Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Symbiotc Relationship of Bill Gates, Arne Duncan and Pearson…and the Takeover1

Arne Duncan has embraced Bill Gates' vision of education.  Bill Gates has had a hand in crafting the common core standards and has provided grant money to advance the implementation in schools around the country.  It doesn't apparently matter to Arne Duncan these standards are unproven, untested and unconstitutional.  It also apparently doesn't matter that Mr. Gates' previous dalliances into the education arena proved unsuccessful.
Bill Gates has his vision and billions of dollars to start the wheels turning for common core and the data that accompanies the assessments critical to the common core plan.  If he can get this implemented, his companies will make even more billions of dollars once the system is operational.  He faces some hurdles such as changes in the law regarding student privacy, but Secretary Duncan is doing his best to relax privacy information the Department of Education can share with outside agencies and private companies.

High Stakes Tests as Forced Intellectual Labor? | Mark Garrison

Tracy and Mary Finney thought they were meeting with the principal at West Side Elementary in Marietta, Georgia, this morning to discuss their choice to opt out of Standardized State Testing for their children. Instead, they were met by a police officer who told the Finney's that their decision to "oppose something the school is trying to do" is considered "kind of a trespassing situation."
"I certainly didn't wake up this morning thinking I was going to meet with police at my children's school," said Tracy Finney, father of 9-year-old and 11-year-old students attending West Side Elementary.
                                    This raises a few questions: does a state authority have the right to force, by way of law enforcement officers, children to perform intellectual work, in this case, a state-mandated standardized test? While attendance laws have a long history, I'm not aware of those laws being interpreted to legalize the use of force against students and their families to compel students to perform academic work. Up to this point, children and families across the U.S. and in New York State have faced harassment and

Summon An Avalanche... - Stop Common Core In New Hampshire

An Avalanche Against Global Education Standards
As I researched and wrote about education and pending reforms, I began to see that the long-term goal of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other proponents of education reform in the United States was a global education standard. I also began to realize that the single greatest hindrance to achieving that goal is the decentralized approach to education United States. That's why "common" standards which are in essence a national standard are being pushed so strongly under the guise of being "state-led." Local control is the enemy of global education


Obamacore making these people filthy rich

By Dr. Karen VanTil Gushta

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of stories about Common Core, the controversial new educational agenda aimed at imposing federal government standards on every aspect of public and private education in America, which some are even calling "ObamaCore." The first part talked about the high stakes for parents, students and education.

The battle over the Common Core State Standards Initiative – widely known as "Common Core" – has now spread to 30 states where legislation has or will be introduced to delay implementation, abolish the Core Standards or, at a minimum, set up a task force to study the issue before full implementation takes place.

The stakes are high.

"Common Core is part of the agency to keep true reform from happening in this county," said Dr. Terrence Moore, author of "The Story Killers: A Common Sense Case Against the Common Core."

Asked who will benefit, he said, "The people who are not going to profit and thrive are the children. School will become even more boring than it is, and they will be unable to think or have any cultural heritage or moral inheritance to draw upon in order to grow and thrive."

Instead, Moore said, those who will profit are the progressives pushing this program.

"It's very clear that [Education Secretary] Arne Duncan and company and the entire progressive left regard schools as their own institutions to turn any way they choose," he said.

Moore said education progressives fit into three categories – what he calls Romper Room Progressives, Political Progressives and Techno Progressives.

'Brave new classroom'

Bill Gates

During the 1980s, Romper Room Progressives were at their peak. They pushed process-driven instruction, emphasizing "student collaboration" and "cooperative learning."

Future teachers were told to "facilitate" students in "constructing" their own knowledge. The model teacher was the "guide on the side," not the "sage on the stage."

Since then, the other two types of progressives have gained more influence. The Political Progressives "have a particular political agenda," said Moore. They are anti-constitutionalists and rabid environmentalists. They attack the traditional family structure and denigrate the Founding Fathers. Instead of giving students great stories and literary classics to help students understand human problems, they push "postmodern and mushy multicultural authors."

According to Moore, the Techno-Progressives group includes Bill Gates, Jeb Bush and others who want to see a "brave new classroom" where students are "sitting at computer workstations all day long." In these classrooms, teachers are not even Romper Room facilitators. They no longer talk to students; they are there simply to monitor their progress.

William Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association, said data-mining, which has sparked parental concern and is prompting legislative action in some states, is a key component of Common Core.

See the dozens of products in the WND Superstore that address education, what it is, what it should be, and what it is becoming in America.

"This really is a gold mine for big business," Estrada said. "You can see this by who's profiting from these databases. They see enormous profit in gathering this data in one place."

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is separate from states' databases, but the same people who are pushing the Common Core are pushing for greater data collection by the states. They also want cross-state data sharing. States that competed for the Race to the Top funds got more points if they had data collection systems in place. So, technically, states weren't forced to align their databases with Common Core, but there was tremendous incentive for them to do so, according to Estrada.

At the moment it doesn't appear that homeschool or private-school student data will be collected. However, the HSLDA is tracking the issue closely to ensure states will not start collecting student-specific data. Estrada said when New York state began to move in that direction, a call from HSLDA stopped any further action.

National database of student-specific data

The concern is that all the pieces are in place for a nationally linked, comprehensive database of student-specific data. In 2012, the Federal Department of Education changed regulations in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Now any government or private entity that FedED says is evaluating an education program can get access to students' personally identifiable information. Postsecondary institutions and workforce education programs can also get this data, which includes names of family members, students' disciplinary records and even biometric records.

"The heavy involvement of the federal government in enticing states to create databases of student-specific data that are linked between states is creating a de facto centralized database," wrote Estrada and co-author Katie Tipton in their report, "The Dawning Database: Does the Common Core Lead to National Data Collection?"

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it would give states $12 million in grants to build longitudinal databases that will link workforce and education data. Estrada and Tipton conclude, "Before our eyes a 'national database' is being created in which every public school student's personal information and academic history will be stored."

Student data collection and sharing is crucial to the success of Common Core, according to its backers, and it is also in the financial interests of these same backers. So it's not just a coincidence that the big money for the development of student data collection models is coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Just as they funded development of the Common Core Standards, the Gates Foundation is funding development of programs for student data collection. The Data Quality Campaign, a Gates-funded nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., was set up to provide a "national forum to facilitate cross-state" data sharing.

As Common Core-aligned assessments and cross-state data sharing begin collecting and pooling data, and loosened Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations give easier access to this rich mother-load, a number of states is increasingly concerned about the type of data being collected.

Florida has bills in both its House and Senate that would ban collection of biometric and other sensitive data on students. Dr. Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and president of Education Liberty Watch, said her biggest concern is that student psychological data will be collected since the standards include "social-emotional" learning outcomes.

In comments she prepared for the Florida Board of Education on the "Psychological and Developmental Aspects of the Florida's Common Core Standards," Dr. Effrem, who is a medical doctor specializing in pediatrics, referred to a document that clearly states the FedED's intentions to gather psychosocial data on students. The FedED's Office of Technology document, "Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century," states:

[A]s new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new [Common Core State Standards Initiative] standards … A sustained program of research and development will be required to create assessments that are capable of measuring cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills.

Those who are eager to use these data banks are the companies that are producing Common Core-aligned textbooks and tests. Some, like Neil Bush's Ignite!Learning, are relative newcomers to the lucrative business of educational publishing and testing. Neil Bush (George and Jeb's younger brother) raised $23 million from U.S. investors (including his parents), and at least $3 million from Saudi interests to set up Ignite! The company says it develops "easy-to-use teacher-led digital content based instructional systems" that align to "state, Common Core, and local standards."

Raking in billions of dollars

Pearson books

But the younger Bush's enterprise is small change compared to the multi-billion-dollar enterprise of Pearson PLC. The British multinational publishing and education company headquartered in London reportedly is the largest education company and the largest book publisher in the world. Pearson has moved like gangbusters into the expanding educational testing and textbook market.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute estimates the national cost for Common Core compliance will be between $1 billion to $8 billion, and the profits will go almost directly to publishers. Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson's K-12 division, Pearson School, stated, "It's a really big deal. The Common Core Standards are affecting literally every part of the business we're involved in."

But Cohen is not the driving force of Pearson's School division, which was set up when the company reorganized in May 2013 to accelerate its push into "digital learning, education services, and emerging markets." The person to watch at Pearson is Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser to the school division.

Sir Michael Barber

Barber, once an adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, is considered a "global expert on education reform and implementation of large-scale system change." He is also an outspoken supporter of UNESCO's education goals. (See Part 1 in this series for more information on this topic.)

Unless reforms are "irreversible," warns Barber, people might undo what's been done because they will "wish for the past." Thus he tells policy makers to "work on the culture and the minds of teachers and parents."

See the dozens of products in the WND Superstore that address education, what it is, what it should be and what it is becoming in America.

According to Barber, education reform is a "global phenomenon," no longer to be managed by individuals or sovereign countries. Education reform has "no more frontiers, no more barriers," he said at a British Education Summit last August.

Pearson School expects Barber will show it the way forward as it muscles its way into the lead in the Common Core testing and textbook market. It's already received help from Jeb Bush's Chiefs for Change and his Foundation for Excellence, which has received donations from the Pearson Foundation and, in turn, provides its donors, including Pearson, access to the chief state school officers who are members of Bush's CFC club.

Pearson PLC revenue in 2012 was $8.41 billion. Part of that revenue came from financial publications promoting "global Shariah-compliant" finance. The multinational company has extensive business relationships with wealthy Islamist financial institutions. One of the publishers owned by Pearson, Prentice Hall, puts out a world history textbook that has a 36-page chapter on Islam but no chapters on Christianity or Judaism.

20-fold hike in testing

According to Dr. Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, there will be a 20-fold increase in testing if Common Core takes over America's schools. Much of that will be online, bringing greater profits not only for Pearson, but also for software companies such as Bill Gates' Microsoft.

Clearly, those who will benefit from Common Core are not the students – America's children. Rather, hundreds of millions in profits will go to educational textbook and testing companies like Pearson and Microsoft.

One other group will also benefit from the Obama administration's move to standardize education across the states – the bureaucrats at UNESCO and its associated NGOs. Unless the Common Core takeover of America's schools is stopped, these bureaucrats and the progressives who shill for them can happily envision an America that is finally becoming the land of the subjugated and the home of the cowering as children are taught to be compliant global citizens.

Karen VanTil Gushta has a Ph.D. in philosophy of education and is a freelance writer and former educator with experience teaching at all levels, including graduate teacher education. In 2009, Coral Ridge Ministries published her first book, "The War On Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk." Karen writes regularly on topics related to protecting faith and freedom and defending the sanctity of human life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ivy League Schools Are Overrated

Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic

Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League

In the spring of 2008, I did a daylong stint on the Yale admissions committee. Wethat is, three admissions staff, a member of the college dean's office, and me, the faculty representativewere going through submissions from eastern Pennsylvania. The applicants had been assigned a score from one to four, calculated from a string of figures and codesSATs, GPA, class rank, numerical scores to which the letters of recommendation had been converted, special notations for legacies and diversity cases. The ones had already been admitted, and the threes and fours could get in only under special conditionsif they were a nationally ranked athlete, for instance, or a "DevA," (an applicant in the highest category of "development" cases, which means a child of very rich donors). Our task for the day was to adjudicate among the twos. Huge bowls of junk food were stationed at the side of the room to keep our energy up.

The junior officer in charge, a young man who looked to be about 30, presented each case, rat-a-tat-tat, in a blizzard of admissions jargon that I had to pick up on the fly. "Good rig": the transcript exhibits a good degree of academic rigor. "Ed level 1": parents have an educational level no higher than high school, indicating a genuine hardship case. "MUSD": a musician in the highest category of promise. Kids who had five or six items on their list of extracurricularsthe "brag"were already in trouble, because that wasn't nearly enough. We listened, asked questions, dove into a letter or two, then voted up or down.

With so many accomplished applicants to choose from, we were looking for kids with something special, "PQs"personal qualitiesthat were often revealed by the letters or essays. Kids who only had the numbers and the résumé were usually rejected: "no spark," "not a team-builder," "this is pretty much in the middle of the fairway for us." One young person, who had piled up a truly insane quantity of extracurriculars and who submitted nine letters of recommendation, was felt to be "too intense." On the other hand, the numbers and the résumé were clearly indispensable. I'd been told that successful applicants could either be "well-rounded" or "pointy"outstanding in one particular waybut if they were pointy, they had to be really pointy: a musician whose audition tape had impressed the music department, a scientist who had won a national award.

"Super People," the writer James Atlas has called themthe stereotypical ultra-high-achieving elite college students of today. A double major, a sport, a musical instrument, a couple of foreign languages, service work in distant corners of the globe, a few hobbies thrown in for good measure: They have mastered them all, and with a serene self-assurance that leaves adults and peers alike in awe. A friend who teaches at a top university once asked her class to memorize 30 lines of the eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope. Nearly every single kid got every single line correct. It was a thing of wonder, she said, like watching thoroughbreds circle a track.

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they're doing but with no idea why they're doing it.

READ: I'm a Laborer's Son. I Went to Yale. I Am Not "Trapped in a Bubble of Privilege."

When I speak of elite education, I mean prestigious institutions like Harvard or Stanford or Williams as well as the larger universe of second-tier selective schools, but I also mean everything that leads up to and away from themthe private and affluent public high schools; the ever-growing industry of tutors and consultants and test-prep courses; the admissions process itself, squatting like a dragon at the entrance to adulthood; the brand-name graduate schools and employment opportunities that come after the B.A.; and the parents and communities, largely upper-middle class, who push their children into the maw of this machine. In short, our entire system of elite education.

I should say that this subject is very personal for me. Like so many kids today, I went off to college like a sleepwalker. You chose the most prestigious place that let you in; up ahead were vaguely understood objectives: status, wealth"success." What it meant to actually get an education and why you might want oneall this was off the table. It was only after 24 years in the Ivy Leaguecollege and a Ph.D. at Columbia, ten years on the faculty at Yalethat I started to think about what this system does to kids and how they can escape from it, what it does to our society and how we can dismantle it.


A young woman from another school wrote me this about her boyfriend at Yale:

Before he started college, he spent most of his time reading and writing short stories. Three years later, he's painfully insecure, worrying about things my public-educated friends don't give a second thought to, like the stigma of eating lunch alone and whether he's "networking" enough. No one but me knows he fakes being well-read by thumbing through the first and last chapters of any book he hears about and obsessively devouring reviews in lieu of the real thing. He does this not because he's incurious, but because there's a bigger social reward for being able to talk about books than for actually reading them.

READ: Can World of Warcraft Save Higher Education?

I taught many wonderful young people during my years in the Ivy Leaguebright, thoughtful, creative kids whom it was a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But most of them seemed content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them. Very few were passionate about ideas. Very few saw college as part of a larger project of intellectual discovery and development. Everyone dressed as if they were ready to be interviewed at a moment's notice.

Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study's 25-year history.

So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she'd love to have a chance to think about the things she's studying, only she doesn't have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.

There are exceptions, kids who insist, against all odds, on trying to get a real education. But their experience tends to make them feel like freaks. One student told me that a friend of hers had left Yale because she found the school "stifling to the parts of yourself that you'd call a soul."

MAP: America's 10 Richest Universities Match These Countries' GDPs

"Return on investment": that's the phrase you often hear today when people talk about college. What no one seems to ask is what the "return" is supposed to be. Is it just about earning more money? Is the only purpose of an education to enable you to get a job? What, in short, is college for?

The first thing that college is for is to teach you to think. That doesn't simply mean developing the mental skills particular to individual disciplines. College is an opportunity to stand outside the world for a few years, between the orthodoxy of your family and the exigencies of career, and contemplate things from a distance.

Learning how to think is only the beginning, though. There's something in particular you need to think about: building a self. The notion may sound strange. "We've taught them," David Foster Wallace once said, "that a self is something you just have." But it is only through the act of establishing communication between the mind and the heart, the mind and experience, that you become an individual, a unique beinga soul. The job of college is to assist you to begin to do that. Books, ideas, works of art and thought, the pressure of the minds around you that are looking for their own answers in their own ways.

College is not the only chance to learn to think, but it is the best. One thing is certain: If you haven't started by the time you finish your B.A., there's little likelihood you'll do it later. That is why an undergraduate experience devoted exclusively to career preparation is four years largely wasted.

READ: Send your kid to the Ivy League! A rebuttal.

Elite schools like to boast that they teach their students how to think, but all they mean is that they train them in the analytic and rhetorical skills that are necessary for success in business and the professions. Everything is technocraticthe development of expertiseand everything is ultimately justified in technocratic terms.

Religious collegeseven obscure, regional schools that no one has ever heard of on the coastsoften do a much better job in that respect. What an indictment of the Ivy League and its peers: that colleges four levels down on the academic totem pole, enrolling students whose SAT scores are hundreds of points lower than theirs, deliver a better education, in the highest sense of the word.

At least the classes at elite schools are academically rigorous, demanding on their own terms, no? Not necessarily. In the sciences, usually; in other disciplines, not so much. There are exceptions, of course, but professors and students have largely entered into what one observer called a "nonaggression pact." Students are regarded by the institution as "customers," people to be pandered to instead of challenged. Professors are rewarded for research, so they want to spend as little time on their classes as they can. The profession's whole incentive structure is biased against teaching, and the more prestigious the school, the stronger the bias is likely to be. The result is higher marks for shoddier work.

It is true that today's young people appear to be more socially engaged than kids have been for several decades and that they are more apt to harbor creative or entrepreneurial impulses. But it is also true, at least at the most selective schools, that even if those aspirations make it out of collegea big "if"they tend to be played out within the same narrow conception of what constitutes a valid life: affluence, credentials, prestige.

Experience itself has been reduced to instrumental function, via the college essay. From learning to commodify your experiences for the application, the next step has been to seek out experiences in order to have them to commodify. The New York Times reports that there is now a thriving sector devoted to producing essay-ready summers, but what strikes one is the superficiality of the activities involved: a month traveling around Italy studying the Renaissance, "a whole day" with a band of renegade artists. A whole day!

I've noticed something similar when it comes to service. Why is it that people feel the need to go to places like Guatemala to do their projects of rescue or documentation, instead of Milwaukee or Arkansas? When students do stay in the States, why is it that so many head for New Orleans? Perhaps it's no surprise, when kids are trained to think of service as something they are ultimately doing for themselvesthat is, for their résumés. "Do well by doing good," goes the slogan. How about just doing good?

If there is one idea, above all, through which the concept of social responsibility is communicated at the most prestigious schools, it is "leadership." "Harvard is for leaders," goes the Cambridge cliché. To be a high-achieving student is to constantly be urged to think of yourself as a future leader of society. But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top. Making partner at a major law firm or becoming a chief executive, climbing the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy you decide to attach yourself to. I don't think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning.

The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things. As of 2010, about a third of graduates went into financing or consulting at a number of top schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell. Whole fields have disappeared from view: the clergy, the military, electoral politics, even academia itself, for the most part, including basic science. It's considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker. "What Wall Street figured out," as Ezra Klein has put it, "is that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, an incredible work ethic and no idea what to do next."

For the most selective colleges, this system is working very well indeed. Application numbers continue to swell, endowments are robust, tuition hikes bring ritual complaints but no decline in business. Whether it is working for anyone else is a different question.

It almost feels ridiculous to have to insist that colleges like Harvard are bastions of privilege, where the rich send their children to learn to walk, talk, and think like the rich. Don't we already know this? They aren't called elite colleges for nothing. But apparently we like pretending otherwise. We live in a meritocracy, after all.

The sign of the system's alleged fairness is the set of policies that travel under the banner of "diversity." And that diversity does indeed represent nothing less than a social revolution. Princeton, which didn't even admit its first woman graduatestudent until 1961a year in which a grand total of one (no doubt very lonely) African American matriculated at its collegeis now half female and only about half white. But diversity of sex and race has become a cover for increasing economic resegregation. Elite colleges are still living off the moral capital they earned in the 1960s, when they took the genuinely courageous step of dismantling the mechanisms of the WASP aristocracy.

The truth is that the meritocracy was never more than partial. Visit any elite campus across our great nation, and you can thrill to the heart-warming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. Kids at schools like Stanford think that their environment is diverse if one comes from Missouri and another from Pakistan, or if one plays the cello and the other lacrosse. Never mind that all of their parents are doctors or bankers.

That doesn't mean there aren't a few exceptions, but that is all they are. In fact, the group that is most disadvantaged by our current admissions policies are working-class and rural whites, who are hardly present on selective campuses at all. The only way to think these places are diverse is if that's all you've ever seen.

Let's not kid ourselves: The college admissions game is not primarily about the lower and middle classes seeking to rise, or even about the upper-middle class attempting to maintain its position. It is about determining the exact hierarchy of status within the upper-middle class itself. In the affluent suburbs and well-heeled urban enclaves where this game is principally played, it is not about whether you go to an elite school. It's about which one you go to. It is Penn versus Tufts, not Penn versus Penn State. It doesn't matter that a bright young person can go to Ohio State, become a doctor, settle in Dayton, and make a very good living. Such an outcome is simply too horrible to contemplate.

This system is exacerbating inequality, retarding social mobility, perpetuating privilege, and creating an elite that is isolated from the society that it's supposed to lead. The numbers are undeniable. In 1985, 46 percent of incoming freshmen at the 250 most selective colleges came from the top quarter of the income distribution. By 2000, it was 55 percent. As of 2006, only about 15 percent of students at the most competitive schools came from the bottom half. The more prestigious the school, the more unequal its student body is apt to be. And public institutions are not much better than private ones. As of 2004, 40 percent of first-year students at the most selective state campuses came from families with incomes of more than $100,000, up from 32 percent just five years earlier.

The major reason for the trend is clear. Not increasing tuition, though that is a factor, but the ever-growing cost of manufacturing children who are fit to compete in the college admissions game. The more hurdles there are, the more expensive it is to catapult your kid across them. Wealthy families start buying their children's way into elite colleges almost from the moment they are born: music lessons, sports equipment, foreign travel ("enrichment" programs, to use the all-too-perfect term)most important, of course, private-school tuition or the costs of living in a place with top-tier public schools. The SAT is supposed to measure aptitude, but what it actually measures is parental income, which it tracks quite closely. Today, fewer than half of high-scoring students from low-income families even enroll at four-year schools.

The problem isn't that there aren't more qualified lower-income kids from which to choose. Elite private colleges will never allow their students' economic profile to mirror that of society as a whole. They can't afford tothey need a critical mass of full payers and they need to tend to their donor baseand it's not even clear that they'd want to.

And so it is hardly a coincidence that income inequality is higher than it has been since before the Great Depression, or that social mobility is lower in the United States than in almost every other developed country. Elite colleges are not just powerless to reverse the movement toward a more unequal society; their policies actively promote it.

Is there anything that I can do, a lot of young people have written to ask me, to avoid becoming an out-of-touch, entitled little shit? I don't have a satisfying answer, short of telling them to transfer to a public university. You cannot cogitate your way to sympathy with people of different backgrounds, still less to knowledge of them. You need to interact with them directly, and it has to be on an equal footing: not in the context of "service," and not in the spirit of "making an effort," eitherswooping down on a member of the college support staff and offering to "buy them a coffee," as a former Yalie once suggested, in order to "ask them about themselves."

Instead of service, how about service work? That'll really give you insight into other people. How about waiting tables so that you can see how hard it is, physically and mentally? You really aren't as smart as everyone has been telling you; you're only smarter in a certain way. There are smart people who do not go to a prestigious college, or to any collegeoften precisely for reasons of class. There are smart people who are not "smart."

I am under no illusion that it doesn't matter where you go to college. But there are options. There are still very good public universities in every region of the country. The education is often impersonal, but the student body is usually genuinely diverse in terms of socioeconomic background, with all of the invaluable experiential learning that implies.

U.S. News and World Report supplies the percentage of freshmen at each college who finished in the highest 10 percent of their high school class. Among the top 20 universities, the number is usually above 90 percent. I'd be wary of attending schools like that. Students determine the level of classroom discussion; they shape your values and expectations, for good and ill. It's partly because of the students that I'd warn kids away from the Ivies and their ilk. Kids at less prestigious schools are apt to be more interesting, more curious, more open, and far less entitled and competitive.

there is anywhere that college is still college—anywhere that teaching and the humanities are still accorded pride of place—it is the liberal arts college. Such places are small, which is not for everyone, and they're often fairly isolated, which is also not for everyone. The best option of all may be the second-tier—not second-rate—colleges, like Reed, Kenyon, Wesleyan, Sewanee, Mount Holyoke, and others. Instead of trying to compete with Harvard and Yale, these schools have retained their allegiance to real educational values.Not being an entitled little shit is an admirable goal. But in the end, the deeper issue is the situation that makes it so hard to be anything else. The time has come, not simply to reform that system top to bottom, but to plot our exit to another kind of society altogether.

The education system has to act to mitigate the class system, not reproduce it. Affirmative action should be based on class instead of race, a change that many have been advocating for years. Preferences for legacies and athletes ought to be discarded. SAT scores should be weighted to account for socioeconomic factors. Colleges should put an end to résumé-stuffing by imposing a limit on the number of extracurriculars that kids can list on their applications. They ought to place more value on the kind of service jobs that lower-income students often take in high school and that high achievers almost never do. They should refuse to be impressed by any opportunity that was enabled by parental wealth. Of course, they have to stop cooperating with U.S. News.

More broadly, they need to rethink their conception of merit. If schools are going to train a better class of leaders than the ones we have today, they're going to have to ask themselves what kinds of qualities they need to promote. Selecting students by GPA or the number of extracurriculars more often benefits the faithful drudge than the original mind.

The changes must go deeper, though, than reforming the admissions process. That might address the problem of mediocrity, but it won't address the greater one of inequality. The problem is the Ivy League itself. We have contracted the training of our leadership class to a set of private institutions. However much they claim to act for the common good, they will always place their interests first. The arrangement is great for the schools, but is Harvard's desire for alumni donations a sufficient reason to perpetuate the class system?

I used to think that we needed to create a world where every child had an equal chance to get to the Ivy League. I've come to see that what we really need is to create one where you don't have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.

High-quality public education, financed with public money, for the benefit of all: the exact commitment that drove the growth of public higher education in the postwar years. Everybody gets an equal chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take themyou know, the American dream. Everyone who wants it gets to have the kind of mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience that a liberal arts education provides. We recognize that free, quality K–12 education is a right of citizenship. We also need to recognizeas we once did and as many countries still dothat the same is true of higher education. We have tried aristocracy. We have tried meritocracy. Now it's time to try democracy.

Reformers Offer Answers About Fixing Public EducatIon in 7 Words or Less

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) PLEASE REPORT DISCRIMINATION AT NYC, LAUSD, CPS , OR YOUR DISTRICTS if you or students are discriminated against because of a disability.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

How to File a Complaint

Do you believe that you have been discriminated against in hiring or employment by an employer doing business with the Federal Government? Do you believe that the reason for the discrimination was based on your race, sex, color, religion, national original, disability or status as a protected veteran? If you answered yes to these two questions, you can file a complaint with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). An individual, organization, or group can even file a complaint on your behalf, or for anyone who may be the victim of employment discrimination by an employer doing business with the Federal Government.

OFCCP keeps for investigation discrimination complaints that involve groups of people or indicate that the employer engaged in a pattern of discrimination. If your complaint of discrimination is based on race, sex, color, religion, national original, and you are the only victim, OFCCP will normally refer your complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The referral of these Executive Order 11246 complaints of discrimination is made under an agreement between OFCCP and the EEOC.

OFCCP keeps for investigation individual and group complaints that allege discrimination based on disability and veterans' status. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, provides protection for individuals with disabilities, while the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended, provides protection for certain categories of veterans.

You must file a complaint alleging discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, national original within 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the time for filing is extended for good cause shown. If your complaint alleges a violation based on disability or status as a protected veteran, it must be filed within 300 days unless the time for filing is extended for good cause shown. Extensions of the filing time require approval by the director of OFCCP.

You should include a description of the alleged discrimination and any other related information that would assist OFCCP with the investigation of your complaint.


How do I know if I have a disability?

You are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity, or if you have a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition. Disabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deafness
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair
  • Intellectual disability (previously called mental retardation)
  • Major depression
  • Missing limbs or partially missing limbs
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia


Reasonable Accommodation Notice

Federal law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities. Please tell us if you require a reasonable accommodation to apply for a job or to perform your job. Examples of reasonable accommodation include making a change to the application process or work procedures, providing documents in an alternate format, using a sign language interpreter, or using specialized equipment.

i Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. For more information about this form or the equal employment obligations of Federal contractors, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) website at

Steve Zimmer Rides the LAUSD Pendulum as local charter school growth undermines labor unions

LAUSD charter school growth faster pace than in state and nation

LAUSD charter school growth faster pace than in state, nation


Click table to view larger image

At the start of the new school year in two weeks, LA Unified will have almost 200 more charter schools than it did a decade ago. 

The growth reflects a more swift expansion than national and statewide trends in school choice options. 

Since 2004, charter schools in LA Unified have increased nearly four times, to 265 from 68, while the number of charter schools in California has risen by half, and across the country the number has doubled, to 6,000 from 3,000.  

"When you look at the numbers you can clearly see that LAUSD is extremely hospitable to charter school operators," board member Steve Zimmer told LA School Report. "This is not a district that makes it hard for parents to find an alternative to their local public schools."

The latest numbers, provided by the district's Charter School Division, show that the overwhelming majority of charter schools that will operate this year — 212 — are "independent," which means they are run by an entity separate and independent of LAUSD in almost all respects, including finances. Such schools are not covered by the district's labor contracts. 

"Affiliated" schools, of which there will be 53 throughout the district, function under the auspices of the LAUSD Board of Education and are usually public school conversions. The district typically administers all funding programs for for these schools and employees are covered by union contracts. 

Both types of charters possess the autonomy to create their own curriculum, develop their own programs and set the their own instructional schedules, which is what parents cite as the primary reason for choosing these over traditional public schools.

A few other highlights from the chart above:

  • District 2, represented by board member Monica Garcia, has the highest number of charter schools in the district — 52. All are independent charters
  • District 3, represented by board member Tamar Galatzan, has had the highest growth of charters in the last five years. It also has the highest number of affiliated charter schools in the entire district, 32
  • District 6, represented by board member Monica Ratliff, has the fewest number of charter schools with 26.
  • District 7, represented by board President Richard Vladovic, has had the slowest growth over the last five year adding only two new charters for a total of 29.

Galatzan explains that the explosion of affiliated charter schools in the north San Fernando Valley is due to the district's changes in how it disburses federal funds for low-income students, called Title 1 funding. 

After federal dollars were reduced by 9 percent in 2011, the district raised the threshold for eligibility for Title 1 funds to schools where 50 percent of students were from low-income families. Schools with 65 to 100 percent low income students get even more money.

"A lot of the non-Title 1 schools in my district ended up with basically no discretionary money whatsoever and were looking around for someway to survive," Galatzan said.  "For many, especially the elementary schools, becoming affiliated charters gave them access to state charter school block grant money, which would allow them to bring some different programming to the school."

As a result, she says, most non-Title 1 elementary schools in her district have become affiliated charters, with the exception of Balboa Gifted High Ability Magnet, which became a pilot school.  

Education experts generally agree that independent charters locate where there are higher percentages of low income families. In so doing, there is more Title 1 money for them to access. Conversely affiliated charters tend to operate in districts where families are more economically comfortable but still offer academic pursuits that are not available in traditional public schools.

Zimmer, whose district has experienced a rapid growth of affiliated and independent charter schools in the last five years, is empathetic with frustrated parents who are choosing charters over neighborhood schools. But, he says, the saturation of charter schools in LAUSD has more to do with money and anti-union sentiments than with a fight for equal access to a good education.

"How is that you can concentrate so many charter schools in one district while still allowing for a virtual desert in other areas with comparable or even more troubling data than LAUSD?" he asked.

"From the 40,000 foot level, the only conclusion that someone can reach is that operators and entrepreneurs follow the money, and the money in the investment is in LAUSD. Whether you're talking about the Walton Foundation or others, they're not only interested in the schools because of the liberation of youth living in poverty, they're in interested in the model because the model is an anti-labor model."

Over the last ten years only 61 charter schools approved by the district have closed down. The Charter Schools Division reports 19 have closed due to a lapse of the charter, 22 schools self-closed, a process instigated as a result of district oversight, 15 charters were not renewed, and only five charters have been revoked.

ED Notes:  BECAUSE I snagged this off LASR,  the confounding quotes from Mr. Zimmer give me pause. 

"When you look at the numbers you can clearly see that LAUSD is extremely hospitable to charter school operators," board member Steve Zimmer told LA School Report. "This is not a district that makes it hard for parents to find an alternative to their local public schools."

He spent some time coming up with that blurb, and the sarcasm is easy to leave or take depending on your attitudes about all these charter schools , if you have an attitude about them at all. Frankly, I suspect Zimmer is as ambivalent as the statement. And not just about charters. About everything except his ambitions. To be fair, this works in the favor of his district because he is very committed to being visible and effective . His efforts to serve special needs students should be commended. Ironically, it seems this writer is the only one doing that in print. Of course, I could have missed one of the copious award ceremonies or fluff stories. But these efforts afford Zimmer votes, so he  serves his community members  well. Unfortunately, he serves a small portion of the community, the portion that is involved and active. 
This is the reason the system is not really firing on all cylinders.
Now that Zimmer sees that his parents are catching on to the con behind tests and charter schools  he has to make some concessions . 
His allusions to the billionaires, charter school ubiquitousness and tired phrases about money chases are vaguely misleading .  
I found over 150 charters in the Miracle Mile district listed in the yellow pages . South LA is notoriously saturated with them and LAUSD is very welcoming indeed as it closes public schools to accommodate the likes of Aspire, Green Dot and Magnolia . 
It is probably much more polite on Zimmer's turf as well as Galatzan's. With her, there is no revelations because she is so obviously reform mad and her constant complaints about money plays into the idea that charter schools have become favored by her district's parents. 
So, has Zimmer finally figured out that Walmart pays for TFA ( he was an intern just like Caputo Pearl), parent trigger and BIC or is he deflecting suspicions about his loyalties! ? I cannot recall him ever discussing labor or the union, much less the efforts to undermine them?
Again. I miss things. 
But lately not so much . 
It has been well established that Zimmer, despite the unions endorsement and financial support has been all too willing to sign off on terminations and RiFs  for teachers . He has had no hesitation about voting in favor class size increases, art cuts and many other things that are detrimental to students and their teachers. In another interview, Zimmer brags about LAUSD being a Fortune 500 company while 1000s of teachers are being purged and schools are losing arts and other programs . Then he responds to a teacher, who wants to know why he has been  railroaded by a principal and wrongfully terminated . Why did the BoE approve hos dismissal after his union did nothing  to defend him .
Zimmer, reportedly smirked and said " The pendulum has swung the other way." 
One thing we can be sure of about Zimmer is that whatever way it swings he will be swinging with it. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

L.A. teachers salary data doesn’t tell whole story: Letters

L.A. teachers salary data doesn't tell whole story: Letters

L.A. teachers salary data doesn't tell whole story: Letters

L.A. teachers salary data doesn't tell whole story

Re "Teacher pay averages $84,489; LAUSD data missing" (July 26):

The chart showing the average teacher's salary in Los Angeles Unified is completely disingenuous. The sharp increase in salary after 2008 is not due to teachers receiving more money, but due to the fact that beginning in 2009, pink slips began to remove all the younger teachers, who of course made the lower salaries. Removing those lower salaries from the district's totals skewed the average way up.

Now there are few young teachers working for L.A. Unified, and most teachers have at least 12 years of experience in the district. Those teachers who remained on the LAUSD payroll after massive cuts endured three years of furloughs, which robbed each of them of thousands of dollars each year.

The district has a $2.3 billion budget this year, which is over $11,000 per student, but still refuses to deal fairly and honestly with the teachers and give them the substantial, well-deserved raise they deserve.

— Claudia Bobrow, Encino

Inglewood Cops , a School System in the Red , Some Kids Protesting Peacefully and Orwell's Vision

I believe this story is evidence that society is having serious problems thanks to the greed and corruption in our systems and society at large . Students are unlikely to see this sort of oppression as acceptable because most have had at least one teachers who infused an American idealism in his or her students.  The reason the plutocrats hate teachers is because they tend to be subversive. It is necessary to resist the systems in society that refuse to abide the roles and codes it is entrusted to uphold and when it reacts like this I understand why academic freedom is so important . If you have not read Orwell's Animal Farm, you should. The police are like the dogs on the farm. They obey the pigs when the animals send the Farmer into exile. The pigs are no better than he was. Anytime they attempt to assert the original principal's of animalism the pigs send the dogs to menace them and change up the rhetoric to discourage further questions. Keeping the animals illiterate makes this arbitrary government much easier to pull off. Before the farm is lost to the pigs evolving , maybe de evolving, depending how you look at it, into humans there are rules listed to help the creatures work in peace for a common purpose. Greed doesn't take long to revise the tenets which become simple : All Animals are Equal
Now we know nothing is further from the truth but it takes awhile for us and the animals to understand the phrase is not really much more than a platitude. When the animals are starving as the pigs indulge themselves in a most hedonistic misery, the animal constitution is amended. All animals are Equal. Some Animals are more equal than others. 

IPD in Riot Gear Comes to Quell Students' Peaceful Politcal Protest

At approximately 12:50 p.m. today Inglewood Police Department (IPD) in riot gear flanked Inglewood High School to quell what appeared to be a rather peaceful political protest by approximately 60 students and a few parents.

The students were protesting a recent discovery by David Goldstein of CBS2 that Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) had spent $38,000 to send staff on a weekend retreat to discuss the Common Core curriculum at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa.

IUSD has been under state receivership since September 2012 owing to being nearly financially insolvent.

Lupita an Inglewood High School student stated that the incident started at noon.

During a planned protest students carried signs that read, "Money for staff luxury, yes. Money for students, no."

The heightened response by IPD was an alarming sight in the typically quiet suburban school that is nestled between the Inglewood neigborhoods of Arbor Village and downtown Inglewood.

"Some are on the field, Some still in the classes. They may release the kids inside soon, but there is a heavy police presence," said Tom Chan IUSD spokesperson.

One had to wonder what elicited such a heavy handed response.

"There were some bottles thrown, a few instances like that, but it's all calm down now," said IPD Chief Fronterotta.

Some students reported that they smelled smoke right before the arrival of the police. Students also reported that the police shoved protesting students back into the classroom.

Hawthorne and Gardena Police Departments were also on the scene.

At the 2:49 p.m. closing bell students were let out one by one, while police in riot gear observed.

Addition information for this report was given by Randall Fleming.