I Am Not Hostile To Change

Curmudgucation, Peter Greene, Feb. 15, 2017

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke today to a gathering of Magnet School folks, and opened up by suggesting that "some people" are "hostile" to change.

I just want to be clear. I am not hostile to change. In fact, there are some changes that I would love to see.

I would love to see a change in the rhetoric about failing schools. Instead of declaring that we will "rescue" students from failing schools and offering lifeboats for a handful of students, I'd like to change to a declaration that where we find struggling and failing schools, we will get them the support and resources that they need to become great.

I would love to see a change in how we approach the communities where those schools are located. Instead of pushing local leaders aside so that outsiders who "know what's best" for them can swoop in and impose decisions for them instead of letting them have control of their own community.

I would love to see a change in how teachers are treated. Instead of trying to bust their unions, smother their pay, ignore their voices , and treat them as easily-replaced widgets, I would like to see teacher voices elevated, listened to, respected, and given the support and resources that would lift them up. I would like to see them treated as part of the solution instead of the source of all problems.

I would love to see a change in how we discuss race and poverty, treating them as neither destiny nor unimportant nothings.

I would love to see a change in how we treat public education. I would love to see public education treated like a sacred trust and not a business opportunity. I would love to see us pursue a promise to educate all children-- not just the few that we deem worthy or profitable or best reached by a sensible business plan. Every child.

I would love to see a change in the status quo. Because at this point, the status quo is a public education system that is being smothered and dismantled by people who lack expertise in education and belief in the promise of public education. The education "establishment" has been pushed out and replaced by well-meaning amateurs, profiteers, scam artists, and people who have no desire to maintain the institution that has been the foundation of a robust and vibrant democracy. Reformsters are the status quo, and that is a status quo I would love to change, because they have had their shot, and all of their promises have proven to be at best empty and at worst toxic.

I would love to see us change from test-centered schools, data-centered schools, and revenue-centered schools to schools that are student-centered, that steer by the children at their center.

And all of that is because I welcome the change that I have always welcomed, built for, worked for-- which is the change of young humans into grown, fully-realized, awesome, grown, valuable, living, breathing, completely individual and fully capable adults, the change of each child from an unsure rough draft into the version of their own best self.

No, Secretary. I am not hostile to change at all. I embrace it, welcome it, hope for it and work for it every day. There are many of us out here, and if you imagine we are hostile to change, that is one more thing about public education that you do not understand.

The Top 10: Student Privacy News


The Future of Privacy Forum tracks student privacy news very closely, and shares relevant news stories with our newsletter subscribers.* Today, we are launching “The Top 10,” a monthly blog with our top student privacy stories from the past month (or month-and-a-half, in today’s case).

  1. Today, the Data & Society Research Institute released their great new report exploring “The Legacy of inBloom.” Simultaneously released were a few blogs from stakeholders responding to the report, including a response from FPF.
  2. The California Student Privacy Alliance (a branch of the Student Data Privacy Consortium, made up of districts from 13 states who create a model contract for vendors) has released their CA model contract.
  3. The Mississippi Attorney General filed a complaint against Google, alleging that Google was violating the Student Privacy Pledge. Co-creators of the Pledge SIIA and FPF disagreed. There were also some great responses and thoughts about the allegations from Bill Fitzgerald and Jim Siegl.
  4. A school district has been found in violation of FERPA due to a little-known clause in the federal law which requires that family law courts suspend FERPA rights proactively (as opposed to their automatic suspension when custody rights are suspended).
  5. There is a great deal of concern about student data potentially being used to identify and deport undocumented students (read the fantastic EdWeek article). Nominated USED Secretary DeVos was asked whether she would allow federal authorities to arrest those students at school, and she deferred the question to DOJ.
  6. Today, Common Sense Media released the script from their encryption test of ed tech products late last year (see that study here) so others can run this test themselves on any ed tech product.
  7. FPF filed comments with the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking on privacy in the context of a federal student-level data system.
  8. There has been a great deal of contradictory information on DREAMers and DACA over the past month and a half: the former Homeland Security Secretary said that federal authorities should not use DACA data to deport students; immigration handliners are upset that the President may not end DACA; Vox obtained an alleged draft order that ends DACA; and Congress has introduced a bill that requires that DACA data cannot be used for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings. While many colleges have said they will not turn over data about immigrant student to the federal government following the President’s immigration Executive Order, the Chronicle for Higher Education reported that these pledges “don’t mean much.”
  9. PTAC issued guidance on “Integrated Data Systems and Student Privacy” and “Use of Financial Aid Information for Program Evaluation and Research.”
  10. A London university “admits to monitoring student emails under pressure [from] Government anti-terror programme.”

*Want more news stories? Email Amelia Vance at avance AT fpf.org to subscribe to our student privacy newsletter.

Study Finds School Improvement Grant Program Had No Impact on Student Achievement

Report Examines the Program’s Implementation and Effectiveness

Jan 18, 2017

Schools that received School Improvement Grants (SIG) to implement school intervention models used more of the practices promoted by these models than schools that did not receive grants. However, the SIG-funded models had no effect on student achievement, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Education. Through $3.5 billion dollars in grants in 2010, the SIG program aimed to improve student achievement in the nation’s lowest-performing schools. This is the final report from the multiyear SIG evaluation led and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, with partners American Institutes for Research and Social Policy Research Associates, for the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.


school improvement grants  

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Bill SD.1486 would put a 3-yr moratorium on high-stakes standardized testing

Sen. Michael Rush's Bill SD. 1486 would put a three-year mortatorium on high-stakes testing in Massachusetts and require a re-evaluation of the use of standardized testing in public schools. Here are some highlights:

SECTION 28. (a) Notwithstanding subsection (i) of section one D of chapter 69, during the next three full school years following the effective date of this act, the requirement that a student must demonstrate mastery of a common core of skills, competencies and knowledge as measured by MCAS or another standardized test shall not be required as a condition for high school graduation.

(c) During the next three full school years following the effective date of this act, and notwithstanding the provisions of section 1J and 1K of chapter 69 or any other general or special law to the contrary, the department shall not use student achievement measures on the MCAS assessment or any successor test or use student growth measures based on standardized tests for the purpose of assessing the performance of any public school or school district.

Section 29. (a)

(i) reviewing the use of MCAS or any mandated state assessments, the implementation of the educator evaluation framework established pursuant to section 1I of chapter 69, and the use of student data on standardized tests as a student high school graduation requirement or in evaluating educators, schools, and districts and

(iv) a study of the validity of using student growth percentiles as a component of the educator evaluation framework, and a review of how school districts use, misuse, or plan to use measures of student learning including standardized test scores in the evaluation framework;

Read the whole bill here.

Massachusetts Teachers Union Chief Says More Testing Threatens “Hope for Democracy”

NewBostonPost, Evan Lips, December 20, 2016

MALDEN — Standardized tests present a threat to democracy and shouldn’t be expanded, the state teachers union president told the state’s education board today.

Barbara Madeloni, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, spoke out against several new high school testing proposals at Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting.

“As both a high school English teacher and a teacher-educator, I’m deeply aware of the ways that high-stakes testing takes away from the idealism and hope, the possibility of imagination, the creativity and the hope for democracy,” Madeloni told board members.

Madeloni, during her reelection campaign last spring to retain her top spot as union honcho, vowed to fight in favor of a moratorium on all new standardized testing proposals. On Tuesday she described the new proposals as “profoundly bureaucratic and technocratic views of what it means to educate and learn.”

Board members, however, appeared enthusiastic after being briefed on the subject by Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester.

The board already voted earlier this year to develop a new standardized test combining aspects of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (known as MCAS) and the newer PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exams, with students enrolled in grades three through eight slated to begin taking the new unofficial “MCAS 2.0” English and language arts and math tests in the spring.

Massachusetts high school students are currently required pass standardized tests in English, math, and science in order to graduate.

Most recently, Chester in a memo outlined plans to add history and social science tests as graduation requirements.

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