Saturday, February 28, 2009

Public Schools Outperform Private Schools in Math Instruction

From ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2009):

In another “Freakonomics”-style study that turns conventional wisdom about public- versus private-school education on its head, a team of University of Illinois education professors has found that public-school students outperform their private-school classmates on standardized math tests, thanks to two key factors: certified math teachers, and a modern, reform-oriented math curriculum.

More excerpts from the Science Daily article:

'According to our results, schools that hired more certified teachers and had a curriculum that de-emphasized learning by rote tended to do better on standardized math tests,' Lubienski said. 'And public schools had more of both.'

They also discovered that smaller class sizes, which are more prevalent in private schools than in public schools, significantly correlate with achievement.

'Smaller class size correlated with higher achievement and occurred more frequently in private schools,' Lubienski said. 'But that doesn’t help explain why private schools were being outscored by public schools.'

Lubienski said one reason private schools show poorly in this study could be their lack of accountability to a public body.

Lubienski hopes that politicians who favor more privatization would realize that the invisible hand of the market doesn’t necessarily apply to education.

You can read the Science Daily article in its entirety here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Charter School/Voucher Agenda Disguised as Educational Research

From Education and the Public Interest Center, School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder:

TEMPE, Ariz and BOULDER, Colo. (February 16, 2009) -- In 2006, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released its Report Card on Education, 1983-1984 to 2004-2005. A review of that report by Professor Gene Glass assigned it failing grades. ALEC has just released another report card. Unfortunately, ALEC has done little to address key problems Glass pointed out two years ago.

Read more here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More on the Corporate Hijacking of Public Education

Below, Ken Libby weighs in on what the new stimulus package means for public education. Talk about putting the status quo on steroids!

It seems to me the very last thing the superclass and their underlings in power want is real vision in public education reform. I think they would see Educating for Human Greatness as a threat. See my sidebar at the top. Also learn more about the vision and guiding principles of EHG here.

Now, back to oppression and control:

Stimulating Corporate Education
Ken Libby

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the corporate charter school movement hit the jackpot with the new stimulus package. The Democratic plan for shifting control of education from the public to the private sector sets aside $7.5 billion to be directed explicitly by Duncan.

The "State Fiscal Stabilization" fund includes legislation designed to shift control of education to corporate interests through for-profit and non-profit education organizations. The stimulus package would allow Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, privatizer extraordinaire in the Chicago Public Schools prior to his work in the Obama administration, to direct $7.5 billion for "State Incentive Grants," which includes a $650 million "Innovation Fund".

Eligibility for Duncan's new "Innovation Fund" giveaway requires an organization to "demonstrate that they have established partnerships with the private sector, which may include philanthropic organizations, and that the private sector will provide matching funds in order to help bring the results to scale." Yet securing a grant also would "allow such eligible entities to work in partnership with the private sector and the philanthropic community" to expand "to scale based on demonstrated success."

Duncan's push for the bill's approval included a speech to the American Council on Education in which he noted, "From Teach for America to the KIPP charter schools to instructional innovations at colleges and universities, we have proven strategies ready to go to scale." This is a significant injection of federal funding into the corporate model of educational reform envisioned by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family Foundation, KIPP schools, Teach For America, Chris Whittle of Edison Schools, the Committee for Economic Development, and the Business Roundtable.

States willing to play by the data manipulation game mastered by corporate charter chains are eligible for billions more in "IncentiveGrants." Section 1406(b) of the stimulus bill specifies: "The Secretary shall determine which States receive grants under this section, and the amount of those grants, on the basis of information provided in State applications under section 1405 and such other criteria as the Secretary determines appropriate." Section 1405 contains the most significant aspects of No Child Left Behind, particularly the punitive aspects and overall philosophy. States receiving these funds are also required to adhere to specific aspects of the America COMPETES Act (passed in 2007 under President Bush with bipartisan support), most notably to "align the requirements, standards, and assessments with the knowledge and skill necessary for success in academic credit-bearing coursework in postsecondary education, in the 21st century workforce, and in the Armed Forces without the need for remediation," practically a summary of Duncan's tenure as CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Duncan spent the past seven years reforming CPS, which included the opening of 5 high school military academies filled by minority students, mandating curriculum optimal for teaching children the limited reading skills demanded by the minimum-wage employment in corporate America, expelling low-achieving students to boost test scores, spreading the corporate/militant model of education reserved for minority students in inner-city charter schools, and preserving the best public education for the wealthiest families. Duncan's definition of "what works" borrows the playbook from corporate America's profit-driven ideology and imposes the rigid structure of the military on our children.

Education Industry Associates, representing many of the most powerful education interest groups, note that, "Education is rapidly becoming a$1 trillion industry, representing 10% of America's GNP and second insize only to the health care industry." Elementary and secondary education represents nearly $600 billion annually, with high-poverty schools the target of for-profit education management organizations(EMOs) in the endless search for emerging markets. Neoliberal social entrepreneurs are salivating at the prospect of expanding their teach-to-the-test, militarized learning environments suitable for drilling students in the discrete skills necessary to pass high-stakes tests.

Under the education provisions in the stimulus plan, Federal dollars will be diverted to for-profit corporations and non-profit foundations representing corporate America, a continuation of the abysmal policies of the Department of Education during the previous eight years. Washington elites, and the Democratic party in particular, are presenting a false choice of eliminating supplemental state assistance or providing "State Fiscal Stabilization" with billions reserved for dismantling public education. Emergency public funding will either be slashed in an era of unprecedented bailouts for the same institutions responsible for the State and local budget shortages; or, public education funding will be diverted back to corporate America through the U.S. Department of Education.

The Washington elite couldn't care less about public education for the poor when their children have access to high-quality education free from high-stakes testing and militaristic learning environments, which they deem necessary for working class children to overcome the effects of the poverty that Washington continues to simply ignore. As for the general public, a far cheaper education system guided and controlled by corporate America becomes the only education system capable of legitimizing current power structures displaying blatant disregard for our children and collective future.

"Taken together, the Barack effect, the leadership on the Hill, the proven strategies, and the money in the stimulus package represent what I call the perfect storm for reform, a historic alignment of interests and events that could lift American education to an entirely new level," Duncan announced.

The perfect storm is upon us, the storm of corporate education.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Uncritical Adulation of KIPP in the New York Times

In mainstream media, the KIPP PR Machine rolls on without critical scrutiny.

In yesterday's New York Times, Richard E. Nisbett, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, has an Op-Ed piece where he states:

... a program called KIPP (for Knowledge Is Power Program) is having remarkable success with poor minority children in middle schools. KIPP students attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., their term is three weeks longer than normal, and every other Saturday they have classes for half a day. The curriculum includes sports,visits to museums and instruction in dance, art, music, theater and photography.During one academic year, the percentage of fifth-graders at KIPP schools in the San Francisco Bay Area who scored at or above the national average on the reading portion of the Stanford Achievement Test rose to 44 percent from 25 percent. And while only 37 percent started the year at or above the national average in math, 65 percent reached that level by spring.

Has Nisbett simply not done his homework or does he deliberately omit the fact that these San Francisco KIPP schools have amazingly high attrition rates? Parent activist Caroline Grannan has done a little more digging, on her own. Caroline was an editor at the San Jose Mercury News for 12 years. She contributes to a number of Internet sites dealing with education and schools. She is a San Francisco public school parent, advocate, and volunteer and has followed education politics locally and nationwide.

A study by SRI International confirmed what Caroline found through her own independent investigations. As Caroline notes,

the study confirms what those who look beyond the test scores have found: Those KIPP (two in San Francisco, one in Oakland, one in San Jose, one in San Leandro) schools suffer from very high student attrition.

Sixty percent of the students who enter the Bay Area KIPP schools in fifth grade leave before the end of eighth grade (page ix of the study, repeated in several places throughout). And the study also confirms what some might suspect — it's consistently the lower performers who leave."

"On average, those who leave KIPP before completing eighth grade have lower test scores on entering KIPP and demonstrate smaller fifth-grade effects than those who stay," the study reports on Page ix.

Read much more from Caroline here.

And please read Research Analyst Michael Martin's powerful observations in response to the report "What Do We Know About the Outcomes of KIPP Schools?"

Martin notes:

It is fundamentally fraudulent to take any group of students to form a base level of test scores, remove the unsuccessful students, and then claim success on the basis of improved test scores, particularly when you can’t show the improved test scores.

and further:
comparisons of these schools with local public schools are comparing the few
successes of the remaining students in these schools with the entire student
membership of public schools.

In addition, although it seems clear that there is no formal selective admissions process in KIPP schools, it does not take the brightest crayon in the box to see that selection bias does indeed occur. KIPP schools demand that students and parents sign a commitment form that includes severe obligations for behavior and attendance. Nothing wrong with that some may argue. However, the point is that invalid comparisons are being made between KIPP schools and regular public schools. According to Martin, the selection bias is "blatant and crucial."

Again, you can read more of his analysis