Category Archives: Education

Our Students and Teachers: The Best in the World!

By dianeravitch, February 23, 2018

I call a moratorium on bashing our students and our teachers. If I could manage it, I would make that moratorium a permanent ban.

If you have been watching the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on television, you have seen young people who are smart, eloquent, well-informed, and reasonable. They are so much smarter than so many of our elected officials. The elected officials who dare to debate them are quickly shown to be empty suits.

These students are the best in the world. They survived a horrific attack on their school, stepped over the bodies of their friends and teachers, and emerged to tell the world that this American carnage (as Trump put it in his inaugural address) must stop. Now. No more school shootings. They are old enough to vote; the others will be voters by 2020. They are angry and they are focused, and they know what the problem is: guns. Too many guns. Easy access to guns. NRA money buying politicians.

They will not be bought off by empty promises to increase background checks. To extend the waiting period for an assault weapon. To raise the eligibile age to 21 for buying a weapon of mass murder. They know that mass murderers can pass background checks, can wait three days, and may be older than 21, like the killers in Orlando and Las Vegas. They want a ban on selling military weapons to civilians. They want a ban on sales of military weapons at gun shows and online. They will not be hoaxed. They call BS on phonies.

As we saw in the Sandy Hook massacre, the teachers and principal of these students defended them with their own bodies. They took the bullets to shield their students. They didn’t sign up to be targets for a homicidal maniac, but when the time of reckoning came, they gave their lives to save their students.

Meanwhile, “the good guys with guns” heard the shooting but stayed out of the building. The deputy assigned to protect the students has resigned, and two other officers are being investigated….

keep reading at dianeravitch

Expanding High Quality Charter School Options

“Expanding High Quality Charter School Options” is the title of a new report from Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). The report shows that PA’s 21-year-old charter school law does not serve children families or taxpayers well.

Unfortunately, the state is very generous in permitting even underperforming charter schools to draw on the local school district’s scarce resources, and counterintuitively gives the same advantages to cyber charter schools as to those that have an actual physical presence where students attend class daily.

The state’s standard tool of measurement, the Pennsylvania School Performance
Profile (SPP), shows that charter schools have a lower rate of reaching the 70 score that is considered to indicate a good school. Excerpt from p. 8 of the 20-page report (which can be downloaded at PCCY):

See also “Pennsylvania slow to reform charter-school laws,” editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/9/18

Melissa Shusterman vs. Rep. Kampf’s harmful H.B 1213

by Melissa Shusterman, Dem candidate for State Representative, 157th district

My opponent, Rep. Warren Kampf, has introduced H.B. 1213, a partisan bill that would limit the ability of school districts to challenge property tax assessments. While this may seem like a good idea on paper, in reality, it really isn’t. This bill would cost Pennsylvania school districts hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. Pennsylvania’s school system, one of the most unequal and underfunded in the nation, cannot sustain both this loss of revenue and the cuts in funding Republicans in the legislature keep making. Our children will suffer the most from these drastic cuts in school funding and revenue.

H.B. 1213 will also harm Pennsylvania families in another way. By removing the ability of school districts to challenge severely under-assessed properties, homeowners and businesses lose the only way school districts can try to make school taxes fairer. Property owners of appropriately-assessed properties will have to deal with increased millage rates to make up for the under-assessed properties.

Pennsylvania’s schools, families, and businesses deserve better than H.B. 1213. Pennsylvanians deserve schools that are fully and fairly funded. Pennsylvanians deserve a fair property tax system. H.B. 1213 accomplishes neither of these goals. Our representatives in the legislature should be doing all they can to help our education system, not hurt it. I, along with many teachers, parents, school officials, and elected officials across the state, voice my opposition to Warren Kampf’s dangerous H.B. 1213.

In the legislature, I won’t just fight against harmful bills like these; I’ll fight for legislation that will allow every Pennsylvania child to get the quality education he or she deserves.

See more about Melissa or donate at

Today is the Anniversary of the Worst Education Law Ever Passed by Congress

[Fortunately some courageous legislators have long been working against what Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19) called the “testing obsession” in “Cash-starved schools but over $1B for testing?,” 9/27/16]

By dianeravitch, January 8, 2018

On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into Law.

NCLB, as it was known, is the worst federal education legislation ever passed by Congress. It was punitive, harsh, stupid, ignorant about pedagogy and motivation, and ultimately a dismal failure. Those who still admire NCLB either helped write it, or were paid to like it, or were profiting from it.

It was Bush’s signature issue. He said it would end “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” It didn’t.

When he campaigned for the presidency, he and his surrogates claimed there had been a “Texas miracle.” There wasn’t.

All that was needed, they said, was to test every child in grades 3-8 every year in reading and math. Make the results for schools public. Reward schools that raised scores. Punish schools for lower scores. Then watch as test scores soar, graduation rates rise, and achievement gaps closed. It didn’t happen in Texas nor in the nation.

The theory was simple, simplistic, and stupid: test, then punish or reward….

keep reading at dianeravitch