Posts tagged ‘Income achievement gap’

June 10, 2017

Podcast: CBC Homerun asks if students should be paid $1000 to graduate

Millionaire businessman Mitch Garber has proposed to lower dropout rates in Quebec by paying graduates $1000. CBC Homerun host Sue Smith discusses this proposal with Westmount High teacher Robert Green.

While education professionals are ignored there is no shortage of hair-brained reforms being proposed by millionaires and celebrities.

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November 22, 2015

CKUT’s ‘In the Motherhood’ explores what the Couillard Government’s attacks on public education mean for students, teachers and parents

In the Motherhood host Trixie Dumont discusses the Couillard government’s attacks on public education with teachers Fernand Deschamps, Robert Green and Chantal Kers and parent Stacey Dumont.

October 8, 2015

Robert Green discusses a range of issues facing Quebec’s teachers with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff

Interview from the October 7th edition of CKUT’s The Wednesday morning after.

Click here to download

December 3, 2014

Racism and the Charter School Movement: Unveiling the Myths

By Antonia Darder | Published Nov 30, 2014 by Truthout

Rather than an oppressive and manipulative engine for capitalist accumulation, schools should function as centers of creativity and imagination where an ethos of democratic life is grounded upon cultural inclusiveness, social justice and economic democracy.

For almost three decades now, the charter school movement has sought to create the illusion that it is a better alternative to public education. Steeped in a narrow language of choice and student success, charter schools have also begun to quickly populate the terrain of educational justice, despite the conservative roots from which this movement sprang. Despite what was once a central commitment to public schooling in the United States, radical education advocates cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the struggles against racism that exist and persist within charter school environments, despite the rhetoric of equality and justice. This is particularly necessary because many of the most vulnerable students, with the greatest needs, have generally remained within now even more poorly funded and resourced public schools, while more and more public dollars, under private control, are redirected to serve the privileged few.

Common Myths

Given the growing number of teachers of color and children of color whose lives are directly affected by the consolidation of public-private resources, educators committed to a critical ethics of social justice in education must contend with the myths associated with the racialization process at work within charter schools today. One way to better understand this phenomenon is to consider the many myths at work in the charter school movement.

Read more: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/27689-racism-and-the-charter-school-movement-unveiling-the-myths

November 17, 2013

Educational fads may be harmful to students

Idea of teaching to learning styles has enjoyed widespread adoption in North American schools but there is little evidence to support it.

By | Published Sun Nov 17 2013 By The Toronto Star

Excerpt:

But now Gardner has decided to set the record straight. Writing recently in the Washington Post, Gardner states that not only does his theory of multiple intelligences have nothing to do with learning styles, but “there is not persuasive evidence that the learning style analysis produces more effective outcomes than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.” He then goes on to say, “If people want to talk about ‘an impulsive style’ or ‘a visual learner,’ that’s their prerogative. But they should recognize that these labels may be unhelpful, at best, and ill-conceived at worst.”

Why should all of this concern the public? Because far from helping, educational fads like learning styles may actually be harming our students. As an example, Ontario’s elementary math scores have been falling for five years in a row. And while Education Minster Liz Sandals blamed teachers’ lack of math skills, there is no evidence that teacher demographics have changed over this period. What has changed is that we have adopted more trendy ways of teaching math, such as “discovery learning” that encourages students to use their own learning styles and be more creative.

This has essentially led to the creation of a two-tiered system whereby parents who can afford it are sending their children to places like Kumon for private math tutoring, while those children from less affluent families are stuck not knowing how to do math. This is something we simply cannot afford. Indeed, a recent study by the OECD found that the math skills of Canadians are already below average.

Read more: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/11/17/educational_fads_may_be_harmful_to_students.html

November 8, 2013

We need a war on poverty, not teachers

The right loves to demonize unions, but economic factors are much more important to success in the classroom

By | Published Nov 7, 2013 by salon.com

Excerpt:

Similarly, we know that many of the high-performing public schools in America’s wealthy locales are unionized. We also know that one of the best school systems in the world — Finland’s — is fully unionized. These facts prove that teachers unions are not the root cause of the education problem, either. After all, if unions were the problem, then unionized public schools in wealthy areas and Finland would be failing.

So what is the problem? That brings us to the new study from the Southern Education Foundation. Cross-referencing education data, researchers found that a majority of all public school students in one-third of America’s states now come from low-income families.

How much does this have to do with educational outcomes? A lot. Social science research over the last few decades has shown that two-thirds of student achievement is a product of out-of-school factors — and among the most powerful of those is economic status. That’s hardly shocking: Kids who experience destitution and all the problems that come with it have enough trouble just surviving, much less succeeding in school.

All of this leads to an obvious conclusion: If America were serious about fixing the troubled parts of its education system, then we would be having a fundamentally different conversation.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2013/11/07/we_need_a_war_on_poverty_not_teachers/

October 8, 2013

Diane Ravitch: Charter Schools Are a Colossal Mistake. Here’s Why

The campaign to “reform” schools by giving public money to private corporations is a distraction from our system’s real problems: poverty and racial segregation.

By Dianne Ravitch | Published October 2, 2013 by Alternet

Los Angeles has more charter schools than any other school district in the nation, and it’s a very bad idea.

Billionaires like privately managed schools. Parents are lured with glittering promises of getting their kids a sure ticket to college. Politicians want to appear to be champions of “school reform” with charters.

But charters will not end the poverty at the root of low academic performance or transform our nation’s schools into a high-performing system. The world’s top-performing systems – Finland and Korea, for example – do not have charter schools. They have strong public school programs with well-prepared, experienced teachers and administrators. Charters and that other faux reform, vouchers, transform schooling into a consumer good, in which choice is the highest value.

The original purpose of charters, when they first opened in 1990 (and when I was a charter proponent), was to collaborate with public schools, not to compete with them or undermine them. They were supposed to recruit the weakest students, the dropouts, and identify methods to help public schools do a better job with those who had lost interest in schooling. This should be their goal now as well.

Instead, the charter industry is aggressive and entrepreneurial. Charters want high test scores, so many purposely enroll minimal numbers of English-language learners and students with disabilities. Some push out students who threaten their test averages. Last year, the federal General Accountability Office issued a report chastising charters for avoiding students with disabilities, and the ACLU is suing charters in New Orleans for that reason.

Read more: http://www.alternet.org/education/diane-ravitch-charter-schools-are-colossal-mistake-heres-why?akid=11002.1147163.ZvOSAo&rd=1&src=newsletter904692&t=17&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

October 5, 2013

The Central Issue at the Heart of America’s Growing Education Gap

It’s time for some new thinking about how to address the persistent inequalities that plague our education system.

By Paul L. Thomas, Ed.D. | Published Oct. 3, 2013 by Alternet

As the evidence mounts discrediting much of the movement for “education reform” (including the proliferation of charter schools), and as more of the public discourse recognizes the power of that evidence, we may at last be poised for a thorough rethinking education reform – and a detailed consideration of what the plausible alternatives to our current efforts might be.

Broadly, new ways of thinking about public education must occur before the U.S. can fulfill its obligation to the promise of universal public schools. We must first understand that:

  1. We have failed public education; public education has not failed us.
  2. Education has never, cannot, and will never be a singular or primary mechanism for driving large social change.
  3. And, thus, public education holds up a mirror to the social dynamics defining the U.S. In other words, achievement gaps in our schools are metrics reflecting the equity and opportunity gaps that exist in society.

One aspect of these new ways of thinking about public education that is rarely discussed is that seeking laudable goals (such as closing the achievement gap in schools and the income and upward mobility gaps in society) requires that we address both privilege and poverty—the top and the bottom. Historically and currently, our gaze remains almost exclusively on the bottom.

Read more: http://www.alternet.org/education/central-issue-heart-americas-growing-education-gap?page=0%2C2&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

August 15, 2013

When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto

By Henry A. Giroux | Published 13 August 2013 by Truthout.org

Excerpt:

While pedagogies of repression come in different forms and address different audiences in various contexts, they all share a commitment to defining pedagogy as a set of strategies and skills to use in order to teach prescribed subject matter. In this context, pedagogy becomes synonymous with teaching as a technique or the practice of a craft-like skill. There is no talk here of connecting pedagogy with the social and political task of resistance, empowerment or democratization. Nor is there any attempt to show how knowledge, values, desire and social relations are always implicated in power.  Any viable notion of critical pedagogy must reject such definitions of teaching and their proliferating imitations even when they are claimed as part of a radical discourse or project.  In opposition to the instrumentalized reduction of pedagogy to a mere method that has no language for relating the self to public life, social responsibility or the demands of citizenship, critical pedagogy works to illuminate the relationships among knowledge, authority and power. 24 For instance, it raises questions regarding who has control over the conditions for producing knowledge such as the curricula being promoted by teachers, textbook companies, corporate interests or other forces? 

Central to any viable notion of what makes a pedagogy critical is, in part, the recognition that pedagogy is always a deliberate attempt on the part of educators to influence how and what forms of knowledge and subjectivities are produced within particular sets of social relations. In this case, critical pedagogy draws attention to the ways in which knowledge, power, desire, and experience are produced under specific conditions of learning, and in doing so rejects the notion that teaching is just a method or is removed from matters of values, norms, and power – or, for that matter, the struggle over agency itself and the future it suggests for young people. Rather than asserting its own influence in order to wield authority over passive subjects, critical pedagogy is situated within a project that views education as central to creating students who are socially responsible and civically engaged citizens. This kind of pedagogy reinforces the notion that public schools are democratic public spheres, education is the foundation for any working democracy and teachers are the most responsible agents for fostering that education.

Read more: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/18133-when-schools-become-dead-zones-of-the-imagination-a-critical-pedagogy-manifesto

July 2, 2013

The solution to US public schools is not corporate America

We’re slashing K-12 funding and teachers and then turning our schools over to private operators. This is hardly good ‘reform’

By | Published 24 June 2013 by guardian.co.uk

Excerpt:

This crisis, which has persisted as disparate local debates, may soon coalesce into a national conflict. The schools hurt the most are those that have long been underfunded, segregated institutions struggling to educate poor black and Latino students. But today’s cuts are reaching into working- and middle-class towns and suburbs, and turning schools across the country into dreary, boring, arts and creativity bereft boot camps for standardized test preparation.

In Seattle, hundreds of students and teachers refused to take or administer high-stakes standardized tests. This after Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others were indicted as part of a investigation that concluded a culture that accepted “no exceptions and no excuses for failure to meet targets” was at the root of widespread test cheating.

In New York, mayoral candidates have made the criticism of Michael Bloomberg’s school reform agenda a centerpiece of their campaign. In Philadelphia, mass student walkouts have protested the “doomsday” budget and hunger strikers are pledging to refuse food until more than 1,200 aides critical to school safety are rehired.

Most importantly, striking Chicago teachers created a new model for defending public schools in 2012. Educators received widespread public support after building strong community coalitions, and making it clear they fought not only for parochial job interests but also for fair funding, rich curricula and for schools as community institutions.

The reform movement perceives economic crisis as an opportunity to exploit for political gain. But the movement may have overplayed its hand, as increasing numbers of students, parents and teachers identify education austerity with the bipartisan prophets of “school choice”.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/24/us-public-schools-budget-crisis

May 1, 2013

No Rich Child Left Behind

By SEAN F. REARDON | Published April 27, 2013 by the New York Times

Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.

Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.

What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.

Read more: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

March 9, 2013

Teachers Make Handy Scapegoats, But Spiraling Inequality Is Really What Ails Our Education System

Stanford University scholar Linda Darling-Hammond explains the connection.

By Joshua Holland, Linda Darling-Hammond | Published March 7, 2013 by Alternet

No shortage of ink had been put to paper pondering what it is that ails America’s education system. We know that, on average, our kids’ educational outcomes lag behind those of other wealthy countries, but why is that? But one of the core problems, if not the core problem, is only rarely discussed: the staggering, and increasing inequality that marks the American economy today.

That’s the conclusion Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University, has drawn from her research. AlterNet recently spoke with Darling-Hammond — below is a lightly edited transcript of the discussion.

Joshua Holland: You’ve done research on the connection between poverty and educational outcomes. We hear a lot about how poorly American students do compared to those in other wealthy countries, in terms of math or reading scores, but you found that American kids in wealthier schools do quite well. Tell us a little bit about that.

Linda Darling-Hammond: Well, there are a couple of things to know before we talk about the scores. First of all, the United States has more children living in poverty, by a long shot, than any other industrialized nation. Right now about one in four children are living in poverty. In most other industrialized nations we’re talking about well under 10 percent, because there’s so many more supports for housing, healthcare, employment, and so on.

With that very high poverty rate, our average scores on international tests look a little above the average in reading, about at the average in science and somewhat below the average in math, and a lot has been made out of that in the United States. But in fact, students in American schools where fewer than 10 percent of the students live in poverty actually are number one in the world in reading. Students in schools with up to 25 percent of kids living in poverty would rank number three in the world in reading, and even schools with as many as 50 percent of kids in poverty scored well above the averages in the OECD nations – which is mostly the European and some Asian nations. Our teachers are doing something very right in terms of educating kids to high levels in much more challenging circumstances than children face in other countries.

The place where we really see the negative affects are in the growing number of schools with concentrated poverty, where more than 75 percent of children are poor. And there — the children in those schools score at levels that are near those of developing countries, with all the challenges that they face.

Read more: http://www.alternet.org/education/teachers-make-handy-scapegoats-spiraling-inequality-really-what-ails-our-education-system?paging=off

March 5, 2013

Where are the reductions in class sizes that we were promised?

By Robert Green

A slightly edited version of this Op-ed appeared in the March 4 edition of the Montreal Gazette

When the Quebec government makes a commitment to reduce class size, should school boards have the ability to subvert such commitments in order to protect their bottom line? This question is at the heart of a grievance filed recently by the Pearson Teachers Union (PTU) against the Lester B Pearson school board.

In the context of its last round of negotiations with the province’s teachers, the government of Quebec offered to make significant reductions to the maximum size of most classes in Quebec’s public schools.

Although the reductions focused mainly on the elementary level, they did extend up to the second year of high school. Schools in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods would see even greater reductions than those applied system-wide. By the end of its implementation in 2013/14 the plan would see most class size maximums reduced by 3 or
4. Classes in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods would be reduced by as many as 9 students.

This offer by government came as a welcome surprise to teachers and their unions. Most teachers have experienced the difference between a class of 26 and one of 30 and know the enormous impact a few additional students can have. Smaller groups allow teachers to make connections with each of their students and keep them all on track. Conversely, in larger groups students feel more anonymous and are hence more likely to act out or withdraw. In other words, larger groups force teachers to focus more on behaviour and discipline, while smaller groups allow us to focus on what we love, teaching.

But reducing class size is not merely about improving the working conditions of teachers; more importantly it is about improving the quality of public education. Indeed the body of evidence documenting the benefits of class-size reductions is enormous, particularly with regard to reductions at the elementary level. Reducing class size has been shown to have lasting positive effects on academic achievement, absenteeism and drop-out rates. It has also been found to be one of the only factors capable of closing achievement gaps based on socio-economic status. In small classes, poor kids do just as well as rich kids. Class-size reductions have even been found to have long-term public health benefits.

With so many potential benefits, it is not only teachers that should be concerned that classes in Quebec’s large English school boards do not seem to be getting any smaller. This is particularly true in a context where English school boards have been losing numbers to their French counterparts and the private sector. Ensuring that class size reductions are properly implemented ensures that the quality of education in English public schools is not merely protected, but improved.

School boards are able to avoid implementing class-size reductions by exploiting a clause in the teachers’ collective agreement which they claim allows them to pay teachers a tiny amount of compensation for oversized classes. It is this interpretation that is being challenged by the PTU, which contends that the collective agreement only permits oversized classes in very specific circumstances, none of which apply to large urban schools.

read more »

February 11, 2013

The Inconvenient Truth Of Education “Reform”

By | Published February 2, 2013 by Campaign for America’s Future Blog

Events in the past week showed how market-driven education policies, deceivingly labeled as “reform,” are revealing their truly destructive effects on the streets and in the corridors of government.

From the streets, we heard from civil rights and social justice activists from urban communities that school turnaround policies mandated by the Obama administration’s education agenda are having disastrous results in the communities they were originally intended to serve.

From the corridors of government, we were presented with irrefutable evidence that leaders driving the reform agenda are influencing public officials to write education laws in a way that benefits corporate interests rather than the interests of students, parents and schools.

These events, in tandem, reveal an inconvenient truth of education reform that should make anyone who promotes these policies question, “Whose interests are being served here?”

The Message From The Street

This week, over 200 activists, community organizers, parents, and students from 18 cities across the U.S. gathered in Washington, D.C., to confront Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over widespread public school closures prompted by the Obama administration’s policies.

As reported by Huffington Post’s education reporter Joy Resmovits, “Members of the group, a patchwork of community organizations called the Journey for Justice Movement, have filed several Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, claiming that school districts that shut schools are hurting minority students.”

Read more: http://blog.ourfuture.org/20130202/the-inconvenient-truth-of-education-reform

January 21, 2013

Video: Brian Jones discusses Real vs. Phony Education Reform