Long Island Superintendent Gamberg Tells Parents How to Opt Out

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

David Gamberg, superintendent of schools in Greenport and Southold, two neighboring towns on the North Fork of Long Island in Néw York, sent a letter home to parents, outlining the procedure they should follow if they don’t want their child to take the Common Core tests.

He assured parents that students will not be compelled to “sit and stare,” a punitive approach in some districts.

An enlightened educator, Gamberg is a strong supporter of the arts in schools. The elementary school in Southold has its own orchestra and a vegetable garden where children raise food for the cafeteria.

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Pawtucket Teacher Reinstated After Stern Reprimand by Administrators

Kiersten Marek:

Home state news!

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Bill Ashton, a teacher in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was suspended for discussing opting out with his students. They launched a campaign to “Bring Back Ashton,” and he was reinstated.

But the leaders of the school and the district made it clear that he had violated district policy and was on thin ice. They accused him of editing anti-testing fliers that ridiculed the Rhode Island Department io Education. They were especially angry that his son was leading an anti-testing protest.

“Ashton was sent home on paid leave last Friday after telling students at the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts that the school would not lose funding if they did not take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, according to a letter written that same day by JMW Principal Elizabeth Fasteson. Ashton was back to work on Tuesday morning, according to school.”

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American families are stuck in a lost quarter century

Originally posted on Quartz:

Mark it down as another bleak milestone for the American middle class.

The US Census Bureau just published its annual update on income and poverty in the US. The data amount to one of the best report cards on the economic health of the US middle class.

At first blush, the news on incomes doesn’t look so horrible. Inflation-adjusted US median household incomes was essentially flat 2013—the Census Bureau said the rise to $51,939, wasn’t a statistically significant increase from 2012’s $51,758. (The median income is exact midpoint of the US income distribution. In other words, half the US households have incomes that are higher, and half have incomes that are lower.)

median-income2013

But the bigger picture is not great. Effectively, inflation-adjusted US median household incomes are still about 1% below where they were in 1989. That’s nearly 25 years ago. And median household incomes are still 9% below the all-time peak back in 1999, when they…

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Economic Policy Institute: Income Inequality in U.S. Approaches Historic High Point

Kiersten Marek:

How can we stop this dangerous trend? More support for housing, education, and workforce development would help.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

The Economic Policy Institute is sometimes referred to in the press as a “left-leaning organization,” which means that their research may be sound (it is) but their sympathies are on the side of equality and fairness for all people. I have often turned to their website for nonpartisan data, always carefully sourced, about economic trends.

In this post, EPI documents growing income inequality in the United States. The graphs show the enormous income growth of the top 1% since 1979, as compared to the income growth of the bottom 99%. In the period since the Great Recession of 2008, the top 1% have seen significant income growth, while the bottom 99% have seen stagnant income.

The average income of the top 1% is 30 times the average income for the other 99%.

Income inequality is near its historic high, which occurred right before the Great Depression.

The period when…

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Memphis: TFA Will Reduce Recruits by 40%

Kiersten Marek:

Here’s some interesting news.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Teach for America is reducing its corps members in Memphis, according to Chalkbeat.

“The organization is projecting placements of 110 new recruits in Memphis-area schools during the 2015-16 school year, down from 185 last year….

“TFA’s presence has not been without controversy. While school administrators in Memphis have struggled to find and keep qualified math and science teachers to work in some of its lowest-performing middle and high schools, local hiring of young, mostly white TFA members coincided with layoffs of many older black teachers amid significant budget cuts.

“Local teachers’ union officials have maintained that TFA recruits aren’t qualified and equipped to teach students in low-income environments.

“The district is required to pay TFA a $5,000 annual fee per recruit, most of which comes from a $90 million grant awarded to the district in 2009 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That money – designated for programs that…

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Bipartisan Prison Reform Bill Introduced, Based on RI and Texas

From the Whitehouse Press Office:

Sens. Whitehouse, Cornyn Introduce Prison Reform Legislation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today announced their plans to introduce the Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers in Our National System (CORRECTIONS) Act.

The bill, which would improve public safety and save taxpayer money by requiring lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs to earn up to 25 percent of their sentence in prerelease custody, is based off reform efforts in both Texas and Rhode Island. A similar version of the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 15-2 vote last Congress.

“Texas has been a national leader for prison reform, finding ways to partner with faith-based and community organizations to ensure prisoners can change their lives instead of becoming career criminals,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We can improve our criminal justice system, save money, and make our communities safer all at the same time. I am hopeful Congress will follow our state’s lead in this important area.”

“As a former state and federal prosecutor, I recognize that there are no easy solutions to overflowing prison populations and skyrocketing corrections spending,” said Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island. “But states like Rhode Island have shown that it is possible to cut prison costs while making the public safer. Our bill is built on the simple premise that when inmates are better prepared to re-enter communities, they are less likely to commit crimes after they are released – and that is in all of our interests.”

The federal prison population has expanded rapidly in recent decades, growing from around 24,000 inmates in 1980 to over 210,000 today. Spending on the federal Bureau of Prisons has risen dramatically, rising from $3.1 billion in 1998 to a requested $6.9 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Recidivism has also been proven to be a significant problem, with one study estimating that 68 percent of prisoners from 30 states surveyed were arrested once again within three years of being released.

Background on the Whitehouse-Cornyn Legislation:

– Requires all eligible offenders to undergo regular risk assessments to determine whether an offender has a low, medium, or high-risk of re-offending.

– Excludes all sex offenders, terrorism offenders, violent offenders, repeat offenders, major organized crime offenders, and major fraud offenders from earning credits under the program.

– Encourages participation in recidivism reduction programs and productive activities, like prison jobs.

– Contains no new authorized spending, and requires the Bureau of Prisons to partner with faith-based groups and non-profits.

– Allows earned time credits for low-risk prisoners of up to 10 days for every 30 days that the prisoner is successfully completing a reoffender reduction program or productive activity.

– Allows medium risk prisoners to earn a 5 day for 30 day time credit while successfully completing recidivism reduction programs and productive activities. These offenders would only be able to use these credits if they demonstrate a substantial reduction in their probability of reoffending as a result of participation in programs.

– Does not allow high risk offenders to use any time credits unless they reduce their risk levels to a lower tier.

– Would allow certain low risk offenders who demonstrate exemplary behavior to spend the final portion of their earned credit time on community supervision.

Philanthrosaurus Rex: Why the Age of Big Foundations Is Almost Over – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

The modern foundation was invented by 20th century industrialists who had made their fortunes by commanding large, hierarchical, and often highly centralized institutions. Later business leaders copied the model when they turned to giving, and that trend continued up through the late 1990s as some of today’s biggest foundations were brought to scale, most notably the Hewlett, Packard, Open Society, and Gates foundations.

Lately, though, things have been changing. More large new foundations are lean operations, and over time this will become the norm. In time, too, many legacy foundations are likely to change how they do grantmaking—and downsize their organizations as a result.

via Philanthrosaurus Rex: Why the Age of Big Foundations Is Almost Over – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.