The Teachers Revolt in West Virginia – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Two years ago, The Washington Post ran a long piece about West Virginia called, “How the birthplace of the American labor movement just turned on its unions.” It described how, following the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2014, the state passed a so-called right-to-work law prohibiting mandatory union dues. Such laws have badly undermined unions in other states, and for people who care about organized labor, it was a bitter irony to see one enacted in a place once famed for its militant labor movement. The state also repealed a law mandating that workers on public construction projects are paid prevailing industry rates.

Labor in West Virginia seemed beaten down.That’s one reason the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia, which on Monday entered its eighth day, is so thrilling. Strikes by teachers are unlawful in the state, and their unions lack collective bargaining rights. Nevertheless, in a revival of West Virginia’s long-dormant tradition of bold labor activism, teachers and some other school employees in all of the state’s 55 counties are refusing to return to work until lawmakers give them a 5 percent raise, and commit to addressing their rapidly rising health insurance premiums.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

This report flunks, like all the others I’ve heard on this subject. No one will say what the salaries of these teachers are, where they start, where they end. What is the average total package. Facts and numbers matter, and it grieves me that the best this lousy op-ed can do, is cite a massive paper.

In Reply to the top comment, I added:

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Lack of numbers in the piece is very disappointing. Here is what I found. “Teacher Salaries in West Virginia by Education As teachers further their educations and gain experience in the field, they receive pay increases that reflect their dedication and hard work. Salaries vary between school districts, but the following are some examples of the salaries you can expect in West Virginia: Experience Bachelor’s Master’s At 3 years $30,871 $33,399

At 6 years $ 32,670 $35,199

At 9 years $34,226 $36,754

At 12 years $35,783 $38,311 Source: West Virginia Department of Education

DL: It’s too bad this piece didn’t include such numbers. They are lower than expected.

Next important question, what are the median salary levels state-wide for West Virginina. Facts matter.

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Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas – by Peg Tyre – Newsweek

“Spend a few minutes on the phone with Danny Frankhuizen and you come away thinking, “What a nice boy.” He’s thoughtful, articulate, bright. He has a good relationship with his mom, goes to church every Sunday, loves the rock band Phish and spends hours each day practicing his guitar. But once he’s inside his large public Salt Lake City high school, everything seems to go wrong. He’s 16, but he can’t stay organized. He finishes his homework and then can’t find it in his backpack. He loses focus in class, and his teachers, with 40 kids to wrangle, aren’t much help. “If I miss a concept, they tell me, ‘Figure it out yourself’,” says Danny. Last year Danny’s grades dropped from B’s to D’s and F’s. The sophomore, who once dreamed of Stanford, is pulling his grades up but worries that “I won’t even get accepted at community college.”

His mother, Susie Malcom, a math teacher who is divorced, says it’s been wrenching to watch Danny stumble. “I tell myself he’s going to make something good out of himself,” she says. “But it’s hard to see doors close and opportunities fall away.”What’s wrong with Danny? By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn’t like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they’re a minority at 44 percent. This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, “has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy.” ”

Source: Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas

The Boys Are Not All Right – By MICHAEL IAN BLACK – NYT

“I used to have this one-liner: “If you want to emasculate a guy friend, when you’re at a restaurant, ask him everything that he’s going to order, and then when the waitress comes … order for him.” It’s funny because it shouldn’t be that easy to rob a man of his masculinity — but it is.

Last week, 17 people, most of them teenagers, were shot dead at a Florida school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now joins the ranks of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine and too many other sites of American carnage. What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.

America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Thank you Micael Ian Black for a thoughtful set of observations and questions. Socrates calls it baloney, and he misfires which is unusual for him. I grew painfully aware of this difficult topic, when Newsweek ran a cover story on it, just before the magazine sold itself and went digital only. In that historic cover story, Newsweek reported that boys were falling seriously behind girls in elementary and high school, college, and even graduate school. It gave a host of negative national statistics and possible causes. A major cause might be the reduction of recesss and non varsity sports programs in school programs. Others included the natural addiction of young men to computer gaming and especially first person shooter games. In the grossly male hostile public schools of Hamden CT, I saw my two sons slowly decline, while my daughter thrived. What the Newsweek cover story brought to life, was that what we were experiencing in one family, was a national trend. Boys are in trouble, and the country is barely aware of the problem.
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David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Later – The New York Times

“A Brookings Institution policy brief investigated the trade-offs between costs and benefits of pushing back the start times of high school in 2011. It estimated that increased transportation costs would most likely be about $150 per student per year. But more sleep has been shown to lead to higher academic achievement. They found that the added academic benefit of later start times would be equivalent to about two additional months of schooling, which they calculated would add about $17,500 to a student’s earnings over the course of a lifetime. Thus, the benefits outweighed the costs.”

Scientists at Harvard and other places have already published research that teenagers are wired to get up later than other folks, and need more sleep than most everyone else.

Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost. – The New York Times

“The crisis at Carver Academy was not unfolding in isolation. Michigan’s aggressively free-market approach to schools has resulted in one of the most deregulated educational environments in the country, a laboratory in which consumer choice and a shifting landscape of supply and demand (and profit motive, in the case of many charters) were pitched as ways to improve life in the classroom for the state’s 1.5 million public-school students. But a Brookings Institution analysis done this year of national test scores ranked Michigan last among all states when it came to improvements in student proficiency. And a 2016 analysis by the Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education policy and research organization, found that 70 percent of Michigan charters were in the bottom half of the state’s rankings. Michigan has the most for-profit charter schools in the country and some of the least state oversight. Even staunch charter advocates have blanched at the Michigan model.”

How We Are Ruining America – by David Brooks – NYT

“Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.

How they’ve managed to do the first task — giving their own children a leg up — is pretty obvious. It’s the pediacracy, stupid. Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids.

Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents. Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.”

Lots to think about. Thank you David Brooks.

How Google Took Over the Classroom – The New York Times

“In the space of just five years, Google has helped upend the sales methods companies use to place their products in classrooms. It has enlisted teachers and administrators to promote Google’s products to other schools. It has directly reached out to educators to test its products — effectively bypassing senior district officials. And it has outmaneuvered Apple and Microsoft with a powerful combination of low-cost laptops, called Chromebooks, and free classroom apps.

Today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs, the company said. And Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops that initially struggled to find a purpose, are now a powerhouse in America’s schools. Today they account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools.

“Between the fall of 2012 and now, Google went from an interesting possibility to the dominant way that schools around the country” teach students to find information, create documents and turn them in, said Hal Friedlander, former chief information officer for the New York City Department of Education, the nation’s largest school district. “Google established itself as a fact in schools.” “

.School Vouchers Aren’t Working, but Choice Is – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Unlike most voucher programs, many charter-school systems are subject to rigorous evaluation and oversight. Local officials decide which charters can open and expand. Officials don’t get every decision right, but they are able to evaluate schools based on student progress and surveys of teachers and families.As a result, many charters have flourished, especially in places where traditional schools have struggled. This evidence comes from top academic researchers, studying a variety of places, including Washington, Boston, Denver, New Orleans, New York, Florida and Texas. The anecdotes about failed charters are real, but they’re not the norm.

Douglas Harris, a Tulane professor, says the difference between charters and vouchers boils down to “managed competition” versus the “free market.” Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan talks about charters’ successfully combining flexibility and accountability. Joshua Angrist of M.I.T. says, “Flexibility alone is not enough.”Crucially, many charters are open to all comers, which means their success doesn’t stem from skimming off the best. And the schools’ benefits extend beyond test scores to more meaningful metrics, like college graduation.”

Bravo David Leonhardt. Your excellent analysis reminds me that John V. Lindsay was a supporter of charter schools when the idea was much newer.

Here is an interesting comment that is more skeptical than mine, and bears attention:
WFGersen Etna, NH 1 hour ago

I am a progressive with 29 years as a public school superintendent in 5 different states in the Northeast and here’s what I know to be true: traditional public schools, governed by elected school boards in communities that can afford to provide generous funding for small class sizes, a wide array of programs, and teacher training do far better than any schools in America. Unfortunately for our country, these well financed districts are invariably located in our country’s most affluent communities whose housing costs of housing preclude the enrollment of parents who earn poverty-level wages. If we are serious about making public education a “powerful force for accelerating economic growth, reducing poverty and lifting middle-class living standards” we should fund ALL districts at the same level as our most affluent ones. In 2015, Scarsdale spent $31,005/pupil. The State mean was $23,370. New Rochelle, within commuting distance of Scarsdale, spent $22,584. Scarsdale taxpayers, who chose to spend roughly $7,500 more than the State mean and roughly $8,500 than their neighbors to the south believe spending on public education matters… and I know New Rochelle could do a lot with the $28 million in additional funds they would have if their per pupil spending matched Scarsdale.

Choice advocates like Mr. Leonardt sidestep questions of inequitable funding and the housing patterns that underly these disparities in spending. As a progressive, I believe we need to face these issues.

Reply

Communities of Character – david brooks, The New York Times

“Last week I visited the Leaders School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which is a glowing example of community cohesion. This is a school with roughly 300 students who speak between them 22 languages. Eighty-five percent are on free and reduced lunch. Last year the graduation rate was an amazing 89 percent and every single graduate went to college. The average SAT score was 411 math and 384 verbal.The school’s approach and curriculum is organized by Outward Bound. (This newspaper’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., once was chairman of the NYC Outward Bound Schools chapter.)”

Source: Communities of Character – The New York Times

Time to Fix the Fafsa – The New York Times

“Susan Dynarski, a professor at the University of Michigan, says that the information needed to calculate eligibility for aid is already collected by the Internal Revenue Service. In a simplified system, she says, tax filers could just check a box on their 1040 and immediately learn of their eligibility for federal grants and loans.”

Source: Time to Fix the Fafsa – The New York Times