Lani Guinier: We Have a “Testocracy” Pretending to be a Meritocracy

Kiersten Marek:

Great new insights from Lani Guinier on the tyranny of testing.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In this excerpt from her recent book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, Lani Guinier describes the tight linkage between standardized testing and family income. To the extent, then, that colleges rely on the SAT (or ACT) as a filter for college admission, they disproportionately screen out students who have not had the multiple advantages of living in affluence.

She cites data demonstrating that the SAT is of little value in predicting college performance, yet it effectively excludes students of color and students who are from low-income families.

She writes:

Close to eight hundred colleges have decreased or eliminated reliance on high-stakes tests as the way to rank and sort students. In the current environment, however, moving away from merit by the numbers takes guts. The testing and ranking diehards, intent on maintaining their gate-keeping role, hold back and even penalize administrators who take such measures. The presidents of both Reed…

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From a Teacher: Brace Yourself, Rhode Island!

Kiersten Marek:

Be prepared, Rhode Island. We will need to look long and hard at any big pushes to charterize Rhode Island public schools. And the pressure is going to be on.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

A teacher in Connecticut, signing in as Linda, wrote the following comment:


Brace yourself Rhode Island…it is worse than you think. Hide your children and warn the teachers. He is coming to charterize, privatize, monetize your schools. See Pelto research here:

Gina Raimondo’s husband Andy Moffitt was Cory Booker’s roommate.
Moffitt is a member Stand for Children Board of Directors

Moffit is a Senior Practice Expert and member of core leadership team for McKinsey & Company’s Global Education Practice.

“Since co-founding the Global Education Practice in 2005, Andy has worked with multiple large urban districts, state education departments and charter management organizations to markedly improve system performance and close achievement gaps.

He co-authored a recent book, Deliverology 101: A Field Guide for School System Leaders (Corwin Press, 2010), which describes key success factors and steps in driving results in global school system reforms.

Before joining McKinsey, Andy was an elementary…

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Inside Philanthropy: The Scariest Trends.

Originally posted on pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.:

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According to blogger Diane Ravitch, David Callahan wrote an insightful article in “Inside Philanthropy” about something that most of us have noticed: the growing power of foundations that use their money to impose their ideas and bypass democratic institutions. In effect, mega-foundations like Gates and Walton use their vast wealth to short circuit democracy.

Callahan identifies five scary trends but they all boil down to the same principle: Unaccountable power is supplanting democracy.

He writes:

“1. The growing push to convert wealth into power through philanthropy

“Look at nearly any sector of U.S. society, and you’ll find private funders wielding growing power. Most dramatic has been the reshaping of public education by philanthropists like Gates and the Waltons, but the footprint of private money has also grown when it comes to healthcare, the environment, the economy, social policy, science, and the arts.

“Whether you agree or disagree with the specific…

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Inside Philanthropy: The Scariest Trends

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

David Callahan wrote an insightful article in “Inside Philanthropy” about something that most of us have noticed: the growing power of foundations that use their money to impose their ideas and bypass democratic institutions. In effect, mega-foundations like Gates and Walton use their vast wealth to short circuit democracy.

Callahan identifies five scary trends but they all boil down to the same principle: Unaccountable power is supplanting democracy.

He writes:

“1. The growing push to convert wealth into power through philanthropy

“Look at nearly any sector of U.S. society, and you’ll find private funders wielding growing power. Most dramatic has been the reshaping of public education by philanthropists like Gates and the Waltons, but the footprint of private money has also grown when it comes to healthcare, the environment, the economy, social policy, science, and the arts.

“Whether you agree or disagree with the specific views pushed by private funders…

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Community Colleges: The Neglected but Worthy Stepchildren of American Education

Kiersten Marek:

Wow, really great food for thought. We need to do more to support community colleges.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In this excellent article in the New York Times about the plight of community colleges, Ginia Bellafante shows the dramatic disparity in fund-raising between community colleges and other sectors of American education. The wealthiest benefactors and philanthropists shower millions on their alma mater, such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, but the alumni of community colleges are unlikely to be billionaires. The hedge funders shower millions on charter schools, but ignore community colleges, which serve twice as many students but are not as chic as charter schools.

And yet which institution is there for the least affluent members of our society? Which institutions offer a ladder into the middle class for children of poverty?

Bellafante’s article begins:

Last year at its annual gala, LaGuardia Community College, arguably the most ethnically diverse college in the country, honored Marilyn Skony Stamm, the chief executive of a global heating and air-conditioning business. A child…

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Tom Hoffman: Do You Want to Know What’s Wrong with the Common Core ELA Standards?

Kiersten Marek:

Rhode Island’s own Tom Hoffman featured on Diane Ravitch:

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Tom Hoffman, a blogger in Rhode Island, took up the challenge to explain what is wrong with the Common Core ELA standards. He does it here. He goes through them in the spirit of “close reading,” and they read like a nineteenth century approach known as “parsing,” whereby the student analyzed a sentence or a paragraph or a story in minute detail, identifying its grammatical and syntactical features. Today, promoters of the Common Core call it “critical thinking,” but if you go through Hoffman’s analysis, it sure looks like parsing, in which students are expected to read not for the joy of ideas, words, and stories, but for the interpretation and interaction of minute (and dubious) details and (possible) literary devices.

After going through exemplar texts and the questions based on them, Hoffman writes:

I am not seeking out edge cases; I’m just trying to apply the standard as written…

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