Monday, April 22, 2019

Republican Teachers: Tell legislators to support public education | Live Long and Prosper

Republican Teachers: Tell legislators to support public education | Live Long and Prosper

Republican Teachers: Tell legislators to support public education


Indiana’s Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick, was careful to speak in non-partisan terms when she visited Fort Wayne last week. She didn’t call out one specific party for its anti-public education legislation, even though everyone in Indiana knows that the Republicans are doing their best to privatize and skimp on funding for public education.
McCormick is a Republican.
McCormick’s predecessor, Glenda Ritz, was also a Republican before she ran for the Superintendent’s position in 2012. She took office, however, as a Democrat…and ran into the wall of the Republican Supermajority for everything she wanted to do for public schools in Indiana.
In the 2016 election, Ritz and McCormick had similar platforms. McCormick, however, said that she could get things done because she was a Republican. She could talk to the members of her own party and get them to understand what public schools and public school teachers needed. She tried, but she was also stopped by the Republican legislators.
It doesn’t take the logic of Spock to deduce that the Republicans in the Indiana legislature are against public education. For the last dozen years the Republicans in the Indiana House and Senate have introduced and passed legislation aimed at funding vouchers and charters, deprofessionalizing the teaching profession, and starving public education.
But Glenda Ritz was a Republican before she was a Democrat, and she supported public education…and Jennifer McCormick is a Republican and she supports CONTINUE READING: Republican Teachers: Tell legislators to support public education | Live Long and Prosper



Badass Teachers Association Blog: Cower and the World Cowers With You; Stand Up and You Stand Alone

Badass Teachers Association Blog: Cower and the World Cowers With You; Stand Up and You Stand Alone

Cower and the World Cowers With You; Stand Up and You Stand Alone


The blog post you are about to read may be painful to digest, but carries some hard truths.
Teachers in public schools have been under siege since the 1983 President Reagan Report,
“A Nation At Risk.” This report heralded in an era of privatization of public entities, and planted the seed to privatize public education.
A few decades later Corporate policies have nearly obliterated America’s Public Schools; a former Public Social Institution is now run as a business and Principal teachers have been replaced with CEOs.
There have been many casualties as a result of this Corporate Reform run approach to public schools. Experienced older teachers were summarily eliminated while their colleagues stood by, and younger less experienced teachers were hired who came through the ranks of Corporate-sponsored “Education” programs with Teach for America being the most well-known.
What may not be apparent about this culling of teachers is that many of them were victims of Workplace Bullying. While most teachers acknowledge there are Administrators who engage in bullying behaviors, what is not usually acknowledged is the accompanying bullying by fellow colleagues.

Nurses, social workers, and teachers are the most likely to participate in bullying their colleagues, the so-called “Caring Professions.” (1) Surprised to learn this?  Most people are. Perhaps that is why it catches so many people off-guard because they see teachers as part of a caring and nurturing profession.
This bullying by colleagues can take several forms.  The most common being active participants or by being passive bystanders.  Passive bystanders? How on Earth can they be responsible for workplace bullying of their colleagues?
According to the Alberta Bullying Research, Resources and Recovery Centre this bullying by bystanders often manifests itself as “moral disengagement.”  People develop standards that guide their moral behavior; what they will or will not do according to their own personal CONTINUE READING: Badass Teachers Association Blog: Cower and the World Cowers With You; Stand Up and You Stand Alone



Things Didn’t Go Well When Betsy DeVos Was Confronted With Her Department’s Charter School Fraud - LA Progressive

Things Didn’t Go Well When Betsy DeVos Was Confronted With Her Department’s Charter School Fraud - LA Progressive

Things Didn’t Go Well When Betsy DeVos Was Confronted With Her Department’s Charter School Fraud



uring a series of recent congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had to respond to a recent report finding the U.S. Department of Education has been scammed for hundreds of millions of dollars by fraudulent or mismanaged charter schools. Her responses reveal not only her inability to counter legitimate concerns over the spread of charter schools but also the charter school industry’s resistance to honestly address a chronic problem with its schools.
The report, which I co-authored with Network for Public Education Executive Director Carol Burris, found that up to $1 billion awarded by the federal government’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) went to charter schools that never opened or opened for only brief periods before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, and fraud. Our calculation was that a least a third of the $4.1 billion spent by the CSP was wasted.

Members of Congress repeatedly referred to these findings when questioning the secretary’s management of charter school grants and her proposal to increase funding for the program to $500 million annually. In response, DeVos first attempted to deny the problem, saying, “You are always going to have schools that don’t make it.”
When Democratic representatives continued their questions, DeVos then tried to distract attentionfrom the problem, arguing there was a need for “more” charters, “not less.”
In the most recent exchange, DeVos pivoted to attacking the report authors personally rather than disproving their findings, saying, “The study was really funded by and promoted by those who have a political agenda against charter schools.”
That final exchange in particular raised the hackles of my coauthor Burris, who quickly delved deeper into the data to find that incidents of financial fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the charter school grant program are likely worse than our first estimate.

Federal Money Wasted on Defunct Charters Is Actually Worse

DeVos’ lame defense of the federal government’s charter school grant program before Congress should draw more scrutiny of the program rather than alleviate concerns.

DeVos’ lame defense of the federal government’s charter school grant program before Congress should draw more scrutiny of the program rather than alleviate concerns.
By denying, distracting, and personally attacking the report authors, she encouraged us to delve further into the evidence that much of the money awarded by the program went to charter schools that are, at best, bungling attempts to start up education businesses that should never have been financed to begin with or, at worst, scam operations that willfully intended to make off with taxpayer money and not suffer any negative consequences.

Recommendations to reform California's charter school law

Recommendations to reform California's charter school law

Panel faces tight deadline to recommend reforms of California’s charter school law
Task force has until July 1 to come up with solutions


Each Thursday a group of educators and representatives of labor unions meets — out of the public eye — for several hours at the California Department of Education building in Sacramento to take on arguably the most contentious current issue on California’s education reform landscape: charter school reform.
Known as the Charter Task Force, it was set up by newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond in March at the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The 11 members of the task force, with Thurmond facilitating their discussions, have what some might view as a nearly impossible task — coming up with recommendations by July 1 on tough issues that have been simmering in California for years, but have exploded on the state’s public policy agenda largely as a result of heightened teacher activism in Oakland, Los Angeles and other districts.
With over 1,300 charter schools serving over 10 percent of California’s public school children, the stakes are high. The Charter Task Force, so far, has focused on two of the most difficult issues: who can authorize charter schools and whether school districts can take the financial impact of charter schools into account in deciding whether to grant or renew a charter.
Under current law, county boards of education or even the State Board of Education can overrule decisions by local school districts to deny a charter school application. Teachers’ unions have argued that school districts should have the final say and that districts should be able to consider the financial impact of charter schools during the authorizing process. Some charter school advocates, in turn, worry that such reforms could not only halt charter expansion, but potentially kill the entire sector.
The focus during task force meetings has been hearing from a range of experts and school districts with the goal of “making sure all task force members have the same understanding of the trends and practices regarding charter schools in California,” Thurmond said.
One feature of the task force is that it is not open to the public.
“I care about transparency as much as anyone else,” Thurmond said. “I wish there were a way to have everyone in the state involved in the group, but at the end of the day, we also want to find a balance, to have a workable group.”
Just six weeks ago Gov. Newsom signed a bill requiring greater transparency in charter school operations. Asked why the task force shouldn’t be similarly “transparent,” CONTINUE READING: Recommendations to reform California's charter school law
Thurmond said that he is working on ways for the public to provide input. That includes setting up an email account that people can send information to (chartertaskforce@cde.ca.gov). He said he has also been in touch with parent groups and hopes to figure out a way for students to provide input.




Some North Carolina Schools Cancel May 1 Classes as Teachers Set to Protest

Some North Carolina Schools Cancel May 1 Classes as Teachers Set to Protest

Some North Carolina Schools Cancel May 1 Classes as Teachers Set to Protest


The four largest school districts in North Carolina canceled their May 1 classes because many of their teachers will be flocking to the state’s capital for a May Day protest.
May 1, or May Day, was chosen as the International Workers Day by socialists and communists.
The Raleigh News and Observer reported earlier in April that the number of employees taking a day off for the protest is so high that they’ve canceled classes. Other districts are staying open, asking that a small delegation travels to the protest instead.
State lawmakers applauded the districts that kept schools open.
“We don’t think it’s appropriate or healthy to keep hundreds of thousands of students out of the classroom, especially when education funding is at a historic high and teacher funding has increased at the third-highest rate in the entire country,” Pat Ryan, a spokesman for state Senate leader Phil Berger, told the Observer.
The May Day protest is organized by the Red for Ed movement, which is a headed by Noah Karvelis, a 24-year-old socialist in his second year as a teacher in Arizona. Karvelis spoke at the Socialism 2018 conference last year.
The Red for Ed movement is coordinated and funded by the largest labor union in the United States, the National Education Association (NEA). Red CONTINUE READING: Some North Carolina Schools Cancel May 1 Classes as Teachers Set to Protest

Later school bells, alternative testing: California lawmakers try again on quashed K-12 bills | CALmatters

Later school bells, alternative testing: California lawmakers try again on quashed K-12 bills | CALmatters

Later school bells, alternative testing: California lawmakers try again on quashed K-12 bills 


California hit the snooze button last year on legislation that would have let middle and high school students sleep in a little longer. The later—and, experts say, healthier—school start time would have been a national first had Gov. Jerry Brown not vetoed it.
This year, Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino of La CaƱada Flintridge, author of Senate Bill 328, is bringing that bill back. And he’s not the only one looking for a do-over on bills that would impact California school kids.
From funding to testing to charter school regulations, many legislators this session are reviving past education proposals that either stalled at the Capitol or fell to the stroke of Brown’s veto pen. 
It’s not unusual for a bill to be run up the flagpole more than once before a majority of state lawmakers pass it. This year, however, the political landscape on education has shifted, both because of big electoral victories in November for legislative Democrats and California teachers’ unions and because, for the first time in eight years, the Golden State has a governor with small children.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a father of four who was elected with strong labor backing, has already signed into law a charter school bill that had been vetoed by Brown twice, requiring charters to follow the same open-meeting and conflict of interest laws as traditional public schools. Other hotly debated charter regulation proposals this session include a bill vetoed twice by Brown that would prohibit districts from operating charters outside of their geographic boundaries.
Meanwhile, hotly debated legislation that would essentially prohibit low-income schools from hiring teachers through programs such as Teach For America passed the Assembly Education Committee this year after fizzling out last year without any hearings.
Also up for re-examination are school funding proposals that were viewed as nonstarters in years past, due to the likelihood of pushback in the Legislature from Republicans and moderate Democrats. This year, Democrats not only control the Capitol, but have mega-majorities in both legislative chambers, with anti-tax conservatives fairly solidly outnumbered.
So in the Senate, legislators are advancing a long-sought proposal to lower the threshold of votes school districts need to pass local parcel taxes, from two-thirds to 55%. The authors of Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 have said that Democrats’ supermajorities offer reassurance that the effort will have the required two-thirds votes in the Assembly and Senate to put a referendum on the 2020 ballot.
Its passage would be consequential, both for schools and taxpayers. The number of local school bond measures has exploded since the voter permission threshold for that kind of public borrowing was similarly lowered. Voters have passed more than 85% of local school bond measures since 2012, while parcel taxes remain a more uncertain and infrequent gamble for schools.
The school start time bill, which the Assembly Education Committee will discuss Wednesday, was one of the most CONTINUE READING: Later school bells, alternative testing: California lawmakers try again on quashed K-12 bills | CALmatters

Minus 5: How a Culture of Grades Degrades Learning | radical eyes for equity

Minus 5: How a Culture of Grades Degrades Learning | radical eyes for equity

Minus 5: How a Culture of Grades Degrades Learning


About midway through my first 18 years in education as a high school English teacher, I had mostly de-graded and de-tested my courses except, of course, for having to comply with mandates such as midterm/final exams and course grades.
At some point, my students and I began to openly parody grade culture in a sort of wink-wink-nod-nod way that included my saying “Minus 5!” any time a student offered an incorrect answer during a class discussion.
We all smiled and laughed.
As I approach the same amount of time in the second wave of my career as an educator, now a university professor at a selective college, I continue to use that skit, adding at times a “Plus 10!” with exuberance when someone offers something really thoughtful.
My college students are hyper-students, having been very successful in school for many years while receiving as well as expecting high grades because of the student-skills they have developed.
Despite my careful and detailed explanations upfront that I do not grade and do not give tests, these college students struggle, some times mightily, in a de-graded classroom. Once, for example, a student emailed me about how to make up the “minus 5” I had taken away in the class discussion.
This semester in my educational foundations course and an upper-level writing/research course, many of the greatest flaws with grading culture have sprung up once again.
Even as we approach the end of the semester, I have had several students email me asking for extensions on submitting their major essay. I have to carefully reply that the concept of an extension isn’t relevant in a course that doesn’t grade and is grounded in the requirement that all assignments must be completed fully (and ideally on time) and resubmitted in a final portfolio.
In all of my courses, essays must also be submitted in multiple drafts or I cap the final course grade.
I explain repeatedly to my students that we are here to learn and that if I focus on artifacts of their learning while requiring that all work be CONTINUE READING:Minus 5: How a Culture of Grades Degrades Learning | radical eyes for equity

Schools Matter: Kansas Parents Take on Summit Learning

Schools Matter: Kansas Parents Take on Summit Learning

Kansas Parents Take on Summit Learning

This is not about education. This is about plans to make education for-profit and to minimize overhead by gradually rendering human teachers -- and brick and mortar schools -- obsolete. --pjc (top comment at New York Times story)

 Summit Learning, which is a Silicon Valley business scheme to depersonalize school learning (see explanations gathered here), save money on teachers and facilities, and to make more tech millionaires, has been around since 2003.  In 2014, the sociopathic Mark Zuckerberg got personally involved, and it wasn't long after that he started buying up politicians in Kansas and other places that had no clue what an insidious, destructive, and oppressive system of schooling that was about to be foisted on their children.

The New York Times has done a bang-up story on what is happening in Kansas, where parents and students are striking back against their compromised school officials and the Silicon Valley oligarchs who have bought them.  A clip:


. . . .Silicon Valley had come to small-town Kansas schools — and it was not going well.
“I want to just take my Chromebook back and tell them I’m not doing it anymore,” said Kallee Forslund, 16, a 10th grader in Wellington.
Eight months earlier, public schools near Wichita had rolled out a web-based platform and CONTINUE READING: Schools Matter: Kansas Parents Take on Summit Learning

CURMUDGUCATION: Guest Post: The True Cost of College

CURMUDGUCATION: Guest Post: The True Cost of College

Guest Post: The True Cost of College


I've known Beth Pfohl for years. She was a top student in my Honors English class, and years before that I cast her as Annie in our community theater production. When she was a senior, I installed her as editor of the yearbook. She's an exceptional human being. Beth is currently finishing up her college education at Miami of Ohio, and it is from that vantage point that she wrote the following post for her own blog, which I am reprinting here with her permission.

I am heartbroken, and I am furious.

So you know what, I’m going to discuss the forbidden topic: money, and more specifically the absurd amount American students must pay for quality university educations.

You might ask, “Why today?”


Because today my heart broke, not for myself, but for someone I love. Today, she had to say goodbye to her dream school, not because she wasn’t accepted. Not because the reality when visiting the school was a disappointment. Not because it was too far away from home. Not because she is lacking support from her family. Not because she hasn’t saved up enough money.

Because college is too damn expensive.

This open letter isn’t meant to be about me, but I think it would not leave as great an impact if I did not speak in specifics.

I am a senior, graduating in May from Miami University (Ohio). I absolutely love this school and CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Guest Post: The True Cost of College


Walton-Funded Reformers Stealing Union from Black Parents? | Cloaking Inequity

Walton-Funded Reformers Stealing Union from Black Parents? | Cloaking Inequity

Walton-Funded Reformers Stealing Union from Black Parents? 

I might be partially to blame for this one. Several years ago I was invited by the National Urban League to serve on a panel about education and school choice. The panelists included Steve Perry and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. Watch the panel here. I stressed community-based solutions for education instead of privatization and private control. Well, I found out after the panel that it was funded by the Walton Family Foundation. After I came off the stage, a high-level representative from the Walton said to me “Julian, we agree on more than we disagree on.” I looked on, not knowing how to respond. I had never thought of my thinking about community-based reform as being aligned with the Walton Family Foundation’s agenda. The representive said it again and reached out to shake my hand, “Julian, we agree on more than we disagree on.” I looked on again. Well, now the comment is making more and more sense. I wrote some time ago about this emerging astroturf (fake grassroots) strategy when I discussed Innovate, a Walton Funded “community-based” organization. Today I am publishing an exclusive letter about reformers stealing a community-based parents union from Mona Davids, a Black parent and one of the original founders of the original National Parents Union.

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‘The Hypocrisy of the Education Reform Movement

There is a quote that is erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein.  The author is unknown but there are citations to the quote appearing since 1982.  The quote:
“The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” – Unknown
While the author is unknown, the quote reminds me of Education Reformers and the moneyed foundations that fund their AstroTurf organizations.
I have lost count of the defunct local and national AstroTurf organizations during my decade of being an independent, grassroots, unbought and unbossed, parent advocate.  The inauthenticity, arrogance, chicanery and lies, of the many AstroTurf organizations seeded by tens of millions of dollars is what inevitably leads to their failure and downfall.
For those that do not know me, I am a New York City parent.  I am the founder of the New York City Parents Union.  My two children have both attended district schools and charter schools.  I fight for the rights of students and parents in the district schools and charters.  I fight for a parent’s right to choose the school that best fits the educational needs of their child. I hold district schools and charters accountable to the parents and for educating our children.  I fight for school funding and I fight for parents to have a seat at the education policy table.  The only side I belong to is the side of students and their parents.  I am not paid by anyone and I do not have contracts with anyone.  Nobody controls me.  Nobody can bully me.  Nobody can silence me.  You can find my receipts here.
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The arrogance and hypocrisy of many (not all) education reformers, their billionaire funders and their AstroTurf leaders who purport to care and advocate for low income, Black and Hispanic parents, is always exposed.  They shoot themselves in the foot every time.
Walton Family Foundation (Walton), Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and John King’s latest, grand, national AstroTurf group, they are planning to launch is to be called the National Parents Union.  Read Walton’s document about the new AstroTurf here.
The problem is the National Parents Union already exists and was founded in 2012.  I know because I am a founding member and it is incubated under the New York City Parents Union since 2012.
 
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The president is supposed to be Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo, a White woman from Boston.  She is not Latina although she purposely misleads everyone to think she is.  Rodrigues Lorenzo is founder of Mass Parents United, that was created in 2017.  She is the former Massachusetts state director for the defunct, AstroTurf, Families for Excellent Schools. The ones responsible for the biggest, most expensive, education reform defeat in history.  It was epic.  Not only did the parents and people of Massachusetts see through and reject their hypocrisy, but the chicanery, corrupt, unethical and illegal actions of the education reformers resulted in historic huge fines and banishment from Massachusetts.
The other co-founder is supposed to be Alma Marquez from California who heads up another AstroTurf.  Marquez clearly has failed because education reform defeats in California keep coming with school districts seeking charter moratoriums.  Even high school students are speaking out against charters and for charter moratoriums in California.  Walton has wasted their millions on AstroTurfs in California and Massachusetts led by the same people they plan on giving more millions to steal and hijack a grassroots parents group name.
The new AstroTurf’s advisory board include John King, the former New York State Commissioner of Education, who was chased out of New York by parents and did a phenomenal job of disrespecting grassroots parents throughout the state resulting in the OptOut Movement.  Because of King, everything education reform related CONTINUE READING: 
Walton-Funded Reformers Stealing Union from Black Parents? | Cloaking Inequity


Oregon Teachers Plan “Day of Action” for May 8th; Four Districts Already to Close That Day | deutsch29

Oregon Teachers Plan “Day of Action” for May 8th; Four Districts Already to Close That Day | deutsch29
Oregon Teachers Plan “Day of Action” for May 8th; Four Districts Already to Close That Day


On April 04, 2019, the Oregon Education Association (OEA) announced a “day of action” scheduled for May 08, 2019:
Educators across the state are coming together to advocate for students and fully funding our schools on May 8th. We’re walking out, rallying, and calling on lawmakers to INVEST in schools. Contact your local union, PTA, or email OEA – help@oregoned.org to get involved.
Rallies are planned for the cities of Portland, Salem Eugene, and Medford.
Schools in Eugene and Portland are already planning to close due to staffing shortages, including Eugene’s 4J and Bethel school districts and Portland Public Schools and Portland’s North Clackamas school district.
Some auxiliary services may still be available for May 08, 2019, in some districts, including providing free lunch at some Eugene 4J school sites as well as coordinating child care options.
According to KVAL-TV, May 08, 2019, will be an unpaid day for Eugene’s 4J school district teachers, and students will not be required to make up for the missed day. Portland Public Schools has already determined that students will have to make up the missed day. Meanwhile, in Portland’s North Clackamas school district, the school board has yet to determine whether to extend the school year by one day to make up for the May 08, 2019, closure, a decision the North Clackamas board will address in its April 25, 2019, meeting. North Clackamas will also address what auxiliary services it will offer on May 08, 2019.
According to KPIC-TV, administration and maintenance personnel will still report for work at Eugene’s Bethel school district.
As one can tell, the story of specific Oregon school closures, make-up days, and auxiliary services offered on May 08, 2019, is still developing.
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School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

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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.

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