by David Safier
Day after day, education stories I want to write about stack up on my computer desktop. So many stories, so little time! To take care of the overload, I've decided to write the occasional Ed Shorts post with snapshots of what interests me in the world of education, including links to let you explore further if you wish. Without further ado:
• Hupp, robocalls and vouchers take hits. Huppenthal made such a big mistake lending his voice and the authority of his office to a robocall declaring "That’s right, you may be able to send your child to private school for free,” he felt the need to apologize, twice. That wasn't enough to quell the anti-robocall, anti-voucher outrage. The Arizona School Administrators Association had an op ed published in multiple papers condemning our two voucher programs. In the Republic, columnist Laurie Roberts asked, "Why does the Arizona Legislature hate public schools," and E.J. Montini suggested that, if we're giving away taxpayer dollars for vouchers, why not just hand out government money to lots of people to spend as they wish? Our local treasure, Fitz, wrote a series of "Vultures vs. Vouchers" comparisons on his blog, then published one as a cartoon.
• Funding fights. AZ public schools and the legislature are still at odds about how much money should be added to school funding to make up for years of the state illegally denying schools cost-of-living increases. Not surprisingly, the schools want more and the lege wants to give less. Hupp says, let's end all this squabbling, but doesn't propose a solution to the standoff.
• The Dude does not abide hungry kids. Jeff Bridges is working Arkansas' Democratic Governor Mike Beebe to help launch Breakfast After the Bell in Little Rock. It's "part of the No Kid Hungry campaign started by Share Our Strength, a D.C.-based nonprofit."
• Opt-Out movement grows. Parents frustrated with the growing emphasis on high stakes testing are joining a national opt-out movement. Teachers are joining in as well. An advocacy group, United Opt Out National, is giving groups support and guidance.
• ADHD diagnoses linked to high stakes tests. A study indicates there is a higher rate of ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) diagnoses in states that penalize schools for low test scores. Researchers believe the correlation is due to an attempt by teachers and schools to improve test scores by controlling unruly children, or, in some states, to have the scores of ADHD-diagnosed students removed from the school's test stats.
• Teacher bullying at a San Diego charter school. This isn't a local story, but it's a cautionary tale. Harriet Tubman Village Charter School in San Diego brags of high test scores from its students, but teachers say they are "in fear of bullying, retaliation and losing our jobs." Turnover is huge — of the 18 teachers who began the school year, only 8 remained at the end. (Quick teacher turnover is a regular charter school feature. The average stay is 2-3 years.) Teachers tell stories of the culture of fear at the school.