School vouchers expand despite evidence of negative effects

For the past couple of decades, proponents of vouchers for private schools have been pushing the idea that vouchers work.

They assert there is a consensus among researchers that voucher programs lead to learning gains for students – in some cases bigger gains than with other reforms and approaches, such as class-size reduction.

They have highlighted studies that show the positive impact of vouchers on various populations. At the very least, they argue, vouchers do no harm.

As researchers who study school choice and education policy, we see a new consensus emerging — including in pro-voucher advocates’ own studies — that vouchers are having mostly no effects or negative effects on student learning. As a result, we see a shift in how voucher proponents are redefining what voucher success represents. They are using a new set of non-academic gains that were not the primary argument to promote vouchers.

Continue reading “School vouchers expand despite evidence of negative effects”

How Money Matters

The following is a summary of a new report from the Learning Policy Institute in the United States on school finance reform. It reviews reforms by four US states to undertake progressive school funding strategies in order to substantially improve learning opportunities for all students. It provides recommendations for federal and state policies to address funding inequalities that contribute to the cycle of poverty. It shows that money matters when it comes to improving schools and that how money is spent is critical.

Continue reading “How Money Matters”

A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education

US Presidential contender, Senator Bernie Sanders, has released a far-reaching program to reform public education. Many of its policies resonate in the Australian context. The following is the Introduction to the plan together with an outline of its main policies.

His first principle is fundamental:

“Every human being has the fundamental right to a good education. On this 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, we are committed to creating an education system that works for all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.”

Continue reading “A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education”

The Futility of School Closings

This article is re-printed from the website of US blogger Jan Resseger. The title is amended as suggested by Diane Ravitch

In her profound and provocative book about the community impact of Chicago’s closure of 50 so-called “underutilized” public schools at the end of the 2013 school year, Eve Ewing considers the effect of school closures on the neighborhoods they once anchored.  Ewing’s book, Ghosts in the Schoolyard, is about Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and a set of school closures in Chicago in which 88 percent of the affected students were African American, and 71 percent of the closed schools had majority-African American teachers. (Ghosts in the Schoolyard, p. 5)

Continue reading “The Futility of School Closings”

The Benefits of Socio-Economically and Racially Integrated Schools

A recent OECD report shows that Australia has one of the most socio-economically segregated school systems in the OECD and in the world. It also shows that Australia had the equal largest increase in social segregation in the OECD and the world since 2006.

A research brief recently published by The Century Foundation in the United States outlines the benefits of socio-economic and racial integration in schools (references are available in the original which can be downloaded below). Research shows that socio-economic and racial diversity in schools provides a range of academic, cognitive, social and economic benefits.

The following is a slightly edited version of the brief. An earlier more detailed paper is also available from the Foundation titled A Bold Agenda for School Integration.

Continue reading “The Benefits of Socio-Economically and Racially Integrated Schools”

Empathy is the Key to Teacher-Student Relationships

If you ask a group of educators, from any sector what is the most important feature of successful teacher/student interaction invariably you get the answer relationships.  And I would agree.  However, personal relationships are hard work even when both parties are committed to having such a connection.  It is a challenge when the relationship you need is between a teacher and an angry, oppositional student.  It is obvious that it will be up to that teacher to build that relationship, not only is that connection a prerequisite for engagement, how else are they going to participate, it really is an ethical duty.

Continue reading “Empathy is the Key to Teacher-Student Relationships”

Class Sizes will be “The Biggest Ever” Boasts President Trump

Doubling down on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent claim that students “can learn better with larger classes, with more students to collaborate with, to learn with,” President Trump this morning bragged that the U.S. will lead the world in class size. “Under President Trump, our classes will be huge. They’ll be the biggest, most beautiful class sizes you’ve ever seen, believe me!”

Continue reading “Class Sizes will be “The Biggest Ever” Boasts President Trump”

US Senate Bill Proposes Smaller Class Sizes for High-Poverty School Districts

Following a year of teacher strikes where educators in West Virginia, Los Angeles, Denver and beyond called for wage increases and reduced class sizes, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced a new bill to incentivize smaller class sizes in kindergarten and first, second and third grades. The legislation, which would allocate $2 billion for competitive grant funding, primarily to high-poverty school districts in the United States, is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Michael Bennet (CO). The bill is also endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and First Focus Campaign for Children.

Continue reading “US Senate Bill Proposes Smaller Class Sizes for High-Poverty School Districts”

The Dishonourable Lie

How often have we all sat through those frustrating meetings where someone from head office or a university articulates with such commitment the first lie – if you can’t measure it then it’s not worth doing.  This quantification of education based on an economically rational approach started in the sixties.  This was the dawn of outcomes-based learning. 

Continue reading “The Dishonourable Lie”