Parents Я Dumb

parentsrdumb

How not to respond to an opt-out request…

Dear education official: when a parent informs you that their child(s) will not be participating in a standardized-test-related activity, is the appropriate response to A: inform the parent that such is his or her right under Massachusetts’ ever *evolving* position on said right (or lack thereof); B: treat the opportunity as a *teachable moment* and *drill down* into the amount of testing currently mandated by the district in question; C: mock said parents in assorted correspondence with other education officials; or D: hope that said parents don’t file a public records request and pass said mocking correspondence onto a blogger…  Continue reading →

The Case of the Disappearing Data

Louisiana’s Nancy Drew gets her hands on those elusive ACT scores…

Nancy_Drew_80_211EduShyster: Let’s get right to the question that’s on all of our minds. Is that John White as handsome as he looks in his pictures?

Mercedes Schneider: Well, it depends on how you define handsome. I personally find honesty to be an attractive trait…

EduShyster: You broke a big story over the weekend. Somehow you managed to get your hands on Louisiana’s 2014 ACT scores, which the state Department of Education didn’t seem to want to release. What do the numbers tell you?

Schneider: They’re terrible. I go over them in more detail here, but what you need to know is that the composite ACT score for the schools in New Orleans’ Recovery School District dropped from the year before, and that for individual high schools the scores are in the 13, 14 and 15 range. For comparison’s sake, to get into Louisiana State one needs an ACT score of 22—a minimum of 19 in math and an 18 in English. But what really stands out to me is that the students in New Orleans who took the ACT in 2014 were in 3rd grade when Katrina hit. Even if you have students who didn’t return to the city for two years, that means they’ve been attending these charter schools since 5th grade. That’s how long they’ve been subject to this experiment. You look at these numbers and it’s clear why John White didn’t want them to be made public. Continue reading →

Charter Cap ‘n Gown II: The College Years

A new report finds that Boston’s charter high schools are sending kids on a path through college, one at a time…

kindergarten_cap_gowns‘Tis time for another stroll down the path to college, reader. Alas, you will need to *suck in your gut* for this one as this path turns out to be even narrower than when last we stepped upon it. The occasion for our ramble down readiness way is a new report on college completion by graduates of Boston’s public high schools. Alas, alas, the report, which was supposed to confirm Boston charter excellence once and for all, fell a tad short, finding that grads of BPS high schools were more likely to complete college than their charter peers. But a deep dive into the data reveals that there’s even more — or rather, less — to this story than meets the eye. Continue reading →

Upper Crust: How Billionaires Are Eating Our Democracy

Darrell West warns that the combination of wealth and secrecy is toxic to democracy…

EduShyster: Your book, Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust, makes the forceful – and might I add *hair-raising* – case that today’s brand of billionaire activism is eating our democracy. Break it down for us.

billionaires

Darrell West: I do think that combination is toxic for democracy because voters care as much about the messenger as the message and they want to know who is behind particular advocacy efforts. It matters to them whether an oil company or some other firm is pushing a position on energy. There’s been a tremendous loss of accountability within our political system over several decades. There are Supreme Court decisions that have eroded public disclosure, and there are lots of lobbying activities and other efforts to exercise influence that take place outside of the public view. People should be aware of this and concerned about how it’s affecting our political process. Continue reading →

Separate but Innovative: MLK 2.0

If Martin Luther King Jr. returned today, would he be an achievement gaptivist? And which billionaires would fund his important work?

No one could lead a civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr. But let’s face it: the movement he led was old school. The civil rights issue of our time is the achievement gap, and closing it often requires doing the opposite of what Dr. King stood for. Which raises some important questions: if Dr. King returned today would he be an achievement gaptivist? Which billionaires would fund his important work? And with poverty and racism now officially regarded as excuses, what would he talk about? Meet Martin Luther King 2.0, now with more excellence.

Continue reading →