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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jeb Bush Creations: Newly-packaged “Chiefs for Change” and Relatively-unknown “Excellence in Education National” | deutsch29

Jeb Bush Creations: Newly-packaged “Chiefs for Change” and Relatively-unknown “Excellence in Education National” | deutsch29:

Jeb Bush Creations: Newly-packaged “Chiefs for Change” and Relatively-unknown “Excellence in Education National”

 In March 2013, I wrote a post detailing Jeb Bush’s special cadre of state education superintendents, Chiefs for Change. The purpose of this group is to promote Bush-approved education policies in states nationwide, including the A-F grading of schools, vouchers, charters, virtual schools, and alternative teacher certification.

Since its inception, Chiefs for Change has been umbilically connected to Bush’s nonprofit, Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE).
On March 10, 2015, I wrote about Louisiana Superintendent John White’s assuming the lead for what is a noticeably-shrinking Chiefs for Change. Also on March 10, 2015Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton wrote that Chiefs for Change would be breaking away from FEE:
Chiefs for Change, an advocacy group created by former Florida governor Jeb Bush to promote many of his K-12 education policies around the country, is breaking away from its origins and expanding to try to attract big city school leaders.
Chiefs for Change announced Tuesday that it was splitting from the Foundation for Excellence in Education, created by Bush in 2008. The advocacy group said it will no longer receive financial support from the foundation.
Quite the gravy train separation for the few remaining Chiefs.
Chiefs for Change first appears on FEE’s 2010 990 as part of an FEE initiative called “Excellence in Action.” The 2010 990 identifies Chiefs for Change as part of FEE’s Excellence in Action expense of $1.7 million. Included is the following description with the expenditure:
Excellence in Action provides staffing support for Chiefs for Change, a coalition of reform-minded chief state school officers who are leaders in the reform movement.
FEE’s 2011 990 specifies the Chiefs for Change staffing expense as $155,648. By By 2012, FEE paid $594,086 for Chiefs staffing.
In 2012, FEE also paid its first grant to a department of education for one of those “chiefs”: $12,000 to the Louisiana Department of Education for “Common Core communications.”

Companies cash in on Common Core despite controversy

Companies cash in on Common Core despite controversy:

Companies cash in on Common Core despite controversy

We're Fighting an Agenda, Not Just Bills in the Legislature

We're Fighting an Agenda, Not Just Bills in the Legislature:


Oklahoma capitol closed

 We might think that we are fighting particular bills in the legislature. Instead what we’re really fighting is an overarching, well-organized, deeply funded agenda. 

Briefly, here it is with examples of ideas that keep coming up year in and year out in the Oklahoma Legislature:
Make people of modest means pay for benefits for the wealthiest 1%.
–Force low and middle-income taxpayers to pay disproportionately higher taxes than the wealthiest.
–Give tax breaks for the wealthy that don’t significantly apply to lower and middle-income taxpayers.
–Make lower and middle-income taxpayers pay taxes so that the higher income and wealthiest can send their children to private schools that won’t accept children of “those people”.
Use socially divisive methods to keep ordinary people from organizing against the 1%.
–Lead in campaigns for office with socially divisive issues like anti-abortion, anti-gay promises, then sneak in 3 times more legislation that help the rich.
–Use constant campaign rhetoric that tells lower-income working people to resent unionized workers who have better wages and benefits in order to silence unions that are the political voice of workers.
–Use thinly veiled racial fear comments that increase paranoia and fear of people who are different that you are.
Control the flow of information through mass media ownership.
–Purchase big media corporations to control what gets criticized and investigated.
–Use those big media outlets to attack smaller alternative publications that won’t comply with the world view of the wealthiest 1%.
Consolidate control of government in a smaller, centralized group who are efficiently controlled from the shadows.
–Pass legislation that consolidates more control of government in the hands of the governor. Buy the governor, buy a government.
–Reduce democracy by passing legislation that takes away the power of elected, local government like town and city councils, and school boards.
SB609 is not defeated, just delayed
Today we just learned that the voucher bill, or “Educational Savings Account” Senate Bill 609 has been withdrawn until next year by its We're Fighting an Agenda, Not Just Bills in the Legislature:

Thomas Piketty slams Jeb Bush on education and inequality: “I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy” -

Thomas Piketty slams Jeb Bush on education and inequality: “I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy” -

Thomas Piketty slams Jeb Bush on education and inequality: “I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy”

Economist dings Bush and other Republicans for empty rhetoric about inequality

Data-driven tomes by academic economists rarely spark a popular sensation, but that’s precisely what the French economist Thomas Piketty achieved last year with the publication of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which traced the growth of economic inequality in the U.S. and Europe over the past four centuries. But Piketty’s book was more than a work of economic history: It captured the present political moment, a moment increasingly defined by citizens’ anxieties about the gap between rich and poor. Inequality has so galvanized voters that even Republican presidential candidates like Jeb Bush now decry it, bemoaning the uneven benefits of the economic recovery and lamenting stagnant wages for lower and middle class Americans.
But Piketty is decidedly unimpressed with what he considers Bush and other Republicans’ empty rhetoric. In an interview with MSNBC’s Krystal Ball — set to post online later today — Piketty describes Bush’s approach to the issue as woefully inadequate, criticizing his education proposals and arguing that “there’s a lot of hypocrisy” in the rhetoric of conservatives who condemn inequality while failing to support policies like an increased minimum wage and ramped-up infrastructure spending.
“You’re saying let’s tax the top and invest that money into education for all. [Jeb Bush] is a proponent of school choice, of giving schools vouchers so they can attend public school or private school, whatever they want. Is this a good solution in terms of dealing with what he calls the opportunity gap?” Ball asks Piketty.
“From what I can see, he doesn’t want to invest more resources into education. He just wants more competition… there’s limited evidence that this is working. And I think most of all what we need is to put more public resources in the education system. Again, if you look at the kind of school, high school, community college that middle social groups in America have access to, this has nothing to do with the very top schools and universities that some other groups have access to,” Piketty replies.
What’s needed, Piketty continues, is an emphasis on the lower economic strata.

“[I]f we want to have more growth in the future and more equitable growth in the future, we need to put more resources in the education available to the bottom 50% or 80% of America. So it’s not enough just say it, as Jeb Bush seems to be saying, but you need to act on it, and for this you need to invest resources,” he says.
Asked about claims by Bush and other conservatives that a so-called “skills gap” is responsible for the growth in inequality, Piketty dings that narrative as simplistic.
“The minimum wage today is lower than it was 50 years ago, unions are very weak, so you need to increase the minimum wage in this country today. The views that $7 and hour is the most you can pay low-skilled worker in America today… I think is just wrong — it was more 50 years ago and there was no more unemployment 50 years ago than there is today. So I think we could increase the minimum wage,” Piketty says, adding that the U.S. should also invest in “high-productivity jobs that produce more than the minimum wage.”
Education is important, Piketty acknowledges, but education alone is not enough to ameliorate inequality.
“You need wage policy and you need education policy,” he says. “And in order to have Thomas Piketty slams Jeb Bush on education and inequality: “I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy” -
Big Education Ape: John White Now Chairs Jeb Bush’s Seriously Dwindling “Chiefs for Change” | deutsch29

Mayoral Candidate Chuy Garcia Hosts Logan Square Rally Thursday #‎Chuy2015‬ ‪#‎imwithchuy‬

Mayoral Candidate Chuy Garcia Hosts Logan Square Rally Thursday - Logan Square - Chicago:

Mayoral Candidate Chuy Garcia Hosts Logan Square Rally Thursday

 LOGAN SQUARE —Mayoral candidate Chuy Garcia has scheduled stop in Logan Square Thursday to rally supporters ahead of the April 7 election.

Garcia’s “Rally for the Neighborhood” starts at 6 p.m. March 12 at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd.
In the Feb. 24 election, Garcia, a Little Village resident, attracted strong support around Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Hermosa — a base of support second only to the city’s Southwest Side, according to voting data.
That support is bolstered by incoming 35th Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who swept the ward vote against Ald. Rey Colon on a progressive platform that included a pledge to support Garcia’s campaign for mayor. Garcia has a campaign office in Logan Square.
The Thursday rally will be followed by a neighborhood canvassing event organized to “build the movement to put out communities and working families first,” according to an announcement.
Garcia faces Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the runoff contest.
The campaign ask those interested in helping canvass following the Thursday rally to call 773-270-5970 or email

State Board Suspends School Accountability on Common Core - ABC News

State Board Suspends School Accountability on Common Core - ABC News:

State Board Suspends School Accountability on Common Core

 The California Board of Education suspended the state's school accountability system on Wednesday for one year to give teachers and students time to adjust to new standardized tests aligned with Common Core standards.

The board voted at a meeting in Sacramento not to produce an Academic Performance Index for the 2014-15 school year. The index uses student results on statewide tests to rank schools and to identify those that need improvement.
School board President Michael Kirst said the state wants to make sure it is measuring student growth, not just baseline performance, on the new Smarter Balanced tests.
The Common Core benchmarks adopted by a majority of states around the nation have come under fire in recent years, largely from conservatives who decry them as a federal infringement on school policy. The standards were approved for implementation by individual states, though the U.S. Department of Education encouraged their adoption through initiatives like Race to the Top.
The new tests have angered some parents and teachers across the nation who say the exams distract from real learning, put added stress on students and staff members, and waste resources, especially in poor districts.
In California, by contrast, the Common Core standards have been largely embraced by district leaders, parents and teacher unions.
Kirst said even if the new test results aren't used on the state index, they will still be reported at the school, district and state level.
"They'll be held accountable to the public," Kirst said.
Several districts, including Los Angeles Unified, the nation's second-largest, requested that this year's assessments not be used for accountability purposes, arguing that students have not had enough time to practice on testing devices and that the new tests could not be reliably compared to the old pencil-and-paper standardized tests that California children took to measure growth.
"We need that next year to look at this issue of growth," said Edgar Zarzueta, LAUSD chief of external affairs.
The Smarter Balanced tests are required to be taken on a computer or tablet. At LAUSD, there were numerous problems when a practice test was administered, including the website crashing and slow connectivity.
Those issues appear to be resolved: The tests are now being administered in 94 Los Angeles schools, and officials said Tuesday there were no major issues.
The tests evaluate students in grades three through eight and 11 in Common Core-aligned English-language arts and math.
Suspending the state's evaluation system means scores in the first year won't be used to take any corrective actions. Numerous parent, teacher and education organizations commented in favor of the delay at Wednesday's meeting.
"We feel that accountability is very important to the public, but it's sensible to delay because the information is not all going to be clear and solid and current and we need the transition time," said Celia Jaffe, education commissioner of the California State PTA.
The decision to suspend California's school accountability system is also part of a larger effort to State Board Suspends School Accountability on Common Core - ABC News:

High School Students Across the Country Are Fighting for Their Rights | Rolling Stone

High School Students Across the Country Are Fighting for Their Rights | Rolling Stone:

High School Students Across the Country Are Fighting for Their Rights
Inside the growing student-led movement for better school policy

Newark Students Union

Newark Student Union Member Levere Terry holds up a sign accusing New Jersey Governor Christie of being a liar during a rally outside the State House in Trenton. Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger/Corbis

On a late afternoon in February, a small crowd forms in front of the public school system administration building in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Cans of Brisk iced tea and a stack of pizza boxes sit beside the front door. The group is busy chanting “Let the kids eat now!” and “Student needs, not corporate greed!” when the door opens and someone announces that the food and drinks will be allowed into Superintendent Cami Anderson’s office. Outside, the crowd cheers and continues chanting. Upstairs, eight members of the Newark Students Union, along with two community organizers, await the donated food as they approach hour 24 of their occupation of the superintendent's office.
Newark high school students formed the Newark Students Union (NSU) in 2012 and are helping lead the city’s struggle against Anderson and for a return to local control of the school system. The state took control of Newark's public school system (NPS) in 1995, and current Governor Chris Christie appointed Anderson in 2011. This fall, she implemented the One Newark plan, which called for the closing and re-siting of some schools. Others were converted into charter schools. The plan also replaced neighborhood-based schools with universal enrollment, in which an undisclosed algorithm matches students to schools. Confronted with mass community opposition, Anderson stopped attending board meetings and refused to meet with those impacted. NSU occupied her office to demand that she meet with the community and resign; a week later, the state announced that it had renewed her contract for another year.
What's happening in Newark is part of a nationwide movement in which organizers are combating school closures, high-stakes testing, and a shift from district schools to privately-run, publicly-funded charters. The Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J), a national organization fighting public school privatization, filed a civil rights complaint arguing that One Newark, as well as restructuring plans in Chicago and New Orleans, discriminates against African-American students, violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An investigation is currently underway. According to a J4J report titled “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” Chicago’s charter school enrollment increased by 33,771 between the 2005-2006 school year and the 2012-2013 year, while district school enrollment dropped by 57,112 in that timespan. 23,341 students were lost. Some students never re-enroll after their school is closed or converted, which J4J argues increases their chances of incarceration. Newark witnessed a loss of 1,000 students over the same period. Meanwhile, faced with a $304 million budget gap, Philadelphia’s superintendentclosed 24 schools in 2013. The Chicago Board of Education voted to close 49 the same year.
Parents, teachers and politicians have long dominated discussions around   Read more: 
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Big Education Ape: The Amazing Students of the Newark Student Union - These Kids Rock! #OccupyNPS #OurNewark

Big Education Ape: Newark Students Union-The Legacy of Cami Anderson #OccupyNPS #OurNewark

Big Education Ape: The Student Heroes of Newark | Daniel Katz

The Leadership Team of the Badass Teachers Association Supports A Parents' Right to Refuse the Test!

Badass Teachers Association:

The Leadership Team of the Badass Teachers Association
Supports A Parents' Right to Refuse the Test! 

The Leadership Team of the Badass Teachers Association would like to publicly state that we support a parents' right to refuse state testing for their children.  As an education activist organization of over 54,000 teachers and parents, we know that the testing our children are subject to under corporate education reform is harmful, invalid, and not being used as an instrument to further instruction.  We strongly object to any education practice that is not rooted in sound pedagogy and is being used as a weapon to harm children and their communities.  We most strongly object that these tests scores are being used to close schools in our poor communities, which are also predominantly our communities of color.  As educators, we will never support assessments that continue to marginalize, blame, and punish our children and their communities.  Therefore, we strongly advise all parents to refuse their children from state testing. When we deny education departments the data, they cannot use it against our children, their communities, or teachers.  REFUSE THE TEST!

The Leadership Team of the Badass Teachers Association has also published a statement against the sit and stare policy.  This abusive policy requires children, who refuse state testing, to sit and stare for hours.  Here is our statement on that policy:

The Leadership Team of the Badass Teachers Association has also published that we are, as an organization, conscientious objectors to state tests that are being used to punish, blame, and fail our children, their communities, and teachers.  You can read that statement here:

We want to tell all our parents and students that WE SUPPORT YOUR RIGHT TO REFUSE HARMFUL TESTING and we also would like to encourage all teachers/parents to REFUSE YOUR OWN CHILDREN FROM TESTING.  Badass Teachers Association:

Parents Can Opt Out - United Opt Out National

Click Here to go to United Opt Out National: 

Click Here to go to the WebsiteUnited Opt Out Team
Click Here to go to the Website FairTest

Left-wing protesters target hedge funds - The Insider Blog | Crain's New York Business

Left-wing protesters target hedge funds - The Insider Blog | Crain's New York Business:

Left-wing protesters target hedge funds

 On Saturday, a cadre of liberal activists from New York City will travel to Greenwich, Conn., to protest outside the home of billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones. It is the first time since the bailouts following the economic crisis of 2008 that city activists have traveled to Connecticut's hedge-fund havens to demonstrate at the homes of the financial elite.

The protesters plan to wield signs and chant slogans that are aggressive, bordering on violent. One image features a photo of Mr. Jones with his head between a set of pruning shears, including the message, "Time to clip some hedges."
Liberal protesters are targeting billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones with images like this.Photo: 
Mr. Jones is being targeted for his financial support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the charter-school movement. In addition to founding the Robin Hood Foundation charity in 1988, Mr. Jones also helped create the Excellence Charter School, the country's first all-boys charter, located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He also donated $500,000 to New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, a pro-charter super-PAC that funded attack ads against Mayor Bill de Blasio last year.
"This is one of the first time activists are targeting these guys in their home," said Jonathan Westin, director of New York Communities for Change, a reform group previously known as Acorn.
Liberal activists are sending around information about Mr. Jones' wealth in advance of Saturday's protest. "Robin Hood or Robber Baron?" it reads before listing Mr. Jones's $4.6 billion net worth, $200 million income last year and $1.6 million in political donations in New York. It also notes his oceanfront properties in Connecticut and Florida, as well as his private game reserve in Tanzania.
The protest is meant to draw attention to political ties between billionaires like Mr. Jones and politicians including Mr. Cuomo and Senate Republicans, whom activists blame for tax breaks given to financial firms and real estate developers, as well as for bills enabling the spread of charter schools.
The group, a coalition of New York Communities for Change, Strong Economy for All and the Alliance for Quality Education, calls itself the Hedge Clippers. It also demonstrated outside a charter-school symposium at the Harvard Club Tuesday.
"We really are living in the new Gilded Age," said Michael Kink, executive director of Strong Economy for All.
As for the violently suggestive image of Mr. Jones's head about to be "clipped," Mr. Kink said the group was "committed to nonviolent protest." Mr. Westin said the image was an allusion to hedge-hemmed mansions of Greenwich.
"These billionaires probably spend more on landscaping each year than many New Yorkers pay in rent," he added.
A spokesman for Mr. Jones declined to comment.
The protest is reminiscent of similar demonstrations held outside the Connecticut homes of AIG executives in 2009 by activists angered by bonuses for the bailed-out insurance giant. Those drew only about 40 people. Mr. Westin said he expects "hundreds" to attend the demonstration this Saturday.Left-wing protesters target hedge funds - The Insider Blog | Crain's New York Business:

When a Teacher’s Job Depends on a Child’s Test - The New Yorker

When a Teacher’s Job Depends on a Child’s Test - The New Yorker:

When a Teacher’s Job Depends on a Child’s Test


Members of New York State United Teachers rally on March 2nd, in Albany.

 If it’s March, it must be test-prep season: next month, New York students in grades three through eight will take the state’s standardized English Language Arts and Mathematics tests: three days of exams devoted to both subjects, lasting for upward of seventy minutes a day. These are often referred to as high-stakes tests because of the impact that the results can have on student promotion, teacher evaluation, and school funding—and the stakes of the tests in New York this year may be pushed higher still. In his State of the State address, delivered at the end of January, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to make education reform a centerpiece of his agenda. “Everyone will tell you, nationwide, the key to education reform is a teacher evaluation system,” the governor said. He noted that while only thirty-eight per cent of New York State high-school students are deemed to be “college ready,” according to their scores on standardized tests, 98.7 per cent of teachers in New York’s schools are rated “effective.” “How can that be?” Cuomo asked. “Who are we kidding, my friends? The problem is clear and the solution is clear. We need real, accurate, fair teacher evaluations.”
That teachers should be evaluated is an assertion with which no reasonable person involved with education—from a policy-maker to a parent—is likely to disagree. But how teachers might best be evaluated remains a contested science. In New York City, a system that incorporates a range of metrics, called Advance, was adopted in 2013. Students’ results in state tests account for twenty per cent of a teacher’s rating, but the teacher’s curriculum materials are also evaluated, as is his or her classroom practice, which is observed on multiple visits throughout the year by the school principal or another observer.
In his remarks, Cuomo dismissed the methods of evaluation currently in place as “baloney,” and stated his intention to institute a new set of measures. If his proposals are approved along with the rest of the state budget ahead of the annual April 1st deadline, fifty per cent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on his or her students’ scores on the annual state tests, with the remaining fifty per cent heavily weighted to include the assessment of an outside observer after a one-time visit. The judgment of the school principal will count for just fifteen per cent of a teacher’s effectiveness rating. Any teacher deemed ineffective for two consecutive years may be fired.
Cuomo’s faith in the results of state tests as the best measure of the abilities of both students and teachers is not universally shared. Among those who have dissented is New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. (Assembly Democrats are also reportedly opposed.) In testimony to a joint legislative budget committee in Albany, de Blasio warned that “excessive reliance on high-stakes testing is troubling. Standardized tests should not be the largest part of a full evaluation of a student or a teacher.” The mayor pointed out that test scores might be tipped downward by only a very small variation in student performance from year to year. With their livelihoods potentially in jeopardy over such minor variation, teachers will be obliged to teach to the test, he said, rather than “teaching for learning.” Teachers themselves are warning that, under such conditions, they will be obliged to narrow their curricula, forgoing collaborative science projects for worksheet drills. Other observers have pointed out that When a Teacher’s Job Depends on a Child’s Test - The New Yorker: