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Monday, January 26, 2015

Washington State Democratic Party Overwhelmingly Passes Resolution Opposing Common Core

Washington State Democratic Party Overwhelmingly Passes Resolution Opposing Common Core:

For Immediate Release    January 26 2015
From: David Spring M. Ed., Elizabeth Hanson, M. Ed., & Susan DuFresne BA.
Coalition to Protect our Public Schools

RE: Washington State Democratic Party Passed Resolution Opposing Common Core

On Saturday, January 24 2015, the Washington State Democratic Party Central Committee became the first State Democratic Party in the nation to pass a resolution opposing Common Core State Standards (CCSS). A copy of this resolution is provided at the end of this press release. Speaking in favor of the resolution to oppose Common Core at the Washington State Democratic Party meeting on Saturday were Sarajane Siegfriedt, the chair of the King County Legislative Action Committee and member of the State Resolutions Committee and State Committee Woman from the 46th Legislative District Democrats in North Seattle, Brian Gunn, State Committee Man from the 31st Legislative District Democrats in Auburn and also Chair of the Washington State Progressive Caucus and Richard May, State Committee Man from the 42nd Legislative District Democrats in Bellingham. All spoke passionately about the need for parents to maintain local control over their public schools through their locally elected school board. 

The vote of more than 200 members of the Washington State Democratic Party was overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution – passing by a margin of more than two to one. Previously, the Washington State Republican Party had also passed a resolution opposing Common Core by a huge margin. It is rare that rank and file members of both political parties find themselves in agreement on an issue as important as local control over our public schools. It is now likely that a bill will be introduced in the Washington State legislature to withdraw Washington from the Common Core standards, tests and curriculum. 

Common Core was hastily adopted in Washington State in 2010 before the standards were even available for public review. Now that CCSS has been published, parents and teachers are appalled at how poorly these standards were written and even more appalled that the standards are copyrighted and cannot be changed! 

Despite these glaring drawbacks, this spring 2015, our students in Washington State will be subjected to a Common Core test called SBA – an unfair test which will deliberately label as failures two thirds of the students who take this test. Unfairly labeling young students in the Third Grade as failures is a form of child abuse. As parents and teachers, we ask the Washington State legislature to honor the will of the overwhelming majority of rank and file members of the Washington State Democratic and Republican parties – and withdraw Washington State from Common Core.

For more information, feel free to contact us or visit our website:

David Spring M. Ed., Elizabeth Hanson, M. Ed., & Susan DuFresne BA. Coalition to Protect our Public Schools

Resolution Opposing Common Core 
Passed by the Washington State Democratic Party on Saturday January 24 2015

WHEREAS the copyrighted (and therefore unchangeable) Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of controversial top-down K-12 academic standards that were promulgated by wealthy private interests without research-based evidence of validity and are developmentally inappropriate in the lowest grades; and

WHEREAS, as a means of avoiding the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment prohibition against federal meddling in state education policy, two unaccountable private trade associations--the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)--have received millions of dollars in funding from the Gates Foundation and others to create the CCSS; and

WHEREAS the U.S. Department of Education improperly pressured state legislatures into adopting the Common Core State Standards and high-stakes standardized testing based on them as a condition of competing for federal Race to the Top (RTTT) stimulus funds that should have been based on need; and

WHEREAS as a result of Washington State Senate Bill 6669, which passed the State legislature on March 11, 2010, the Office of the Superintendent of Instruction (OSPI) adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on July 20, 2011; and

WHEREAS this adoption effectively transfers control over public school standardized testing from locally elected school boards to the unaccountable corporate interests that control the CCSS and who stand to profit substantially; and

WHEREAS the Washington State Constitution also calls for public education to be controlled by the State of Washington through our elected State legislature, our elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction and our elected local school boards; and

WHEREAS implementation of CCSS will cost local school districts hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for standardized computer-based tests, new technology, new curricula and teacher training at a time when Washington is already insufficiently funding K-12 Basic Education without proven benefit to students; and WHEREAS some states have already withdrawn from CCSS;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we call upon the Washington State legislature and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withdraw from the CCSS and keep K-12 education student-centered and accountable to the people of Washington State.

Submitted by Sarajane Siegfriedt, Resolutions Chair, 
Passed by the 46th District Democrats October 16, 2014.
Passed by the Washington Democratic Party Central Committee January 24 2015

National School Choice Week Official Dance for 2015

Official Dance for 2015:

There’s so much to celebrate in 2015! National School Choice Week will be America’s largest-ever celebration of effective education options for children.

So, why not join in the festivities by dancing!
Yes, you read that right. For the third year in a row, National School Choice Week is excited to announce an official song and dance moves! In previous years, schools, organizations and even public officials have learned the moves to the official dance…and for 2015, we hope you will, too.

After you learn the moves, perform the dance at your event, and upload a video of your dance performance to YouTube! Make sure to e-mail us the link at, so that we can help promote your video!

Big Education Ape: Got Choice? Ubetcha! - ALL The RIGHT People Celebrate National $chool Choice Week

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea:

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea

“School choice” is a common term you hear from corporate privatizers and right-wing politicians. By “choice,” they usually mean taking money out of public schools to fund and send students to schools that are privately run, often by religious groups. This week, Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, is National School Choice Week, sponsored by ALEC, FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst and other groups. In honor of this weeklong celebration, here are a few examples of why school vouchers are bad policy:

1. Are voucher schools safe?

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea
A federal audit of the Washington, D.C., voucher program found an alarming lack of controls to ensure that the buildings were safe.

2. They teach pretty nutty things

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea
The magazine Mother Jones published a shocking list of things children may be learning at voucher schools in Louisiana, including that humans and dinosaurs lived together. That’s off by about 60 million years.

3. Students underperform

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea
In both Louisiana and Wisconsin, students who attended schools on vouchers performed below the state average on tests. Why would we drain public schools to send students to schools that perform poorly?

4. Where’s the money?

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea
In Milwaukee, a voucher school abruptly closed after collecting $200,000 from taxpayers.

5. Discrimination

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea
Some schools that receive public funds through vouchers can discriminate against gay students and fire a teacher for being gay. Not to mention the schools that give pregnancy tests to students.

6. Science is real

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea

7. Segregation

In Louisiana, the Department of Justice had to sue because the voucher program may have violated desegregation orders.

Vouchers are a bad idea.

To stay updated on vouchers be sure to check out VoucherFail.Tumblr.Com
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Right-Wing Charter Schools Looking For Toehold In Michigan | Crooks and Liars

Right-Wing Charter Schools Looking For Toehold In Michigan | Crooks and Liars:

Right-Wing Charter Schools Looking For Toehold In Michigan

The John Birch Society or some facsimile thereof is on the move, and they're aiming at charter schools in Michigan.
Chris Savage at Eclectablog has an alarming post about it:
Back in 2011, a man named Pasquale “Pat” Battaglia posted a blog entry on the website of the Lapeer County Tea Party Patriots titled “The God and Country Education Project”. In it, he introduces something he calls “American Christian Academies” and denounces the “progressive” movement who he says have taken “less than 3 generations to completely obliterate our schools”.
Fast forward two years to 2013. The American Christian Academies website no longer exists but Battaglia is still trying to set up a charter school to fight off evil progressives. He published an eerily similar post on the Brighton Tea Party’s website, this time titling it “K-12 Tuition Free Classical Academy for Brighton”. Keeping the ACA acronym, Battaglia rebranded his Christian Academy to be a “Classical” Academy. In the post, he uses much the same language but has snipped out references to religion.
The reason for stripping out the religious references is a simple one. With several notable exceptions, public school funds cannot be used to fund religious schools. Yet.
The term "classical education" is just a euphemism for religious education, particularly when the charter school sponsor is Hillsdale College, noted for its "classical" Christian education standards. Hillsdale has been the beneficiary of millions in right-wing grants from the DeVos family and other anonymous conservative donors via donor-advised funds such as Donors Trust and Vanguard Charitable Fund.
Pasquale Battaglia is the kind of guy who categorically has no business heading up any school, much less a charter school designed to mold young minds and steep them in conservative principles. He uses social media as his personal bullhorn to spew more hate into the universe. Here are but a few examples:

Downstate near Holly, Michigan, lives a man named Pasquale “Pat” Battaglia. Self-labeled as a Christian husband father grandfather, he wants to open Hillsdale College-style charter schools in Southeast Michigan. Currently, he is working on securing a building to open a school in Brighton and another is projected to open in Warren in 2015. These schools according to him are based on the Hillsdale Academy model, which the college publishes reference manuals for $100 a pop so you too can run a for-profit charter school cleverly disguised as a Christian private school that fleeces public tax dollars.
Right-Wing Charter Schools Looking For Toehold In Michigan | Crooks and Liars:

Costs of Teach for America - Substance News

Costs of Teach for America - Substance News:

The true cost of Teach For America... Millions of dollars are being wasted by urban school districts paying TFA its 'finder's fees'

[Editor's introduction. This stunning analysis from The American Prospect should close the book on the two decades of hypocrisy coming from the ruling class and the massive dollars behind Wendy Kopp and "Teach for America." We are reprinting it here as soon as it came to our attention so that our readers can begin to challenge more aggressively the immense costs of TFA not only in Chicago, but wherever TFA is still hustling. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].
Teach for America is really not providing long-term solutions to the public schools of America's cities, but in fact has become a training ground for the bureaucrats who will staff boards of education and politicians. TFA has been training the cadre of corporate "school reform," not teachers for the children of America's cities. Rachel M. Cohen/The American Prospect from TFA data The True Cost of Teach For America's Impact on Urban Schools
Why are school districts paying millions in "finder's fees" to an organization that places people without education degrees to teach in urban schools—even where applications from veteran teachers abound?
In debates over education policy in urban school districts, few topics are more contentious than the role played by Teach For America, the national organization that recruits elite college graduates to teach in low-income urban and rural schools for two years. It is not uncommon to hear veteran teachers, who majored in education and often have advanced degrees, complain that their profession is diminished by what they see as a preference for TFA recruits who did not study education. Parents are heard to question the qualifications and commitment of TFA’s novice educators, given the assumption that their sign-up for a two-year stint suggests only a fleeting interest in teaching. And both veteran teachers and parents sometimes bemoan the fact that the racial and ethnic make-up of the TFA corps rarely matches that of the students they are assigned to teach. Advocates maintain that Teach For America provides well-educated teachers in areas where recruitment is difficult.
Here Rachel M. Cohen, writing fellow at The American Prospect, explores another area of controversy in the Teach For America program: the start-up costs of hiring a TFA teacher, and the program’s impact on the retention of veteran teachers. -- The Editors
When public school districts hire teachers from Teach For America, they pay a greater upfront cost than if they hire traditional entry-level teachers. This is because TFA charges finder’s fees for every “corps member” they supply. In addition to the salary and benefits school districts pay each teacher, districts also must pay the national organization, typically between $2,000-$5,000 per corps member, per year. Though generally overlooked, these finder’s fees are salient to many of the key issues in the national debate over TFA’s harm and benefit to public education.
In a 2/4/2011 photo, Erin Gavin, a TFA teacher, listens to students during a group discussion with 7th-graders at a Brooklyn Center School in Brooklyn Center, MN. In 2013, MN Governor Dayton vetoed an item that would have granted $1.5 million to TFA, AP Photo/Andy King,To put the finder’s fees in perspective: If one city’s TFA cohort, consisting of 200 corps members, comes with an annual finder’s fee of $4,250 for each teacher recruited from the organization—then that cohort’s two-year commitment will cost the district an additional $1,700,000 in dues to the organization. This is not a trivial sum for school districts experiencing massive budget shortfalls. The TFA hiring contracts are generally non-refundable, even if a teacher turns out to be a serious problem or quits early. Takirra Winfield, the national spokesperson for TFA, says that while the organization has a “pretty clear” no-refund policy in its contracts, there have been some cases where TFA has made exceptions, such as providing a credit to the district for the upcoming year, or giving regional teams discretion as to whether to invoice districts for teachers who leave early.
Teacher retention
Finding excellent teachers who are willing to stay and work in low-performing schools—typically located in high-poverty areas—has been a challenge for school districts across the nation. As a result, the teachers most frequently sent into high-poverty school districts are young novice instructors who are more likely than more seasoned Costs of Teach for America - Substance News:

Got Choice? Ubetcha! - ALL The RIGHT People Celebrate National School Choice Week


Got Choice? Ubetcha! - Celebrating National School Choice Week

National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Group: 1 in 5 charter schools not doing well enough to stay open

A group that oversees more than half of the nation's 5,600 charter schools said as many as one in five U.S. charter schools should be shut down because of poor academic performance.