By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — I am struggling with the Common Core ELA curriculum.  We’ve been talking about Common Core nationally for several years now but it has only this year actually trickled down into my high school classroom with the new, mandated Louisiana Believes curriculum which is hosted on Learnzillion.

Apparently what “Louisiana believes” is that students don’t need textbooks in many subjects any longer and students need lots and lots of standardized tests.

The fourteen day testing schedule spread out through an August-December block schedule has students breaking down and sobbing over their keyboards.

While the curriculum has been praised in the press as “written by teachers,” some of the teachers who wrote the units have said they would not teach their own units as written.

In ELA, students spend the semester working their way through four units of one turgid graphic organizer and worksheet after another.

The curriculum is 75% non-fiction; students no longer read whole novels.  In English 3, for example, students read only one chapter of The Great Gatsby.  Fiction is no longer relevant.  The standardized tests reflect this shift with students reading lab experiments, articles on microbes, and Supreme Court decisions (and dissents).

Teachers have been told to do these units faithfully, as written, with no deviation whatsoever.  They are not allowed to skip any of the Guidebook lessons.  Because the lessons are not engaging by any stretch of the imagination and because teachers feel they have lost their autonomy in the classroom, many are frustrated and leaving the classroom if they can.  Others are hanging on until retirement.  Teachers are no longer allowed to make decisions that affect the students they spend so much time with.

On the other hand, there may be some teachers who embrace the new curriculum for the very reason that all the thinking and planning is done for them.  All they have to do is pull up the PowerPoint slides, read the script (yes, it’s scripted) and pass out the worksheets.

There seems to be some support for this new approach.  In Education Week magazine, Dr. Bill Hughes writes:

Research continues to demonstrate that curricular choices matter. According to a recent studyby Johns Hopkins’ David Steiner, not only is curriculum a critical factor in student academic success, but “the cumulative impact of high-quality curriculum can be significant.” And Louisiana Believes is demonstrating early success: Louisiana 4th graders achieved the highest growth among all states on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test, and the second-highest in math.

But all that means to me is what we’ve taught a kid how to take a test.  Is that all that matters, now?

As an educator, I’m torn because I’m basically a rule-follower and do what I’m told with regard to my job, but I feel like all we are doing as educators now is teaching kids to take a test.  I look back fondly on my own high-school experience when we read classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, short stories by Alice Walker, Shirley Jackson, and Edgar Allan Poe.  We are raising an entire generation of kids who won’t know about Julius Caesar, will never understand “the Ides of March,” who won’t know about Atticus Finch, Tom Sawyer, or Elizabeth Bennett.

Frankly, it makes me sad.  Maybe the world of education has passed me by.  Maybe I’m too “old-school” for my job. But, I still believe kids are kids and that children respond to an adult who loves and cares about them.  I still believe I can make a difference in the lives of my students.  So, I’m torn.

We’ve been told as teachers that we will never return to reading full novels and short stories again in the ELA classroom. We were told that if a student wants to read more than one chapter of The Great Gatsby, they can read it “on their own.” I will, however, continue to stock my classroom library with engaging fiction and meaningful literature that I will share with my students and will encourage them to explore.

I will continue to make a difference where I can.

I will not quit.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Here’s a pop quiz for all you students at every level. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in school today or if you’re simply a student of life (as we all should be until we die). Since Jimmy Carter brought us the Department of Education, what has been the positive impact it’s had on our students, teachers, parents, or communities?

It’s somewhat of a trick question because no matter what positive impact you recall hearing about or seeing on Wikipedia, there are more negatives that have come out of every action the department has taken and every decree they’ve made. I won’t bore you with statistics or point to individual instances of complete failure to improve the quality or efficiency of education in America. Either you see the clear dysfunction in our schools today or you don’t. Nothing I say will change your mind.

If ever a department begged to be eliminated for the sake of Federalism, this is it. Nothing screams localization like education. Nothing demands standards be set by states, the communities within them, and parents themselves as much as schooling. To say the federal government is capable of properly overseeing education is as asinine as thinking they can properly manage health care.

They can’t. They’ve proven this very clearly, yet we’re still in the middle of a 38-year-old failed experiment.

This isn’t just about eliminating Common Core or pushing for more charter schools. It’s not about deciding how to allocate budgets based upon which school districts can meet meaningless standards the best. We’re at a point that the only correct answer to this very easy question is to begin the transition to get DC out of schools altogether.

There is too much money in play to pull the rug out from under them which is why a transition is necessary. It doesn’t have to be a long one. If they start now, they could have a plan in place before the next election followed by elimination of the department before the 2020 Presidential elections. As horrid as it is to have to think about this in terms of election cycles, that’s the only way to get DC politicians to act.

Will education be harmed for a time as a result? It’s hard to say. On one hand, there’s certain to be obtuse state legislatures and/or governors who fail to prepare for the burden that should have belonged to them all along. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that it could get much worse. Many if not most school districts and state departments have become so focused on staying within the boundaries set by DC that they may struggle at first. This may seem unfair to the students directly affected, but just as the states and cities need to step up, so too do the districts and individual schools. Many won’t like it, but enough education professionals will take responsibility and make it work. Those who do not don’t belong in such important roles in the first place.

America has been shifting away from a mindset of personal responsibility since the 1960s. There was a brief intermission when things were looking up in the 1980s, but that quickly faded after Ronald Reagan left the White House. This is why when looking at the big picture, dissolving the Department of Education is a microcosm of what must be done to much of the federal government as a whole. It’s the most obvious example of overreach, unnecessary bureaucracy, and wasted taxpayer dollars. As such, eliminating it would be an excellent guide for future acts of deconstruction that are also needed in DC. If we don’t immediately begin chopping away at the bloat, the big-government monstrosity will continue to grow.

Applying Reagan’s concepts of Federalism to slice the fat in DC may seem radical today just as it seemed radical when Reagan was in office. He had few government-limiting allies within the GOP which is why he couldn’t cut nearly as much as he would have liked. Today, it’s much worse as both major parties seem to be racing to see who can grow DC power the fastest. It’s time to start dismantling the administration state one agency, program, committee, and department at a time. The Department of Education is a prime candidate to face the guillotine first.

There’s an old saying that makes its rounds at law schools across the country. The most talented law students become lawyers and eventually judges. Those who can’t make it as lawyers become professors. While this is meant as a derogatory statement students make about their law professors, there’s a bit of truth in it. No, I’m not suggesting that law professors are or were bad lawyers, but it’s no surprise that even in the relatively-conservative profession of the law, a majority of educators tend to lean left.

It’s much worse in other professions. I don’t have to convince you that higher education is a infested with leftist educators and administrators. Any debate about that reality has been thoroughly quashed in the last few years. Instead, it’s important for us to come up with a plan to address this issue going forward.

Here’s the biggest problem. They’re embedded. It would be nearly impossible for a conservative revolution to happen in college leadership or among professors because they already own the entire market. They run the schools. They run the departments. They hire and promote the professors they want and the vast majority of them are leftists. This is a problem that we won’t be able to solve from the top, so we have to address it from the bottom up.

We have to start with the students.

This is often framed as a challenge for America’s future, but that’s only half the story. As adults, we often view college students as relatively impotent. Perhaps in the past they were, though one can argue that most major movements in our history have started with passionate students operating within their collegiate environments. Today, they’re even more empowered because of social media. The always-on aspect of American society gives the professors and students a much louder megaphone. Instead of having to contest with bad television coverage from protests, we are now faced with a generation that has more reach than ever before. They can reach each other and they can reach the rest of the world.

To fight this, we have to do three things.

Prepare our Children

As a parent of a college student and another about to enter, I have been spending a great deal of time preparing them for the attempt at indoctrination they’re bound to experience. The only surefire way around it is to not send them to college (and yes, that’s a valid option in today’s economic construct). If you’re unwilling to do that, then it’s imperative that you get them prepared.

How it’s done is up to you. I was blessed with children who are quite discerning for their age. They both came to the conclusion that they were conservatives without me bombarding them with propaganda or putting posters of Ronald Reagan on their walls as children. When they had questions, I answered them. We’ve shown them the correctness of fiscal and social conservatism, but it must be taken a step further.

As good as conservative philosophies are to those who will listen, it’s still challenging to overcome the onslaught of leftist thoughts that they’ll experience in college. There’s no real way around it, so it’s important to do two things: prepare them before they go and be open to questions once they’re in the belly of the beast. So far I haven’t had to explain away any liberal ideas that started creeping into their mindset, but I’m prepared to do so at any point.

Call out Hypocrisy

The other bastion of liberal ideologies is the mainstream media. With few exceptions, they are also populated with a majority on the left. This makes for a great tag-team effort between schools and the media. The leftists at colleges make a fuss and the leftists in the media paint their fuss in a positive light.

It’s up to bloggers, video producers, and social media users to call them both out when they’re hypocrisy is apparent to us. Because of the nature of our situation, we can’t expect them to do it themselves. We’re the voice of dissent against leftist hypocrisy in higher education. The media will not do it for us.

Engage in Discourse

We’ve seen conservative speakers shunned by colleges across the country. This is no reason to stop trying. In fact, we need to do it more.

It’s not just up to public speakers who attempt to speak at colleges. We also need to be active on college forums. We should be replying and being the voice of reason on college publications. We should address them directly on social media. The best friend of leftist indoctrination is a silent right.

Can we convince a leftist professor that free markets yield better results than heavy regulations and obtuse tariffs? No. However, when we engage publicly with them, it’s the audience watching the exchange that has the opportunity to see the right way.

It’s not going to be easy to take on the leftist juggernaut of higher education in America, but it must be done. Conservatives can only win through legislation as long as we have enough voters putting conservatives in office. This will trend away from us if we let the left have carte blanche on the biggest future (and current) voting block.

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to pursue your degree with the masters of science in nursing online curriculum program, then it may be helpful to learn about the ways it can shape your future. Earning a degree is nothing to take lightly. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication, so you want to know it’s worth it in the end. While there are all kinds of ways it can shape your future and benefit you, we’ll take a look at some of the top advantages to earning a degree.

Provides You with Confidence

As you head into the world and search for that career job, confidence is something you will need. If it’s your first real career position, confidence can be a bit hard to come by. By earning your degree you will be armed with all kinds of skills and knowledge that will provide you with that boost of confidence you will need. It will help to carry you through that first position as you work to build upon your knowledge and gain experience.

Open More Job Opportunities

Another great advantage to earning a degree is that it opens a variety of career paths. There is no need to just focus on one set job, as your degree can help you land a variety of positions. What this means is that you can find a job easier and faster. It also means you can switch things up if you’re unhappy with your current job.

Increase your Earnings

Of course, it’s always nice to know that you can make a decent amount of money in your field. By possessing a degree you will be guaranteed higher earnings potential. Now this may not happen right away in your first job, but as you work your way up the career ladder you can command a higher salary than those without a degree. You will be eligible for those higher up positions since you will have the qualifications and skills required.

Enjoy Health Benefits

Here’s a factor that doesn’t always pop into your mind, but usually the higher paying jobs also offer some sort of health benefit package. Think how much this can save you down the road in medical costs. This is even more important if you plan on having a family, or already have a family to care for. This can work out to be a pretty big advantage.

Increased Job Security

It’s true that no job is ever 100% secure, but when you have a degree your employer is likely to value you that much more. They know they just can’t turn around and hire any person to do your job. You come with a set of skills and knowledge that is needed.

Making a Decision

as you mull over all the advantages to earning your masters degree in nursing it becomes evident that it can lead to all kinds of benefits not just for you, but also for your family.

Let me start this post by answering that question with a big YES. Online MBA courses are now the most popular courses in education, with thousands of new students enrolling to get their master’s degrees. You don’t need to worry about the online MBA education not meeting the standards set by companies looking for new managers and supervisors either, because over 300 of the best courses from top names such as Ohio University are fully accredited.

There are other reasons why pursuing your MBA online is a good idea. An online degree can be up to 40% more affordable than the equivalent offline master’s degree. Plus, you have complete control over how you take the course. You can allocate more time, take more classes each semester and complete the course in as little as a year. You can also choose to take the course more slowly, especially if you’re maintaining a full time job or running a business at the same time.

 

To find out more about online MBA degrees, the Rise of Online MBA Education infographic by Ohio University is definitely worth a read.


Ohio University Online

The three or four years you spend working towards a degree, is likely to be a tough. You will have your work cut out juggling coursework, a social life, and maintaining links with family and friends back home. Then there are the other things you need to do regularly, such as eat and sleep. No doubt you are wondering at this point in time whether you can even fit a hobby in, since there doesn’t appear to be much free space in your schedule!

No matter how little free time you have, it is worth making time for hobbies. Even if you are pushed to the limit studying for an online masters in computer science at New Jersey Institute of Technology, you should still make time for a hobby. Hobbies help us relax, improve our skills, and can even be helpful to our degree or career. Read on for some useful tips on which hobbies you should choose if you want to boost your degree studies, and career.

Build a Blog

If you have your eye on a career in tech, running a successful blog will give you serious bonus points. It’s incredibly easy to build a blog, with content management systems such as WordPress available to everyone and simple to use. And if you are working towards an online computer science masters, you can showcase your code writing skills and create an online project portfolio for potential clients.

Learn a Foreign Language

Becoming fluent in a second language is a valuable skill to have. We are living in an increasingly global world, with job opportunities available in a multitude of different countries. Just because you live in one country, it doesn’t mean you can’t take a job on the other side of the world when you graduate. Boost your employability in this regard by learning a second language. That way your resume will be more attractive to global corporations.

Develop Websites

Building websites is a fun hobby, but as well as being an interesting sideline, it can also give your career a helping hand. Employers love tech savvy applicants, so showing you can build a website and market yourself online puts you head and shoulders above someone who lacks these skills. It’s also good practice if you are studying a computer science or tech-related degree.

Excel in Sports

Playing sports is an excellent way of letting off steam and maintaining your health and fitness. Team sports in particular are useful, especially if you want your resume to stand out in a pile of hundreds. Employers like people who are team players. Colleges also like students who are happy to represent them in team sports. It’s a win-win situation.

Work Your Social Media Channels

Never underestimate the power of social media. People with thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or Instagram followers are serious influencers. Employers want people like you running their social media accounts, so you will be in demand.

Don’t keep quiet about your hobbies when you fill in a job application. It shows you are a well-rounded person, which employers like.

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Amid talk of vouchers and charter schools, the Trump administration should consider significant tax breaks for homeschoolers.

The reasons for homeschooling vary. Some parents want to emphasize a religious education for their children. Others want to avoid the left-leaning indoctrination of public schools. Still others face inadequate or unsafe schools.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, more than two million students in K-12 are schooled at home. One study found that more than 30 percent of these students are Black, Hispanic or Asian. Moreover, the students and their parents save taxpayers more than $20 billion a year based on an estimated cost of more than $11,000 a year per child for a public school education.

But homeschoolers receive no significant tax breaks for teaching their children.

Homeschools in most states cannot be run as a business or even as a non-profit as parents cannot charge their children for their education. Moreover, homeschoolers cannot deduct donations to their own school. Also, the IRS usually does not allow homeschooling to be considered a hobby, which could reap some limited tax benefits.

Here are some possibilities to make homeschooling more affordable:

–Allow tax breaks for tuition and books purchased from homeschooling businesses.

–Provide deductions for individuals who are the primary teacher.

–Give tax incentives for tutoring in specific subjects, such as math, science and technology.

–Provide a mechanism to receive a reduction in local property taxes, which often are paid to local schools, for individuals who homeschool.

“Open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children,” Donald Trump says. “Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition-the American way.”

That competition should include incentives and benefits for homeschoolers and their children to allow them to choose an option other than charters and vouchers.


Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.

Leonard Hofstadter: Got any advice?
Beverly Hofstadter: Yes. Buck up.
Leonard Hofstadter: Excuse me – you’re a world-renowned expert in parenting and child development, and all you’ve got is “buck up”?
Beverly Hofstadter: Sorry. Buck up, Sissy Pants.

The Big Bang Theory The Skank Reflex Analysis 2011

A few days ago we had a sponsored post called Technology Jobs with High Salaries, which talked about certain hi tech jobs that will get you a big paycheck.

All of those jobs have one thing in common, the ability to handle stress and deal with real world problems in real time.

This is apparently not a skill that $41,096 annually will buy you at Edgewood College

The operations of Edgewood College were brought to a swift halt by a sticky note making fun of students traumatized by the election of Donald Trump.

The sticky note — which read, “Suck it up p–—s!” followed by a winking smiley face — coincided with a campaign to encourage students to express their feelings about the election by posting the 3-by-3-inch adhesive placards on a table in a common area.The operations of Edgewood College were brought to a swift halt by a sticky note making fun of students traumatized by the election of Donald Trump. The sticky note — which read, “Suck it up p–—s!” followed by a winking smiley face — coincided with a campaign to encourage students to express their feelings about the election by posting the 3-by-3-inch adhesive placards on a table in a common area.

That paragraph is bad enough but the reaction of the college administration was worse:

According to the letter, the Post-it caused “[a] great deal of fear, sadness, and anger among students, faculty, and staff,” was “a targeted act of intimidation and cowardice,”According to the letter, the Post-it caused “[a] great deal of fear, sadness, and anger among students, faculty, and staff,” was “a targeted act of intimidation and cowardice,”

Maybe it’s just me but if you’re part of  the faculty and staff of a college and you are intimidated by a post it not with a winking smiley face you have no business being in any position of authority or responsibility.

And if you think that letter was bad their final reaction clinched it:

According to Chambers, “the group determined that the message constituted a Hate Crime, based on guidelines from the Jeanne Clery Act and state law.”

He adds the group acted according to college policy and reported the incident to the Madison, Wisconsin Police Department, which is currently investigating it as a “Hate Crime,” and that it is also being investigated through the college’s Student Conduct Process.According to Chambers, “the group determined that the message constituted a Hate Crime, based on guidelines from the Jeanne Clery Act and state law.”  He adds the group acted according to college policy and reported the incident to the Madison, Wisconsin Police Department, which is currently investigating it as a “Hate Crime,” and that it is also being investigated through the college’s Student Conduct Process.

Seriously, you called the cops over a post it note? Seriously?!?

Now the problem reaction to all of this is of course uncontrollable laughter

Unless of course you are

  • A parent who is paying $40K plus annually for a school to teach them to be unprepared to deal with a post it note
  • A student at a job interview who has to convince a hiring manager that your Edgewood education qualifies you for a position.
  • A member of the alumni who has wondered what they’ve been spending the check you’ve sent them on
  • A Madison taxpayer who realizes their police are investigating post-it notes instead of dealing with actual crime.

No hiring manager in his or her right mind would even consider hiring a person who has spent four years in an environment where people are trained to call the police over a post it note.

My suggestion for parents of Edgewood college students.  If you want your son or daughter to learn how to function in the real world get them out of Edgewood and have them take a job at McDonalds.

Sooner or later lawyers will figure out that colleges like this which fail to prepare students for life are class action suits waiting to happen, then the facades will start falling rapidly.

Closing thought.   The unwillingness of the university to comment other than to acknowledge the letter as real tells me that these folks know that what they are doing is idiocy but as long as they work and dwell inside the bubble they are too afraid to say so.  How pathetic is that?


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By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I’ve been teaching high school for twenty years and I’ve never seen students so tuned in to a national election before.

I teach in a high-poverty, inner city school with a very large ethnic population. We have a large number of black kids, Hispanic kids, Muslim kids, and then white kids that comprise our student population. Their greatest fear is that they will be “sent back” to wherever Donald Trump thinks they are from.  I’ve tried to ease their fears but they are hearing otherwise from the adults in their lives and they are scared.

The Atlantic is running an article now about how teachers are using the election in their classrooms. One teacher, for example,

…turned to Harry Potter, specifically a line in which Dumbledore, the young wizard’s mentor, reminds the boy that “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” That lesson choice assumes that most of her students were feeling upset about the election results. … Many of the children are Latino and came from families worried about deportation.

Our school is rather small – about 650 kids, and we have always been like a family. Our students have always been the most accepting, most inclusive, most tolerant kids I’ve ever seen. Even in the face of this divisive election, they have not turned on each other as some schools are reporting. We are blessed, in that respect.

But I do wonder about what they are hearing outside of school.

The head of the National Association of School Psychologists, Kathy Cowan, says:

“Schools perform a stabilizing function,” Cowan said. “They have to deal with everything the country throws at them.” Children are also barometers of adult anxieties and behavior, according to Jeanice Kerr Swift, the superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan. “Regardless of who folks voted for, the election has not been a positive and uplifting experience,” Swift said. But “we focus on learning and not on things that will be upsetting to [children].”

It’s true that schools are stabilizers for the myriad events going on in these kids’ lives and it can sometimes be a tricky business to strike the right balance between sticking to the curriculum and calming their fears. This of course varies with the age group. Above all it is important that as teachers we don’t project our own agenda or bias on our students.

That being said, this is a great opportunity for those teachers in history or civics classes to teach lessons on checks and balances, on the electoral college, on the very basics and foundations of our governmental processes which are all things many adults seem to have forgotten.

And the best lesson that can be taught is to accept defeat with graciousness, use it to regroup and refocus, and to channel your frustration in productive ways.  Whereas Kathy Cowan said that “the election has not been a positive and uplifting experience,” I think we have the potential to make it so.

We don’t have to succumb to the name calling, the violence, the threats, the pettiness that we have seen from so many.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

As a general rule there are not a lot of reasons for conservatives in Massachusetts to smile come election time but WCVB polls on Question 2, the expansion of charter schools in the state is an exception:

On charter schools, 49 percent of likely voters support the question and 39 percent oppose, with 12 percent unsure. With leaners, the support goes up to 52 percent and opposition to 41 percent.

These polling stats come despite the opposition of such liberal icons as Senator Elizabeth Warren coming out against Question 2. And the NAACP maintaining its opposition to such schools.

In fact there has been a divide on the question amongst liberals  with the Boston Globe editorializing against fiscal objections to charter schools and some Cambridge city officials  spitting from their fellows on question 2.

US News has noticed this split between the liberal grass-roots and their leadership on this issue

But why do many civil rights groups oppose charters? The more deeply one looks, the more puzzling the question. Unlike rank-and-file teachers, the African-Americans we surveyed support charters by a nearly two to one margin. Forty-eight percent of African Americans say they favor the formation of charters, while only 29 percent stand in opposition, with the remainder taking the neutral position. In fact the opinions of African-Americans resemble those of the American public as a whole – 51 percent support, 28 percent oppose, 21 percent neutral. A March Boston Globe poll found much the same level of support for charters in the Bay State as we found nationally, both among the public as a whole and among all demographic groups.

Not only does the black community support charters, but African-American students enjoy over-representation in charter schools. According to the U. S. Department of Education 27 percent of all charter students are black, even though black students constitute only 16 percent of the overall public school population. Hispanic students at charters (30 percent) are slightly over-represented, as their share of the school-age population is 25 percent. But white students constitute just a quarter of the enrollees at charters, even though they are half of all students attending public school. Mysteriously, the NAACP calls this segregation

This divide has not slowed down the teachers unions and their allies.  In my home town of Fitchburg a local office opened up in the parkhill plaza area with a big sign Fitchburg Educational Association over it.  This has been a source of the lawn signs against question two that have popped up all over town.  In my travels I’ve yet to notice any such comparable effort locally on the other side.

Of course it could be the reason for the inactivity of the pro-question 2 side might be a decision to allow the results from the Sizer School, the local charter serving grades 7-12 speak for itself

the Massachusetts Department of Education released the accountability results for schools across the state. Sizer School, a 7-12 public charter in Fitchburg, has reached Level 1 status – an exciting accomplishment. In the aggregate and by subgroup, Sizer students met state targets for achievement. Sizer also saw strong improvement in subgroup performance in English Language Arts, and in moving students from warning/failing into proficient, and from proficient to advanced. This benchmark is due to the achievement and dedication of Sizer staff, students, and families. It represents diligence and is the result of hard work to ensure students understand and are able to demonstrate mastery of content and concepts in a testing environment.

According to the Massachusetts State 2016 glossary of accountability terms level one means?

Massachusetts’ Framework for District Accountability and Assistance classifies schools and districts on a fivelevel scale, classifying those meeting their gap narrowing goals in Level 1 and the lowest performing in Level 5. Approximately eighty percent of schools are classified into Level 1 or 2 based on the cumulative PPI for the “all students” and high needs groups. For a school to be classified into Level 1, the cumulative PPI for both the “all students” group and high needs students must be 75 or higher.

It defines “high needs students” as:

The high needs group is an unduplicated count of all students in a school or district belonging to at least one of the following individual subgroups: students with disabilities, English language learners (ELL) and former ELL students, or economically disadvantaged students. For a school to be considered to be making progress toward narrowing proficiency gaps, the cumulative PPI for both the all students group and high needs students must be 75 or higher.

Sizer school scored 76 on all students and an even higher 78 for “high needs” students.

Meanwhile according to state stats Fitchburg in General (Level 3 62/60) and the schools servicing comparable grade levels   Fitchburg high  (Level 3 60/51)   Longsjo Middle school (Level 2 74/68)  and Memorial Middle School (Level 3 61/53) did not do so well.

On the minus side Sizer overall performance relative to other schools in same school type was 40 meaning that 60 percent of comparable schools scored better.  That might have been a good talking point for the folks at the Fitchburg Educational Association trying to move voters in Fitchburg voters if it wasn’t for the fact that Longsjo Middle school relative overall performance score was a 23, Memorial Middle school  a 22 and Fitchburg high a lowly 10 barely making double digits.

As election day grows nearer those opposed to charter school expansion in Massachusetts find themselves in the same position as Senator Richard Russell of Georgia who during the debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1957 had a memorable exchange over the need for a such a law with Senator Pat McNamara of Michigan on the senate floor.  Russell arguing for the status quo, noted McNamara’s stated racial issues in Michigan could be handled without outside interference and asked “Then, why does not the senator let us [in the south] do the same?”  McNamara, in a loud voice answered the argument for maintaining things as they were by saying:  “Because you’ve had ninety years and haven’t done it.”

That’s the dilemma of those hoping to reverse those polling numbers.  If the local schools had produced results that parents wanted for their children the whole question of charter schools would be moot.  But as long as the stats from the state and more importantly the results that are visible to the voters every time their children come home from school remain what they’ve been for years, lawn signs not withstanding the argument for the status quo will remain a difficult sell.


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