School cops want semi-automatic weapons

A man holds a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle- similiar to what police will be armed with in Compton  Photo: Getty

A man holds a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Photo: Getty

School police will be armed with semi-automatic weapons in the gang-ridden Los Angeles suburb of Compton.

Officers say they need AR-15 assault weapons to prevent a massacre. Some recent school shooters have used rifles with high capacity magazines and worn body armor.

William Wu, Compton police chief, told the school board that rifles are more accurate than handguns and could “save lives.”

Some students and parents “expressed concern” over the militarization of the campus police force, reports the Telegraph.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Janice Campbell is hosting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

16-year-old arrested for ‘killing’ dinosaur

Assigned to write a Facebook-style “status” update about himself, a 16-year-old South Carolina boy wrote that he’d “killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur.” In a second “status,” Alex Stone used the word “gun” and the phrase “take care of the business.”

He was arrested for disorderly conduct and led away in handcuffs. Stone also was suspended from Summerville High School.

“Summerville police officials say Stone’s bookbag and locker were searched on Tuesday, and a gun was not found,” reports NBC.

But did they search for the dead dinosaur?

Who wants schools run like businesses?

“Today’s education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy,” wrote David Kirp in a New York Times op-ed.

Don’t beat up the strawman, responds Andrew Rotherham on Eduwonk. The only people who think schools should run like businesses are business people. It would be more accurate to say that “reformers believe there are lessons to be learned from other sectors, including business, the non-profit sector, the military, medicine, and other professions.”

Kirp also writes, “High-stakes reading and math tests are treated as the single metric of success, the counterpart to the business bottom line.”

Who says this? asks Eduwonk. It’s not reformers.

To varying degrees reformers believe that accountability systems can’t capture everything that matters about schools and the best way to capture those other elements is by giving parents choice.

. . . the only people essentially arguing that test scores or similar metrics alone are the only way to judge schools are those (who) . . . believe that more centralized systems, like those often found in Europe, provide more coherence and that choice is a distraction.

You won’t find those people in the reform world, he writes.

“Structural reform” is “a way to increase the quality of relationships that educators have with each other – and with their students,” writes Neerav Kingland, who also urges mercy for strawmen.

ACT: College readiness gap is wide

Only 26 percent of 2014 graduates who took the ACT are prepared to succeed in college, according to ACT’s college readiness report. Another 13 percent passed three out of four benchmarks in English, reading, math and science. Thirty-one percent didn’t pass a single benchmark and 16 percent passed only one.

That’s no worse than in previous years, despite the growing number of students taking the test.

Nationwide, 57 percent of the class of 2014 took the ACT. While 86 percent want to go to college, but some live in states that require all students to take a college admissions exam. Last year, only 69 percent of ACT test takers actually enrolled in college that fall.

A student who meets a benchmark has a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher, or a 75 chance of a C or higher in first-year college courses, estimates ACT.

While 57 percent of Asian-Americans and 49 percent of whites met three or more benchmarks, that dropped to 23 percent for Latinos and 11 percent for  African-American test-takers.

Overall, 64 percent of test takers tested as college-ready in English, 44 percent in reading, 43 percent in math and 37 percent in science.

Average composite scores ranged from 23.5 for Asians, 22.3 for whites, 18.8 for Latinos and 17 for blacks.

Massachusetts students had the highest composite score, 24.3 points. Hawaii ranked lowest, with an average of 18.2.

40% of transfers lose all credits

More than a third of college students transfer, losing an average of 13 college credits, according to a new federal study. Nearly 40 percent of transfer students get no credit at all, losing nearly a full year of credits, on average. That costs them time and money.

Remembering James Foley

Teach for America is remembering corps member James Foley, Phoenix ’96. The freelance journalist, captured in Syria nearly two years ago, was murdered yesterday by Islamic State barbarians.

Elisa Villanueva Beard,co-CEO, recalls “his tenacity, his spirit, and his fierce dedication to give voice to the voiceless.”

Jim was an incredible teacher who was a model of love and excellence, and went on to be a journalist with the same passion, care, and integrity that he’d shown in the classroom.

“Here’s how I remember James Foley: hilarious, creative, laughing, learning,” writes Crystal Brakke. “Even as I sit here crying, I remember that James.”

Poll: 60% oppose Common Core

Sixty percent of Americans now oppose the Common Core, fearing that the standards will limit teachers’ flexibility to teach what they think is best, according to the annual PDK/Gallup poll. Last year, almost two-thirds had never heard of the CCSS. This year, 81 percent have heard of it and 47 percent have heard a great deal — mostly negative.

Seventy percent favor charter schools and 54 percent believe charter schools provide a better education than other public schools.

However, many believe — incorrectly — that charter schools are private schools, allowed to teach religion and charge tuition and allowed to select students on the basis of ability.

Americans are more hostile to federal intervention in education, the survey concluded. Only 27 percent of respondents give President Barack Obama a grade of “A” or “B” for his performance in support of public schools,  down from 41 percent in 2011.

Fifty percent gave their local schools a grade of “A” or “B” but only 17 percent thought the nation’s schools deserved a “B” or higher.

NPR looks at how differences in wording change responses in this poll and Ed Next’s poll, which also asked about Common Core.

Public: 21% of teachers deserve D or F

Americans think half of teachers in their local schools deserve a grade of A or B, while more than a fifth are doing D or F work, reports Education Next‘s 2014 poll. ednext_XV_1_poll_fig03-small

Teachers say 69 percent of their colleagues deserve an A or B, while 8 percent perform at the D level and 5 percent merit an F.

Half of the non-teachers opposed teacher tenure, while one third favored it. “Even 65 percent of respondents who favor tenure say it should be based on student performance,” reports Ed Next.

Teachers endorse tenure by a two-to-one margin and only a third of teachers support basing tenure on student test performance.

Fifty-seven percent of the public supports “basing part of the salaries of teachers on how much their students learn.” Only 21 percent of teachers back merit pay.

More than one-fourth of all families with school-age children have educated a child in a setting other than a traditional public school.

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Teachers are as likely to use private, charter or homeschooling.

Public support for Common Core State Standards has eroded in the last year, the survey found.

People like Common Core’s goals, but the “brand” has been damaged, writes Mike Petrilli.

While 39 of voters say the economy is the number one issue that will influence their vote in November, education is the second most important issue, cited by 16 percent of voters according to the new Reason-Rupe poll.

Twenty-five percent of Democrats, but only 12 percent of Republicans, say education will have the most influence on their vote in the midterm elections. African Americans (36 percent) and Hispanics (25 percent) are more likely than whites (14 percent) to rank education as their top issue.

Nothing succeeds like Success


Success Academy charter students at a pep rally.  Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Eva Moskowitz just ruined her chances of getting 14 more Success Academy charters approved in New York City, writes Richard Whitmire in the Daily News. Her students aced the state’s math and English exams.

Whereas only 35% of New York City students scored proficient in math, 94% of her students rated as proficient. Whereas only 29% of city students met English standards, 64% of her students met the standards.

At her Bed-Stuy-1 school, where 95% of the students are African American or Latino, 98% passed the math test, with 8 in 10 scoring at the advanced level.

“Nobody likes competition,” writes Whitmire.

Statewide, 7 of the 15 top-scoring schools for math proficiency are Success charters.

What’s the secret of Success Academy’s success? asks Robert Pondiscio, also in the Daily News.

. . . 680 fourth graders sat for the state test at seven of Moskowitz’s schools. Care to guess how many earned a “4,” the highest level?

Nearly five freakin’ hundred of them!

This is Secretariat winning the Belmont by 31 lengths. It’s Michael Jordan dropping 63 points on the Celtics in the playoffs. It’s Tiger Woods demolishing the field and winning the Masters by 18 strokes.

It’s harder to raise reading scores, Pondiscio writes. It’s “all but impossible to test prep your way to a high score on a third to eighth grade reading test, especially the more challenging Common Core tests.”

Yet two out of three Success Academy scholars were proficient in reading.

Expect to hear that Moskowitz has solved the achievement gap and that the humiliation of Mayor de Blasio, who targeted Moskowitz during his campaign and tried unsuccessfully to squeeze three of her schools out of Education Department space, is now complete.

From the other side of the room, we will hear charges that Success creams top students, gets rid of low-achievers through attrition and test preps kids within an inch of their lives, or even cheats.

We need “serious, unbiased experts and observers” to figure out “how these extraordinary results are being achieved,” Pondiscio writes. If they’re for real, we need to figure out how to replicate them.