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Beware of Fake Colleges. Learn to Recognize Them.

My seniors are in the process of considering postsecondary education, and given the proliferation of fraudulent sites purporting to offer postsecondary degrees (and the reality that online education is increasingly attractive during a pandemic), it is important for graduates and their parents to know identifiers of potentially fraudulent or otherwise shady online *insitutions of higher learning.*

To that end, I found a listing of fake universities (“degree mills”) on the site, geteducated.com. For each fake or otherwise suspicious school, the site offers a brief explanation of the problems with the school, including important information about accreditation (i.e., the way in which the public can know that a program or institution actually delivers a quality education), cautions about fraudulent operators choosing names that sound similar to respected institutions, and even the web address can be an indicator (ending in .edu is likely legit, but ending in .com is suspect).

Below are a few excerpts from the hundreds of entries on the geteducated.com “Degree Mills” listing:

Abet International University

This online college is not accredited by any agency recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education. This college is licensed to operate as an educational business in the State of Michigan.

Abet International posts a telephone contact number in Michigan (USA). No mailing address can be confirmed in the USA. No college accreditation can be confirmed to award degrees. This business has previously advertised as operating from Florida and offering cheap, fast MBA degrees. …

American Capital University (Various Locations)

There is no accreditation status for this school.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Texas State Warning: The State of Texas classified this online college as an illegal supplier of educational credentials. …

American Sentinel University (CO)

This institution is not regionally accredited, but is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

Here is the difference between a nationally accredited program and regionally accredited one:  some career paths and licensing programs may require a regionally-accredited education. In regards to transfer credits and degree recognition, the general rule is that colleges with the same type of accreditation are more likely to accept each other’s courses and degrees as equivalents. …

Anaheim University (CA)

This institution is not regionally accredited, but it is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

Note that there is a difference between regional and national accreditation. In regards to transfer credits and degree recognition, the general rule is that colleges with the same type of accreditation normally accept each other’s courses and degrees as equivalents. If you attend a nationally-accredited college, it is likely that a regionally-accredited college will not recognize your hard work or financial investment when it comes to transfer credits or applying to graduate school. …

Ashwood University (Various Locations)

Be aware — there is no accreditation status for this school.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Texas State Warning: The State of Texas classified this online college as an illegal supplier of educational credentials in the State of Texas (Consult: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Substandard and Fraudulent Institutions in Texas)

Ashwood University sells “life experience” degrees online for a few hundred dollars.

This entity should not to be confused with Ashford University of Iowa or Ashworth University of Georgia.  Both of these online universities are accredited, worthwhile institutions where you can earn an online degree. …

Central State University of New York (NY)

Be wary of this institution — it has no accreditation.  Furthermore, it is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Central State University of New York claims false accreditation as follows: “Central State University of New York is endorsed and accredited by the Distance Education Training Council (DETC) … Central State University is accredited also by the Accreditation Council for Higher Education Accreditation (ACHE). The ACHE is listed as a nationally-recognized accrediting agency in Wallis and Futuna Islands.”

While there was a previous, valid accrediting agency in the US called the DETC,  that agency is now the DEAC.  The DEAC has not accredited Central State U.  Furthermore, there is not a DETC or equivalent authority in the UK which is recognized by the USDE, either.

Central State is not a state-funded university in the US and is not accredited by any agency recognized by the US Department of Education. …

Cleveland Institute of Electronics (OH)

This institution is not regionally accredited, but is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

While some career paths are fine with national accreditation, others require an education from regionally accredited colleges and universities. In regards to transfer credits and degree recognition, the general rule is that colleges with like accreditation will readily accept each other’s courses and degrees. If you attend a college which is not regionally accredited, it is likely that a regionally-accredited college will not recognize your coursework.  Depending upon your career path, attending a non-regionally accredited college could impact your future — just like what happened to Michael Satz. …

Columbus University (MS, LA)

This school is not accredited on any level.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

In June 2010, it was suspected that Columbus operations emanated from a prison cell, in a fraudulent scheme run by an inmate.

You can sniff out degrees that may not be valid beyond the doors of the institution where they were granted, by following some simple tips from the US Department of Education.  For instance, did you realize that a .edu web address most often indicates a legitimate school?  If you land on a website for a school that has a .com tag, be very leery of their credibility. …

Divine Heart College

This institution is not accredited on any level.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Did you know that an act of Congress established .edu web addresses for reputable institutions? This, and other tips from the US Department of Education, can help you in your search for an online school to earn your degree.  Arm yourself with the facts and avoid the pitfall of a diploma mill! …

Golden State School of Theology (CA)

While this entity is licensed to operate as an educational business in the state of California,  it is not accredited. Furthermore, it is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. …

Hamilton University (WY, HI, Bahamas)

Hamilton University was closed by court order in Wyoming.

The school was originally known as American State University and may have had roots in Hawaii. In 2010, the school was cited as operating out of the Bahamas.

Hamilton University should not be confused with the actual, legitimate institution of Hamilton College located in Clinton, New York. …

Lacrosse University (LA, MS)

This institution began in Louisiana and was closed by education authorities in 2002.  The school then moved to Mississippi where it was closed by the Commission on College Accreditation and no longer authorized to operate. …

LaSalle University (LA)

LaSalle University was closed by court action in 2002.

Do not confuse this entity with La Salle University, a well-regarded institution of higher learning located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. …

Miami Christian University (FL)

This school is not accredited and it is not recognized by the US Department of Education.

Miami Christian University has also been known as the Miami Bible Institute. While not accredited by any recognized agency to award college degrees, the institution has been allowed to operate a post-secondary, for-profit private school the State of Florida.  A consumer warning was previously posted:

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service. …

Preston University (AL)

This school is not accredited.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.  The institution is licensed to operate as an educational business in the state of Alabama.  Consumer warnings are as follow:

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Texas State Warning: The State of Texas classified this online college as an illegal supplier of educational credentials.

Preston relocated to Alabama 2007 when Wyoming changed laws to require accreditation. Preston has also operated from the Netherlands, known as the entity:  Fairmont International University.  Bottom line — neither Preston or Fairmont are accredited by an authority recognized by the US Department of Education. …

Richardson University (TX, WY)

This entity was closed by court order in Wyoming and is potentially operating out of the Bahamas. The institution was previously known as Hamilton College and prior to that, may have offered diplomas under American State University out of Hawaii. Hamilton was the subject of a 60 Minutes investigation. The owner, Rudy Marn, was convicted in US court and served a sentence for committing fraud.

There is no level of accreditation affiliated with Richardson and the states of Oregon, Michigan and Texas have issued consumer warnings regarding its validity. …

Rise University (KY)

It is probably in your best interest to avoid this school — it is not accredited.  Furthermore, Rise is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

This institution was rumored to be operated by the same scam artists that ran schemes at Rochville University and Belford University Online. Despite claiming operations worldwide, the university has six unverifiable addresses in the US. …

Sacramento International University (Various Locations)

This entity is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and it lacks any accreditation.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Do not confuse this entity with Sacramento State University, a fully regionally-accredited college in California.

There are hundreds more listed. Check it out for yourself.

Don’t get scammed, seniors. Don’t be charmed by some cleverly-worded “acceptance” and find yourself with student debt tied to a useless or nonexistent credential. Be a smart consumer, and know the legitimacy of your selected school.

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

A Well-Rounded Education Cannot be Digitized

I am about one-fourth of the way into Jack Schneider’s and Jennifer Berkshire’s A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of Public School. As I experience one in three of my students in quarantine related to COVID-19, I am keenly aware of how limited computer-delivered education is absent immediate, in-person, teacher-student and student-student relationships.

Human beings grow and learn best in relationship, which should come as no surprise since humans are social beings.

And yet, as Schneider (no relation) and Berkshire so deftly explain, the likes US ed sec Betsy DeVos– who would like nothing more than to erase public education from existence– would just as soon also eliminate as many teachers as possible in favor of students interacting with machines– and all in the name of reducing human beings to “career ready” servers of the market. After all, machines are cheaper and cannot unionize, and a *successful* outcome is one that serves business and industry.

However, in this time of pandemic-induced, online-ed proliferation, it is the rare person who sees isolated students sitting in front of computer screens as pedagogically desirable. Having my students in quarantine connected to my classroom only via their Chromebooks is not an “answer” but a tolerated necessity during this COVID crisis, and it has me constantly trying to figure out ways to keep my students’ education afloat until next I see them in person– a “figuring out” that is tedious, time-consuming, and exhausting.

I am not saying I am against quarantining, but I sure do understand the push by some (admin, teachers, parents, and students) to convince authorities to ditch quarantining in favor of having students in school. I do not support this view, but I fully understand the critical role that interacting with my students in person and in real time has upon their growth and development, not only academically but more broadly as human beings– which brings me to a second point.

The issue that landed many of my seniors in quarantine was the effort by adults to give those seniors an experience related to a “normal” senior year (in this case, homecoming) while purposely ignoring the fact that one cannot simply will “normality” into being by ignoring current pandemic reality.

No more mid-pandemic party buses, please.

That said, I do get it. Despite the push of cost-cutters like DeVos to reduce education to cheaply-delivered core academics, school is much more than core academics because human beings are wonderfully complex. In the case of my seniors, they do need some delightful social celebrations to enhance their enjoyment of their high school experiences, for that delight provides an indispensable richness that nourishes not just today’s academics. That delight inclines the heart in favor of lifelong learning, to which “career readiness” is anemically inadequate.

I only ask those adults to create opportunities for celebration that also account for safety during a pandemic. It is not ideal; that is true, but it can be done. Forego the party bus in favor of a socially-distanced, outdoor dinner for a few friends, for example. That way, my seniors get their celebration, and I get to have them in class, in person, quarantine-free, and we use the Chromebook as an in-person, educational tool and not as the primary vehicle for delivery of tedious, remote instruction.

Everybody wins. Except DeVos.

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

As Louisiana Returns to Phase 2, Superintendents Want Shorter Quarantine

As Louisiana moves back into a modified Phase 2 due to “the aggressive third surge of COVID-19 across all regions of Louisiana,” several Louisiana school superintendents are calling for “looser quarantine rules” for students who come into contact with individuals testing positive for coronavirus.

When Louisiana moved into Phase 3 on September 09, 2020, my school system chose to delay full, in-person learning for our high schools (and retaining a “hybrid” attendance schedule) until the beginning of the second quarter, November 09, 2020. I was able to arrange my classroom so that I could maintain six feet from my students and my student desks so that at most, a student testing positive was within six feet of only two other students.

By day three, students began being called out for quarantine. The cause?

Adults deciding to rent a party bus and create an off-campus Homecoming party for students.

In the end, one in three of my seniors ended up in either a confirmed or suspected quarantine for two weeks.

So, in reality, I taught full classes for only three days and then ended up teaching a partially-quarantined, partially-in-person, “hybrid” arrangement likely brought about by some of the very adults who insist that These Kids Need to be in School.

The Louisiana district superintendents who want to reduce the quarantine period have asked the state health department to alter its guidance; however, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) maintained that it would continue following guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and subsequently adopted by Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

The district superintendents argue that most students in quarantine are not becoming ill or testing positive for COVID-19, but health experts note that asympotmatic presentation does not mean the virus isn’t spreading.

Louisiana is back in Phase 2 precisely because the virus is spreading:

Cases are increasing, hospitalizations have climbed back up to more than 1,000, the highest level since August, and to date, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 6,300 Louisianans. According to the latest report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Louisiana had 474 new cases per 100,000 people last week, which is higher than the national average for states, which is 356 per 100,000 people.

Interestingly, however, it seems that the White House Coronavirus Task Force is considering reducing quarantine from 14 days to 10 days since very few infected individuals test positive after the 10-day mark. The CDC has yet to approve such a change, but if it does, presumably, LDH and BESE would also reduce the quarantine period.

Even so, given that we are in the holiday season, and given that people will gather, it is likely that school districts in Louisiana and beyond are only just entering the throes of quarantining. 

The question then becomes how long a school or district can manage a fragmenting, in-person experience until it is cornered into going virtual.

The writing is already on the holiday party walls.

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

 

Louisiana: Over 5,000 Positive COVID Cases in K12 Schools to Date

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 1,634 faculty/staff/volunteers and 3,524 students are reported as having positive SARS-CoV-2 molecular or antigen laboratory tests across 1,506 K12 schools enrolled in the COVID-19 reporting system,  

For the most recent week of reporting (11/09/2020 – 11/15/2020), 393 faculty/staff/volunteers and 877 students reported positive test results.

Of course, those numbers do not include other adults and students in quarantine as a result of coming into contact with infected individuals.

To view specific results by parish, click here:

Louisiana K12 COVID Report by Parish 11-15-20

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

America Might Not Know Biden’s Choice for US Ed Sec Until January

Given President-elect Joe Biden’s “deliberative approach” in choosing his Cabinet, it seems that his selection for US ed sec may well follow the January 05, 2021, runoff elections for the two US Senate seats in Georgia.

If Democrats are tied with Republicans for the number of Senate seats– which can only happen if both Georgia Democratic contenders, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, win their races– then as president of the Senate, Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris becomes the decisive vote, thus giving Democrats de facto control.

Whether the Senate is controlled by Republicans or Democrats may well determine who, exactly, Biden is able to have confirmed in his Cabinet, including in the position of US ed sec.

Both former National Education Association (NEA) president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, and current American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president, Randi Weingarten, have been in the news as potential candidates for US ed sec. However, I think it is a bad idea for Biden to choose either Eskelsen Garcia or Weingarten because they have both had lengthy careers in national union leadership, which would make it seem that the position of US secretary of education is little more than an extension of a national teachers union. California State Board of Ed president, Linda Darling-Hammond was also mentioned as a contender (and is also heading Biden’s education transition team, which she did for Obama in 2008); however, Darling-Hammond has clearly removed her name from consideration.

Biden could choose from any number of state education superintendents, which may or may not lead to someone with a solid history as a classroom teacher. There is also the possibility of Biden selecting someone with a higher ed background, a door apparently left open by Biden campaign national policy director, Stef Feldman.

However, NEA president Becky Pringle is convinced that Biden meant what he said about choosing a US ed sec “with experience in public education,” as EdWeek’s Andrew Ujifusa reports:

So could all that lead a President Biden to pick nominee who disagrees with the unions and their allies on key issues, in order to appease Senate Republicans?

“I don’t think he will pick someone like that,” said Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, who like others spoke to us before the Associated Press called the race for Biden on Saturday. If that happened, she stressed, “I don’t believe that the secretary of education would be able to actually achieve the vision that he has set out.”

In conversations with Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden—who’s an NEA member—it’s been clear that the president-elect would pick someone “who respects our professionalism and professional authority” and also focus on civil rights and inequities in education.

“When he says he’s going to nominate an educator who’s had experience in public education, [he’s] going to do that,” Pringle said. “When he says that he’s going to nominate someone who believes that education is a public good and the foundation of our democracy, he’s going to do that.”

When it comes to his selection of our next US secretary of education, we will see where Biden’s “deliberative approach” takes him. However, that deliberation might keep us in suspense until America’s President-elect knows who will fill those two Georgia Senate seats. 

Joe Biden

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

Help Me Teach Your Kids in Person. Don’t Rent a Quarantine-Producing Party Bus.

My district just began our second quarter of the 2020-21 school year. For high schools, the first quarter entailed a hybrid schedule whereby approximately half of the student body attended on any given day.

We have almost finished the first week in which all students have returned to campus each day.

The first day, I had no students in quarantine.

The second day, I had one, and the third day, I had another, right at the end of the day.

Then today happened, by the end of which 16 more of my students had been assigned two weeks of quarantine.  During the second class period, the remaining students were abuzz about the situation, and it was then that I heard the first one mention a “party bus.”

From what I have been able to determine, it seems that some adults tried to create a homecoming celebration for students, which apparently included a party bus and an improvised homecoming dance. As one might expect during this pandemic, COVID also attended these festivities, the result being number of students in quarantine.

Okay. The principal argument for our returning to full attendance is that These Kids Need to be in School. As a teacher, I have worked hard to make my classroom space as COVID-deterrent as is possible. I had anticipated that I would confront quarantine issues in the wake of flu and holiday season. However, what I did not anticipate was that I would also be confronting situations in which adults would be creating student celebrations that would in turn sabotage the outcome they appear to want most for their kids: Regular school attendance.

So. If you are an adult who is considering creating a pandemic-defying social opportunity for students in the name of High School Only Happens Once, please know that you may well be kneecapping These Kids Need to be in School.

I wish it were not so. I wish I could will Regular Life back into existence tout de suite, but COVID does not care about my preference.

Foresake the party bus, and help me to be able to teach your kids at school.

Thank you.

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

Pres-Elect Biden: It’s Time for a Career K12 Teacher as US Ed Sec.

It’s November 07, 2020, and Joe Biden is president-elect.

Joe Biden

That means extreme right-wing, pro-private-school-voucher, anti-public school billionaire, US ed sec Betsy DeVos will hit the US Department of Ed exit doors by January 2021.

Betsy DeVos

In September 2020, DeVos told state education chiefs not to bother about requesting federally-required testing waivers during a 2020-21 school year steeped in pandemic chaos.

And now, she will be out before 2021 spring testing, and that is fabulous news.

But who will replace her?

It is about time for someone with seasoned K12 classroom experience to hold that position. Not someone with ladder-climbing, token K12 classroom experience. Not someone who is a basketball playing pal of his buddy, the president (aka Arne Duncan). And not someone who is an activist for private schools and who admitted publicly to “not intentionally visiting schools that are underperforming” (that, of course, would be DeVos).

I am tired of being tossed to and fro by ill-conceived education platforms that chain America’s education be-all, end-all to standardized test scores. And that is why I believe a seasoned K12 classroom teacher needs to be the next US ed sec: A seasoned K12 classroom teacher knows the sting of the idiocy of standardized testing firsthand. The foolishness of trying to gauge the value of American education via test score is not an intellectual exercise to a seasoned K12 classroom teacher. It is not theoretical. It is not removed. It is a frustrating reality stretching across school years and decades.

The genuine, career K12 classroom teacher knows firsthand the stupidity of wasting time, money, and personnel pretending that grading schools and teachers using standardized tests somehow informs teachers, parents, and the public about the quality of the multifaceted educational life of a school and its students.

We need to break free of this testing prison, and we need an experienced K12 classroom advocate in our US secretary of education. Not an ideologue. Not a dictator. Not a politician. Not even a higher-ed academic.

An advocate. With. Career. K12. Experience.

Someone who can help the president and Congress understand that what may sound good (i.e., accountability through test score) has actually been a decades-long, waste of resources and a practical dead end.

I’ve asked before, and I’m asking again:

Joe Biden, let our next US ed sec be a career K12 classroom teacher.

I look forward to Biden’s answer in the upcoming weeks as he plans and announces his cabinet.

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

Betsy DeVos’ Scary Story

It’s Halloween, and I’d like to tell you a scary story. Actually, I’d like to allow US ed sec Betsy DeVos tell a story scary for its lack of details and ultimately intended to drive her readers toward her pet goal of school choice, particularly private school choice.

I call it, “Did You Really Mean to Implicate This Parent?”

Put yourself in the shoes of the father whose son, a recent high school graduate, was honored in the local newspaper. Dad’s pride turns to dismay as he discovers his son can’t read or comprehend the article about himself. Dad marches over to the high school principal’s office, his son and the newspaper in tow, and asks his son to read the article to the principal. He, of course, can’t. The father pointedly asks the principal how he could’ve graduated his son—or anyone else—who can’t read. There is no defensible answer.

DeVos doesn’t say whether the high school in question is a traditional public high school, or a charter high school, or even a private high school for that matter, but let’s assume that she means to point her “government schools” finger at traditional public high schools. However, she is clear in her intent to blame the school for graduating someone who cannot “read or comprehend the article.”

So, here’s the scary part for DeVos’ message of parents knowing what is best: DeVos just implicated the parent. Of course, she did not mean to do so. She meant to place all blame for unnamed graduate not being able to “read or comprehend” a news article on the unidentified school. She meant for readers to identify with the unnamed father’s “dismay” at just learning that his son could not read (or “comprehend”). She meant for readers to have “no defensible answer” for that unidentified principal or the principal’s school.

That is what she meant.

But here’s what her story reveals– and what she does not question at all:

How is it possible that the father had no idea his son could not read– or comprehend– until that moment? Is it possible that the father never, ever asked his son to read until that one instance after the son graduated high school?

No asking the son to read aloud when the child was six? Ten? Twelve? 

No asking the son to read aloud at any other point in the child’s development?

No marching over to the school when the son was eight? Eleven? No parent-teacher conference? No request that the son be tested for vision problems? Dyslexia? Reading comprehension issues?

No modeling of reading at home? No father-son library visits? No asking the child, “What books are you reading in school?” and following up with, “Let’s read some together”?

Literacy should happen at school, but literacy does not begin at school. Literacy begins at home.

In a speech intended to show how to “fix education” by “embracing the family as the sovereign sphere that it is,” DeVos was so caught up in her school blame game that she unwittingly let that “sovereign sphere” completely off of the hook when is came to the alleged illiteracy of one member of that sphere going completely unnoticed by another member for an entire K12 school career. 

I teach high school, and I have noticed that students can be quite creative in concealing their learning deficits. They can pretend to not care. They can develop and refine the habit of copying off of classmates. They can conceal visual deficits by sharpening audio, memorization, and mimicking skills. They can try to charm their way out of deficit-revealing situations by negotiation and deflection. The list is long.

As a teacher, however, I need to get to the bottom of the situation as best as possible. For example, a student might try to avoid reading a speech assignment by just taking a zero, or by lying and saying “I forgot to do the assignment,” or by trying to get partial credit for writing the speech without reading it, or by speaking “off the cuff” with no written draft. But I must hear my students read. I must know if they can, and how well they can. And even though they are seniors in high school, I must keep my eye open for reading issues, including vision and processing issues and work with colleagues and parents to resolve such issues.

As a teacher, of course I rely on parents to help me help their children. I cannot do this alone, and the likes of DeVos should not expect for school responsibility and parental responsibility to travel separate paths. These two paths must intersect.

It’s not “school vs. parents.” It’s school and parents, both responsible, working together, to benefit children.

To believe otherwise– and to follow someone who actively promotes otherwise– now, that is scary.

Betsy DeVos

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

Celebrating in the Face of COVID, Hurricanes, and DeVos

I am sitting in my living room waiting for Hurricane Zeta to pass over my southeastern Louisiana home in a few hours. It’s our fifth hurricane to hit the region this season and the seventh time southern Louisiana has fallen within the cone of hurricane threat.

This year has been a regular diet of COVID and hurricanes overshadowing my teaching experience, even as Betsy DeVos continues to publicly express her disdain for America’s systems of public schools.

Well, Betsy, my public school is a good school, and I am a good public school teacher.

In the last several weeks, seven new students have enrolled in my Eng IV classes. Six arrived from other schools. That would not happen in a private school. There is no obligation to enroll whoever shows up on the private school doorstep. But we enroll students as they arrive, and each one enters my classroom with a circumstance that I must figure out how to navigate so that the student can become part of my class as successfully and seamlessly as is possible.

It is quite a challenge, but we do not turn students away. We. Do. Not. Turn. Students. Away. That is profound, and the likes of Betsy DeVos, steeped in her ideological bias, completely misses it. 

Then there are the numerous specialized situations in which students and their families find themselves, circumstances that necessitate individualized, often instantaneous and creative, solutions. Longterm illness and disease. Comprehension issues. Physical limitations. Psychological challenges. Homelife instabilities.

And now, with the advent of online learning, wifi issues. Password issues. Platform issues. 

And you know what? We are nearing the end of our first grading period, and I have offered more graded assignments than required. I have (and continue to) work with students with extenuating circumstances. I have been able to address specific issues interfering with individual students’ success in my class by building relationships with my students and, in turn, by helping them confront those fears, sometimes in time to raise grades, sometimes as a hard-earned lesson to improve future grades.

The key is that authentic learning and personal responsibility are behind students’ improving less-desirable grades.

The bottom line: My students and I are moving forward, despite COVID, despite hurricanes, despite DeVos.

And that, my friends, is success.

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

 

Good News, Teachers: Cloth Masks Do Protect the Wearer

COVID-19 has shaken classroom teaching to its core. It’s like carrying a platter of full water glasses while walking down the aisle of a lurching bus, and doing so daily.

Expect varying degrees of success, and intentionally celebrate those successes in that day to fortify your mental stability.

Believe me when I write that I thank God that he measures out my life in daily installments.

My sanity is grounded in understanding what, exactly, I control and leveraging that control to counter the volley of adjustments to adjustments.

And so, we arrive at mask wearing during this pandemic.

I am relieved that my school district requires students and staff to wear masks, and I am so grateful that I have virtually no pushback from my students regarding this requirement.

One issue under my control involves creating a respectful atmosphere in my room, which includes explaining why mask wearing is important to me; modeling the very behavior I am asking of my students, and thanking them for complying.

Of course, what is also completely under my control is my choice to wear my own mask.

When the pandemic first short-sheeted life in Louisiana, on Friday, March 13, 2020, I did not immediately take to wearing a mask, but I did immediately begin social distancing. Within a few weeks, I adjusted to and accepted mask wearing indoors, even as I deliberately limit indoor activities in places other than my home.

I cannot deliberately limit my time in my classroom. So, my own mask wearing is that much more important to me while I am at school.

From the time I accepted wearing a mask as a useful strategy for combatting COVID-19, I thought it logical that my mask would not only protect others but would protect me, as well. It just makes sense that having a cloth barrier between my mouth and nose and the air I breathe provides a filter that would dilute the concentration of any virus I might inhale. As a result, I might still contract the virus, but a milder version– even so mild as to exhibit no symptoms.

Research supports this logic. On August 19, 2020, infectious disease physician, Monica Ghandi, published an article about this very issue, entitled, “Cloth Masks Do Protect the Wearer – Breathing in Less Coronavirus Means You Get Less Sick.”

Since Ghandi’s article is part of creative commons, I have reproduced it here in full. (I particularly like the part about the masked hamsters):

Masks slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by reducing how much infected people spray the virus into the environment around them when they cough or talk. Evidence from laboratory experimentshospitals and whole countries show that masks work, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends face coverings for the U.S. public. With all this evidence, mask wearing has become the norm in many places.

I am an infectious disease doctor and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. As governments and workplaces began to recommend or mandate mask wearing, my colleagues and I noticed an interesting trend. In places where most people wore masks, those who did get infected seemed dramatically less likely to get severely ill compared to places with less mask-wearing.

It seems people get less sick if they wear a mask.

When you wear a mask – even a cloth mask – you typically are exposed to a lower dose of the coronavirus than if you didn’t. Both recent experiments in animal models using coronavirus and nearly a hundred years of viral research show that lower viral doses usually means less severe disease.

No mask is perfect, and wearing one might not prevent you from getting infected. But it might be the difference between a case of COVID-19 that sends you to the hospital and a case so mild you don’t even realize you’re infected.

Exposure dose determines severity of disease

When you breathe in a respiratory virus, it immediately begins hijacking any cells it lands near to turn them into virus production machines. The immune system tries to stop this process to halt the spread of the virus.

The amount of virus that you’re exposed to – called the viral inoculum, or dose – has a lot to do with how sick you get. If the exposure dose is very high, the immune response can become overwhelmed. Between the virus taking over huge numbers of cells and the immune system’s drastic efforts to contain the infection, a lot of damage is done to the body and a person can become very sick.

On the other hand, if the initial dose of the virus is small, the immune system is able to contain the virus with less drastic measures. If this happens, the person experiences fewer symptoms, if any.

This concept of viral dose being related to disease severity has been around for almost a century. Many animal studies have shown that the higher the dose of a virus you give an animal, the more sick it becomes. In 2015, researchers tested this concept in human volunteers using a nonlethal flu virus and found the same result. The higher the flu virus dose given to the volunteers, the sicker they became.

In July, researchers published a paper showing that viral dose was related to disease severity in hamsters exposed to the coronavirus. Hamsters who were given a higher viral dose got more sick than hamsters given a lower dose.

Based on this body of research, it seems very likely that if you are exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the lower the dose, the less sick you will get.

So what can a person do to lower the exposure dose?

Masks reduce viral dose

Most infectious disease researchers and epidemiologists believe that the coronavirus is mostly spread by airborne droplets and, to a lesser extent, tiny aerosols. Research shows that both cloth and surgical masks can block the majority of particles that could contain SARS-CoV-2. While no mask is perfect, the goal is not to block all of the virus, but simply reduce the amount that you might inhale. Almost any mask will successfully block some amount.

Laboratory experiments have shown that good cloth masks and surgical masks could block at least 80% of viral particles from entering your nose and mouth. Those particles and other contaminants will get trapped in the fibers of the mask, so the CDC recommends washing your cloth mask after each use if possible.

The final piece of experimental evidence showing that masks reduce viral dose comes from another hamster experiment. Hamsters were divided into an unmasked group and a masked group by placing surgical mask material over the pipes that brought air into the cages of the masked group. Hamsters infected with the coronavirus were placed in cages next to the masked and unmasked hamsters, and air was pumped from the infected cages into the cages with uninfected hamsters.

As expected, the masked hamsters were less likely to get infected with COVID-19. But when some of the masked hamsters did get infected, they had more mild disease than the unmasked hamsters.

Masks increase rate of asymptomatic cases

In July, the CDC estimated that around 40% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic, and a number of other studies have confirmed this number.

However, in places where everyone wears masks, the rate of asymptomatic infection seems to be much higher. In an outbreak on an Australian cruise ship called the Greg Mortimer in late March, the passengers were all given surgical masks and the staff were given N95 masks after the first case of COVID-19 was identified. Mask usage was apparently very high, and even though 128 of the 217 passengers and staff eventually tested positive for the coronavirus, 81% of the infected people remained asymptomatic.

Further evidence has come from two more recent outbreaks, the first at a seafood processing plant in Oregon and the second at a chicken processing plant in Arkansas. In both places, the workers were provided masks and required to wear them at all times. In the outbreaks from both plants, nearly 95% of infected people were asymptomatic.

There is no doubt that universal mask wearing slows the spread of the coronavirus. My colleagues and I believe that evidence from laboratory experiments, case studies like the cruise ship and food processing plant outbreaks and long-known biological principles make a strong case that masks protect the wearer too.

The goal of any tool to fight this pandemic is to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Universal masking will do both.

I find the apparent increase in asymptomatic cases due to mask wearing intriguing. It makes sense that if a mask can dilute the virus one inhales, it is possible to dilute it to such a degree that infection produces no readily observable symptoms. 

The potential for a mask to protect its wearer is good news in a pandemic world in which so much is unstable, including daily classroom operations.

Also good news: Wearing my mask is something I can control.

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No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog