Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal | educarenow

Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal | educarenow:



Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal

This  guest post, written by Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman, was originally printed in On the Edge, the Detroit Catholic Worker paper. (http://issuu.com/ontheedge-detroit/docs/ontheedge_winter2014_issuu/0). It offers a history of the loosening of Detroit Public Schools from democratically elected, publicly accountable local control.  Please read it while keeping two things in mind:  1.  Martin Luther King’s dictum, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 2. Wherever you are, this extraction of education from what we now refer to as “public” and for the common good is on its way to you.
The Detroit Public Schools are being dismantled by design and effectively looted. Though Detroiters and the elected school board are consistently blamed for their demise, for twelve of the last fifteen years DPS has been under state control.
Mother Helen Moore, an attorney who heads the Education Task Force has become notorious for her fight on behalf of the schools, and tells the story over and over in community meetings. It’s well documented.
When the Detroit schools were first taken over in 1999, enrollment was stable (at 200,000 students), test scores were middle range compared to state averages and rising, an “Afro-centric” curriculum developed by the district over a number of years was in use, there was a $93 million budget surplus, and $1.2 billion from a bond issue intended by residents for building improvements. It was the latter, not any financial emergency, which drew the takeover. Then Governor Engler was determined that those improvement dollars not go to local minority contractors, but to suburban and outstate builders. Follow the money.
When control was returned to the board seven years later, the fund deficit was $200 million, enrollment had dropped to 118,000, the curriculum was gone, as was the bond money spent at shamefully inflated prices. One hundred million simply disappeared without audit or indictment. This is the background of Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal | educarenow:

Public education advocate Diane Ravitch on testing, school choice and the teaching profession | AZEdNews

Public education advocate Diane Ravitch on testing, school choice and the teaching profession | AZEdNews:



Public education advocate Diane Ravitch on testing, school choice and the teaching profession



 Public education is a civic responsibility not a consumer good, said Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, to a recent gathering of Arizona educators and school board members.

“Protecting our public schools against privatization and saving them for future generations of American children is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Ravitch, author of Reign of Error and 11 other books on education.
Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, to a recent gathering of Arizona educators and school board members in Phoenix on Dec. 11, 2014.
Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, to a recent gathering of Arizona educators and school board members in Phoenix on Dec. 11, 2014.
Ravitch served as assistant secretary of education at the U.S. Department of Education from 1991 to 1993, and was a member of the board overseeing the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 1997 to 2004. Once considered a critic of American public education, she is now considered a leading advocate.
“The purpose of education is not to race to higher test scores, but to prepare children for the responsibilities of citizenship” such as voting, serving on juries and making wise decisions about their lives and American society, Ravitch said.
“What matters most is that we have schools where students learn to think about the consequences of their actions, where they learn to treat other people with respect, where they learn how to live and work in a world of rapid change, and where they gain the knowledge and skills they need,” Ravitch said.
In her remarks, Ravitch countered claims about the standardized test scores of U.S. students, graduation rates, and the “dropout crisis.”
According to Ravitch, data shows that test scores are now the highest that they have ever been for all groups of children, graduation rates are the highest in American history, and dropout rates are the lowest ever.
“Reformers say our schools are failing, our schools are broken, our schools are obsolete,” Ravitch said. “And as I demonstrated in my last book, Reign of Error, using charts from the U.S. Department of Education, each of these claims is wrong.”
During her speech at the annual conference of the Arizona School Boards Association and Arizona School Administrators, Ravitch spoke about test scores, funding, charter schools and a variety of issues. Her appearance was co-sponsored by Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
Test scores and funding
Ravitch questioned the “growing sense of panic” about U.S. public schools, which she said started with a 1983 report from the federal government called “A Nation at Risk,” Ravitch said.
“That report warned that our nation was falling behind the rest of the world because of our terrible schools, that our scores on international tests were embarrassingly low, that other nations were beating us economically – stealing our industries – and that we were in danger of losing our very identity as a nation,” Ravitch said.
“Yet 31 years later, the United States is indeed a world leader in technology, power, cultural innovations, democratic institutions, and military might,” Ravitch said. “We have surpassed all of those nations that seemed to be ahead of us in 1983 in test scores.”
She acknowledged that the U.S. public education system faces significant challenges, but criticized several legislative and policy efforts implemented to improve outcomes.
“The highest-performing nations spend more money on poor kids than rich kids. We don’t,” Ravitch said. “They have no charters. They have no vouchers. They have a respected education profession. No amateurs are allowed as teachers, principals, superintendents or state superintendents.”
Ravitch said she believes a shift in policy focus is needed.
“We know what makes good schools – caring and involved families, experienced and dedicated teachers and administrators, a responsible school board, a curriculum that includes not just the basic skills but arts,
- See more at: http://azednews.com/2014/12/17/diane-ravitch-on-test-scores-equity-charter-schools-and-the-teaching-profession/#sthash.7LN8Dcu4.dpuf


Chris Christie: School Bully | The Progressive

Chris Christie: School Bully | The Progressive:



     
Chris Christie excoriates a teacher in front of a crowd.

This story appears in the current issue of our magazine. Subscribe to read the full issue online. 
I will always remember the first time I saw Governor Chris Christie verbally abuse a teacher.
It was September of 2010, and it was becoming increasingly clear that New Jersey’s first-year governor was not the friend of public education he had pretended to be during his campaign. Christie had presented himself as a moderate Republican, in the mold of former Governor Tom Kean. This meant, for many, that Christie might still be a friend to the public schools, long considered one of the best statewide systems in the nation. 
But schools need money, and Christie was not about to raise taxes to make up for a severe and growing gap in education funding. To the contrary, in one of his first acts as governor, Christie refused to renew a “millionaire’s tax” on the state’s wealthiest citizens, making New Jersey’s fiscal problems even worse.
Lack of funds meant education spending had to be cut. In just his first year, Christie slashed state aid to schools by more than $1 billion. At the same time, he instituted a property tax cap that kept the wealthier suburban districts—his political base—from making up the difference with local revenues.
While many of his suburban constituents initially applauded this effort, the opening of the school year brought rumblings of discontent. New Jersey’s suburban schools are the crown jewels of the state, consistently producing results that are the envy of the nation. Now, thanks to Christie’s meddling, class sizes were increasing, extracurricular activities and electives were threatened, and student support services were being slashed.
New Jersey’s suburban voters pay big money to buy homes in towns where the schools are considered world-class; Christie’s cuts threatened their investment by degrading the education their children were receiving. It didn’t matter much to Christie’s political future that his budget cuts had hit the poorer cities, reliant on state aid, even harder; the people living there were never going to vote for him anyway. What really concerned the governor’s political apparatus was the possibility of losing the suburban soccer moms and dads who had put him in office in the first place.
What Chris Christie needed more than anything was a scapegoat. He couldn’t admit he had cut state aid so he could keep tax rates on the wealthy low and give more than $4 billion in subsidies to corporations. He had to make a case, instead, that school spending was out of control, and that he was forcing it back to reasonable levels.
And so, on that warm September day, in front of a sympathetic crowd at one of his highly scripted “town halls,” Christie fully committed to his war on teachers.
Christie had been battling with the teachers’ union for some time before. Abetted by a
- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/12/187940/chris-christie-school-bully#sthash.kHLGppGR.dpuf

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