BY Lydia DishmanMon Nov 21, 2011
Andrew Yang wants to create jobs. Specifically, 100,000 U.S. jobs by 2025.
It’s an ambitious goal, but one that Yang believes is completely attainable just by getting recent college graduates to work at startups rather than take positions in finance, consulting, and law. But not just any startups: Yang wants to recruit young talent to ignite entrepreneurial sparks in such economically depressed areas as Detroit; Providence, Rhode Island; and New Orleans.
So who is this one-man economic stimulus package?
Yang is a 37-year-old serial entrepreneur with experience in just about every industry sector, from health care to fashion retail. This August he founded Venture for America (VFA), a wildly ambitious nonprofit based in New York City that is recruiting its first class of fellows. Read more…
Police officers in Portland, Ore., pushed people away from a park encampment on Sunday. The protesters were later driven out.
BERKELEY, Calif. — Goodbye, city park, hello, college green.
As city officials around the country move to disband Occupy Wall Street encampments amid growing concerns over health and public safety, protesters have begun to erect more tents on college campuses.
“We are trying to get mass numbers of students out,” said Natalia Abrams, 31, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, and an organizer with Occupy Colleges, a national group coordinating college-based protesters.
Though only a handful of colleges have encampments, tents went up last week at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and here at the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, protesters in California have vowed to occupy dozens of other campuses in the coming days.
Last Wednesday at Berkeley, about 3,000 people gathered on Sproul Plaza to protest tuition increases, and many then set up a camp. Demonstrators linked arms to protect their tents, but police officers broke through and took down more than a dozen tents, arresting about 40 protesters. Read more…
By CANDICE CHOI and EILEEN AJ CONNELLY
While a few hundred have been camping out in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, many more join in for a few hours or a day to add their voices. Here’s a look at some of the protesters who ventured by in the past week, and the financial issues they’re dealing with:
John Smith, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y., works part time at Trader Joe’s because he hasn’t been able to find work in his field for over a year, despite having a master’s degree. He has about $45,000 in student loan debt. His girlfriend, Meropi Peponides, 27, a graduate student at Columbia University, will have about $50,000 by the time she graduates.
“I don’t know in the end what exactly this will achieve, if anything. But if it makes people wake up just a little bit, it’s worth it,” Peponides said. “The potential is huge. That’s why I’m here. I felt the potential somehow.”
Smith said he has sent out about 200 resumes in his search. He’s looking mainly for work with non-profit organizations. “The jobs that I’ve been applying for are all entry level jobs in my career field. I don’t think I’m shooting for the stars trying to get those jobs.” Smith said, noting that five years ago, before grad school, he was able to get work at that level.
He was carrying a sign that said, “I am the 99 percent,” a slogan that resonated with him. “It’s true. I am one of the many people that are having a lot of trouble finding ways to make it through things right now.”
Tracy Blevins, 41-year-old Manhattan resident, has a doctorate in biomedical science but lost her job as an adjunct professor at Touro College this spring. She’s since been getting by on odd jobs; most recently, she acted as a cross-country driver for $2,000.
“I’m earning money off a license I got when I was 16, and still paying off the loans I had to take out to get my degree,” she said.
Even after nine years of paying down her loans, Blevins said she owes $10,000. She’s current on payments now, but said the loans have crippled her credit score and even prevented her from getting work in the past.
“I have paid and paid and paid and I still owe $10,000. It’s the interest that keeps me in debt,” she said. Read more…
We calculated the list of America’s Most Expensive Colleges with the help of the Center for College Affordability & Productivity, a Washington non-profit that researches the causes of rising educational costs. The center, relying on data from the government’s National Center for Education Statistics, includes not only tuition and room and board, but the cost of books and other costs such as transportation and mandatory computer. Read more…
Most of us expect increasing sophistication in our technology. And generally, over time, we’ve gotten it. We’ve gone from large mainframes to today’s smartphones, which carry more computing power than NASA used to send a man to the moon.
In getting to this point, we’ve abandoned outdated technologies. Music is a perfect example: We abandoned eight-tracks for cassettes and cassettes for CDs, and then left CDs behind for MP3s.
This sort of pruning comes naturally in free markets, through what economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction.” It helps technology evolve and provide the services and functions we expect.
But what if markets didn’t evolve in this way? Imagine a world in which a new smartphone is delayed because it has to integrate with a mainframe computer from 1980. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s essentially how government too often works.
Promoters of innovative models in government must battle antiquated regulations and bureaucratic inertia. Governments almost never do the pruning needed to make room for new growth.
What would happen if we applied the principles of technology development to government programs? How might government operate differently?
Plug and Play
Today, all too many programs outlive their usefulness. Dismantling or redesigning large government programs is a Herculean task — one that prevents an efficient response to rapid shifts in society, technology and the economy. What we need is a way to rapidly disassemble and rearrange elements of government programs that no longer make sense.
The software world calls this “modular development.” All the parts work together, but at the same time any piece can be added or removed without rendering the full system unusable. Salesforce. for example, is a customer-relationship-management software system that offers more than 3 million customers different product modules to help them boost sales. As the customers’ needs change, they can add and remove the different modules quickly and easily, without handicapping the other modules. Read more…
Award-winning New York City programs provide low-income students with quality summer learning. This annual Excellence in Summer Learning Award recognizes summer programs demonstrating excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people, as measured by the Association’s Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs. Winning programs also demonstrate exemplary practices in overall programming, including supporting staff, schools and other program partners in fulfilling shared goals.
The National Summer Learning Association has chosen the Fiver Children’s Foundation (http://fiver.org) and Global Kids, Inc. (http://globalkids.org), both New York City-based summer programs, as two of the recipients of the 2011 Excellence in Summer Learning Awards.
This annual award recognizes summer programs demonstrating excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people, as measured by
the Association’s Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs. Winning programs also demonstrate exemplary practices in overall programming, including supporting staff, schools and other program partners in fulfilling shared goals.
Research has established that low-income students are disproportionately at risk to lose academic skills during the summer. While most children lose up to two months worth of math skills during summer breaks, lower-income children also lose two months of reading skills. Excellence Award winning programs strive to curb these losses, but also employ other research-based practices to build 21st Century skills, confidence, parental engagement and future aspirations.
“This year’s Excellence Award winners are nothing short of inspiring,” said Sarah Pitcock, the Association’s senior director of program quality. “This diverse crop of programs is evidence that regardless of subject matter or setting, young people thrive when summer learning programs build positive relationships, self-efficacy and knowledge in equal measure.” Read more…
By Andrew J. Rotherdam.
Quick: which group consistently tops the list of U.S. political donors — bankers? Oil barons? The Koch brothers? Nope. Try school teachers. The two major teachers’ unions, despite all the rhetoric about how teachers have no influence on policy, collectively spent more than $67 million directly on political races between 1989 and 2010. And that figure doesn’t include millions more spent by their state and local affiliates and all kinds of support for favored (read: reform-averse) candidates.
For years, union leaders have lambasted as anti-teacher pretty much every proposal to expand charter schools, improve teacher evaluation and turn around low-performing schools. Yet these reform issues have moved to the mainstream as even the Democrats, traditionally labor’s biggest allies, have gotten fed up with union intransigence to structural changes to improve America’s schools. Meanwhile, states as diverse as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, and — you guessed it — Wisconsin are attacking union prerogatives such as valuing seniority over on-the-job performance or collectively bargaining for benefits. At the same time, black and Latino parents are growing increasingly impatient with lousy schools and are organizing in an effort to provide a counterweight to the unions. Just last week, the nation’s second biggest teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), was embarrassed when a PowerPoint presentation surfaced on the web outlining strategies for undercutting parent groups. Sample quote: “What Helped Us? Absence of charter school and parent groups from the table.”
But perhaps the biggest strategic pressure for reform is starting to come from teachers themselves, many of whom are trying to change their unions and by extension change their profession. These renegade groups, comprised generally of younger teachers, are trying to accomplish what a generation of education reformers, activists and think tanks have not: forcing the unions to genuinely mend their ways. Here are the three most talked about initiatives: Read more…
It seems appropriate that the city where America’s movies are made has enjoyed such a dramatic trajectory. Los Angeles began the twentieth century with barely 100,000 residents. By century’s end, 4 million people were living there, making it the nation’s second-largest city, while another 6 million were occupying the rest of Los Angeles County.
But in the new century, Los Angeles has begun to fade, and it can’t blame its sorry condition on the recent recession. The unemployment rate is one of the highest among the nation’s largest urban areas. Streets are potholed. Businesses and residents are fleeing. In virtually every category of urban success, from migration of educated workers to growth of airport travel, Los Angeles lags behind not only such fast-growth regions as Dallas, Houston, and Raleigh-Durham, but also historical rivals like New York.
Perhaps worst of all is the perception, both here and elsewhere, that Los Angeles no longer matters as much as it once did. “I’ve traveled the world, and there was once a great mystique about L.A., but it’s gone,” says Robert Hertzberg, a former mayoral candidate and onetime speaker of the California State Assembly. “And I look at the leadership, and it’s gone. No one much cares.”
Such pessimism, commonly heard these days, is an unwelcome development in a city that once epitomized the promise of twentieth-century America. L.A.’s greatness stemmed from its willingness to be different. Other New York rivals—Chicago, Denver, Kansas City—tried to turn themselves into mini-Manhattans. The Los Angeles metro area, by contrast, was boldly designed not around a central core but on a series of centers, connected first by railcars and later by the freeways: Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles, Culver City, Burbank, West Hollywood, and others. Los Angeles was also one of the first cities in the nation to impose comprehensive zoning.
The result was what the early-twentieth-century clergyman Dana Bartlett called “a better city,” a dispersed metropolis where most people occupied single-family houses in middle-class neighborhoods. Here, said geographer J. Russell Smith, the differences among “city life, suburban life and country life” blurred. Blessed with a mild climate, clear vistas, ample land, and a lightly industrialized economy, the city, Bartlett predicted, would become “a place of inspiration for nobler living.” Los Angeles, said journalist Carey McWilliams, was “the first modernized decentralized industrial city in America”—and it would not be the last, as anyone familiar with Dallas, Denver, or Houston will recognize.
But Los Angeles wasn’t satisfied with just being a better place; its turn-of-the-century business leaders saw the potential for greatness. Business leaders have always been key to cities’ economic growth, whether in New York’s overcoming Boston and Philadelphia as the country’s most important city in the early nineteenth century or, some years later, in Chicago’s conquest of St. Louis for midwestern dominance. In Los Angeles, forward-looking and often ruthless men, such as Harrison Gray Otis of the Los Angeles Times, pushed a city with no natural port or secure water supply ahead of its two more naturally favored rivals, San Francisco and San Diego. In a move enthusiastically endorsed by its business leadership, L.A. secretively purchased land in the southern Sierras to lock up mountain glaciers and the water that flowed from them. The region also created artificial ports, one at Long Beach and another, inside the city limits, at San Pedro. Needing electricity, it turned to its large oil supply and to federal hydroelectric plants (and, much later, to coal-fired electricity imported from distant Utah).
The strategy, a combination of vaulting ambition and careful planning, worked brilliantly. Lured by the pleasant climate and a business-dominated political economy, industries and entrepreneurs flocked to the Los Angeles area. Initially, the growth came largely from oil and agriculture, but by the 1920s, the nascent movie industry had settled in Hollywood, putting Los Angeles on the world map. By 1940, the county’s population, barely 300,000 in 1900, had grown fivefold, bumping San Francisco off the top of the list of California’s biggest urban areas. The L.A. region as a whole had grown even more rapidly, to 3.5 million people. Read more…
The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a blunt acknowledgment that thousands of young black and Latino men are cut off from New York’s civic, educational and economic life, plans to spend nearly $130 million on far-reaching measures to improve their circumstances.
The program, the most ambitious policy push of Mr. Bloomberg’s third term, would overhaul how the government interacts with a population of about 315,000 New Yorkers who are disproportionately undereducated, incarcerated and unemployed. Read more…
‘It’s hard to improve public education—that’s clear. As Warren Buffett would say, if you’re picking stocks, you wouldn’t pick this one.” Ten years into his record-breaking philanthropic push for school reform, Bill Gates is sober—and willing to admit some missteps.
“It’s been about a decade of learning,” says the Microsoft co-founder whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now the nation’s richest charity. Its $34 billion in assets is more than the next three largest foundations (Ford, Getty and Robert Wood Johnson) combined, and in 2009 it handed out $3 billion, or $2 billion more than any other donor. Since 2000, the foundation has poured some $5 billion into education grants and scholarships.
Seated in his office at the new Gates Foundation headquarters located hard by the Emerald City’s iconic Space Needle, Mr. Gates says that education isn’t only a civil-rights issue but also “an equity issue and an economic issue. . . . It’s so primary. In inner-city, low-income communities of color, there’s such a high correlation in terms of educational quality and success.”
One of the foundation’s main initial interests was schools with fewer students. In 2004 it announced that it would spend $100 million to open 20 small high schools in San Diego, Denver, New York City and elsewhere. Such schools, says Mr. Gates, were designed to—and did—promote less acting up in the classroom, better attendance and closer interaction with adults.
“But the overall impact of the intervention, particularly the measure we care most about—whether you go to college—it didn’t move the needle much,” he says. “Maybe 10% more kids, but it wasn’t dramatic. . . . We didn’t see a path to having a big impact, so we did a mea culpa on that.” Still, he adds, “we think small schools were a better deal for the kids who went to them.”
The reality is that the Gates Foundation met the same resistance that other sizeable philanthropic efforts have encountered while trying to transform dysfunctional urban school systems run by powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly provider.
In the 1970s, the Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations, among others, pushed education “equity” lawsuits in California, New Jersey, Texas and elsewhere that led to enormous increases in state expenditures for low-income students. In 1993, the publishing mogul Walter Annenberg, hoping to “startle” educators and policy makers into action, gave a record $500 million to nine large city school systems. Such efforts made headlines but not much of a difference in closing the achievement gap.
Martin Kozlowski illustration
Asked to critique these endeavors, Mr. Gates demurs: “I applaud people for coming into this space, but unfortunately it hasn’t led to significant improvements.” He also warns against overestimating the potential power of philanthropy. “It’s worth remembering that $600 billion a year is spent by various government entities on education, and all the philanthropy that’s ever been spent on this space is not going to add up to $10 billion. So it’s truly a rounding error.”
This understanding of just how little influence seemingly large donations can have has led the foundation to rethink its focus in recent years. Instead of trying to buy systemic reform with school-level investments, a new goal is to leverage private money in a way that redirects how public education dollars are spent. Read more…
Rick Perry sure looks like a presidential candidate.
The Texas governor and his top advisers are feeling out early-state Republican activists on the phone. He met for lunch in Austin Tuesday with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Next week, he’ll join a group of top national Republican donors for dinner in the state capital, POLITICO has learned.
GOP governors and members of Congress, in not for attribution comments, and leading strategists like Karl Rove all say the same thing: Perry’s in.
So what’s the hold up?
Those close to Perry say despite the strong hints that both he and his high command are dropping in conversations with senior Republicans—hints that have left party elites in Texas and beyond convinced that Perry will enter the race—the country’s longest-serving governor has not yet made up his mind. Questions about money and infrastructure remain. Not only that, he isn’t in a rush to decide.
Dave Carney, Perry’s chief strategist, said they had no “hard deadline,” but called Labor Day the outer end of when Perry will have to make up his mind.
“I have always expected him to make a decision by the end of the summer,” said the strategist.
Perry’s carefully weighing the difficulties inherent in trying to put together a presidential campaign from scratch after the contest has already begun.
“It’s a matter of doing what others have been doing over years in in a matter of few weeks,” said Carney.
As the will-he-or-won’t-he buzz moves from hum to roar, the usually-accessible governor isn’t offering any public clues. He’s done few interviews since first acknowledging he was considering a run and hasn’t yet made exploratory trips to Iowa or New Hampshire. His schedule this week includes only in-state trips to San Antonio and Denton – and he won’t go to the press-heavy National Governors Association meeting this weekend in Salt Lake City. Read more…
When North Carolina’s Mooresville Graded School District launched a 1-to-1 laptop initiative three years ago, Superintendent Mark Edwards prepared himself for an”innovation dip,” a small drop in student performance as educators and students adjusted to the new approach.
He says he anticipated it would take time for students and teachers to master the use of laptop computers, digital curricula, and more personalized ways of teaching and learning. Though he believed that in the long run the approach would benefit students and be borne out in test scores, Edwards says he and the school board were mentally and philosophically prepared for a drop in scores over the first couple of years as the 5,600-student district worked out the kinks.
But just the opposite happened.
In three years, the district went from ranking 30th in the state in school performance measurements to fourth, and Edwards says he is gunning for first place this year. District officials saw boosts in other areas, too. Suspensions dropped at the high school level by 65 percent and districtwide by 50 percent, Edwards says.
“Students like using relevant tools and materials,” he says. “The kids are more engaged and excited about school. They’re doing things in class and saying, ‘I will do this in my future.’ “
Balancing digital innovation and academic accountability is a tricky task for schools—one that is fraught with worries about what will work and what won’t. Schools want to utilize new tools and embrace different ways of teaching, but not at the expense of their performance on state achievement tests. Experts say finding that balance through trial and error is one of the keys to improving schools. Read more…
On a hot and sunny Monday morning in April, Kimberly Vaught, assistant principal at Devonshire Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., stood in the school’s front hallway, greeting students as they arrived for school.
“Good morning, Hello Kitty,” she said to a tiny child carrying a Hello Kitty backpack almost as big as she was. “How are you?”
The little girl said nothing, but silently put her arms around Vaught’s legs – which was about as high as she could reach – for a quick hug before she headed off down the hallway for class.
Vaught is in her fourth year at Devonshire, whose student body is about 51 percent African-American, 43 percent Hispanic and almost 97 percent low income.
Devonshire is an elementary school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a school district that serves about 136,000 students from the city of Charlotte and communities in Mecklenburg County.
The school used to operate almost as a social services center, with parents coming in for help finding babysitters, or housing, or food; academics took a backseat, said Vaught.
That changed with the arrival of Principal Suzanne Gimenez in the summer of 2008, one of the first seven principals charged under the Strategic Staffing initiative with turning around some of the district’s most troubled schools.
Strategic Staffing is a 3-year-old initiative in the district that places high-performing principals in the district’s lowest-performing schools; the initiative is based on the premise that an excellent leader, when armed with the right tools, can turn around a school’s performance. Read more…
By Megan McArdle
Elie Mystal at Above the Law has a piece on what it’s like to live as a student loan defaulter. There’s a lot of back and forth in the comments as to whether Elie is a terrible human being or a terrible victim of rapacious banks, about which I will not comment except to make two points:
Having custody of the tangible property of the Phi Beta Kappa Society is endlessly interesting. It’s amazing what will survive the passage of time, the stresses of moving from New York City to Williamsburg to “Q” Street to Massachusetts Avenue to New Hampshire Avenue, the periodic removals of selected goodies to the Library of Congress, the basement damps, and the simple zealous urges that afflict us all from time to time to — for Heaven’s sake — get this stuff in order! A lot remains. And a lot surfaces.
Occasionally something turns up that I like to keep out, to return to, using it as a kind of touchstone, or a device to think with. One such is a little black pamphlet whose front cover cries “To the Defense!” The lettering looks like something you’d see in a New Yorker from the ‘30s, and sure enough the date is 1939. Inside we find the subtitle, or perhaps the title, if the lines on the cover were simply a cry to gain our attention: Read more…
I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Value.
Okay, that wasn’t exactly how it went. But just as our view of plastics has changed significantly since the era of The Graduate, the American dream of the 1960s — marriage, a family, a house in the suburbs and hopefully a decent college education for your children — has changed a lot, too.
We’ve talked ad infinitum about marriage becoming obsolete, how the very notion of family has been rocked on its mom-and-dad-plus-two derrière and how suburbanites are returning to cities in droves as they bid the white picket fence adieu. So what of the college ideal? (All easy for me to type, as someone who never married and is living with my partner — and his four children — in the suburbs and it’s the week before my 30th reunion from my Ivy League alma mater, my first in 25 years because I love nostalgia almost as much as traditional roles and lifestyles. But I digress.)
BATON ROUGE — The battle over whether the Recovery School District chief should also serve as interim education superintendent has detracted from a conversation about school reform efforts and long-term leadership for the Department of Education, education advocacy leaders said Friday.
A day after Superintendent Paul Pastorek announced his resignation, Gov. Bobby Jindal threw his support to John White, the newly-hired head of the Recovery School District that manages schools taken over by the state. Read more…
NEW YORK — State lawmakers from Illinois to Tennessee are considering laws that could change what it means to be a teacher, as labor policy has become the heart of a pitched education debate — one in which each side claims that the other doesn’t put students’ interests first.
Facing curtailed budgets and a push from the federal government for teacher accountability, many states are considering and passing measures that would limit teachers’ collective bargaining rights and strip those with years of experience of job security. Read more…
The Failure of American Schools By Joel Klein, The Atlantic
Joel Klein in Brooklyn on the first day of school, two months before he resigned as chancellor.
Who better to lead an educational revolution than Joel Klein, the prosecutor who took on the software giant Microsoft? But in his eight years as chancellor of New York City’s school system, the nation’s largest, Klein learned a few painful lessons of his own—about feckless politicians, recalcitrant unions, mediocre teachers, and other enduring obstacles to school reform.
Three years ago, in a New York Times article detailing her bid to become head of the American Federation of Teachers union, Randi Weingarten boasted that despite my calls for “radical reform” to New York City’s school system, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and I had achieved only “incremental” change. It seemed like a strange thing to crow about, but she did have something of a point. New York over the past nine years has experienced what Robert Schwartz, the dean of Harvard’s education school, has described as “the most dramatic and thoughtful set of large-scale reforms going on anywhere in the country,” resulting in gains such as a nearly 20-point jump in graduation rates. But the city’s school system is still not remotely where it needs to be. Read more…
This week, Innosight Institute, where I am the executive director of the education practice, released a landmark report, titled The rise of K-12 blended learning: Profiles of Emerging Models, which profiles 40 different operators leading the rise of K-12 blended learning.
Across America a skyrocketing number of K-12 students are getting their education in blended-learning environments. Over 4 million K-12 students took at least one online course in 2010, according to Ambient Insight, and this space is growing now by a five-year compound annual growth rate of 43 percent—much faster than the growth of charter schooling or other K-12 education reforms, for example. And the majority of this growth is occurring in different types of “blended learning.”
The report, by our senior research fellow, Heather Staker, provides clarity as to what this term means, defining it based on the research as “any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”
We’re not talking about the end of school then by any means, nor are we talking about eliminating teachers. Parents need schools, students like to be with their friends, and teachers are crucial for learning—and the evidence is that teachers love working in online learning environments, whether they are blended or at a distance.
What we are talking about is the end of the classroom structure that was built to standardize the way students are taught and tested. The opportunity this is creating to remake and improve our education system is unprecedented. For the first time we have a way to create personalized pathways for each student that are affordable.
And as this report reveals, a lot of education leaders are working to do just that, from school districts like New York City and Albuquerque to charter organizations like KIPP and Rocketship Education, which is getting stellar results in its schools in San Jose, Calif.
And we’re only scratching the surface of the personalization that is possible. There is a flowering of different models right now, as this report identifies (and should allow people to now better communicate about what they are and are not doing), as operators are trying a variety of different arrangements.
The report also identifies the technologies behind the different school models and who is using what. If anyone had any doubt that there are a lot of choices and options out there for content, for example, then look at the chart on page 161. There is unbelievable fragmentation of this market right now, with K12, Inc. and Apex Learning having the most usage among those schools profiled. Pearson dominates the Student Information System landscape with its PowerSpeak product, and Blackboard dominates both the Learning Management System and Gradebook categories, although Pearson is just behind in the latter.
Lastly, the report also has some really important policy recommendations that echo the work of Digital Learning Now, but also reflect the direct voice of the leaders of these programs, as they voice what policies and regulations are holding them back from taking this revolution in learning to the next level to even better serve America’s students.
Teachers, principals, district administrators, local school board members, legislators and parents are invited to attend the 2011 Equity in Action Conference June 10 to 11 at the University of Utah. The conference focuses on the policies, practices and programs necessary to create equitable and excellent schools. It will address ways to reduce and eventually eliminate achievement gaps through establishing systemic equity. Read more…
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY. Students for Education Reform (SFER), an advocacy and awareness organization dedicated to mobilizing the next generation of leaders to close the educational achievement gap, will open new chapters at thirteen colleges just six months after its incorporation as a non-profit. SFER announces this news on the same day the SFER Princeton chapter welcomes U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the Princeton University campus, where SFER was founded.
In the fall of 2010, SFER added six new chapters to the national network including Harvard College, Yale University, Colby College, Brown University, Haverford College, and the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. New chapters will open at Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Florida State University, New York University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, State University of New York at Geneseo, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, University of Georgia, University of Texas – Austin, and Whitworth University. Read more…
By: Rania Khalek
If Milton Friedman, father of the free market, were alive today, I imagine he would be jumping with joy at the prospect of the abandonment of public education for private, for-profit charter schools.
Back in 2005, following the devastation of hurricane Katrina, Friedman wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal where he said “This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system.” Soon after, Friedmonites rushed into New Orleans for the chance to implement what Friedman had long envisioned. With the help of the Bush administration, they dissolved the public school system and in its place built a network of publicly funded charters run, not by educators, but by private entities that made their own rules.
At the time, New Orleans residents alerted the rest of the country, that what was happening to their city was only the beginning and it wouldn’t be long before it spread to our neighborhoods. In 2006, Bill Quigley, a local lawyer and activist warned:
We know that what is happening in New Orleans is just a more concentrated, more graphic version of what is going on all over our country. Every city in our country has some serious similarities to New Orleans. Every city has some abandoned neighborhoods. Every city in our country has abandoned some public education, public housing, public healthcare, and criminal justice. Those who do not support public education, healthcare, and housing will continue to turn all of our country into the Lower Ninth Ward unless we stop them. Why do we allow this?
If only we had listened. Soon after New Orleans came the drastic transformation of the Chicago school system by Obama’s Labor Secretary Arne Duncan, New York City schools by Mayor Bloomberg, and Washington DC schools by Michelle Rhee. Which brings us to Detroit.
Following the passage of Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s “Financial Martial Law,” Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Robert Bobb is closing 8 schools and selling 45 to charter companies. DPS is currently preparing a charter school board through training sessions provided by the National Charter Schools Institute, which had more than 70 charter operators and entrepreneurs in attendance just this month. In addition, DPS has hired the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) to review applications. NACSA’s president, Greg Richmond, worked with charter schools set up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and claims “The system opened up to the people of New Orleans in a way it hadn’t before…Now there are dozens of opportunities to get involved.”
In sharp contrast to the lingering unemployment that plagues Detroit, the auctioning off of Detroit’s schools is taking place with breathtaking speed. Gov. Snyder is on a mission to reinvent public education. He is calling for more measurements of student and teacher performance, while at the same time proposing deregulation and more teacher autonomy. He says “We have to put much more emphasis on proficiency, on growth, on measurements and results than we have had in the past” and “Michigan’s public schools need to more rigorously measure students’ academic growth, but with fewer state rules to make that happen.”
Detroit residents have already started protesting. Just last week, eight students, along with their children and some faculty members of the Catherine Ferguson Academy of Detroit, began a sit-in at the end of the school day in protest of EFM Robert Bobb’s announcement to close the school. About a dozen or so were arrested by Detroit police for refusing to leave. The school is specifically designed for pregnant and teen parents and their children, and has a 90% graduation rate and 100% college and higher education acceptance upon graduation.
Gov. Snyder recently said his focus is a holistic approach to education from pre-natal to life-long learning. He says early childhood education is important and should involve “a public and private partnership.” If shutting down an award-winning school and arresting, rather than listening to the students he claims to care so much about, is his idea of a holistic approach, then Detroit is in for a treat.
Shanta Driver, National Chairperson of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), in an interview with Voice of Detroit at the sit-in, said it best:
The massive school closures that have been carried out in DPS since 2004 have led to the depopulation of Detroit and to the deepening financial crisis of the district. Public schools are being closed to make way for charters and are part of the national attack on public education. Today Detroit – tomorrow, every city in America. The parents and students of Catherine Ferguson are fighting to maintain the right of every student in our nation to a free, quality public education. Every supporter of public education should do everything possible to support their fight and make sure they succeed
Driver is warning us, as did the people of New Orleans in 2006. This corporately funded education reform movement that praises standardised tests, non-union teachers, and private management as the solution to the budget woes of Detroit’s education system is a threat to us all.
CHICAGO—Incoming Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel named a new schools chief Monday, choosing a leader known for his efforts to close low-performing schools, fire underperforming principals and link teacher pay to student test scores.
Shawn Dowd/Democrat & Chronicle
Jean-Claude Brizard, superintendent of schools in Rochester, N.Y., will succeed Terry Mazany, who has headed the nation’s third-largest school district since November 2010. Mr. Emanuel, who is scheduled to take office in May, made the announcement at Kelly High School on Chicago’s south side. The appointment must now be approved by the school board.
Mr Brizard is the first schools chief plucked from outside Chicago since the mayor won the power to make the appointment in 1995. His appointment means the nation’s three largest school districts-—New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—each have a new leader.
Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Brizard “is not afraid of tough choices and that is what Chicago students need today.”
In Rochester, Mr. Brizard oversaw 32,000 students and 3,500 teachers. The mainly low-income, minority district struggled with achievement. A recent study by the New York Board of Regents found that only 5% of its graduates are prepared for college based on state test scores, compared to 41% statewide.
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