I have a lot of friends across the country, and something is about to happen in Chicago that will get national attention: a strike in our public school system. This likely will be brought up by Trump or Clinton at some point. The circumstances that got us to another teachers’ strike are complex. Before someone highjacks the issue on the national stage, I thought it’d be worth a relatively short explanation.
The Illinois State Board of Education Wednesday unanimously moved to change the way the state sends special education money to school districts, aiming to increase base funding to poor districts with the resources that are currently available.
ISBE is proposing to take an entire $300 million special education line item, Funding for Children Requiring Special Education Services, and distribute it thru the General State Aid formulas.
This means all schools will lose special ed funding while some schools gain significant General State Aid funding.
Late-night hosts including John Oliver and Samantha Bee devoted air time to school-related issues this year, pushing the topics into mainstream conversation.
This is the second installment in our series examining the intersections of education and entertainment in 2016. Read a previous entry on adocumentary, and check back for future pieces on a play, animated movies, and television.
It’s no secret that politics has been especially central to late-night comedy over the past year or so. Some would argue that shows—from The Daily Show to Full Frontal With Samantha Bee—have served as more robust sources of political news than traditional broadcast news. According to a recent analysis by Tyndall Report, since the beginning of 2016, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News devoted just 32 minutes to coverage of policy issues.
“What we’re witnessing, actually, is a movement in these longer-form satire programs in the direction of exploring in-depth, complicated policy issues,” said Dannagal Young, an associate professor of communication at the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication. “I think what humor offers that’s particularly useful is the ability to reframe complex policies in really clear, simple, accessible terms.”
One of the themes that saw a notably prominent presence in late-night comedy in 2016 was education. Trevor Noah interviewed the professor Sara Goldrick-Rab about Paying the Price, her new book about the financial strain of higher education in the U.S., on The Daily Show. Samantha Bee looked at how schools are responding to fears about mass shootings. John Oliver was particularly keen on talking about education issues on his HBO show Last Week Tonight, devoting two segments to them in 2016, one on school segregation and another on charter schools. The latter was so controversial that the Washington-based Center for Education Reform, a pro-charter nonprofit, offered a $10,000 prize to the charter school that created the best rebuttal to Oliver’s tirade; Natomas Charter School in Sacramento, California, won.John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah Talk Education - The Atlantic:
Carl Paladino: Worst School Board Member of the Year
December started well for Carl Paladino. A member of the Buffalo, New York school board, co-chair of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in the state, Paladino met with the president-elect and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, just before Christmas. He told reporters afterward that the question of “whether he would be interested and/or willing to serve in the administration in some capacity did come up.”By December 21 the presents at the Paladino home were all nicely wrapped and snug under the tree.
We might even guess there was a “Make America Great Again” hat for Mrs. P. and “Jail Hillary” t-shirts for all the grand kids.
That same day the Buffalo Newsreported on Paladino’s formal request, during a school board meeting, that once President Trump took office his picture might be placed prominently in every city school.
“Other board members responded to Paladino’s request,” the News continued, “by noting it is at the discretion of principals to decide what they display in their schools. ‘I think this is problematic,’ said board member Theresa Harris-Tigg. ‘Now we are going to mandate, and force something, when it has been their prerogative.’”
“‘Why do we care?’ Paladino responded. ‘Why do we care what their prerogative is?’”
In the end, a compromise was reached, with board members agreeing to put up posters of all former and current U. S. presidents in the schools. Sadly, there was no mention whether or not Paladino would have liked to see Mr. Obama’s picture crossed out.
We don’t know if he was satisfied with the decision. We do know, two days later, he was up to his knees in feces of his own creation. Trouble began brewing when Artvoice, a local weekly, asked city leaders toanswer four questions. For current purposes only the first two matter:
1. What would you most like to happen in 2017?
2. What would you like to see go away in 2017?
Most city leaders responded in predictable fashion. Sue Marfino, a businesswoman, answered #1: “A return to shopping in communities and at brick & mortar stores.”
You'll notice I didn't say "looking forward" because honestly, I don't see much hope for public education for all students in this country, state and city. Let's start with nationally.
Trump won the Electoral College and is therefore elected president. However, that win is clearly not a mandate when you consider that he received nearly 63 million votes to Hillary Clinton's nearly 66 million votes. Add into her votes the ballots cast for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and others and you get to about 74 million people who voted against Trump.
He has not even been sworn in and already there are many warning signs. His background and actions tell us three important things.
1) He is not qualified to do the job, seemingly doesn't want to do the job full-time (he seems to think he only needs to be in Washington, D.C. four days a week and was never a great businessman but really, a good self-promoter. Read this Newsweek article for more (and add Native Americans to the list of people he has insulted.)
2) It is amusing in a sad kind of way to see all these people - from Gates to Paul Ryan to many Christian groups - fall into line thinking that, well, he got elected and he's their guy.
There is no person on this planet who knows what he will do or say at any given time. No one.
Now I believe there are people who know how to manipulate him to get what they want but he has proven to be mercurial, petty and with a shallow knowledge of issues. So good luck to all those who believe he will support their issues except for big business, of course.
When deportation fears keep kids out of preschool: a Florida case study
For a 16 year-old, Armando Bautista knows a lot about cucumbers.
As a small child he helped his parents, both migrant farmworkers in the U.S. illegally, plant and pick cucumbers in vast fields from Michigan to Florida. The high schooler now has his hopes set on being a mechanic. But these days he spends his time worrying about his parents and how his little sister’s preschool attendance is putting his family in jeopardy.
"My parents don’t have papers and I worry about them every day before they go to work," he said. "They could get stopped by the police and they could get deported and, like, who would take care of my brothers and sisters?"
Bautista’s parents have picked strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers and just about every U.S. grown crop over the last two decades in farms around the country. They move, children and all, as crop seasons change. They always spend winters in Florida.
For children of migrant farmworker families, life can be tough. Older kids are enrolled in local public schools, and may change schools multiple times in a year. But children under 5 were often taken by parents to the farms, running alongside as they worked. This was not only dangerous, it was far from a stimulating early childhood experience.
In 1969 Congress recognized those challenges and created a special branch of the Head Start program specifically to serve the children of farmworkers. In South Florida, the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) has run head start centers for children of farmworkers since 1981. It’s one of these very centers that the youngest Bautista child attends.
And over the last few months, 16-year-old Armando has conducted a daily risk assessment of whether the benefits of his little sister’s early education outweigh the risk of his dad simply driving her to and from preschool.
"I say she should go to school so she can learn," Bautista said. "But at the same time it's worrying because my parents could get stopped while just taking [her] to preschool."
It’s a situation that many farmworker families find themselves in, said Lourdes Villanueva, director of programs for RCMA. In fact, for the first time in its history, RCMA is struggling to fill its head start classrooms. This year the program has a gulf of unfilled seats, 43 percent in fact.