Virtual School Meanderings

September 30, 2020

How charter schools enable segregation on steroids | Astroturfing in California | and more

I always recommend these newsletters as required readings.



Welcome to Cashing in on Kids, a newsletter for people fighting to stop the privatization of America’s public schools—produced by In the Public Interest.

Not a subscriber? Sign up. And make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.



How charter schools enable segregation on steroids. A working paper from Columbia University’s National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education raises concerns about charter schools contributing to segregation. The paper highlights white students leaving traditional, neighborhood public schools to charter schools in North Carolina. Columbia University

Astroturfing in California. Capital & Main documents opposition to California’s Prop 15, the Schools and Communities First initiative, a November ballot measure that could change the corporate and commercial property tax assessment structure. Opponents claim to represent small shopkeepers and homeowners but include North America’s largest freight railroad network, two New York real estate giants, and one of world’s richest people. Capital & Main

Car caravan protest in Los Angeles. The Demand Safe Schools Coalition is holding a car caravan near Los Angeles International Airport to suppor Prop 15 and demand that oil and gas giant Chevron stop fighting efforts to raise funding for schools and communities. Join on September 30 at 4pm PT. Demand Safe Schools Coalition

7 billionaires. Thomas Ultican documents the seven billionaires pouring money into pro-charter school candidates for Los Angeles school races and the California legislature. OB Rag

Diane Ravitch with Steve Suitts. Watch Diane Ravitch’s discussion with Steve Suitts, adjunct professor at Emory University and author of Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement. Network for Public Education

Webinar on private school vouchers. On October 6 at 3pm ET, Public Funds Public Schools will host the fifth installment in a series of webinars on private school vouchers, this time featuring Derek Black discussing his newest book, Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American DemocracyPublic Funds Public Schools




In the Public Interest
1305 Franklin St., Suite 501
Oakland, CA 94612
United States

September 25, 2020

Plugged In | 09.25.20 – Aurora Institute Pre-Symposium Webinar Series & More

An item from the neo-liberals.

Web Version
Aurora Institute - Plugged In
Pre-Symposium “All Fall” Webinar Series Continues

Join us on Monday, September 28, 2020, at 2 pm EST for Increasing Capacity for Mastery-Based Learning in Washington State, a timely and relevant conversation with cross-sector members of a workgroup including a student and representatives from the Legislature and State Board of Education:

  • Alissa Muller, Policy Manager for Career and College Readiness, Washington State Board of Education
  • Dr. Paul Pitre, Chancellor, Washington State University, Everett
  • Ashley Lin, High School Student, Union High School
  • State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, Chair of House Education Committee, Washington State House of Representatives
  • State Senator Lisa Wellman, Chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, Washington State Senate
  • Dr. Kory Kalahar, Principal of WestSide High School, Wenatchee Public Schools

Participants will learn about how to identify policies and practices that both support and inhibit the opportunities for mastery-based learning at a state level. We will describe and communicate how systems and policies enacted and being considered in Washington state compared with their own local setting and lastly access resources available in Washington.

Register Now
This conversation is part of our “All Fall” Webinar Series leading up to our virtual Symposium, Oct. 26-28, 2020. Additional webinars in the series include:

  1. Science of Motivation: 5 Barriers to Student Motivation and How to Fix Them | September 29, 2020 | 2 pm EST
  2. Developing Equity, Efficacy, and Effectiveness in a Competency-Based System | October 1, 2020 | 2 pm EST
  3. Building Educator Capacity for Equity: Competency-Based Approaches to Professional Learning for Teachers and Administrators | October 5, 2020 | 2 pm EST
  4. Impact of Personalized Learning Through Interest-Based Internships | October 6, 2020 | 2 pm EST
  5. Improving the Equity in Personalized Learning through a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Approach | October 8, 2020 | 2 pm EST

The schedule is being updated regularly, so watch this space for the full slate of webinars in this series. And stay tuned to our 2020 Virtual Symposium site as details are updated.

Education Domain Blog
Aurora Institute Symposium 2020 Is Going Virtual

We were encouraged by more than 500+ colleagues across the field to continue with hosting a virtual conference, and we wanted to share the details on planning this year’s Aurora Institute Symposium 2020. We are going to make this happen.

Read More
Education Policy Issues for the COVID-19 Issues  
The Aurora Institute Center for Policy has released Education Policy Issues for the COVID-19 Era: Policy Actions and Responses to Leverage the Moment for Future Readiness a just-in-time report offering strategic guidance to policymakers who seek to emerge from the pandemic with a stronger, more capable, and more equitable K-12 education system.
Read More
Featured Resource
Developing a student-centered workforce through micro-credentials

 Developing a Student-Centered Workforce through Micro-Credentials

The idea of student-centered learning is not new; teachers have long sought to design personalized, competency-based environments that are tailored to individuals and that empower students to drive their own learning. What is new is the emergence of an online learning ecosystem and, with it, the technical possibility of equipping all students with a student-centered model. Add to this mix COVID-19, which has provoked unprecedented demand for reinventing what teachers do, and it’s the perfect combination of catalysts for a rapid conversion to student-centered schooling.

This report helps dismantle that barrier by identifying specific student-centered competencies for educators in the field that can be stacked to create customized student-centered teaching micro-credentials.

Learn More

Plugged In Headlines: News About Education Transformation

What it’s like to start high school during COVID-19
Laura Faith Kebede, Chalkbeat 

Responding to crisis with a tiered supports system
Eric Nentrup, Getting Smart 

Fighting for fairness amid a pandemic
Christina A. Samuels, Education Week

An antiracist roadmap for discussing tough topics in class
Rann Miller, Edutopia

Student engagement remains a challenge in distance learning
Shawna De La Rosa, Education Dive 

Self-directed, project-based learning
Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog

This school is giving families meaningful options as they reopen. You should too.
XQ Super School

CDC Details Color-Coded Risk Levels for In-Person Learning During Pandemic
Evie Blad, Education Week 

Aurora Institute in the News

Rockford school isn’t adapting to coronavirus, it’s changing forever– via Rockford Register Star
Interest in dismantling traditional models, in which students attend a series of classes each day taught by teachers in school buildings, and replacing them with more fluid systems that utilize technology and give students more choices is on the rise, according to Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the Aurora Institute.

Competency-based learning puts students at the center. It’s perfect for now. – via EdSurge
“The CompetencyWorks initiative of the Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL) is a leader in this area, advocating to replace what they view as outdated structures and pedagogies. Their definition of competency-based education is based on empowering students with agency, providing relevant and timely assessments and feedback and providing personalized learning with varied pacing. It is a model where students “progress based on evidence of mastery, not seat time,” and it asks schools to develop strategies for ensuring equity for all students almost as a precondition.”

7 policy moves that could transform K-12 education – via District Administration
“Alternative grading and blended, competency-based learning models are two key shifts superintendents and their teams might consider making as they lead COVID recovery in their districts. These concepts are among the many ways district leaders can use the COVID crisis and the renewed focus on equity as opportunities to transform K-12 education, according to the Aurora report, “Education Policy Issues for the COVID-19 Era: Policy Actions and Responses to Leverage the Moment for Future Readiness.”

Our Center for Policy  leads the multi-stage evolution of policy necessary for the growth of effective student-centered learning models toward the goals of high-quality learning and equity. Our policy priorities are designed to ensure the nation’s education system is fit for purpose and help move states forward from their current state of education to future systems.
CompetencyWorks is an online resource dedicated to K-12 competency-based education. Drawing on lessons learned by innovators, we share knowledge through a practice-focused blog, research reports on emerging issues, policy advocacy, and resources curated from across the field.
The Aurora Institute hosts a resource library containing more than 200 materials. Working collaboratively with diverse experts in the field, the Aurora Institute produces reports, books, policy briefs, blog posts, webinars, and related resources on key topics and tough issues that equip and empower educators and leaders to catalyze and scale personalized, next-generation learning models.
Aurora Institute

The mission of Aurora Institute is to drive the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all.

This email was sent by: Aurora Institute
1934 Old Gallows Road, Suite 350, Vienna, VA, 22182-4040 United States

Now more than ever, educators need this specific type of PD

As I say each week…  From the neo-liberal, educational privatizers masquerading as an academic body – so the term research here is used VERY loosely (as none of this actually represents methodologically sound, reliable, valid, or empirical research in any real way).

Check out this week’s highlights from the Christensen Institute. 
Christensen Institute · 92 Hayden Avenue · Lexington, MA 02421 · USA

Tips and Tricks for Communicating with Parents and Students

A newsletter from a US-based K-12 online learning program.

The Digital Backpack: Your Resource for Online Learning | Powered by Michigan Virtual
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Hi Michael,

The Digital Backpack — powered by Michigan Virtual — is your resource for everything online and blended learning, including  tips, tricks, & the latest research on supporting online K-12 students and, more broadly, using technology to innovate learning.


On occasion, we also dive into other topics relevant to Michigan’s educational community, such as social emotional learning, restorative practices, literacy, student-centered learning, and more!


This week, we’ve got some great stuff packed up for you. Check it out below!

Tips and Tricks for Communicating with Parents and Students

By Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, Thursday, September 17, 2020 12:40 PM


During this time of remote learning, what are some best practices in the ways you communicate with your students and their parents? In this webinar, we’ll explore examples and tips for communication, specific tools and resources to aid this process, and lessons learned from applying these practices.



Increasing Learner Agency Through Continuous Monitoring of Student Needs

By Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, Thursday, September 17, 2020 12:37 PM


Student-centered learning is about more than just putting students at the center of education. It is about giving each student the opportunity for success. It is about designing learning to be flexible and adaptable for each learner, not just the average student. It is about understanding the whole child—what they need both academically and non-academically—and giving students the skills they need for success within and beyond the classroom.



The Digital Backpack Podcast

You’re receiving this email because you subscribed to notifications from Michigan Virtual‘s blog, The Digital Backpack. Every week, we’ll send you a digest of our latest articles.


If you would no longer like to receive emails like this, you may update your communication preferences.



Uber, but for public schools | The story behind Miami’s ed tech nightmare | and much more

The Miami ed tech nightmare piece is particularly important.



Welcome to Cashing in on Kids, a newsletter for people fighting to stop the privatization of America’s public schools—produced by In the Public Interest.

Not a subscriber? Sign up. And make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.



Uber, but for public schools. An Arizona-based tech company is trying to disrupt public education by using public funding to pay “guides” to teach small groups of students at home. Prenda—which claims to be “rapidly spreading all over the world”—has seen a surge in interest during the coronavirus pandemic.

As Erin Clark reports, “Prenda is not a private school, a charter school or a public school. But at different times it operates as all three—drawing taxpayer funding or support for each type of school. It teaches public and private school students together in the same classroom, which may not be legal under Arizona state law.”

“Like the ride-sharing company [Uber], Prenda is exploiting gaps in regulation and oversight in the hopes of growing so fast and large that it alters the industry it seeks to disrupt.” Report Door

“Online charter schools no solution in a pandemic.” Writer Florina Rodov: “Though virtual charter schools perform dismally academically and are plagued by scandal, the goal is for them to replace traditional brick-and-mortar public schools in an effort to privatize education. While this would harm students, it would most egregiously damage Black and Latino children.” LA Progressive

The story behind Miami’s ed tech nightmare. How an online learning platform built by virtual charter school company K12 Inc., backed by one-time junk bond king Michael Milken and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, failed Miami-Dade County’s public schools. Wired

Florida charter school abruptly shut down. “District staff who visited the school reported overflowing trash bins, kids walking around unsupervised, and only two teachers running the whole operation.” Fox 4 Now

“A national crisis.” Remote and hybrid learning is the new normal, yet a “nearly one-third of [Black, Latino, and Native American] students lack high-speed Internet at home,” reports Moriah BalingitThe Washington Post

It’s Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week. Want a vision of public education without the profit motive? Just look at what community school coordinators do on a daily basis. “I don’t have much food at home so every Friday Mrs. Amy gives me some,” an anonymous student told Communities in Schools Tennessee. “She even gives me extra so my sister eats too! Mrs. Amy encourages me to come to school. She texts me to see if I’m okay. I know I can talk to her if I’m having a bad day.” Coalition for Community Schools




In the Public Interest
1305 Franklin St., Suite 501
Oakland, CA 94612
United States
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