Tag Archives: educational policy and politics

Mercedes Schneider: TFA Will Send Green Teachers into the Classroom with No Teaching Experience

[Would you care to guess where these callow but oh-so-filled-with-missionary-zeal “teachers” will end up? In schools attended by the poorest kids (see immediately below) in our society. Those students deserve better than this cohort of non-educators.]

Mercedes Schneider, a veteran high school teacher in Louisiana with a Ph.D. in research and statistics, was stunned to learn that Teach for America …

Mercedes Schneider: TFA Will Send Green Teachers into the Classroom with No Teaching Experience

Review Essay: Poverty, Cognition, and Learning

Because I’ve spent most of my career working with adolescents from the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, I have developed great interest in poverty’s effect on a child’s ability to thrive in general and learn in particular. Elsewhere on this blog, I posted a review of Sendil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir’s first-rate Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much (New York: Picador, 2014). The book, as its title suggests, addresses scarcity in household economies and its direct effect on cognition. Rather than reiterate my review of that book in this post, I seek to open a serious discourse on the challenges poverty erects to success in school for vulnerable children. There really remains no doubt that the economic reality of the students we serve circumscribes their ability to learn. Indeed, poverty may be the salient characteristic of many struggling learners. 

A few years ago, I read The Writing Revolution by Judith C. Hochman and Natalie Wexler. The book rewards a reading with, among other thing, the authors’ acknowledgement of the effect of various forms of stress–including poverty–on children’s development and, therefore, their ability to learn. This took me quite by surprise, because in my experience with the relatively dismal professional development workshops offered by the New York City Department of Education, this is not an issue that is dealt with adequately; in fact, it is all but ignored.

Moreover, over the years I’ve belonged to a variety of teachers’ interest groups on social media (e.g. the Badass Teachers Association–you can find them on Twitter and Facebook) in which I have heard it said again and again that in professional development sessions in their schools, and in discussions with administrators, the attitude toward poverty as a cause of learning problems ranged from willful ignorance to open contempt for the idea that impoverished students struggle as a direct consequence of their economic situation. One needn’t look much further than the “no-excuses” charter schools to see this ideology in action: poverty and its drag on cognition–like the rest of the myriad obstacles in life disadvantaged kids face–is simply not an “excuse” for struggling in school, this argument seems to go.

As teachers, we ignore the issue of poverty at our peril–but more importantly, we ignore it at our students’ peril.

I’ve been struggling with this essay for about eighteen months, but I heard something recently on the local news here in Vermont that animated me to finally sit down, conduct the research, and write this damn piece. Like everywhere in ‘Murica now, Vermonters of a certain socioeconomic class regularly experience food insecurity. Vermont Public Radio interviewed a man in St. Johnsbury, gateway to Vermont’s storied Northeast Kingdom, who suffers a disability and has lost work on account of the COVID19 pandemic. Hearing him describe the amount of strategizing he does to keep he and his mother (did I mention they both contend with diabetes?) fed and sheltered left me exhausted. While I have lived in poverty (I didn’t get my first college degree until I was 35, so I dealt with some very lean times in my twenties, especially in the years I worked in migrant farm labor), I never struggled as these folks do. I always had enough to eat.

If you search ERIC (the Educational Resources Information Center) using the terms “poverty and learning,” and check “peer-reviewed only,” the site yields 1,485 articles. “Poverty and school” brings back 3,875 peer-reviewed articles. Thus, the issue of poverty and learning clearly has been studied: a review of the titles and the articles’ abstracts indicates a consensus of scholarly opinion that poverty attenuates and restricts cognition and learning and that schools must address and seek where possible to mitigate the effects of poverty on students. Why are we still debating the effects of poverty, I wonder? Why have so many people who ought to know better decided to dismiss poverty as an “excuse” when research clearly shows that the struggles of poverty hamper learning?

This essay seeks to review six articles on the subject. I chose them at random from ERIC. Let’s take a look. I’ve uploaded them all to this post as PDFs.

First up is “The Effects of Poverty on Academic Achievement” by Kendra McKenzie from the BU Journal of Graduate Studies in Education (Volume 11, Issue 2, 2019). Like so many the articles on the issue of poverty in learning, including the six sampled for this article, Ms. McKenzie starts with a straightforward assertion: “Academic success can be predicted by socioeconomic status.” This is a refereed article that serves as a review of the current literature on poverty and learning. Therefore, it relays all the things we already know about poverty as a source of stress, alienation, and conflict. This essay emphasizes the biological impediments to learning that poverty engenders; as Ms McKenzie observes, “children raised in poverty are likely to experience cognitive lags due to significant changes in brain structure in areas related to memory and emotion. Poverty may make it difficult for parents to purchase toys and books to promote cognitive stimulation for their children, thereby causing the children to have a lesser vocabulary and a more directed speech.” To put this more concretely, when families don’t have enough to eat, it follows that they don’t have money for Melissa & Doug Toys or Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle books. Moreover, the stress associated with straitened circumstances (this is the main thrust, incidentally, behind the work Mullainathan and Shafir did in preparing Scarcity) can, Ms. McKenzie observes, “…result in shrinking of neurons in the frontal lobes of a child’s brain…”, which is the area of the brain “… responsible for the child’s ability to make judgements, plan, and control impulsivity.” If you know anything about executive function, you understand the problem here.

This second article, “Middle Grades Student Achievement and Poverty Levels: Implications for Teacher Preparation” by Lauren Dotson and Virginia Foley (who are, respectively, at least at the time of this article’s publication in the fall of 2016, an assistant principal of a school in North Carolina and an associate professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at East Tennessee State University) appeared in The Journal of Learning in Higher Education in 2016. Like the rest of the literature reviewed here, this article makes the case that “Correlational studies show a strong relationship between high poverty and low academic performance.” Indeed, where testing is concerned, this essay is a carefully assembled quantitative analysis of standardized testing in our schools. The gist of this essay is that we have contrived schools that are essentially the exact opposite of what children growing up in poverty need. Instead of creating learning environments based on process, we have environments that lurch between testing and punishing students based on a set of inflexible “standards” that often bear little if any resemblance to what teaching and learning are and aim to accomplish. If you are concerned with the number of tests to which we subject students (I am, incidentally), then this quote will help you understand the gravamen of the article as well as the problems practicing educators–i.e. teachers–face in schools where impoverished children are preponderant: “However, as the push for increased accountability gained momentum it left many students falling through the cracks; standardized tests do not take the varying experiences of our students into consideration when it comes to test results, and as a result, achievement gaps became the norm for many subgroups but most noticeably for our economically disadvantaged children.” Enough said here? I think so.

Moving right along to our third article, here’s a piece titled “Poverty and Brain Development in Children: Implications for Learning” by Victor E. Dike from the Asian Journal of Education and Training (Vol. 3 No. 1, 2017). Once more we encounter a familiar thesis: “Research suggests that poverty affects brain development in children and that the implications for learning are more compelling today given the attention the issue has attracted.” In this relatively short (five pages, including the scholarly apparatus) article, Mr. Dike reviews both the biological and cultural influences of poverty in children’s ability to learn; he makes this unsurprising statement–given what the other literature in this post present and analyze on the issue of poverty and stress: “The longer a child is exposed to poverty and stress, the larger the negative impact on the cognition, emotion, and self-regulatory learning skills of the person.” If I ran a school and had anything to say about professional development obligations, I would probably use this article as an overview to open a lengthy inquiry into the research on poverty and learning and its implications for classroom practice.

This fourth article, “Neuroeducation and Early Elementary Teaching: Retrospective Innovation for Promoting Growth with Students Living in Poverty,” by Karyn Allee-Herndon and Sherron Killingsworth Roberts, respectively affiliated with Mercer University and the University of Central Florida, underlines as its purpose an examination of “the salient connections between poverty and brain development.”  It comes from the International Journal of the Whole Child (Vol. 3, No. 2, 2018). As its title indicates, this essay is considerably more technical and focuses on the neuroeducational consequences of poverty, particularly organic delays in the development of self-regulation and executive function. The article either enlightens of reminds its readers, depending on their prior knowledge of these cognitive structures, that “Existing neuroscience research suggests a predictive relationship between executive function and to literacy and numeracy skill development (Shonkoff, 2011). Blair and Raver (2015) provide further evidence linking executive function as a predictive agent for academic achievement associated with socioeconomic status for children of poverty.” After explaining the basic science and the state of research on poverty and developing brain, the authors offer a variety of suggestions for classroom practice when dealing with children living in poverty: language games, storytelling, dramatic or imaginary play, games and puzzles, and gross motor play and music and movement. The final pages of the article list a number of commercially available games, puzzles and books for expanding classroom practice to include the kinds of everyday activities people of all ages do to keep their minds engaged and agile. These are the kinds of things you would find in a home where educational attainment and sufficient disposable income are present. Nota bene that the author’s prescriptions for building responsive and nimble minds include nothing in the way of, say, reciting a litany of decontextualized facts followed by a high-stakes test demanding recall of those facts. Just sayin’.

The fifth article I grabbed from ERIC, “Teachers’ Beliefs About Poverty and the Impact on Learning Disabilities in a Poor, Rural School District” comes to us from The Rural Educator (35 (3) 2014) and its author, Dr. Renee Chandler at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. The first sentence of this essay sounds a familiar theme (and I apologize for belaboring the point): “Socioeconomic status serves as the strongest single indicator of students’ educational outcomes.” As its title suggests, this article deals with rural poverty–something very easy to overlook in our society–and how students are identified with learning disorders in educational settings. Frankly, much of the material about identification made my eyes glaze over, mostly because of my own experience in the process of drafting the individual education plans that govern the education of a child with special needs. In my experience, these documents are drafted mostly in haste not by frontline educators but by careerist bureaucrats who happen to work in schools. Would it surprise you to learn that Dr. Chandler found that many teachers see class structure in the United States through the lens of their own experience? And that these same teachers don’t fully understand, either as a sociological abstraction or a lived experience, what poverty is? As Dr. Chandler puts it, “The teachers’ beliefs about student performance reflected our society’s emphasis on the principle that hard work surmounts all obstacles.” It’s hard to disagree with the next sentence: “The philosophy supports the practice of ‘blaming the victim’: When students in poverty fail, they must not be working hard enough.” That is and has been, in a sufficient number of my experiences in our public schools that I have begun to consider–and regret–it as the norm, the ideological dynamic that governs the consciousness of far too many teachers. In any case, this “…belief that hard work overcomes poverty does not take into account the myriad of circumstances that make hard work in school seem fruitless to many students in poverty.” If you’ve worked with poor kids, you know that a simple elaboration of the Protestant work ethic isn’t likely to motivate them–you’ll need other tools at your disposal to involve impoverished kids in their own educations.

Finally, here is a three-page fact sheet from the National Education Association (NEA–the teachers’ union to which I have most recently belonged), on competent and effective practices for classroom teachers who educate children who have experienced poverty and trauma. There are twelve bullet points here, including “Celebrate assets,” “Create a safe atmosphere for learning,” “Give students a sense of control,” “Teach emotional skills,” and one of my own favorites in the classroom, “Build students’ vocabulary.” Most of this is common-sense stuff which should (I hope) come as no surprise to teachers. This short essay is excerpted from this twenty-one-page booklet from the NEA titled Teaching Children from Poverty and Trauma.

That’s it. As I say, I have struggled since late 2018 to find time and energy to move beyond the first two paragraphs of this essay and get it into the form in front of you now. I think there is the outline of several professional development sessions in these articles. Let me add to this professional development inquiry on executive skills and function I developed in 2016 as part of my own professional development responsibilities at the New York City school in which I served at that time.

As I write this, citizens of good conscience across the globe are taking to the streets in protest of the egregious, sadistic murder of George Floyd and the pattern of extrajudicial murders of Americans of African descent across a period of years in the United States. We live in a moment pregnant with possibility. The very least we educators can do is use this time to advocate for our most vulnerable students–those who through no fault of their own find themselves at an economic, social and sometimes cultural disadvantage in the wealthiest country in the history of the world.

COVID19 at Mark’s Text Terminal

May 28 2020–But Revised Regularly

We’re now eleven weeks into the global disruption the coronavirus has caused. According to UNESCO, 91 percent of students worldwide currently are out of school because of various social-distancing and and shelter-in-place mandates. Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, whence I write, closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. 31 states have closed schools for the remainder of this academic year. As I write this, some schools, and a number of colleges, have suggested that they may not reopen in the fall, or at least not reopen for face-to-face classes.

Until March 12 of this year, I was a one-year contract employee in a school district to which I had already announced my intention not to return. I lost my job when the schools in Vermont closed in mid-March. I plan to continue to work in education. But for now, like everyone else, I await the outcome and eventual conclusion (I hope) of the public health catastrophe we currently endure. It happens, therefore, that I suddenly have some free time on my hands. As a teacher, I sought to be of some use to the communities I served. Now as a blogger with some free time, I hope to be of some use to those parents who have their own children at home as, for now, students.

Mark’s Text Terminal will ramp up production. I plan to use my free time to publish material already in my data warehouse, but also to develop some new documents, especially on English usage, some short literacy exercises based on Barbara Ann Kipfer’s great book The Order of Things, and cross-disciplinary worksheets based on Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler’s excellent framework from The Writing Revolution.

I taught under my special education license in New York City for 16 years, so you will find that the material offered on this blog contains a lot of language about that city, and even particular places in the Five Boroughs, the better to call up and build upon prior knowledge I could be relatively confident my students possessed. For more about using worksheets from Mark’s Text Terminal, see the “About Posts & Texts” page just above the banner photograph. Here are a set of users’ manuals for the most commonly posted materials on this blog. As below, you may email me with any questions you might have about the material posted on this website. Nota bene, please, that most of what I post here is in Microsoft Word: that means it is easily exportable to other word processing programs, as well as adaptable to your students, children, and circumstances. I wrote most of the material found on this blog for struggling high school students. Most of it can  be easily modified for a wide range of abilities in students.

I’ve opened a Twitter account in an attempt to make material–especially new material–more readily available. I try to remember to tag everything I post on Twitter with #freeopensourcecurriculum, which I contrived for a simple form or organizing my material there. I’ll be revising posts to make them more easily searchable, and I’ll add more extensive, and new, explanations to the “About Posts & Texts” page.

Mark’s Text Terminal can offer you a variety of seasonable materials. To help your students and children understand the president’s response to this crisis, here is a lesson plan on personality disorders. To understand the biology of COVID19, here are a reading and comprehension worksheet on viruses. Here is a short Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of a pandemic (and don’t forget to tell your children or students–or both, in these circumstances–that the Greek word root pan means all and everything–though in Latin, I must point out, the same root means bread). Since our current circumstances are regularly likened to it, here is a reading and comprehension worksheet on the influenza epidemic of 1918. This reading and comprehension worksheet on immunity should definitely be au courant in our current situation, as should the same set of documents on antibodies. This reading on Edward Jenner and Smallpox explains the science of vaccination, of which I assume I needn’t belabor the importance. Finally, here is a lesson plan on using the 2020 United States census as a teachable moment.

As I begin the relatively grim business of looking for a job for next year, I notice on the various job search platforms, unsurprisingly, there is demand for people in health care. If you, your students, or anyone else for that matter are thinking of working in health care, you might find this list of Greek word roots used in the health professions to be useful, and perhaps even indispensable (I hope).

You will notice that the basic structure of this blog alternates posts between a set of documents and a quote of some kind. Over time, I have begun to develop these quotes–especially those tagged as readings and research–as assignments themselves. Many of these passages are linked to readings outside of Mark’s Text Terminal. If you want to use these posts for learning, here is a worksheet template with an extensive list of questions to drive inquiry in them. For more on this, see the About Posts & Texts and Taxonomies pages.

As this crisis deepens, and I read accounts of parents struggling to sustain their children’s education, it becomes clear to me that I should post some material on teaching practice. For now, keep this in mind: all teaching and learning starts with a question. So, here, to begin, is a a taxonomy of questions from Roland C. Christensen, David A. Garvin, and Ann Sweet’s (eds.) Education for Judgment: The Artistry of Discussion Leadership. (Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press, 1991). Here is a list of question stems to start discussion and essays. I don’t remember where I got this list of 17 Teaching Tips, but it is solid stuff and easy enough to use with whatever you’re doing at home with your kids. I’m starting work on a review essay on the contents of my planning book that I hope will provide parents with some basic grounding in pedagogical theory.  For my money, the best framework for instructional planning out there (because it is based firmly upon the principles in the National Research Council’s book How People Learn) is Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s concise yet exhaustive Understanding by Design. I’ve used it to guide my own planning since I discovered it. Here is a trove of documents from the pages of that book, as well as a couple of assessments from the pages of Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by Mr. McTighe and Carol Ann Tomlinson. I used the Understanding by Design framework to write this list of adapted essential questions for the struggling students I have served in social studies and English language arts classes in New York City. This table of structured activities from Janet L Kolodner’s article “Case Based Reasoning” in The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), might help to focus home learning for the best retention. Finally, to get a sense of your child’s cognitive style, you might find useful this cognitive styles table from Daniel Willingham’s book Why Don’t Students Like School?  (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009). I look to Professor Willingham’s work when I need guidance on the best instructional design for any learner, but particularly the struggling learners whom I have served throughout my career. If you want more on this, I wrote this review essay with all these documents embedded in a few paragraphs about teaching and learning.

One organization worth following is TeachRock, which has developed, in a very short time, a great deal of  high-interest material. TeachRock is on Twitter , and you can sign up for its mailing list at its homepage. Highly recommended. Recently, the author of The Historical Diaries blog left her approval here in the form of liking some of my posts. Her own blog is literate and stylish, and mines history for obscure but compelling facts. It is definitely worth a look; I’ll soon publish a worksheet template here that could be used with posts on The Historical Diaries, as well as my own posts tagged with readings and research.

Your kids, especially if they are younger, would all but certainly benefit from listening to Vermont Public Radio’s (I’ve listened to public radio stations across the country, and VPR is the best of them, I think) podcast “But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids.”

If you have any questions, or if there is something you and your students need, please leave a comment on any post with your email address. I vet all comments before they appear on the site, so you won’t be exposing your email address to the open internet. I’ll take your address, delete your comment, and get back to you. If you need something I don’t already have (I have volumes of material to publish), I can probably write something for you.

Finally, and I hope not crassly, I started a Go Fund Me campaign last fall, long before COVID19 disrupted our lives. Please rest assured that the material I publish here has been, is, and always will be free of charge; moreover, I will continue, if I am able, to pay the WordPress premium fee that keeps this site free of the clutter of advertisements. However, I am, in fact, unemployed. I need to be smart about keeping myself in food, shelter, and medicine. I am demonstrably bad about selling myself or asking for assistance. Nonetheless, I do ask now.

I offer tutoring, writing, and editing services. Please contact me at the email address above for services, rates, and procedures.

That’s it. I wish you safety and good health.

Mark

Fred Smith: How Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein Nudged Test Scores to Get Bragging Rights

[Whenever I reblog political posts, I feel obliged for some reason to qualify their presence on Mark’s Text Terminal by noting that this is not a political blog. I offer no such qualification or caveat for this post from Diane Ravitch’s magisterial blog. I worked for the New York City Department of Education throughout the Bloomberg years; yes, I am outraged by this post, but in those years I was more outraged by the culture of contempt toward teachers Bloomberg and Joel Klein ginned up.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

Fred Smith was the testing expert at the New York City Board of Education for many years. After he retired, he became a relentless truth-teller about the flaws of standardized testing and the clever means of distorting the stats to produce the desired results. He currently acts as an unpaid advisor to opt-out parents.

Smith sent this article from 2007 that shows how Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein played games with the data, in this case blaming “immigrant kids” for a drop in test scores.

Mayor Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, have reaffirmed that old Mark Twain saying about the three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.

Using a PowerPoint presentation filled with glitzy graphs and color charts, Klein reached a new low yesterday by attempting to blame a sharp drop in this year’s third-, fourth- and fifth-grade reading scores on thousands of immigrant pupils.

According to…

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The Milgram Studies: Lessons in Obedience

While I have found Stanley Milgram’s studies on obedience to authority fascinating (and the lost letter experiment is also interesting), I do understand that it isn’t exactly high school material. That said, I did, in 17 years of teaching now, have one kid ask about Milgram.

So here is a short reading on Dr. Milgram’s study along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

New Yorkers, It’s Time to Cashier Richard Carranza

As I say every time I post something like this, Mark’s Text Terminal is not a political or policy blog.

That said, by any standard I recognize, it is long past time for New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to find something else–anything else–to do. As an erstwhile colleague of mine commented recently, Carranza is “a lightweight.”

In the 16 years I taught in New York, we had one condescending, disrespectful chancellor after another–including the amazingly ill-fated–by her own dismal performance–Cathie Black.

So Carranza is not sui generis. That said, as this web page shows, Carranza’s  incompetence is well-documented and his failures many. The irony of this, of course, is that like so many people who occupy offices at his level in public education, he will all but certainly fail up when leaving New York.

Whatever happens, good riddance….

On Education and Data and Ethos

Murray Cohn has, for twenty-three years, run Brandeis according to his own lights. He believes in cleanliness and order—and the halls of Brandeis are clean and orderly. He believes in homework, especially writing—and the students do it, even if they don’t do enough. He believes in publicly praising achievement—and the schools bulletin boards offer congratulations to attendance leaders and the like. What Cohn and other administrators like him impart to their schools is nothing quantifiable; it is an ethos.”

James Traub, as quote in The Great School Debate: Which Way for American Education (1985)

Peter Greene: The Indispensable Glossary to Corporate School Reform

[All of Diane Ravitch’s books are well worth a look, but here’s a reference book that is indispensable to teachers. An earlier edition of this book, by Dr. Ravitch herself, EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon (Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007) is in heavy use here at Mark’s Text Terminal.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this post, Peter Greene reviews Edspeak and Doubletalk, the glossary co-written by me and Nancy Bailey.

This is the book you need, the scorecard, to identify the players in the fast-moving world of reform propaganda and over-hyped programs.

This resulting book, Edspeak and Doubletalk: A Glossary to Decipher Hypocrisy and Save Public Schooling, is exceptionally useful as a quick-reference resource. If you are a regular reader of this or other education blogs, you know that there is a forest of acronyms, a Grand Canyon’s worth of program names and purposes, and enough different edu-focused organizations to pave a road to the moon and back. This book makes for a quick and easy reference for it all, and more. Chapters are organized by general topic, such as Charter Schools and Choice, English Language Learners, Technology, and Separation of Church and State. There are guides to the various players…

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Examining Students’ Understanding

“The quality of students’ understanding rests on their ability to master and use bodies of knowledge that are valued by their culture. More specifically, it rests on their ability to make productive use of the concepts, theories, narratives, and procedures available in such disparate domains as biology, history, and the arts. Students should be able to understand the humanly constructed nature of this knowledge and to draw on it to solve problems, create products, make decisions, and in the end transform the world around them. Put differently, students should use knowledge to engage in a repertoire of performances valued by the societies in which they live.”

Excerpted from: Wiske, Martha Stone, ed. Teaching for Understanding: Linking Research and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.

New Reports Confirm Persistent Child Poverty While Policymakers Blame Educators and Fail to Address Core Problem

[Jan Resseger, whose posts I will occasionally reblog here, is one of the most observant, astute and patient–because I certainly would not have the patience to analyze statistics the way she does, let alone remain patient with what they far too often demonstrate about the idiocy of current educational policy in the United States–analysts of educational policy and performance out there. She is also a gifted and compelling prose stylist.]

janresseger

On Tuesday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a stunning analysis, by the newspaper’s data analyst Rich Exner, of the school district grades awarded by the state of Ohio on the state report cards released last week.  The new report cards are based on data from the 2018-2019 school year.  I encourage you to follow the link to look at Exner’s series of bar graphs, which, like this one, present a series of almost perfect downward staircases, with “A” grades for school districts in communities with high median income and “F” grades for the school districts in Ohio’s poorest communities.

The correlation of academic achievement with family income has been demonstrated now for half a century, but policymakers, like those in the Ohio legislature who are debating punitive school district takeovers, prefer to blame public school teachers and administrators instead of using the resources of government to assist struggling…

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