf

Yes, *that* Michelle Wolf. It’s quite funny. Here is the link.

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 6:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why Student Growth Percentiles Can’t Be Used To Attribute Cause

Jersey Jazzman explains why using SGPs neither helps figure out why poor students do worse, nor is a fair method for evaluating teachers.

The link is here.

Published in: on July 22, 2018 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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