This Saturday there will not be a Town Hall Meeting with Pettigrew, Santos and Kline. Two different sources provided me with information that there would be a Town Hall meeting including the PTA but apparently the original source of the information was incorrect.

So on that note, we’ll start with charter schools, one of Pettigrew’s pet projects for the Central District.

This is what I would term an atrocity:

These Barcelona Hills Elementary parents have led a months-long fight to save their school, pleading their case to the school district and school board in emails, phone calls, in-person meetings and public hearings.

Barcelona Hills Elementary is closing in June, but not because it’s an underperforming school or because neighborhood parents are demanding sweeping changes. The 34-year-old Mission Viejo school, a 2010 California Distinguished School recipient nestled in a middle-class Mission Viejo neighborhood of families who cherish and support their school, is closing because a charter school needs space to expand – and there isn’t room for both schools.

For the full article, see District: Charter law forced school’s closure.

Continuing  on the subject of charter schools, the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates (COPPA) released a brief Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities: Preliminary Analysis of the Legal Issues and Concerns written by the Center for Law and Education under contract with COPAA.

These are some of the key points:

• Even among families who request that their child with a disability be admitted to a charter school as their “school of choice,” researchers have found that students are “counseled out” and encouraged to leave the school during and subsequent to the enrollment stage.

• With respect to students requiring extensive special education services, the imbalance is dismal. For example, during the 2005-2006 school year, there were only three children with intellectual disabilities in all San Diego non-conversion charter schools combined; traditional schools across the district, meanwhile, educated almost one thousand students with intellectual disabilities. New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC – three districts that rely heavily on charter schools – currently face claims of systemic discrimination based on administrative and judicial actions brought under the IDEA and Section 504.

“It is not legally or morally acceptable that these so-called “schools
of choice” that are concentrated in urban communities and supported
with public funds, should be permitted to operate as segregated
learning environments where students are more isolated by race,
socioeconomic class, disability, and language than the public school
district from which they were drawn.”

Teach for America Rejected in Georgia’s Cobb School System

This article is interesting because the school board rejected TFA, Inc. temps coming into their district mainly because of the behind the scene machinations between TFA, Inc. and the superintendent. Sound familiar Seattle? Note that the price tag for TFA, Inc. recruits being hired in Cobb would have been $8,000. That makes us in  Seattle look like we got a bargain with our temps.

Here is an excerpt.

The research on exploring the effectiveness of TFA and other non-certified teachers generally shows that TFA teachers’ students do not out-perform other students of teachers’ that were non-certified in mathematics, reading and language arts (Laczko-Kerr & Berliner, 2002).  Laczko-Kerr and Berliner also found students of certified teachers out-performed students of teachers who were under-certified.  In fact, they found that students of under-certified teachers make about 20% less academic growth per year than do students of teachers with regular certification.

This is an important finding.  What it is saying is that “traditional” teacher education programs are much more effective than “alternative” programs, especially TFA.  And for Cobb County, there is really no need to recruit TFA teachers when in the metro-Atlanta area there are at least 10 universities and colleges that have vibrant teacher education programs, and provide a source of certified teachers who have gone through experienced- and field-based teacher education programs.  Indeed, many of these graduates would have completed internships in South Cobb Schools.

I was enjoying going from one lecture to another presented by TED the other day on the exploration of space and the energy captured in a molecule and how one relates to the other. One of the qualities of each speaker was their curiosity. They were curious and wanted to explore, they questioned and came up with ways to find the answers to their questions.

Many education advocates are concerned that the grinding down of curiosity due to the focus on memorization might discourage rather than encourage critical and creative thinking. The author of the article Will America Produce Another Steve Jobs? does see hope:

Despite President Obama’s insistence that his education initiative, “Race to the Top,” will help reposition America as a leader in education, the initiative is really about a race to more implementation of multiple-choice, high-stakes testing and accountability.

This may be a good plan for factory workers but hardly a plan that will produce leaders and innovators.

In a succinct critique of what’s gone wrong with education, Kelly Gallagher, award-winning author of “Readicide — How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It,” laments that we are “preparing kids for a multiple choice test in an essay-based world.” An English teacher at Magnolia High School in Anaheim, Kelly adds that because of 10 years of implementing No Child Left Behind (NCLB), most schools have created a “quiet pedagogy of drilling conformity into kids which in the long run is against their (and our) best interests.”

In a multiple-choice, test-driven world, kids are taught that there is always a right answer and moreover that the answer is always given to them.

But the author does go on to say:

Gov. Jerry Brown has been a loud critic of the heavy emphasis on testing and recently signed a bill, AB 250, that promotes more critical thinking and writing. Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, has also sparred with the feds over evaluating teachers by test scores, which leads to more teaching to the test and narrowing of the curriculum.

Locally it’s up to school boards and district superintendents to help educate the public on what multiple-choice, high-stakes testing means so that we do not end up with more test takers in an essay-based world.

If our local leaders have the courage to allow teachers to teach critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication, the next Steve Jobs could very well come from here. In a global economy where American dominance is in danger of sharp decline, the stakes could not be higher.

And then on Education Radio, Educating for Obedience: The disastrous impact of education reform on young children

In this weeks program we talk to Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita of early childhood education at Lesley University where she taught teachers for more than 30 years. She is also a respected author and the founder of the University’s Center for Peaceable Schools.

Nancy discusses how schooling can meet the developmental needs of school-age children; and how current corporate education reform policies are harming young children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.

She talks pointedly about how current standardized curriculum and testing regimes and the privatization of public education causes great harm to young children’s development; exacerbates inequality and undermines the human potential to engage in social change.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is also Matt Damon’s mom. Mr. Damon spoke at the Save Our Schools march and rally last summer.

I will leave you this week with an essay by Bill Moyers, Money Throws Democracy Overboard. It reminds me of Hanauer throwing his money around to get what he wants in terms of education in our state.

Let’s ensure that folks like Hanauer don’t determine the fate of our children.