Monday, January 28, 2013

Group formed to answer billionaires' school push

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Well, how about this? As you know, the Billionaire Boys Club has a couple of dog-and-pony shows scheduled tomorrow in Little Rock at which Jeb Bush, Jim Walton, Walter Hussman, Bill Dillard and Claiborne (Murphy Oil) Deming will sing the praises of school reform — by their lights. Kill unions. Kill conventional public schools. End careful state oversight of charter schools. Pass out public dollars for home school, virtual schools and anything that isn't a regular public school. And, whatever you do, don't allow elected public officials have any say over any of it.

Well. A group has formed to speak out in opposition to their radical agenda, though I think the heirs' money has already talked loudly in election of the current Republican legislature. News release:

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A press conference to promote the advancement of public education for ALL students, rather than radical reforms that will seriously undermine traditional public schools. A group of parents, teachers, administrators, advocates, legislators, and others will discuss Arkansas’ recent progress in improving educational opportunities for all students and the threat posed by recently filed bills such as HB1040, SB104, and SB117.

Many are concerned that the recent push by some members of the business community for a shift toward an unaccountable charter school driven education system is a potentially expensive distraction that threatens to undermine the principles of equity and adequacy that have guided the state’s progress in education over the past decade. Now is not the time to abandon those principles by opening the floodgates for unaccountable and unregulated experiments by removing the oversight of charter schools from the State Board of Education.

WHO: Parents, teachers, administrators, advocates, legislators, and representatives from several organizations including the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Rural Community Alliance, Arkansas Education Association, Arkansas Rural Education Association, Arkansas School Boards Association, Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, Arkansas Public Policy Panel, and others.

WHEN: 1:00-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WHERE: Old Supreme Court Room, State Capitol Building

And, hey, speaking of Jeb Bush. I mentioned the other day some good Florida research on the poor showing of charter schools in Bush's home state. Here's some more reading on the Jeb Bush Florida miracle you won't hear at the Billionaires' revival show, sent along by another Bush doubter.

* A Harvard school paper "The Effects of Early Grade Retention on Student Outcomes over Time: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida," found that, "Regression discontinuity estimates indicate large short-term gains in achievement among retained students and a sharp reduction in the probability of retention in subsequent years. The achievement gains from retention fade out gradually over time...and are statistically insignificant after six years."

* A National Education Policy Center report It found that in Florida, "NAEP performance of grade 4 students was artificially inflated due to the screening out and elimination of the weakest readers by the state's retention policy mandate, particularly Hispanic and Black students, and the presence of smaller numbers of older retained 4th-grade students."

* Palm Beach Post article from November:

Florida has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country, according to preliminary data released this week by the federal government.

* Orlando Sentinel article that evaluates Bush's touting of letter grades for schools. Not pretty.

* And more general summaries from Reuters and also from the National Education Policy Center (again) on Bush "overselling" his school reform. In short. Bush is great at lining up corporate clout. Together, they can create a formidable PR machine (right, Mr. Gordy? Ms. Lee?) The facts just happen to be inconvenient.

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