This sounds like pontificating on your part…

I started refuting Anthony Cody’s post in this blog: You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education , Now I continue with his next claim…

Charter schools: We were told that charter schools were where innovation was happening. Freed from the dual constraints of district management and union contracts, these schools were going to show the laggards in public schools how it should be done. Some even claimed to have “figured out” how to overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement. So the billionaire geniuses of corporate reform insisted that all barriers and regulations on charters be removed or minimized. This requirement was written into Race to the Top and NCLB waivers. Want federal money? Better open the door for charter schools. Want special grants from the Gates Foundation? Open the doors to charters in your district.

But now charter proponents admit they have no secret sauce beyond excluding students who are difficult or expensive to educate. Their plan is to “serve the strivers,” and let the rest flounder in an ever-more-burdened public system. The states where regulations are weakest, like Ohio, have charters that perform worse than the public schools, and even the self-described fan of free-markets, Margaret Raymond, lead researcher at CREDO, recently concluded that using market choice to improve schools has failed. In the state of Washington, where Bill Gates and other reform titans spent millions to pass a law allowing charter schools there, the first charter school to open is struggling to stay afloat, having suffered massive staff turnover in its first year. How ironic that 13 years after the corporate reformers labeled their flagship of reform “No Child Left Behind,” that now their leaders are left defending leaving behind the very children they claimed their project would save.

This sounds like pontificating on your part….Can you source this exact language? “But now charter proponents admit they have no secret sauce beyond excluding students who are difficult or expensive to educate.” I’d like to see it. Just because you say it or wrote it does not make it so. (Thought wouldn’t you love it if you could be right for once?)

Yes, there are charters that don’t perform as well as their traditional public schools. Apparently, though I have not seen the evidence or proof myself, some charters expel or exclude some students. But that is NOT a characteristic nationwide. In fact they traditionally operate themselves in areas to serve low income underserved children. You want to talk about expulsions? Why don’t you check on the school discipline policies (or lack thereof) in all of your traditionally public schools and then come back and talk to be about charters expelling.  Take a look at the movement happening in state legislatures nation-wide because of the school suspension issues in ALL schools. Instead of addressing the fact that status quo education policies, including the ineffective school discipline procedures, that are going on in traditional public schools you’re just trying to draw attention elsewhere. Why don’t you clean up your own house?

 You20141105_193833‘ve mentioned Ohio and California. What about all the other charters? Were those the only ones you can find that were under performing? I wish I could point to only  2 states where traditional public schools were underperforming – unfortunately that’s not the case. What about KIPP school? Democracy Prep? Big Picture Learning  Schools? We have some stellar charters here in GA – Drew Charter and Ivy Prep.

 Also, I’ll have you know that I believed that charters were started to try new education strategies for public schools to learn from. Well, I was informed this fall by Howard  Fuller himself, a father of charter schools in MN that charters were not started to test out new ideas for traditional public schools (though I still believe this is a goal we  should strive for), but that they were created simply to offer parents and students an alternative to their only choice of a public school, which may not be meeting student  needs.

 But feel free to keep writing nonsense, because it gives me plenty of material to work with.


What are your favorite – must read – education books?

I have yet to discover enough time to read all the books I own (I call it my reference section). However, my favorite thing to do in a book store is go to the one meager section next to the kids educational activity books and peruse the selection. I’ve taken to photographing the books so I can one day by them cheaper on Amazon and so I don’t forget. Here’s some photos from my latest visit to B&N:

20141028_191058 20141028_191151 20141028_191216 20141028_191309 20141028_191332 20141028_191355 20141028_191428 20141028_191548 20141028_191605 20141028_191616 20141028_191639 20141028_191715 20141028_191759 20141028_191910 20141028_192105 20141211_154258

I also saw Dr. Greene’s updated version of “Lost at School” one of my favorites. I didn’t pay $17 because I can usually get it for $10 online. It discusses a school discipline strategy that I would love to help schools implement. . It’s based on the program outlined here:

About the book:

“The wasted human potential is tragic. In so many schools, kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges are still poorly understood and treated in a way that is completely at odds with what is now known about how they came to be challenging in the first place. The frustration and desperation felt by teachers and parents is palpable. Many teachers continue to experience enormous stress related to classroom behavior problems and from dealing with parents, and do not receive the support they need to help their challenging students. Parents know there’s trouble at school, know they’re being blamed, feel their kids are being misunderstood and mistreated, but feel powerless to make things better and are discouraged and put off by their interactions with school personnel.”
“School discipline is broken. Not surprisingly, tightening the vise grip hasn’t worked… yet public elementary and secondary schools in the United States continue to dole out a whopping 110,000 expulsions and 3 million suspensions each year, along with countless tens of millions of detentions.”
If school discipline is broken, the mission is to fix it. And in this highly readable, practical, realistic, positive book — based on his work with thousands of challenging kids and their teachers, parents, and schools — Dr. Greene describes how.
“This book does not bash or blame educators. Nor, for that matter, does it bash or blame challenging kids or their parents. It’s about the need to make dramatic changes in a system that isn’t working for teachers, parents, or challenging kids, and how to go about making those changes.”
This website includes general information about the Dr. Greene’s model; answers to lots of questions about applying the model in school settings; and a compilation of articles, chapters, and research papers on the model.  For lots additional resources on the model – including streaming video, commentary, and updates – visit the website for Dr. Greene’s new non-profit organization, Lives in the Balance.

Don’t leave school discipline up to Mr. Petrilli

Found this article by Michael Petrilli: School discipline: Too important to leave to liberals which initially irked me because while I tend to align pretty moderate, I would, in some circles still consider myself a liberal and I have some very important ideas and experiences around school discipline.

Apparently it is an extension of this original article: Charters can do whats best for students who care.

Mr. Petrilli, How much time have you spent in classrooms? Your bio does not indicate any educator experience, but are you qualified to perform much research?! While you are correct about the chaos our schools are in, you are incorrect that not all students “care.” They care but have little or no direction from family or school about how to go about it. You are right that we need:

NY article 1

The kids who need the most guidance and counseling are the kids you describe as trouble makers. And of course you don’t let them “take over the classroom” but you need to sit and listen to them, show them compassion and how they can make a positive impact on the world. Kids generally feel helpless, with no control over their lives (especially the negative circumstances) and they need our love, support, caring and counseling.

Do you disagree that a student who is a “behavioral disturbance” needs a school discipline and climate that you mentioned above? Are you simply stating that not enough traditional public schools don’t have the school discipline systems and climate to effectively influence these students? That, perhaps is an argument to make, and you can go on to talk about all the charters (we know some don’t) that have great school discipline and culture. But do not blame the lack of school resources on the kids and their behavior. I generally appreciate your work and your efforts, but this has clearly, crossed a line. And I am on the side of education reform.

Next, I’d like to see your evidence supporting this statement:

But declaring, as some districts have, that they are going to eliminate suspensions and expulsions entirely is a totally different matter. It’s the educational equivalent of giving up on assertive policing and letting windows stay broken. Most problematically, it elevates the rights of the disruptive students above the needs of their peers. The well-behaved kids—the serious learners—are the ones who will pay the costs.

First, your statement about behaviorally challenged kids is the “educational equivalent” of giving up on kids that you don’t know, or don’t understand, or don’t want to understand. You apparently have not found a way to value all kids and I am very sad about that. I hope those who use your research to implement policy, or whatever it is that we all do with research, understand where you are truly coming from and take your words with a grain of salt.

Second, the only google-able evidence I found of eliminating suspensions completely, were in Southern Indiana.  “In Clark and Floyd counties, Greater Clark County Schools is the only district to completely eliminate expulsions, which occurred in 2010…” They also make use of alternative schools and alternative adult supervised “out-of-school suspension.”

These are other districts who have moved towards policies that reserve suspension for only the most critical cases:

Portland, OR; Boston, MA; State of Maryland; Denver, CO (and here); Los Angeles, CA; Paterson, NJ

In all cases they are moving towards alternative solutions – that actually value students and don’t essentially “throw them away” by suspension. I would very carefully adjust your position on this as it does not line up.

Feel free to advocate that traditional & charter public schools need to have comprehensive school discipline reform but don’t discount the efforts of those who are doing just that.

Also recommend reading a bit about how we can help kids in our schools in this blog post: What do you think about when you sit down to work?

Here is the next post regarding Sarah Blaine’s response to Michael Petrilli – and my opinion of her inaccuracies Focus less on type of school, more on student needs