Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Here’s What Exemplary Teacher Education Looks Like

Editor: With so many critiques of teacher education in the news, we would like to highlight an exemplary program that prepares future teachers here at our own college – the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University.  We would like to thank Professor Lauren McClanahan for permission to share this video with our readers.  Lauren produced the video.


Creating Community-Whatcom Middle School Fall 2015 from Lauren McClanahan on Vimeo.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Interfaith Messages for the New Year


Welcome back to our blog for the New Year.  We start 2016 with a message from the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, an organization that we have featured on our blog on different occasions.  Check out their resources and programs for teachers and principals at https://tanenbaum.org/programs/education/

Below Tanenbaum shares the wisdom from across the world’s faiths and beliefs to guide and ground us throughout 2016. 

African Indigenous Religions
It is not always physical bravery that counts. One must have the courage to face life as it is, to go through sorrows and always sacrifice oneself for the sake of others. African Traditional Religions Kipsigis Saying (Kenya)

Baha’i

Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind. Bahau’ullah, Tablets of Wisdom

Buddhism

Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) of great strength delight in reconciliation of conflict. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 8

 Christianity

All of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8

 Confucianism

All you have to do is take this very heart here and apply it to what is over there. Hence one who extends his bounty can bring peace to the Four Seas; one who does not cannot bring peace even to his own family. Confucianism: Mencius I.A.7

Hinduism

What sort of religion can it be without compassion? You need to show compassion to all living beings. Compassion is the root of all religious faiths. Basasvanna, Vachana 247

Islam

A man once asked the Prophet what was the best thing in Islam, and the latter replied, “It is to feed the hungry and to give the greeting of peace both to those one knows and to those one does not know.” Hadith of Bukhari

Jainism

Have benevolence toward all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the indolent and ill-behaved. Tattvartha Sutra 7.11

Judaism

The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace. Talmud, Gittin 59b

Native American

Respect for all life is the foundation. The Great Law of Peace

Secular Humanism

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. Bertrand Russell, Russell-Einstein Manifesto

 Shinto

To be helpful to others and in the world at large through deeds of service without thought of rewards, and to seek the advancement of the world as one whose life mediates the will of Kami. Jinja Shinto Principle

Sikhism

Now is the gracious Lord’s ordinance promulgated, no one shall cause another pain or injury; all mankind shall live in peace together. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.5

Taoism

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. Lao Tzu

Monday, December 14, 2015

Physicists Respond to Supreme Court Justices on Affirmative Action

To see the 52 pages of signatures to the letter below, go to:
 
 
Dear Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States,


We are writing to you today as professional physicists and astrophysicists to respond to comments made by Justices in the course of oral arguments of Fisher vs. University of Texas which occurred on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. First, we strongly repudiate the line of questioning from Justice Antonin Scalia based on the discredited Mismatch Theory [1]. Secondly, we are particularly called to address the question from Chief Justice John Roberts about the value of promoting equity and inclusion in our own field, physics.


We share the outrage and dismay already expressed by many other groups and individual scientists over the comments of Justice Scalia, which appear to endorse the claim made in the amicus curiae brief of Heriot and Kirsanow, that affirmative action prevents black people from becoming scientists. We take this opportunity to strongly rebuke this claim and offer a rebuttal.


We object to the use of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields as a paper tiger in the debate over affirmative action. We as professional scientists are in strong support of affirmative action policies. As we work continuously to educate ourselves about the obstacles facing students of color, we see, now more than ever, a need for action.


We are working very hard to solve the ongoing problem of the lack of underrepresented minorities in the professional community of physicists and astronomers. In spite of the misguided claims of Heriot and Kirsanow, that “gaps in academic credentials are imposing serious educational disadvantages on... minority students, especially in the areas of science and engineering,” science is not an endeavor which should depend on the credentials of the scientist. Rather, a good scientist is one who does good science. We hope to push our community towards equity and inclusion so that the community of scientists more closely matches the makeup of humankind, because the process of scientific discovery is a human endeavor that benefits from removing prejudice against any race, ethnicity, or gender. Indeed, science relies heavily on consensus about acceptable results as well as future research directions, making diversity among scientists a crucial aspect of objective, bias-free science [2, 3]. Affirmative action programs that aim to bring the numbers of minority students to more proportional levels are an important ingredient in our ongoing work. Blaming affirmative action for our community’s lack of progress in this regard is not only wrong, it is plainly ignorant of what we as scientists have determined must be done to reform our pedagogical and social structures to achieve the long-delayed goal of desegregation.


Affirmative action is just one part of a larger set of actions needed to achieve social justice within our STEM and education fields. In their brief, Heriot and Kirsanow claim that affirmative action causes fewer minority students to enter technical fields because their completion rates are low. Unlike Heriot and Kirsanow, we are scientists and science educators who are keenly aware that merely adding students to a pipeline is not enough to correct for the imbalance of power. The experience of a minority student in STEM is often much different from that of a white student in STEM [4]. Minority students attending primarily white institutions commonly face racism, biases, and a lack of mentoring. Meanwhile, white students unfairly benefit psychologically from being overrepresented [5]. We argue that it is the social experience of minority students that is more likely to make them drop out, rather than a lack of ability.


Before Justice’s Scalia’s remarks on black scientists, Justice Roberts asked, “what unique perspective does a minority student bring to physics class?” and “What [are] the benefits of diversity… in that situation?” Before addressing these questions directly, we note that it is important to call attention to questions that weren’t asked by the justices, such as, “What unique perspectives do white students bring to a physics class?” and “What are the benefits of homogeneity in that situation?” We reject the premise that the presence of minority students and the existence of diversity need to be justified, but meanwhile segregation in physics is tacitly accepted as normal or good. Instead, we embrace the assumption that minority physics students are brilliant [6] and ask, “Why does physics education routinely fail brilliant minority students?”


This is what we see when we look at a minority student in a majority-white physics class: determination and an ability to overcome obstacles and work hard in stressful environments. We see this because we know that many students from minority backgrounds are subjected to social and political stress from institutionalized racism (past and present), a history of economic oppression, and societal abuse from both micro-aggressions and subtle racism. We believe that it is these qualities that make minority students able to succeed as physics researchers.


The implication that physics or “hard sciences” are somehow divorced from the social realities of racism in our society is completely fallacious. The exclusion of people from physics solely on the basis of the color of their skin is an outrageous outcome that ought to be a top priority for rectification. The rhetorical pretense that including everyone in physics class is somehow irrelevant to the practice of physics ignores the fact that we have learned and discovered all the amazing facts about the universe through working together in a community. The benefits of inclusivity and equity are the same for physics as they are for every other aspect of our world.


The purpose of seeking out talented and otherwise overlooked minority students to fill physics classrooms is to offset the institutionalized imbalance of power and preference that has traditionally gone and continues to go towards white students. Minority students in a classroom are not there to be at the service of enhancing the experience of white students.


We ask that you take these considerations seriously in your deliberations and join us physicists and astrophysicists in the work of achieving full integration and removing the pernicious vestiges of racism and white supremacy from our world.


References


[1] Harris, Cheryl I., and William C. Kidder. "The Black student mismatch myth in legal education: The systemic flaws in Richard Sander's affirmative action study." Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (2004): 102-105.


[2] Bug, Amy. “Has Feminism Changed Physics?” Signs: Gender and Science: New Issues 28.3 (2003): 881-899.


[3] Whitten, Barbara.”(Baby) Steps Towards Feminist Physics.” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 18.2 (2012): 115-134.


[4] McGee, Ebony O., and Danny B. Martin. "“You Would Not Believe What I Have to Go Through to Prove My Intellectual Value!” Stereotype Management Among Academically Successful Black Mathematics and Engineering Students." American Educational Research Journal 48.6 (2011): 1347-1389.


[5] Bandura, Albert. "Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning." Educational psychologist 28.2 (1993): 117-148.


[6] Leonard, Jacquelyn, and Martin, Danny B. (Eds.). The Brilliance of Black Children in Mathematics: Beyond the Numbers and Toward New Discourse. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishers. (2013)
 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OzQiHgplpHpqltEMXHxhwwr-hZqDAUH2zyTv2R4hksw/edit?pli=1

Friday, November 6, 2015

Call for Papers for 2016 - Journal of Educational Controversy, Volume 11

CALL FOR PAPERS
JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL CONTROVERSY

Publication Date - 2016
Papers due - Fall, 2016

Journal of Educational Controversy: http://cedar.wwu.edu/jec/ 


THEME:  Is “Best Practices” Research in Education Insufficient or even Misdirected?

CONTROVERSY  TO BE ADDRESSED BY AUTHORS:


For decades the research agenda for identifying “best practices” for reforming education has been structured around testing hypotheses of either effectiveness or prediction of outcomes.  Within the quantitative approach researchers have used a variety of traditional causal and correlational designs to examine relationships between specific measurable variables. Researchers have also used qualitative approaches to examine implementation of such practices in more depth through observations in the field, interviews with students and educators, and content analysis of curriculum and student work. 
 

However, educational research seeking the best practices can often ignore or minimize the mechanisms that generate the phenomenon studied.  From school-to-prison and mass incarceration, racial-gender disproportionality in special and vocational education, to school dropout rates, correlations abound, but they don't by themselves explain the phenomenon.  Good intentions frame much educational research, but can over-dramatize correlations at the expense of deeper explanation.

 
This volume seeks papers that exemplify the "paradoxical" nature of educational research.   Submissions should focus on two things: the intentions or motivations that (often) inform educational research, but where the results or outcomes are unintended or unanticipated.  We seek papers that go beyond descriptions of educational issues, however detailed, as well as beyond explanations that repeat initial intentions or motivations.  Papers should reveal and discuss the specific forces and mechanisms that generate the topic of analysis, be it educational practices (teaching, assessment), outcomes (achievement, court decisions, enrollments) or events (protests and emergent social movements, school shootings, drop outs) that are the subject of the paper. 
 
 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Presidential Candidate Ben Carsen and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences

I have been thinking lately about the paradoxes that are emerging from the 2016 presidential debate and the implications for us as educators.  Presidential candidate Ben Carson and his political remarks have been receiving much criticism along with some admiration of a certain segment of the public that appears to be mesmerized by his inexplicably naïve statements – Obamacare is the moral equivalent of slavery, Jews could have prevented the holocaust if only they had the right to bear arms, etc., etc.  (By the way, we are talking about a public who largely went through our schools on the way to “enlightened adulthood.”)

Despite his much acclaimed (at least from what I read) skills as a neurosurgeon, his political acumen sinks to a rather low level given his offhand and often ill-conceived and ill-formed remarks on political issues.  Perhaps, there are many types of intelligences and proficiency in stem education does not assure wisdom in social, political, personal and historical understanding.  But simply limiting our discussion to departmentalization might actually do us a disservice if it moves us away from a more fundamental question we should be asking about the purposes of public education in a liberal democratic society and the development of "enlightened adulthood.”  Over the last decade, this nation has been consumed in debates on how to achieve better test scores in reading, mathematics, stem education, etc., along with outcomes and standards that can be explicitly formulated.  (Ok, for those who reflexively respond that these are important things to know, let’s just concede that point so it doesn’t distract us.)  What is important, is that it has been a distraction from the kind of conversation we should have been having about the purposes of education.

There is an ancient philosophical, religious and political goal that never enters into these discussions.  How do we help the next generation grow in “wisdom” and enlightened adulthood?  This ancient concept, from both a secular and religious perspective, encapsulates the kind of holistic pursuit that allows us to see the world from a larger, more empathic, vantage point.  It is one that Socrates saw containing a certain humility to exercise.  And Proverbs 4:7 reminds us that “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”  It cannot be easily operationalized and tested on some standardized test. And, as a result, it can be easily dismissed.  And so to our peril, we have a certain blindness when it comes to raising questions about what it means to live a life fully and the knowledge and virtues that such a life entails, and instead continue with the same diatribe that has dominated our national discourse.

I just throw out this idea as a seed to plant and perhaps as a community to reflect upon, explore, and “evolve” in our thinking.  Perhaps, we should have a special issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on the topic so we can start to probe more deeply on exactly what we mean and whether it is worthy of our attention.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

National Education Policy Center Continues its Critical Look at the Claims of Charter School Research

Editor: In our continuing look at charter schools, we are providing below the National Education Policy Center’s most recent critical look at charter school research focusing on the so-called “No Excuses” schools. Earlier, the Journal of Educational Controversy published a critical examination of the “no excuses” schools in an article by Alice Ginsberg, entitled, “The Dog Ate My Homework”: Embracing Risk in the Chilling Climate of No Excuses Schools.” Readers can find the article in our 2011 Volume6, Number 1 issue. While the National Education Policy Center reports on the inflated research claims made for such schools in the post below, author Alice Ginsberg gives us a vivid look inside.


Charter Researchers Promoting“No Excuses” Schools Republish Inflated Claims


Reference Publication:
Review of No Excuses Charter Schools

Arkansas researchers temper, but don’t correct, errors

Contact:
William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058; wmathis@sover.net
Jeanne M. Powers, (805) 893-7770, jeanne.powers@asu.edu
URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/numtqep


BOULDER, CO (October 9, 2015) – In December 2014, the “Department of Education Reform” at the University of Arkansas published a meta-analysis of the effects of so-called No Excuses Charter Schools. The report was subsequently reviewed by Professor Jeanne Powers of Arizona State University, for the National Education Policy Center. Powers raised several serious questions, and she criticized the report for its overstated claims about the potential of these types of schools to close the achievement gap.

A new version of the report was recently released by the National Center for Studies of Privatization in Education (NCSPE), and Professor Powers has now provided a short follow-up review, published along with the initial review on the NEPC website. She finds that the NCSPE version has a revised introduction and conclusion, wherein the authors do note additional limitations to their study. However, the report’s major shortcomings remain. In the follow-up review, Powers explains, point-by-point, her remaining concerns with the study:

1. The primary (and repeated) claim of the report is that “No Excuses” charter schools can close the achievement gap. Powers explains that the underlying research that this report relies upon only supports the more limited and appropriate claim that the subset of No Excuses charter schools have done relatively well in raising the test scores of the students who participate in school lotteries and then attended the schools. The claim that these schools can close the achievement gap is supported by nothing other than an arithmetic extrapolation of evidence that comes with clear limitations.

2. A common and well-recognized problem in charter school research is “selection effects.” That is, parents who choose “No Excuses” schools may be more educated, more engaged in the school-selection process, and differ in other significant ways from those parents who did not choose such a school. This would logically be a major concern for oversubscribed “No Excuses” schools, but the findings cannot be generalized to all parents.

3. Over-subscribed schools that conduct lotteries for student admission are, one would assume, different from less popular schools. Nevertheless, Cheng et al. imply that the findings can be generalized to all No Excuses charter schools.

4. The prominent and oversubscribed “No Excuses” schools are often supported by extensive outside resources. Offering an extended school day, for example, may not be financially feasible for other schools, and the scaling-up costs of doing so are not addressed. A charter that takes the No-Excuses approach yet lacks the additional resources should not be assumed to show the same results.

5. The sample of schools included in the studies Cheng et al. analyzed is largely drawn from major urban areas in the Northeast and is small, particularly at the high school level.
Find Powers’ original review and follow-up review of the “No Excuses” charter report here.
The original Arkansas report is currently available at the following url:
http://www.uaedreform.org/no-excuses-charter-schools-a-meta-analysis-of-the-experimental-evidence-on-student-achievement
The republished version of the Arkansas report is currently available at the following url:
http://www.ncspe.org/publications_files/OP226.pdf

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested. You can learn more about NEPC and sign up for publication updates by visiting http://nepc.colorado.edu/. To learn more about the Think Twice think tank review project, visit http://thinktankreview.org


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Amidst Accolades for her Life Lies the Realities of her Death – Why the Life and Work of Grace Lee Boggs Remains a Clarion Call


After writing a post below on the passing of Grace Lee Boggs, I started to read the many tributes that were coming in including one from the White House that I added to my post.   What struck me was something else I found on a google search.  In her final year, Grace’s friends were left trying to raise funding for her elder care that came to $8000 a month.  https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/support-grace-lee-boggs

After a lifetime devoted to others and their causes, the last days of her life were perhaps the most poignant reminder of how little public effort we extend for end-of-life support and how distorted our priorities have become in this nation.   Her work and message live on.

The Death of a Human Rights Advocate and Voice for Many Causes: Grace Lee Boggs Dies at 100


I was saddened to read of the death of social activist, human rights advocate, and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs in the newspaper this morning.
In 2011, the Journal of Educational Controversy published several reviews of her book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century, written by her with Scott Kurashige.  We broke with publishing tradition by printing a very personal open letter to her by a colleague whose life had been touched by her example along with a more traditional book review by another colleague.  Grace Lee Boggs graciously wrote a response to the reviews on this blog and allowed us to continue the conversation with her.

Below we reprint Grace Lee Boggs’ blog post along with links to the two reviews to which she is responding.

 
Grace Lee Boggs Responds to her Reviewers from the Journal of Educational Controversy
Written with Scott Kurashige

 
It has been a true joy to see so many diverse peoples turn to this little book for help in understanding how and why another world is necessary, possible, and already in the process of being created. The thoughtful responses by Molly and Victor reveal the huge reserves of humanity that have been repressed by our "civilization" and are being unleashed by the movements of 2011 to heal us.

 Their book reviews further help us to understand that people are finding inspiration from the book because they are connecting with a set of ideas whose time has come:

• Maybe it’s because it is giving Americans in all walks of life a more people-friendly view of revolution as empowerment rather than struggle for political power.

• Maybe it helps us view Revolutionaries as Solutionaries, working together to solve very practical problems of daily life, growing our souls by growing our own food.
 
• Maybe it’s giving us the new, more positive view of ourselves that we’ve been hungry for.

 • Maybe it helps us envision ourselves as Revolutionaries, moving away from the wrong side of the world revolution where we have seemed stuck since the Vietnam War.

• Maybe it also helps us see ourselves as Evolutionaries, making the radical revolution of values that Dr. King called for during that war, transformimg ourselves from materialists, militarists, and individualists into a people who can be proud of how we are advancing humankind to a new stage of consciousness, creativity, and social and political responsibility.

 To link to the original book reviews, go to:

 1. A Book Review by Victor Nolet

2. A Personal Open Letter to Grace Lee Boggs by Molly Ware

 Both reviews appeared in the Journal of Educational Controversy: Vol. 6, No. 1
 

To read today's New York Times article announcing her passing, go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/06/us/grace-lee-boggs-detroit-activist-dies-at-100.html?emc=edit_th_20151006&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=20720790&_r=0



Statement by President Obama on the Passing of
Grace Lee Boggs
Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of author, philosopher, and activist Grace Lee Boggs. Grace dedicated her life to serving and advocating for the rights of others – from her community activism in Detroit, to her leadership in the civil rights movement, to her ideas that challenged us all to lead meaningful lives. As the child of Chinese immigrants and as a woman, Grace learned early on that the world needed changing, and she overcame barriers to do just that. She understood the power of community organizing at its core – the importance of bringing about change and getting people involved to shape their own destiny. Grace’s passion for helping others, and her work to rejuvenate communities that had fallen on hard times spanned her remarkable 100 years of life, and will continue to inspire generations to come.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Grace’s family and friends, and all those who loved her dearly.

Monday, September 28, 2015

More on Charter Schools

Editor: In light of our recent post on the Washington State Supreme Court decision finding charter schools unconstitutional in our state, I thought readers would find this website on educational policy and current research to be of interest.  Readers can find the National Education Policy Center website at http://nepc.colorado.edu/  Below are the most recent comments on charter schools that the center just sent out on its listserv today.  Check out their website for more complete information.


Problems with CREDO’s Charter School Research: Understanding the Issues



Andrew Maul’s rejoinder to CREDO’s response



Contact:
William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Andrew Maul, (805) 893-7770, amaul@education.ucsb.edu


URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/p6so45d
 


BOULDER, CO (September 28, 2015) – Earlier this summer, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) published a response to professor Andrew Maul’s review of CREDO’s Urban Charter School Study. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) today released Maul’s reply, in which he thanks CREDO for the response yet explains, point-by-point, why he stands by the following eight concerns he had earlier raised about that study:


1.     The nature of the comparison between charter and traditional public schools in the CREDO studies is not clear;

2.     The matching variables used in CREDO’s studies may not be sufficient to support causal conclusions;
 
3.      Some lower-performing charter students are systematically excluded from the CREDO studies;
 
4.     CREDO’s reasons for the systematic exclusion of lower-scoring charter students do not address the potential for bias arising from the exclusion;
 
5.     The “days of learning” metric used in the CREDO studies is problematic;
 
6.     The CREDO studies fail to provide sufficient information about the criteria for the selection of urban regions included in the studies;
 
7.      The CREDO studies lack an appropriate correction for multiple significance tests; and
 
8.     The CREDO studies have trivial effect sizes.

Maul’s original review and his short rejoinder are published by the NEPC, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Maul, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, focuses his research on measurement theory, validity, and research design.


Find Maul’s original review of CREDO’s urban-charter report and his full rejoinder here or go to: http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-urban-charter-school


The original CREDO report, and the CREDO response to Maul’s review, are currently available at the following urls:
Original report:
http://urbancharters.stanford.edu/download/Urban%20Charter%20School%20Study%20Report%20on%2041%20Regions.pdf
Peterson’s Response:
http://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/CREDOResponsetoMaulandGabor.pdf


 The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested. You can learn more about NEPC and sign up for publication updates by visiting http://nepc.colorado.edu/. To learn more about the Think Twice think tank review project, visit http://thinktankreview.org.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Washington State Supreme Court Rules Washington Charter Schools are Unconstitutional


The Washington State Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the charter school law in the state of Washington violated the state constitution.    After three earlier defeats at the voting booth, Washington voters, in a campaign that was heavily influenced by the backing of big money, narrowly voted for initiative 1240 in 2012, an initiative that created charter schools in the state.

 In a decision that came down yesterday, the High Court found that charter schools do not fall under the definition of common schools as defined in the state constitution.  "Because charter schools under I-1240 are run by an appointed board or nonprofit organization and thus are not subject to local voter control, they cannot qualify as 'common schools' within the meaning of Article IX" [of the state constitution], Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote on behalf of the majority. Indeed, the High Court stated, “Under the Act (I-1240), charter schools are devoid of local control from their inception to their daily operations.”

Because charter schools do not fall under the Washington State constitution’s definition of common schools, funds intended for the common schools cannot be diverted to charter schools.  I-1240 “relies on common school funds as its funding choice,” Madsen wrote.  “Without those funds, the Act cannot function as intended.” 

The High Court found that diverting public school funds to charter schools was a violation of the state constitution.

 Madsen made clear that the issue before the court was not about the “merits or demerits of charter schools,” but only if the voter-approved initiative was in compliance with the state constitution.

 Chief Justice Madsen was joined in the ruling by Justices Charles Johnson, Charles Wiggins, Mary Yu, Debra Stevens and Susan Owens.

 Appellants in the case were a coalition of groups including the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education Association, El Centro de la Raza, and the Washington Association of School Administrators and several individual plaintiffs.

 Readers can read the full decision at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/897140.pdf

 The decision follows another one that we reported on in the post below.  In that decision, the court had ruled that the Washington State legislature had failed to adequately fund public education in the state and imposed a $100000 daily sanction on the legislature. See our earlier post

 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rejecting “Testing our Way to Success”: Washington State Tribal Leaders Speak out on Standardization

Editor: Our blog has been following events in American Indian educational reform in Washington State for some time.   See the links to the newly developed  Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum” in our section on EDUCATIONAL UPDATES FOR THE STATE OF WASHINGTON: POLITICAL, LEGAL, AND SOCIAL ISSUES.  We also have some discussion about it in our April 8, 2014 video with author Jioanna Carjezaa, who talks about the work they are doing in Montana through a constitutional mandate called “Indian Education for ALL.”  Below is an interesting post (July 27, 2015) from the blog, “TeacherTalks Truth.” We thank Kathleen Hagans Jeskey for permission to reprint it on our blog.

 

Washington State Tribal Leaders Speak out on Standardization

By Kathleen Hagans Jeskey
 
Standardized education for Native youth: Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Pennsylvania (c. 1900) one of many "Indian Boarding Schools", where official policy was to attempt to strip children of their Native language and culture, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Earlier this month I posted a letter written to Senator Patty Murray by Robey Clark, a fellow member of Oregon Save Our Schools, regarding reauthorization of ESEA. Today I am posting a letter he shared with me that was sent to Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn by the governing tribes of the Washington State Tribal Compact Schools on June 5th, 2015. Mr. Dorn has yet to respond to the tribes.


The sentiment in this letter can be broadly applied not only to Native students but to all students.  Our public schools are diverse. Students deserve to have their cultures recognized and respected. They deserve lessons that engage and speak to them, and they deserve to be evaluated in an authentic way. We must bring the humanity back to our schools.


 Big thanks to Robey Clark for sharing this with me and for fighting for the schools our children deserve.

 
WASHINGTON TRIBAL COMPACT SCHOOL POSITION STATEMENT:


We, the governing tribes of the Washington State Tribal compact schools, hope to break the chronic cycle of failure among schools serving American Indian reservations. We intend to capitalize upon the opportunity presented by this new Tribal Compact School law by promoting the adoption of teaching practices which we believe to be more congruent with tribal cultures. In support of this effort, we intend to foster some important reforms in educational accountability methods that will encourage and reward a change in practice.

In recent decades, state and federal educational policy has focused on raising test scores for poor and minority students up to the general population average by the third grade (or soon after) in an effort to minimize the dropout rate. This policy has been a particular disaster for most public schools serving Indian reservations. The result has been a system that labels Indian children early; subjects them to continued remedial instruction; and fails to keep them engaged after the 4th grade. The over-emphasis on early grade test scores has evolved into a self-fulfilling (and self-perpetuating) prophecy of failure for Indian students. We believe it is this labeling effect, coupled with limited instructional methods that cause many if not most dropouts.
 
The Iroquois Sachem Canasatego once said to the English colonists of his time, “...you who are so wise must know that different Nations have different Conceptions of things and you will, therefore, not take it amiss if our Ideas of this kind of Education happen not to be the same as yours. We have had some Experience of it...”.

Our experience has been that our schools have diligently tried to adopt “research based” models and “data based decision making” as primary methods for school improvement for years now. For the past 15 years, federal policy has placed more and higher stakes on test results. So much weight has been placed upon them that, standardized tests have become an end unto themselves. Something must change. We do not accept that standardized testing defines the potential or truly measures the growth of our children in any meaningful way. Therefore, as sovereign tribal governments, shouldering the new responsibilities under the state compact, we feel it is our duty to make a change toward authentic assessment and accountability. If Indian students are motivated, they will succeed. It is our goal to create places where our children and young adults wish to be and where there is an inherent expectation and tradition of success.


In recent years, the state has commissioned and adopted assessments, such as the High School Proficiency Test (HSPE) and End of Course (EOC) exams, which have only served to make the student disengagement and dropout problem worse. Now, with the coming adoption of the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) testing will take a quantum leap toward becoming much longer, more difficult, and demanding even greater attention. We believe that we cannot test our way to success. We have walked far enough down this path and are determined to change direction. Therefore, we are proposing a five-year moratorium from standardized testing in Tribal compact schools. During this time, we propose to develop a new evaluation paradigm based on applied learning and public demonstration. During this development period, we will use formative tests and/or other tools chosen by our staff to monitor progress and assist in teaching. We will develop a viable alternative evaluation system equaling or surpassing the rigor of state adopted testing. In addition, we will demonstrate American Indian student attendance and graduation rates that match or exceed state averages. Although intended for reservation-based districts, we hope such a system might be used by any district experiencing this chronic syndrome of failure.

We will call upon our schools to develop ways to teach content and to hone student academic skills through authentic work for real life purposes rather than to depend mainly upon passive and abstract classroom instruction. These methods may further enhance Indian student learning as they more closely resemble historical tribal teaching practices. Traditionally, our children learned specific skills within the context of an immediate and worthwhile task. As students progress toward later grades, authentic instruction should increase and passive classroom instruction decrease. To support these proposed reforms, we intend to provide our schools an evaluation model based upon public demonstration to the community. We will give our professional educational staff the flexibility to re-organize as necessary and to experiment in developing more deeply engaging educational experiences. In addition, we will find new ways to evaluate and award credit for the work completed outside the classroom. The teachers will work in teams to share the burden and include high school students in yearly planning.


We will require our schools to initiate formal public demonstrations of student work that meet the highest level of state standards, so that the tribe and community may appreciate the quality and value of the school. The demonstrations may include but are not limited to: individual or group projects in science and applied math; performance in music and dance; displays of art and literary work; student enterprises and worthy deeds for the school, tribe or community. The demonstrations will be challenging enough to show high skills and/or thorough understanding by students. Such demonstrations will also serve to help WOSPI to evaluate student accomplishments in terms of the state standards. We anticipate that the institution of such events will not only serve as a new method to evaluate student work but will also help rally our communities to support their schools.

To us, making sure all students graduate “on time” is not as important as making sure that all do indeed graduate as mature capable individuals with knowledge and skills to go forth in their chosen path. Our students will receive a diploma when each is ready to present herself or himself before the community with a portfolio that shows she or he is ready for college, skilled career training or the everyday work world. By the same token, this also means a student may graduate early by petition if they demonstrate extraordinary ability or talent and can meet the standards. As the vision stated in: From Where the Sun Rises: Addressing the Educational Achievement of Native Americans in Washington State--Delivered to the Washington Legislature, December 30, 2008--"Indian education dates back to a time when all children were identified as gifted and talented. Each child had a skill and ability that would contribute to the health and vitality of the community. Everyone in the community helped to identify and cultivate these skills and abilities. The elders were entrusted to oversee this sacred act of knowledge being shared. That is our vision for Indian education today."
 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Washington State Supreme Court to State Legislature: Fix Educational Funding or Pay $100,000 Daily Fine


This blog has been following the McCleary decision on educational funding in Washington State for some time.  See the earlier court decisions in our section on:  EDUCATIONAL UPDATES FOR THE STATE OF WASHINGTON: POLITICAL, LEGAL, AND SOCIAL ISSUES.  Last Thursday, the Washington State Supreme Court decided to place sanctions on the state legislature in order to get compliance.  Here are some links to the story.



Here is a link to the actual documents from the court:

Supreme Court Case Number 84362-7  - McCleary, et al. v. State of Washington


Here is a link to archived videos of court and legislative actions on TVW in Washington, the public access channel.

 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ACLU to Argue in Federal Court on Behalf of a Third Grader with Disabilities who was Handcuffed in School: See Video Below


Editor: The Journal of Educational Controversy published a special issue in the past on the School-to-Prison Pipeline.   We pointed out that this trend to criminalize students rather than educating them has had a disproportionate impact on students of color and students with disabilities and emotional problems.  The American Civil Liberties Union has just filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two elementary school students with disabilities.  The ACLU has been showing this disturbing video below on one of the students, a third grader, who was handcuffed in school.  Following the video is the ACLU's account of it.


video


ACLU ACCOUNT OF EVENT ON THE HANDCUFFING OF A CHILD WITH DISABILITIES:


This third grader was shackled and crying out in pain for 15 minutes. He was restrained because of behavior related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a history of trauma.  A member of the school's staff videotaped the incident.
 
Students with disabilities represent 12% of public school students but are 75% of all students subjected to physical restraint at school, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
 
Students of color and students with disabilities are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline. One child in this case is Latino, and the other is African-American.
 
Law enforcement in schools must be trained on how to work with children with disabilities and trauma. Learning de-escalation skills should be as common as fire drills for schools and any law enforcement officers who serve them.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Author Sam Chaltain Reflects on Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch and the Racism in All of Us

 
 Dear White People: We Are All Atticus Finch
 
by Sam Chaltain



Editor: Readers will remember the article by author, Sam Chaltain, “Ways of Seeing (and of Being Seen): Visibility in Schools,” in our journal’s issue on “Schooling as if Democracy Matters.”  Below are Sam’s thoughts on the recently published book, Go Set a Watchman.


Have you heard the news? Atticus Finch is a racist.
 
Guess what? So are you. So am I.

I know, it’s hard to square with the images of ourselves we like to project. After all, we just took down the Confederate flag! We recoiled in horror at the images of Eric Garner being strangled! We hated George Zimmerman! We voted for Barack Obama!

But here’s the thing: being racist isn’t only about explicit acts. It includes implicit privilege. It requires complicit silence.

James Baldwin told us this fifty years ago, at the height of the civil rights movement – and just two years after To Kill a Mockingbird made its celebrated debut. “This is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen,” he wrote. “That they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it.

“It is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.”

It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.

The opportunity of the present moment – a moment when it has become undeniable to all but the most sand-headed White people that, even amidst all the progress, Black people are living under siege – is to finally step courageously into a new conversation about race and racism in America.

But that conversation, and the actions that follow, must begin with this admission: we are all Atticus Finch.

Up to now, we’ve taken solace with the idea that we are that Atticus Finch – the first one, the one who was a crusading attorney who stood up for what was right in the face of the pig-fisted brutality of the American South.

For some of us, maybe, sometimes we have been.

But we’re also that Atticus Finch – the new one, just revealed to us via Harper Lee’s eagerly anticipated sequel, Go Set a Watchman. And as the first reviews tell us, that Atticus Finch attends Klan meetings, denounces segregation efforts, and asks his daughter pointedly, “Do you want them in our world?”

Being that Atticus Finch doesn’t require that we attend white supremacy meetings, support police brutality, or poison our own children with hate. It merely requires that we maintain our innocence amidst the maw of institutionalized racism, and mask our complicity in that system via periodic outrages at current events that clash with the saintly pictures we have painted of ourselves.

It is striking that Go Set A Watchman, with its unflattering revision of a beloved, one-note character, should come out now, amidst Charleston, and Baltimore, and #blacklivesmatter. But perhaps, as Alexandra Alter writes in the New York Times, “if To Kill A Mockingbird sugarcoats racial divisions by depicting a white man as the model for justice in an unjust world, then Go Set A Watchman may be like bitter medicine that more accurately reflects the times.”

Harper Lee’s bitter medicine should not taste that bitter to us. As much as we would like to believe it, there are no clear heroes and villains; we are neither one nor the other.

We are both.

We have been born into a society that confers a lifetime of invisible advantages to our families. We have the opportunity to cherry-pick which injustices to our Black brothers and sisters should move us to dissatisfaction. And we have chosen, thus far, not just to maintain what James Baldwin calls “the innocence,” but what The Atlantic correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates calls “The Dream.”

“The Dream is treehouses and the Cub Scouts,” he writes in his new memoir, Between the World and Me. “The Dream smells like peppermint but tastes like strawberry shortcake. The Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.”

“It does not matter if the agent of those forces is white or black. What matters is the system that makes your body breakable.”

What matters is the system that makes your body breakable.

So we are all Atticus Finch. We have beauty and prejudice and ignorance and complacency and privilege and compassion and the chance to do something or nothing. We can be forces for good or a silent and gradual force for community decay and destruction.

Who we aspire to be is not solely who Atticus was. It is not solely who we are, either.

And so we have work to do. And it will require a much more constant vigilance, and honesty, and self-awareness than we have shown so far.



(Reprinted with permission of the author from the Sam Chaltain website. This article also appeared in The Huffington Post.)