Monday, August 29, 2016

School Reform Still Failing; Virtual Schools Using Louisiana Flood to Recruit More Victims

 I just read this disturbing article about the most recent PARCC scores in Rhode Island. The article mentions that the Central Falls district had only 5.2% of their students scoring proficient in math. Some of my readers may remember that this is the district where all the teachers were fired several years ago as a school restructuring of so called "failing schools". So all those dedicated teachers were fired to produce this result! 

The CCSS and accompanying tests are widening the achievement gap between advantaged and at-risk students even though we were promised by the Common Core developers that the gap would be reduced. The major problem is that regardless of what the CCSS promoters said about the standards being designed for both college and career, they were really designed only to push college prep. And what's even sadder is that many experts are now saying that the new standards are not good at college prep either. The proponents of Common Core dismiss any criticisms by stating that non-college bound students need the tougher standards maybe even more than the college bound because of the competitiveness of the world job market. I believe this is totally misleading because students that are forced to struggle with common core standards are being prevented from receiving true career tech courses while they are still in high school. 

Recently, I checked the results of college attendance for the New Orleans RSD graduates and found that almost none are attending four year colleges even though many of the charter schools there sell themselves as being college prep. Many of these kids are being "given" empty diplomas because of the cheating and phony credit recovery that goes on in many RSD schools. They have the lowest ACT scores in the state and few qualify for TOPS. So college is out of the question for most of their grads, yet there are almost no career prep courses in the RSD. 

Trump Clueless About Failing Schools

Donald Trump recently addressed African American voter by telling them: "Yer schools are no-good!" He then went on to explain that he wants to give parents "choice" as a way of improving their child's education. Well we have seen plenty of that approach in Louisiana as a result of Jindal's move to more charters and vouchers. The data shows that most voucher students perform lower in their new voucher schools than they did in their old public schools. The RSD is supposed to be 100% choice, but their LEAP students score at the bottom one-fifth of the state averages and their ACT scores are dead last.

Just read this recent article in about the great charter school rip-off.

The problem is not "Yer schools are no good!" The problem is that we are neglecting to give full support to educators that are dealing with the massive problems of our poor and dysfunctional communities. I recently addressed one of John White's forums on implementing the new federal law replacing No Child Left Behind. I  pointed out that many of the teachers in D and F schools in Louisiana are often the most among the most dedicated and hardest working teachers in the state simply because they are dealing with students that are faced with the biggest obstacles to success. Instead of supporting these teachers, we label their schools as failing and do everything we can to run those teachers off!

DFER: Democrats for Education Reform Also Support the Same Choice Options as Trump and the Republican Party

To be fair, there are plenty of Democrats that are just as wrong on the "failing schools" and "choice" issue as Donald Trump. Former US Senator for Louisiana, Mary Landrieu was a strong supporter of the New Orleans charter schools. Now she is working for the Walton Foundation which pushes for school choice.

In Louisiana we have found that it is the charter schools that do the "choosing", trying to recruit the most motivated students and sending their discipline problems back to the real public schools. 

I would say this to Trump and DFER: You can't take a kid who is having to sleep in a car at night and get him to do better in school by sending him to a voucher school or a charter school.

Virtual Schools Making a Push to Recruit Flood Victims

Another form of "choice" here in Louisiana are the virtual charter schools that provide instruction to a student at his home using internet services. Radio commercials are inviting parents displaced by the recent floods to enroll their child in a free virtual school. Of course it's not really free. .. . . the Louisiana taxpayers pay for this program that is sucking money out of the real public schools. If flood victims enroll for so called "temporary schooling" and stay until the October 1 student count, the virtual school steals 90% of the funding for the first semester from the real public schools even if the student ends up dropping out or transferring back after that date.

Here is how our virtual schools work: Students enrolled in virtual schools, Connections Academy or K-12 Virtual Academy, are expected to sign in for their classes each day which are pre-programmed and do not necessarily require a teacher to deliver daily lessons. Teachers are available to provide one-to-one help. Sounds good to those who don't know how the system really works in practice.

In the real world, often no one checks to see if the student puts in the same required time he/she would spend in a real school. The kid may sign in to the virtual school in the morning and then spend the rest of the day visiting other web sites and maybe even playing video games. It is no wonder that this most recent study of virtual school results find them losing almost a year of progress for each year the student is enrolled.

This article in also contains a disturbing video report on a Stanford University study of the sensational failure of online charter schools.