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February 19, 2013

How is Michigan's governor ruining education today?

I'm glad you asked. Daily Kos: Governor Snyder's Disastrous Education Plan
The Education Achievement Authority is a new favorite project of the Governor’s. He’s talked frequently about his desire to expand the authority statewide and grow it exponentially while continuously removing local control from our neighborhood schools. Even at a time that Governor Snyder is starving every other school district in the state, he gladly threw an additional $2 million at the EAA in an attempt to show it’s succeeding, but the reality is, it isn’t. In the latest MEAP scores issued just last week, only 0.9% of 3rd grade students in the EAA tested as "proficient" in reading and math. You read that correctly – less than one percent of 3rd graders in schools operated by the EAA are reading and writing at a level we should consider acceptable, a disgraceful number that the Governor should be embarrassed by. And what about charter schools that the Governor continues to tout as better alternatives to our traditional public schools? Just last week again, it was discovered that at least 8 teachers at a new Muskegon Heights charter school system were teaching in classrooms despite lacking proper certification. These uncertified and unqualified teachers were brought in to replace highly skilled teachers at the school following its conversion to a charter system not because it was in the students’ best interest, but because it saved the company running the schools money and increased their profits. To put it simply, Governor Snyder’s education plan is a disaster. Schools are meant to be places of learning and growth, not places where CEOs are cutting corners to turn a higher profit.

February 18, 2013

Charter schools claim to be open to all students, but here is how they exclude the kids they don't want

Who don't they want? The poor, the learning-disabled, the ESL kids, the troubled, the kids with special needs, and the poor testers. I bet if you excluded all those kids form public schools the public schools' scores would increase, too. Special Report: Class Struggle - How charter schools get students they want | Reuters
Students may be asked to submit a 15-page typed research paper, an original short story, or a handwritten essay on the historical figure they would most like to meet. There are interviews. Exams. And pages of questions for parents to answer, including: How do you intend to help this school if we admit your son or daughter? These aren't college applications. They're applications for seats at charter schools. Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law. . . . Charter advocates say it's a fair fight because both types of schools are free and open to all. "That's a bedrock principle of our movement," said Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association. And indeed, many states require charter schools to award seats by random lottery. But as Reuters has found, it's not that simple. Thousands of charter schools don't provide subsidized lunches, putting them out of reach for families in poverty. Hundreds mandate that parents spend hours doing "volunteer" work for the school or risk losing their child's seat. In one extreme example the Cambridge Lakes Charter School in Pingree Grove, Illinois, mandates that each student's family invest in the company that built the school - a practice the state said it would investigate after inquiries from Reuters. . . . In California, the law sounds straightforward enough: "A charter school shall admit all pupils who wish to attend the school," with seats awarded by lottery if demand exceeds capacity. Yet Roseland Accelerated Middle School, a charter school in Santa Rosa, California, won't even enter applicants into the lottery until they have proved their mettle by writing a five-page autobiography (with no errors in grammar or spelling, the form warns), as well as a long essay and six short essays. Applicants also must provide recommendations, report cards and statements from their parents or guardians and submit a medical history, including a list of all medications they take. . . . And their parents must respond to a page of questions, including: "Describe what type of service you will contribute to this school. Please be specific." If they don't speak English, parents are asked to secure help from a translator.

February 16, 2013

Photo Gallery: Mark Twain’s House, Hartford, CT

I want to go to there. This is the most beautiful house I've ever seen. arpeggia - Mark Twain’s House, Hartford, CT Photo by Frank...