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Idaho Teachers/Staff Dressed as Border Wall and Mexicans Reinstated, Principal Remains Suspended

The 14 Middleton (Idaho) teachers and staff who were placed on paid leave after dressing as the border wall and Mexicans on Halloween purportedly for an after-school “team building exercise” have been released to return to their jobs.

However, the school’s principal remains under investigation.

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Middleton Schools superintendent John Middleton offered the following November 07, 2018, press release.

Middleton School District Release

November 7, 2018

Dear Parents, Staff and Community,

The Middleton School District’s internal investigation with teachers and elementary aides who were on administrative leave on November 5th and 6th is complete. Our focus is now one of healing with an opportunity for all of us to grow together as a community. Today we began the re-entry process with training on cultural sensitivity and correspondence with parents, the staff and community. The entire Middleton School District staff is also receiving similar cultural sensitivity training today.

It is important to note that after the district’s review, it has been validated that there is nothing more than love and commitment in the hearts of these teachers and aides. The educators involved chose the profession to work with and educate ALL students and we are confident in their abilities to provide an effective learning environment for every student in the building. It is also noteworthy that the few threats that were made via telephone or on social media were made from out of town and out of state. Police have dealt with these swiftly and none were found to be credible.

We will welcome our teachers and aides back into their classrooms in the next few days and we embrace this opportunity for continuous improvement and striving toward becoming the district we want to be with the outstanding educators we have.

Mr. Mark Hopkins will continue his duties as Interim Principal. Police and security presence will continue at Heights and other schools as needed. All matters of the investigation, its outcomes, and any discipline matters are confidential.

The District would like to thank the Middleton Education Association and the Idaho Education Association in partnering to provide Mr. Ben Ibale as our cultural sensitivity trainer, and we look forward in working with them to continue to offer these opportunities to our staff. We also thank the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs for reaching out to us in support and offering future training and resources.

The Middleton School District is a growing district because families find this to be a welcoming community with great teachers and schools. We strive to be a destination for families of all backgrounds and a destination district for teachers in their professional careers.

Middleton School District’s goal is “Every Student Learning Every Day.” We fully expect this to continue to happen, without exception.

The teachers and elementary aides who were involved wish to offer the following statement:

“As educators, we understand our responsibility to our students, our parents, our colleagues, our community, and to our profession. While there was no malice or ill will in our intentions, we recently came up short in our understanding of the awareness of the impact of the choices we made, regardless of our intent.

Individually and collectively we are taking, and will continue to take, steps to learn, grow, and better understand and embrace cultural differences. We remain absolutely committed to ensuring that our students, who we care so deeply about, have a safe and secure learning environment that values all individuals and embraces different backgrounds and points of view. We apologize for our actions and the message it conveyed, and we commit to using this as a starting point for a higher level of growth and understanding.”

Sincerely,

Dr. Josh J. Middleton, Superintendent
Middleton Board of Trustees

The fact that this situation happened in the first place continues to boggle my mind.

I’ll leave it at that.

thinker facepalm

___________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Louisiana’s 2018 District Letter Grades Mostly “Grade” Poverty. (No Surprise Here.)

Louisiana’s 2018 district letter grades closely mirror district economics, with poorer districts more likely to have lower district grades.

No surprise, and still, the grading continues.

From my colleague, James Finney, who used the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) release of 2018 district performance scores to calculate the following notable relationship between district poverty and lower district grades:

Six months after the 2017-18 school year ended, [Louisiana state superintendent John White and the Louisiana Board for Elementary and Secondary Education] promulgated yet another round of useless School and District Performance Scores. As is customary, the scores track poverty very well. To be specific, the poverty level of a district (as measured by what percent of students are economically disadvantaged) explains 2/3 of the variability in District Performance Scores.

Looking at this another way, 48 of 69 school districts have 80% or fewer economically disadvantaged students. Among those schools, there were 4 As, 33 Bs and 11 Cs. Of 14 schools with 80%-90% of their students economically disadvantaged, there were 2 Bs ans 12 Cs. Among the remaining 7 schools (those with at least 90% of their students economically disadvantaged), there were 2 Cs, 3 Ds and 2 Fs.

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The fact that school grades predominately capture economics is nothing new. Consider the following graph of Florida school grades from this 2001 study from Florida State University:

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The greater percentage of students on subsidized lunch, the lower the school letter grade.

By the way, grading schools was former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s idea, one that was spread among states by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which showcased school grading at ALEC’s 2010 conference in Washington, DC (see this post for details).

And from Chatham County, North Carolina in 2015:

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The greater the percentage of students on free and/or reduced lunch, the lower the school letter grade.

And, finally, this from Texas in 2017:

Arguably the biggest complaint about the new A-F school accountability system in Texas is that it unfairly penalizes campuses with high numbers of low-income students.

An American-Statesman analysis of preliminary A-F grades issued last month shows that the schools with the poorest student populations in Texas were up to 30 percent more likely than their wealthier peers to earn a failing letter grade in at least one of the four categories. The analysis did not include alternative education campuses.

The socioeconomic disparity was even wider in Central Texas schools. Eighty percent of campuses where 60 to 80 percent of the students come from low-income families received at least one failing letter grade. Schools with the lowest percentages of poor students were nearly 50 percent less likely to post a failing mark.

The lower the percentage of poor students, the less likely a “failing mark.”

The grading of schools and districts is principally a grading of school and district economics.

And yet, the grading continues.

thinker facepalm

__________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Louisiana’s Fickle 2018 School Grades: “Tougher” Calc Biased Upward for 35 Schools

On November 08, 2018, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released the much-anticipated and somewhat-dreaded 2017-18 school performance scores.

One of the problems in trying to compare school grades across years involves the changes across years to school grade calculations, including but not limited to changes in tests and the grading scale itself. In some cases, the result has been inflated school grades.

In 2018, however, the grading criteria is supposed to be tougher; that was the word in August 2018. For example, consider this August 07, 2018, piece by KALB.com in Alexandria:

Louisiana schools will no longer be graded on a curve. When school performance scores come out in the fall, the results may be lower.

The Advocate reported that there will be changes in the way school performance scores are calculated.

Student testing scores, graduation rates and academic growth are all taken into account during calculation.

The goal is to get student achievement in Louisiana comparable with other states. The change will cause ‘F’ rated schools to rise and ‘A’ rated schools to drop, according to the advocate. …

Before on state assessments students scoring ‘basic’ were proficient. Now the new proficiency level is ‘mastery’. This level gives school districts 100 points toward their performance score, while basic will only give 75 points.

F-rated schools will rise; A-rated schools will drop.

Sounds tougher, doesnt it?

Well, as it turns out, for many schools, the “new” 2018 scoring is tougher than the “old” scoring system used in 2017.

But not for all.

As a matter of fact, for 35 Louisiana schools, the “new,” supposedly tougher, 2018 scoring system produced higher school letter grades than the “old” 2017 formula would have produced for these same schools in 2018.

That’s not tougher; that’s capricious.

In April 2018, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill requiring LDOE to publish side-by-side school letter grade calculations based on the “new” 2018 formula and calculations on the 2018 data using the “old” 2017 formula.

Via these side-by-side calculations, one can see the increase in 35 school letter grades from using what has been portrayed as the tougher grading formula as compared to what these same schools would have received had the formula remained the same as it was in 2017.

Details on those 35 schools can be found in this Excel file that I created based on LDOE’s larger file and entitled, “2018 SPS Backwards”.  Here are the pertinent details:

3 Schools Raised from “Old” Calc B to “Tougher, New” Calc A:

  • Southside High School (Lafayette Parish)
  • East Elementary School (St. Landry Parish)
  • Calvin High School (Winn Parish)

14 Schools Raised from “Old” Calc C to “Tougher, New” Calc B:

  • Labadieville Primary School (Assumption Parish)
  • Summerfield High School (Claiborne Parish)
  • East Iberville Elementary/High (Iberville Parish)
  • Rooted School (Orleans Parish)
  • Abramson Sci Academy (Orleans Parish)
  • Livingston Collegiate Academy (Orleans Parish)
  • Phoenix High School (Plaquemines Parish)
  • Oak Hill High School (Rapides Parish)
  • Forest Hill Junior High School (Rapides Parish)
  • Red River High School (Red River Parish)
  • Evergreen Junior High School (Terrebonne Parish)
  • Pointe-aux-Chenes Elementary School (Terrebonne Parish)
  • Schriever Elementary School (Terrebonne Parish)
  • Wassman High School (City of Monroe)

17 Schools Raised from “Old” Calc D to “Tougher, New” Calc C:

  • Marksville High School (Avoyelles Parish)
  • Crawford Elementary School (Bienville Parish)
  • Ringgold Elementary School (Bienville Parish)
  • Bossier High School (Bossier Parish)
  • Southern Hills Elementary School (Caddo Parish)
  • E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary (Caddo Parish)
  • Homer High School (Claiborne Parish)
  • Ville Platte Elementary School (Evangeline Parish)
  • Lake Area New Tech (Orleans Parish)
  • KIPP Morial (Orleans Parish)
  • Peabody Magnet High School (Rapides Parish)
  • Pineville Elementary School (Rapides Parish)
  • Dehi High School (Richland Parish)
  • Breaux Bridge Junior High School (St. Martin Parish)
  • Tensas High School (Tensas Parish)
  • Lincoln Preparatory School (its own district)
  • Collegiate Baton Rouge (its own district)

1 School Raised from “Old” Calc F to “Tougher, New” Calc D:

  • Istrouma High School (East Baton Rouge Parish)

There we have it:

Tougher grade calculation biased upward for 35 Louisiana schools.

Not tougher.

Unstable.

LDOE owes the public some answers.

question marks

______________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Bill Gates Gives TFAer-Founded Educators for Excellence (E4E) *Another* $4 Million

In September 2018, billionaire Bill Gates’ foundation dropped $4M to expand Educators for Excellence (E4E), an ed reform spinoff founded by two Teach for America (TFA) alumni, Sydney Morris and Evan Stone:

Educators for Excellence


Date: September 2018
Purpose: to grow E4E’s membership and its leadership cohort while testing strategies for moving new advocates up the ladder of engagement
Amount: $4,000,001
Term: 24
Topic: Global Policy & Advocacy, K-12 Education
Program: United States
Grantee Location: New York, New York
Grantee Website: http://www.educators4excellence.org 

But this is nothing new: In 2016, Gates sent $4M to E4E, in that instance, “to support the Teacher Leadership and Policy & Advocacy Programs, which engage and empower forward-thinking teachers as leaders in the movement toward educational equity.” Prior to 2016, in 2013, Gates delivered $3M “to support teachers to be leaders in policy development and implementation.” Then, there was 2011 and the $1M “to ensure that the voice of classroom teachers is included in the polices that impact their profession and students.”

Gates has been a friend to E4E for years, giving it $12M from 2011 to 2018.

Gates wants to help E4E do what ed reform is known for promoting: A blink of classroom teaching time as a necessary marketing token to lend surface legitimacy into leadership and policy decisions over those very same classrooms that they used as little more than a career-ladder prong.

What is interesting about E4E founders, Morris and Stone, is that they omit identifying themselves as TFA alum in their E4E bios:

Sydney Morris, Co-Founder and Co-CEO

Sydney was born and raised in New York, but truly developed her passion for education while a student at Tulane University, where she worked with students in the New Orleans Public School system following Hurricane Katrina and developed after-school dance programs for low-income students with the nonprofit New Orleans Outreach.

After graduating with a degree in political science, Sydney taught second- and third-graders in the Bronx, and designed and led her school’s first-ever after-school ballet program while pursuing her master’s degree at Pace University.

Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-CEO

Growing up the son of a teacher in California, Evan was always interested in education. From an early age, he realized his access to an amazing education was not a gift that is distributed equitably across our country.

His teaching career began in high school when he started coaching the VIP soccer team for children with special needs and both a boys and girls AYSO team. Evan continued his educational work while a student at Yale University, where he wrote his thesis on the impact of No Child Left Behind on urban school systems and worked with students as the head of the Luther House Tutoring Program.

After graduating from Yale with a degree in political science, Evan became a sixth-grade teacher in the Bronx, while earning his master’s degree in teaching from Pace University.

According to her Linkedin bio, Morris spent 2007 -2010 in New York City (NYC) via TFA, immediately after graduating from Tulane University with a bachelors in political science. As is signature TFA, the classroom was a stint– a reality further hidden by the fact that Morris’ E4E bio does not disclose just how brief a time she was in the classroom: only 3 years.

Stone’s bio begins with the tack of “related to a [real] teacher, which gives me cred though I chose the temp-teacher route.” According to his Linkedin bio, Stone‘s sixth-grade teaching stint closely overlaps Morris’ in time (Sep 2007 – Jan 2011) and place (NYC Dept. of Ed.). And like Morris, Stone does not disclose in his E4E bio the actual number of years he has in the classroom. E4E co-CEO Stone did not make it a full four years as a classroom teacher. In this case, an airbrushed bio is a better marketing tool.

In painting themselves as teachers, neither Morris nor Stone mention TFA in their E4E co-founder bios. However, they are doing what TFA “talent” is supposed to do; namely, spreading the ed-reform influence via an ed-reform startup, such as an education nonprofit that has a board heavy on hedge funders.

And, of course, there is the money that one might make running an ed-reform nonprofit. According to E4E’s FY 2016 tax return, E4E garnered $13.6M in total revenue, with Morris and Stone each receiving $216K for 40hrs/wk.

If there is any doubt that E4E promotes market-based ed reform, one could know as much by those named among its major donors, including previously-mentioned Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Foundation.

E4E purports to promote a teacher-led movement. In order to do so, E4E chooses to hide its temp-teacher, TFA roots.

No matter. Bill Gates is willing to slide *another* cool $4M their way.

bill gates shrug

__________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Idaho’s Border-Wall-Costume School Cited in 2016 for Segregating Classrooms by Sex

Fourteen Middleton School District (Idaho) teachers and staff have been suspended with pay pending results of an investigation into actions related to the employees’ choosing to dress up as a border wall and Mexicans on Halloween, for what district superintendent Josh Middleton identified as a “week-long team building activity,” according to CBS 2:

“We have talked to the principal and our assistant superintendent human resources director now is conducting interviews up at the elementary school and just to be safe we have beefed up security at our schools,” Middleton says.

He tells CBS 2 that the costumes came from a week-long team building activity, which he says was meant to focus on acts of respect and kindness.

“There were six countries, two of those countries decided to get with the theme and chose to dress in those outfits,” Middleton says.

In efforts to address the situation, Middleton and the school board have posted the following message to the community on the school web page:

Important Message

November 3, 2018

Middleton School District Parents and Community:

I want to bring you up to date on events within the district during this difficult time for our Middleton School District students, staff, and community.

Our school board held a special Board meeting this morning at 10 am.  The purpose of this meeting was to update them on the events involving Halloween day costumes and a photo posting from Heights Elementary.  No action could be taken at this Board meeting besides a statement concerning these events given to the public at the end of the meeting.  Here is the statement from our school board.

———————————————–

November 3, 2018

The Middleton School District Board of Trustees statement in regards to the photo that was recently circulated.

This type of behavior has no place in education and certainly is not tolerated here at Middleton School District. This situation is being taken very seriously. We are in full support of our Superintendent and administrative staff as a full investigation is being conducted, and are awaiting the results of the investigation to assure appropriate disciplinary action is taken.  We care about each of our students, their education, and their safety. This is an unfortunate incident of very poor judgment.  Yet it is not indicative of the Middleton School District or our teachers as a whole. We have caring staff members who go the extra mile for our students on a daily basis.  We are committed to learning and improving our district from this incident and to continue with our daily mission of Every Child Learning every day, and will do everything we can to ensure their success.

Middleton School Board

———————————————–

As always, I really appreciate our school boards dedication to our students, staff, while representing you in all areas of our mission.

Important Plan for ALL our MSD staff

The events of this week we take very seriously.  As hard as these events are for ALL involved, we must learn from this and be better as an entire staff for our students, parents, and the community we represent.  Effective immediately those involved have been put on administrative leave and we need to please respect their privacy during this time.  We are still in an investigative stage of these events.  We will ensure our students have the appropriate staffing during this time. Below is our immediate plan for our MSD staff starting today.

  • All staff involved in the incident are on administrative leave.
  • To ensure safety for all, there will be daily presence of security at Heights Elementary.
  • To support the social-emotional well-being, for students, staff and parents, the District Crisis Team will be present at Heights Elementary.
  • This Wednesday, November 7, there will be an all staff meeting for the purpose of cultural sensitivity training. Training will continue throughout this school       year and at the start of each school year moving forward.
  • Effective Monday, November 5th, extra administrative presence will be Heights Elementary.
  • The District will adjust and provide resources and information as the week(s) progress and take immediate action as needed.

Middleton is under a microscope, and I view this as an opportunity to learn and grow from this incident, and even more create enhanced learning environments where Every Child Learning Every Day is wrapped in Every Child Shown Kindness, Respect and Love Everyday.

Sincerely,

Dr. M
Superintendent
Middleton School District 134

All Students Learning
Outstanding Instruction
Each and Every Day

It seems that the 14 individuals suspended represent a substantial proportion of the  Heights Elementary faculty. (Though the district has restricted public access to the school’s staff directory, I was able to access archived files, which I will not link to here for the sake of honoring their desire for privacy.)

The school appears to have a total of approximately 40 teachers and admin. I was able to view 35 of the profiles. Of those 35, I saw only one teacher who is a person of color.

Cultural sensitivity training should have been a regular part of faculty inservice long ago– perhaps as part of the federal directive to ditch stereotyping that resulted in separating students into single-sex classes.

Yep.

In November 2016, ACLU Idaho filed a complaint stating that Heights Elementary was in violation of federal law for segregating its classrooms by sex:

November 30, 2016

BOISE, Idaho- The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has found Middleton School District in violation of federal law for segregating students into single-sex classrooms at Middleton Heights Elementary School. The federal agency’s finding came in response to a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Idaho (ACLU), documenting violations of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in education, at Middleton Heights Elementary School.

Through information obtained as part of the ACLU’s “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes” campaign, the ACLU documented how Middleton Heights Elementary segregated students into a single-sex classrooms based on the theory that boys and girls learn differently and thus need to be separated in class and taught using radically different methods. In findings released last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights concluded that the single-sex classrooms at Middleton Heights Elementary violated Title IX.

Middleton Heights Elementary had been segregating students on the basis of sex in second through fourth grades for a decade, from 2006 through 2015, based on the debunked theories of Michael Gurian and Leonard Sax, two private education consultants who have written popular books espousing the theory that boys’ and girls’ brains are fundamentally different. The District adopted these theories and implemented them in the classroom, explaining to parents that “boys and girls learn differently” and that their purpose was “to educate according to those differences.” The school did this by, for example, providing boys with more space to move around, asking boys questions about actions in English class and girls questions about characters’ emotions, and emphasizing competition for boys and cooperation for girls.

During the investigation, the school district’s stated rationale for the segregation was that boys were reading at a lower level than girls, and therefore needed teaching more directed at boy students. However, the Department of Education concluded that the District had not adequately justified separating the boys from the girls for all subjects in all grades. The Department of Education further found that the boys’ classrooms had lower student-to-teacher ratios than its girls’ and coed classrooms, in all instances except one. Similarly, although the District’s stated objective for single-sex instruction for girls was to “improve math and science interest and proficiency among girls,” the Department of Education found that the District “provided no data showing that girls attending MHES were underachieving in math and science.” In both cases, the Department found that the school had failed to provide justification for single-sex instruction across all subjects and for different grade levels.

“We are pleased that Middleton Heights Elementary will return to a coeducational model,” said Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. “School children in Middleton Heights Elementary deserve educational improvements, but there is no evidence that single-sex classrooms are effective in improving outcomes. Strategies for improving instruction should be based on solid evidence, not pseudoscience and stereotypes about the way boys and girls learn and behave.”

As a result of the ACLU’s complaint and the Department of Education’s investigation, Middleton Heights Elementary School has agreed to return to coeducational classrooms beginning with this school year. Under a Resolution Agreement with the Department of Education, signed by Middleton School District’s Superintendent on October 31, 2016, the District will institute training for administration and staff related to Title IX, and will remain under Department of Education supervision at least through the end of the 2019–2020 school year.

“It took the Department of Education several years to conclude its investigation, but we are glad to see that it has been resolved to the benefit of students,” commented Leo Morales, ACLU of Idaho Executive Director. “Moving forward, we hope the school will honor the unique learning styles of each individual student, as opposed to letting gender stereotypes dictate teaching methods.”

Heights Elementary faculty must overcome stereotyping. They simply must. It is not enough to excuse ignorant behavior in the name of good intentions. Reinforcing stereotypes harms students. Stereotyping hinders healthy growth, damages human dignity and destroys trust.

I hope this terrible costume situation is truly a turning point in defying stereotypes for the Heights Elementary faculty.

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__________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Idaho School Employees Who Dressed as MAGA Wall and Mexicans on Halloween Put on Paid Leave Pending Further Investigation

Fourteen teachers/staff at a Middleton, Idaho, school have been placed on paid leave for collectively dressing on Halloween as a wall with “Make America Great Again” written on it and a group of Mexicans. Investigation into the situation continues.

According to the November 3, 2018, Idaho Statesman, the staff members dressed “as part of a team building activity after school hours.”

What amazes me is that none of the 14 individuals exercised enough foresight to nix the idea. Nothing doing. Not only did the crew dress as the border wall and Mexicans; they posted pictures to the district Facebook page on Thursday, November 01, 2018.

Though the pictures have been deleted and the FB page apparently shut down, that did not stop the pics from going viral:

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Middleton Schools superintendent, Dr. Josh Middleton, also posted this response on the district website, on Friday, November 02, 2018:

Dear MSD Parents,

I want to bring you up to date on events within the district.

We are getting lots of inquiries regarding Halloween day costumes and a photo posting from one of our schools. Local patrons and people across the country are calling in expressing their displeasure with the costume choices. This matter was brought to me last night and district admin are currently reviewing and investigating the chain of events. I have released a statement to the media and spoken to our local TV stations. The district as a whole is receiving publicity that is judging our schools and community on the events of that afternoon into a negative, broad generalization. I know we are better than that literal snapshot, but in the meantime we need to continue our investigation.

I hope we can wrap up our review by Monday. Despite this disruption, our students and student learning is what we are here for, so I ask we remain diligent to the daily mission, Every Student Learning Every Day. We are also activating our Crisis Team to help where needed on Monday. Middleton Police Department has also be instrumental in having a heightened presence at our campuses with extra patrol at Heights Elementary.

Sincerely,
Josh J. Middleton

Dr. Josh J. Middleton, Superintendent
5 South Viking Avenue
Middleton School District 134
Middleton, ID 83644

Josh Middleton also included an apology video on the district FB page. The page is down, but the 2-minute video can be viewed here. Middleton says that he believes the staff’s decision was “clearly insensitive and inappropriate” and showed “poor judgment,” not “malicious intent.”

He also added, “We are better than this.”

To think that not one of the 14 individuals involved thought that dressing as the border wall and Mexicans insults and degrades the dignity of children and families of color boggles my mind, and I wonder about the degree to which such foolishness has damaged the public faith in these teachers/staff, the school, and the district.

Though the Middleton school board placed the employees involved on paid leave, the investigation is ongoing, as the Idaho Statesman includes in this November 03, 2018, update, including apparent temporary replacement/removal of the school’s principal:

The board did not take questions after reading its statement.

“This type of behavior has no place in education and certainly is not tolerated here at Middleton School District. This situation is being taken very seriously. We are in full support of our superintendent and administrative staff as a full investigation is being conducted, and are awaiting the results of the investigation,” the statement reads, in part. “This is an unfortunate incident of very poor judgment. Yet it is not indicative of the Middleton School District or our teachers as a whole.”

Superintendent Middleton also announced that a member of the district’s crisis team would be taking over day-to-day principal duties at Middleton Heights for the time being.

On November 02, 2018, the ACLU of Idaho released the following statement:

Every student—regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability—should feel safe and welcome in our public schools. Indeed, federal and state laws safeguard our students from discrimination, intimidation and harassment based on many of the same protected characteristics.

The ACLU has long worked to uphold and protect the constitutional promise of a safe, free education—unimpeded by discrimination. A promise that has unfortunately been jeopardized for the students of Middleton school district.

Regardless of the intent of a teacher’s actions in the classroom, we must focus on and give weight to the impact of such actions on the students who rely on teachers and other school officials for guidance and support throughout their educational experience. School districts, their staff and other agents have obligations under federal law, state law, and district policies to prevent and protect students, staff, and others from discrimination, bullying, intimidation, and harassment.

As such, Middleton school district should take this incident as an opportunity to proactively engage the student body, teachers, school administration, and the wider Middleton community to create a welcoming environment where all students can thrive. It is critical that, in coordinating a solution and steps forward, the district engage and proactively work with members of the impacted community.

We encourage parents or students to contact the ACLU of Idaho if they experience harassment, bullying or retaliation to file a complaint with the ACLU of Idaho, fill out a complaint from here. The complaint form is available in Spanish here.

ACLU of Idaho
admin@acluidaho.org
208 344 9750

The next Middleton school board meeting is scheduled for November 12, 2018.

IMG_1298

_______________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Buried in Debt: Impact of College Debt on Life Beyond College

Student loan debt is a major national problem, one that deserves the increasing media attention it is receiving.

Students are told, instructed, prompted, cajoled, and enticed to believe that a college education set one on the road to economic prosperity in these United States; however, what they are often not told from the outset is of the great danger that their American dreams will be tossed overboard in a sea of student loan debt.

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And how, exactly, might student loan debt affect one’s future economic aspirations and stability? A November 01, 2018, study published by two organizations, Summer and Student Debt Crisis, offer some answers to that very question.

The study, Buried in Debt: A National Research Study on the State of Student Loan Borrowers in 2018, includes responses to 32 online survey items from 7,095 individuals with student loan debt residing across the United States. Respondents identified themselves as primarily white (73.6%) or Black/African American (16.5%); as mostly females (71.6%); with either bachelors (31.7%) or masters (38.5%) degrees, and predominately ages 30 to 49 (62.8%).

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The organizations administering the survey, Summer and Student Debt Crisis, describe themselves as follows in the survey report:

Student Debt Crisis is a non-profit organization dedicated to reforming student debt and higher education loan policies. Student Debt Crisis works with borrowers to understand their repayment obstacles and frustrations, and has realized national prominence for its efforts to represent borrowers on debt resolution solutions through petitions, awareness campaigns, and working with lawmakers.

Summer is a social impact start-up focused on helping millions of student loan borrowers successfully navigate the complex repayment process. Founded in partnership with Yale University in 2017, Summer’s software helps borrowers track their loans in one place and uses an innovative recommendation engine to
enroll them in the best repayment plan that maximizes their savings.

As to some additional details on survey participants, methodology, and analysis gleaned from my October 31, 2018, email exchange with Cody Hounanian of Student Debt Crisis:

Survey Methodology

The primary objectives of this research survey are to better understand how student debt impacts borrowers across a variety of domains and to collect feedback on their repayment experiences. The 32-question survey was distributed online to a database of self-reported student loan borrowers and resulted in 7,305 responses collected between October 9, 2018 and October 24, 2018. The database includes approximately 900,000 borrowers, implying an email response rate of 0.81% with an 85% survey completion rate. All respondents included in the report were confirmed to have at least one student loan borrowed in the United States that is currently in repayment, forbearance or deferment, or default. Removing respondents who did meet these criteria resulted in 7,095 respondents whose data served as the basis for the report.

Additional Information

The survey data correlates to many known statistics about student loan borrowers reported by the U.S. Department of Education. For instance, 18 percent of survey respondents reported being in default on at least one student loan, a number that matches the 18 percent of the population of total borrowers who are in default—representing 8 million of the total 44 million people with federal student loans.

About the Survey Authors and Administrators 

Will Sealy, previously a founding member of the student loan policy team at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, drafted the survey questions, analyzed the survey data, and drafted the summary report. Natalia Abrams, the Executive Director of Student Debt Crisis, administered the survey.

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And now, to the report itself. From the intro:

Current student loan figures are startling: 44 million Americans are in
repayment for $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans, a total debt size
that’s tripled since 2005. While the average debt load per borrower has
surged over the last two decades, the real wages of young graduates have
decreased by 2.5% since 2000––pushing many borrowers onto a financial
tightrope.

Making matters worse, an alarming number of student loan companies have been fined for illegal practices that add further to the hardship that borrowers face. The combination of these factors is pushing the system into crisis levels. Another borrower defaults on his or her loans every 28 seconds, joining eight million others already in default; and the consequences are severe, such as seized wages, which further drive the debt spiral.

While much of the news coverage remains focused on these skyrocketing debt statistics, there has been less coverage of the impact that these loans are having on the individuals who carry them. …

The research reveals a somber portrait of high monthly payments fueling high stress levels and low bank balances. Borrowers get little financial support from family members and even less assistance or flexibility from the lenders collecting payments.

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Next, some sobering findings:

65% of student loan borrowers reported having less than $1,000 in their bank account.

The majority of borrowers reported having a high debt to income ratio. Across all survey respondents, the average total debt was $87,500, while the average annual income was $60,000.

Keep in mind that the majority of respondents are between 30 and 49 years old:

Student debt has prevented me from

  • Saving for retirement– 80%
  • Making large purchases– 59%
  • Buying a home– 56%
  • Buying a car– 42%

And ironically, given that a major purpose of attending college is to enhance one’s career opportunities, 39% reported being unable to achieve career goals due to their student loan debt.

As to the effect of student loan debt on one’s personal life:

86% said student debt is a major source of stress, of which 1 in 3 said it is the biggest source of stress in their life.

19% delayed getting married.

26% delayed having kids.

50% could not donate to charity.

13% failed a credit check for an apartment application.

Finally, what about the quality of loan servicing? Well, um:

Sloppy Loan Servicing

As borrowers experience the financial burden of student loan repayment, they also struggle with the confusing, unhelpful loan servicers that collect their monthly payments. Borrowers have difficulty finding which company to pay, finding accurate information about their loans, and getting helpful, trustworthy advice from loan servicers. Beyond that, loan servicers are failing to provide guidance for borrowers repaying their loans, as well as adding to their burden with unexpected fees, repayment plan inflexibility, and erroneous billing. …

57% reported experiencing an unexpected change to their loan servicer, where a new company requested payment without notice. …

59% experienced unclear guidance about their repayment situation and options from their loan servicer. …

25% of borrowers reported experiencing an unexpected fee charged to their account.

19% experienced their student loan company billing them the wrong amount

23% experienced receiving wrong information about their loans.

Student debt is crushing many Americans.

Student Debt Crisis is trying to help. The organization offers advocacy opportunities, student loan tools, and, of course, research like the study featured in this post. Also, Summer is currently available to advise 2018 college graduates regarding student loan debt.

Attending college should not be a debt nightmare.

Organizations like Student Debt Crisis and Summer are critical in bringing the nightmare to light.

buried in debt

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Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

 

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.