Virtual School Meanderings

November 19, 2018

NEPC’s November Education Interview Of The Month Podcast Explores School Privatization And Segregation

An item from the National Education Policy Center from late last week.

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Publication Announcement

NEPC’s November Education Interview of the Month Podcast Explores School Privatization and Segregation

KEY TAKEAWAY:

NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Noliwe Rooks:

(718) 708-4368

nrooks@cornell.edu

TwitterEmail Address

BOULDER, CO (November 15, 2018) – In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, Lewis and Clark College Emeritus Professor of Education Gregory A. Smith and Cornell University professor Noliwe Rooks discuss school privatization, segregation, and the end of public education.

Greg and Noliwe, who also chairs the American Studies Program at Cornell, explore issues that have arisen from the range of privatizing reforms prevalent over the last decade, and their impact on our ability to create equitable schools. Dr. Rooks has researched the roots of school privatization going back to the 19th century, when, she points out, there was the same kind of “deep-pocketed interest” from philanthropists that exists today.

Dr. Rooks coined the term “segrenomics,” referring to the profit for businesses that offer to educate children in economically and racially segregated communities. She attempts to understand the meaning of a society in which those with access to wealth and power are invested in education reform for “poor black children”…but only with models of education that don’t look like the education their own children get.

“We try everything except for the education the wealthy provide for their own kids,” Dr. Rooks says. “This is the education for you, they say, instead of having a sense of what makes a quality education for everyone.” In her work she consistently finds this discrepancy in education quality dependent on the economic status and race of the child.

Policymakers must take a long view towards equity, Dr. Rooks believes – no one election or candidate will resolve the issue. She argues that what is needed is a much broader form of organizing beginning at the local level, looking at what each individual school needs, and figuring out how to fill that need.

NEPC Education Interview of the Month, hosted by Gregory A. Smith, is released each month from September through May.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

Coming Next Month

In December, Greg’s guests will be Dr. Rick Mintrop and Miguel Ordenes of the University of California Berkeley. Greg, Rick, and Miguel will explore the universal implementation of school vouchers and privatization in Chile, and what might happen in the U.S. if similar policies were to become more widespread here.

Stay tuned in to NEPC for smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 14, 2018

New Voucher Report Replicates Flaws Of Previous Analysis

From the National Education Policy Center.

New Voucher Report Replicates Flaws of Previous Analysis

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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New Voucher Report Replicates Flaws of Previous Analysis

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In 2016, EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation, released a reportthat claimed to estimate the impact of voucher-like programs on education budgets. A National Education Policy Center think tank reviewby Fellow Luis A. Huerta and Steven Katsivalis of Teachers College-Columbia University identified serious flaws with the methodology.

Recently, EdChoice released another report on the same subject. In this newsletter, Huerta and Koutsavlis make the case that the new analysis suffers from the same methodological flaws as the earlier report.

Review of Fiscal Effects of School Vouchers: Examining the savings and costs of America’s Private School Voucher Programs

By Luis Huerta and Steven Katsivalis

EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation, released a report that purports to estimate the fiscal impact of voucher-like programs on state and local education budgets.1 The report was authored by Martin Lueken, who wrote a similar report in 2016, focused on tuition tax credits.2 We reviewed that earlier report3 and found a flawed methodology and unsupported assumptions, so we took a look at the recent report, with an eye toward determining whether the analyses have improved. They have not.

Like the earlier effort, the new report argues that vouchers can produce substantial savings due to “switchers”— students enticed by the voucher to move from public to private schools. Fiscal savings result from a switch, if the public cost of a voucher is less than the marginal amount spent to pay for a public school student. On the other hand, the public coffers suffer a fiscal hit if the voucher is used by a student who would have attended the private school even without the enticement of a voucher.

The report claims that a high proportion of students leaving public schools, coupled with public school variable cost offsets, results in sizable financial savings (cumulatively estimated at $3.2 billion since the inception of the programs). We again find this implausible, due primarily to what appears to be mere speculation resulting in overestimates of the number of switchers. A true accounting of the costs and effects of private school choice must be grounded in more than guesswork, and should include more factors than those used in this report’s manipulation of the available datasets. Any useful analysis of this important question requires greater precision.

Purported accumulated savings of voucher programs over 25 years is based on unsupported and unsupportable speculations

The new EdChoice report examines 16 school voucher programs in nine states plus the District of Columbia, through fiscal year 2015. It makes the claim that these 16 programs saved, on average, $3,400 per recipient. The four largest voucher programs account for 85% of the total fiscal benefits. The report makes similar claims for tax credit scholarship programs, and it estimates that together these voucher programs have saved taxpayers between $4.9 and $6.6 billion since their inception.

By all indications, this report considerably overestimates the number of “switchers” within these various programs. Further, the report’s calculation of public school variable costs is not transparent (i.e., which expenditures were included), making it impossible to confirm or replicate the calculations.

As an example of why speculative guesses are problematic, consider the fact that only two of the 16 voucher programs analyzed in the report explicitly prohibit participation by students previously enrolled in private schools. All other programs extend eligibility to children who were previously enrolled in private schools, allow enrollment at kindergarten, or delineate other criteria that extends eligibility to students who might have chosen private school even without the voucher enticement. Florida’s McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities (the largest voucher program, serving 30,378 students, which accounts for more than half of the purported total net savings), extends eligibility to students entering kindergarten, yet in the report all voucher recipients were counted as switchers.4 As a point of reference, the Florida Department of Education reported that kindergarten and first grade students comprised 30.4% of participating students in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTSCP). The FTSCP, like the McKay program, also extends eligibility criteria for students entering kindergarten (in fact, it adds eligibility to students entering first grade).Claiming that 100% of students participating in such voucher programs are public school switchers results in a gross over-estimate of public-coffer savings.5

Guidance for policymakers requires better data and complete analysis

The report’s use of reliable peer reviewed research literature is limited. The rationale for the methods calculating net fiscal impact draws explicitly from previous reports published by EdChoice.6 Except for data-source notations, virtually all of the 45 endnotes reference school choice advocacy organizations. This ignores a large body of independent research on the costs and the outcomes of school choice. In fact, we already thoroughly reviewed and challenged the literature drawn upon in this new report,7 since the author cites the same problematic studies as he did in 2016.8

The report is also marred by the absence of a calculation of cost effectiveness. As Belfield9 notes in his review of a report trumpeting the Louisiana Scholarship Program, “maintaining a program because it saves money loses considerable force if the program is not effective.” The current report makes no effort to weigh cost effectiveness, vaguely claiming that “most random assignment studies examining test scores find that private school voucher programs help improve students’ academic performance, especially over time.”10 But this misrepresents the voucher research, which is vastly less conclusive and far more nuanced on student achievement effects.11

The adoption of a program must be predicated on valid data and public accountability measures that hold publicly funded private schools to the same standards as public schools. Unfortunately, voucher and tuition tax credit programs often expressly prohibit or limit the ability of the government to administer standard oversight and accountability measures. For instance, less than half of all voucher-like programs require private schools to administer student achievement tests.12 As tempting as it may be to fill the information vacuum with reports like those from EdChoice, there is no benefit to doing so. The findings are more misleading than illuminating.

See here for newsletter with references included: https://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/newsletter-vouchers-111318

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 9, 2018

The Connection Between Poverty, Race And College Preparation In Five Charts

From the National Education Policy Center.

The Connection Between Poverty, Race and College Preparation in Five Charts

Thursday, November 8, 2018

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More than 14 percent of the nation’s high school students attend schools where at least three quarters live in poverty. Most of these 1.8 million pupils are students of color. These low-income students and students of color are much less likely than their white and more affluent peers to attend and complete college. A new analysis illustrates one of the reasons why: These high schools with concentrated poverty are less likely to offer the coursework students need if they are to attend and succeed in four-year colleges. The analysis is presented in a Government Accountability Office(GAO) report released last month at the request of U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, ranking member on the House Education Committee.

Below are five charts from the report that shed light on the connection between poverty, race, and college attendance. “High-poverty” schools have free or reduced-price meal rates of at least 75 percent. “Low-poverty” schools have rates under 25 percent.

  1. Students of color are more likely to attend high-poverty high schools.

2. High-poverty schools are less likely to offer calculus and physics.

3. High-poverty schools are less likely to offer Advanced Placement courses and access to dual enrollment in high school and college classes. High- and low-poverty schools are equally likely to offer International Baccalaureate classes, but relatively few of either provide access to this option. 

4. Most four-year colleges’ admissions requirements call for students to take three math credits and three science credits in high school.

5. Most four-year colleges require students to take a math sequence that includes, at the very least, algebra I, geometry, and algebra II. Most require a science sequence that includes, at the very least, biology, chemistry, and physics. A smaller percentage of high-poverty schools offer the math and science sequences required by most four-year colleges.

What Can Be Done to Bridge the College-Prep Gap?

The between-school differences in access to college-preparatory classes present a very real barrier facing low-income communities and communities of color. It will be necessary to address these inequalities if our society is to close opportunity gaps. But we think it important to highlight three points:

  1. Access to college-prep classes must be connected to corresponding access to the supports and resources necessary for students and their teachers to be successful.
  2. In schools throughout the U.S., tracking (or “ability grouping”) systems deny low-income students and students of color access to college-prep courses even when those classes are indeed offered in their schools.
  3. The GAO report analyzes what it calls “high-poverty schools”—those where at least three quarters of the students live in poverty. This is itself the core problem. Any serious effort to close opportunity gaps must begin by addressing this concentrated poverty, as well as the associated racial segregation.

In the meantime, educational leaders might look to some of the schools recognized by NEPC’s Schools of Opportunity program, where high-poverty high schools do offer their students a rigorous and equitable college-prep curriculum. For example:

  • At Rainier Beach High School in Seattle (where the poverty rate is 75%), all 11thand 12thgrade students take at least one International Baccalaureate course.
  • At Seaside High School in California (where the poverty rate is 74%), all students take core courses that prepare them for admittance to the University of California

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 7, 2018

What Happened In New Orleans: A Response

From the National Education Policy Center.

Douglas Harris and Matthew Larsen respond to critiques of their recent study of the outcomes of New Orleans education reforms.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Publication Announcement

What Happened in New Orleans:

A Response

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Douglas Harris and Matthew Larsen respond to critiques of their recent study of the outcomes of New Orleans education reforms.

CONTACT:

William J. Mathis:

(802) 383-0058

wmathis@sover.net

Douglas Harris:

(504) 274-3633

dharri5@tulane.edu

Email Address

BOULDER, CO (November 6, 2018) – In August, the National Education Policy Center newsletter published a Q&A with Tulane University professor Douglas Harris, an NEPC Fellow and the co-author of a report, The Effects of the New Orleans Schools Reforms on Student Achievement, High School Graduation, and College Outcomes. That report was published by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, which Harris directs. It attributed multiple positive outcomes to the market-style education reforms that followed Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated New Orleans.

In October, an NEPC newsletter followed up with a Q&A with Rutgers professor Bruce Baker, also an NEPC Fellow. Baker discussed his critiqueof the New Orleans report, which was published by the Network for Public Education.

As a response to reactions from Baker and from others, Professor Harris and his co-author, Matthew Larsen, a non-resident research fellow at the Education Research Alliance, have written a response that is now available on the NEPC website. The response focuses on four areas, including the impact of poverty and of additional funding.

Find the response from Doug Harris and Matthew Larsen below Harris’ original Q&A at:

https://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/newsletter-NOLA-081418

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

November 5, 2018

At This School, Student Discipline Is Often An Opportunity To Learn

From the National Education Policy Center at the end of last week.

At This School, Student Discipline Is Often an Opportunity to Learn

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Newsletter

At This School, Student Discipline Is Often an Opportunity to Learn

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At Hinkley High School in Aurora, Colorado, when students get in trouble in school, they also get an opportunity to learn. It’s all part of the school’s “culture of care” and its commitment to professional support and collaboration.

Hinkley’s staff members regularly ask themselves, “What are we doing to meet the needs of all kids?” As part of the school’s exemplary professional development, the teachers form Professional Learning Teams, which are organized by grade and content areas. The teams support new teachers, review common classroom assessments, share lesson plans for feedback, and align course content. PLTs also support teams of special education, English language acquisition, and content area teachers as they develop inclusion-focused co-teaching strategies.

Since 2011, the school has embraced restorative justice (RJ), an approach that teaches students, educators, and parents to revolve conflicts by changing behaviors, talking things through, repairing harm, and improving communication.

“I now have the tools to talk things out before acting upon my anger,” Hinkley student Erisha James explained in a piece that ran recently in The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet column. “I have learned that not everything has to be settled with a physical disagreement. Words are more powerful than anything else, once you sit down and let everything out. I have watched my life change just by sitting and fixing the harm and restoring the love that was broken.”

Hinkley was featured in The Post as part of a series on schools recognized by the National Education Policy Center’s Schools of Opportunityprogram. The initiative showcases public high schools that provide all students with an equitable and excellent education. Hinkley was one of eight schools honored in 2017.

During the site visit by the School of Opportunity evaluation team, when students were asked by the visitors about bullying, they responded, “that doesn’t happen here.” Other students described widespread support for LGBTQIA students. When students were then asked what they would do if witnessing someone being bullied, students readily answered, “RJ.”

At Hinkley, restorative justice is a major aspect of creating opportunities for everyone to learn at the school. Prior to the introduction of this approach, the 2,108-student school struggled with gang violence and high rates of suspension and expulsion. Once the school adopted restorative justice, total disciplinary referrals fell 47 percent over four years, according to The Post piece.

More on Hinkley High School:

This school once had a reputation for violence. Here’s how that changed. The Washington Post

Hinkley High School recognized for ‘opportunity’ achievement. The Aurora Sentinel.

What other schools can learn from two Colorado Schools of Opportunity. Chalkbeat Colorado.

Hinkley High School official website.

William C. Hinkley High School. Schools of Opportunity website.

More on Schools of Opportunity:

Schools of Opportunity website

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Copyright 2018 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

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