The District has the fourth-best education policy in the country, according to a report released Monday by former DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s nonprofit StudentsFirst. The report grades all 50 states and the District on whether each jurisdiction’s education system prioritizes high-quality teaching, provides parents with information and choices about their children’s schools and manages its finances well — measures that StudentsFirst advocates in its work toward school reform.
The former principal of an award-winning D.C. public school has accused a group of teachers and administrators of systematically cheating on standardized tests in order to win cash bonuses and an expensive steak dinner, according to recently unsealed federal court documents. Adell Cothorne, who was principal of Noyes Education Campus in 2010-11, first offered some details about her allegations in an interview with a reporter for a “Frontline” television documentary to be broadcast Tuesday. But the allegations detailed in a False Claims Act complaint that Cothorne made against the D.C. government in May 2011 are far more detailed and allege that cheating occurred at other schools as well.
The current model for education “reform” in this country — a corporate model with transparency problems and severely decreased political accountability — is broken. Handing over “our” schools to hedge-fund managers, and to the people like Michelle Rhee who volunteer as well-remunerated middle managers, privatizes public education without having the basic cojones to admit that it’s happening. This is not the way it’s supposed to work.
Local U.S. governments cut jobs for the fourth straight month in December, including 11,000 in public schools, dragging down the nation’s fragile economic recovery, jobs data showed on Friday. Local government jobs are now at their lowest level since October 2005, with the bulk of the decline coming from layoffs of teachers and other school employees, according to the Labor Department.
Just hours after Rhee released the report card, AFT released a lengthy statement condemning the effort, noting that the grades don’t correspond with student performance. “These ‘report cards’ are timed to coincide with the start of many states’ legislative sessions (27 convene their 2013 sessions this week) and are part of a broader StudentsFirst campaign to promote its agenda,” AFT’s Carolyn Fiddler wrote. “The real issue with these report cards is that they fail to measure what matters most to parents, teachers and students. The report cards are silent regarding student achievement, school safety, small class sizes, early childhood education, investments in education, graduation rates or reading instruction.”
Her grading scheme actually punishes states that have policies to reduce class size above grade three, or offer incentives to keep classes small – even though class size reduction is one of the top priorities of parents, and one of the few education reforms that have proven to work. At the same time she gives points to states that either have mayoral control, support the “Parent trigger” or provide other ways to supersede the authority of democratically-elected school boards.
“Right-to-work” laws can have devastating impacts on workers and a state’s economy as a whole. For workers, these laws mean an erosion of their bargaining power, and that is for both public and private sector workers. It is an attempt to drain unions of funds necessary to fight for fair wages and good working conditions. It also means diminished wages. According to the AFL-CIO, on average, workers in states with “right-to-work” laws are paid $5,538 less a year than workers in states without these laws. Moreover, these laws have been shown to actually benefit the wealthier classes at the expense of workers.
The Common Core State Standards are inexorably coming to the 46 states and the District of Columbia, which have approved them. We’ve heard pros and cons of them in previous posts but here’s a broader look at what they may mean for public education.