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Saturday, July 4, 2015

NEA Will Seize this Moment to Demand an End to Institutional Racism

NEA Will Seize this Moment to Demand an End to Institutional Racism:

Guest Blog: The NEA Will Seize this Moment to Demand an End to Institutional Racism

This week, NEA’s Representative Assembly took an important step to address the scourge of racism in America. RA delegates approved a new business initiative calling for redoubled efforts to end the barriers that stand between our nation’s students and their opportunities to realize their full potential. NEA Executive Committee member, Dr. Kevin Gilbert, shared a poignant reflection in support of the passage of the NBI to address institutional racism. Dr. Gilbert’s words express our collective hopes and dreams for the future of our children and our nation. NEA and its leadership stand united in support of social justice issues and this critical new business item.
Lily Eskelsen García, NEA President @Lily_NEABecky Pringle, Vice President @BeckyPringlePrincess R. Moss, Secretary-Treasurer @PrincessRMossJohn C. Stocks, Executive Director @johnstocksGreg Johnson, NEA Executive Committee @GregJohnsonNEAMaury Koffman, NEA Executive Committee @Maury_KoffmanJoyce Powell, NEA Executive Committee @joycepowell_NEAGeorge Sheridan, NEA Executive CommitteeEarl Wiman, NEA Executive Committee
The NEA Will Seize this Moment to Demand an End to Institutional Racism
There are few moments in history when circumstances provide the opportunity to create meaningful change in our society. When opportunities present themselves, those with the will and desire must seize the moment. We were all shocked by the senseless act of violence committed against nine innocent citizens of this country. The crime was committed by a man who had hate in his heart—a man whose destiny was to force the nation to again consider its ugly racial past and its future where the humanity and dignity of persons is yet to be fully realized. In this respect, June 17, 2015, will be forever etched in the nation’s collective memory. For me, though, the next day, June 18, was just as significant. I drove my nine-year-old son to our church summer ministry program, and as we listened to news commentators try to make sense of what happened the previous day. My son, in turn, asked me questions that I could not fully answer, questions that broke my heart:
“Dad, why did he do that?”
“Dad, why does he hate black people?”
“Dad, will he be forgiven?”
After dropping him off at our church, my mind went back to one of the most vivid memories I have from my youth. In the 1970’s, on a visit with my grandparents in Mississippi, we were awakened in the middle of the night and rushed outside of the house because someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail through the window of my grandparents’ bedroom. I later found out that there were some people in the area that were not happy with the fact that my grandparents were living in “their” neighborhood. I had questions. And my dad did for me what I would have to do for my son thirty-nine years later.
My father had the same conversation with me that his father had with him when he was selected as one of a group of African American students to integrate the local all-white high school in the mid 60’s. My son has questions. I have questions. My father had questions. The cycle to rationalize the irrational seems, then, to never end. And yet, we can’t allow the irrational to overwhelm progress. We must remain diligent in our responses to racial tragedy. The range of events, from the death of Travon Martin, to the murder of the Mother Emmanuel Nine as the victims of the Charleston tragedy are now being called, has raised the consciousness of our nation, and now it is time to act.
Today, epitomizes the leadership’s capacity for excellence when “the members of the National Education Association acknowledge the existence in our country of institutional racism—the societal patterns and practices that have the net effect of imposing oppressive conditions and denying rights, opportunity, and equity based on race … and the manifestation of institutional racism in our schools and in the conditions our students face in their communities …”
Today, the delegates at the NEA Representative Assembly spoke loudly and said “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!” The time has come for us to “use our collective voice to bring to light and demand change to polices, programs, and practices that condone or ignore unequal treatment and hinder student success.” We will equip NEA members and our national, state, and local leaders with the skills necessary to have these courageous conversations and advocate purposefully. We will create space for NEA Will Seize this Moment to Demand an End to Institutional Racism:

Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: Pint Sized Common Core | commoncorediva

Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: Pint Sized Common Core | commoncorediva:

Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: Pint Sized Common Core

Anti CCSS Warriors, just in time for the 4th of July, the latest ‘Zero to 3 State Baby Facts’for each of the 50 states are out. So be ready to ‘rumble’!
The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families:
Their mission statement per the above website address is, “ZERO TO THREE is a national, nonprofit organization that provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development.”
In Anti CC Warrior terms, the above means social and emotional learning, development, and the like are included. It means lots of policy makers and educational decisions are also being made. The Zero to Three Center is also connected to ‘Early Head Start’ (which is a community based, federally funded program). Between the two entities, all 50 states are serviced via over 740 programs. Home visitations are among these services.
From the Zero/Three’s FAQ page:
What is the relationship between the EHS National Resource Center and ZERO TO THREE?        
The Early Head Start National Resource Center (EHS NRC) was created in 1995 by the Head Start Bureau and the Administration for Children and Families. Since its inception, the EHS NRC center has been operated by ZERO TO THREE in Washington, DC. The EHS NRC is a storehouse of early childhood expertise that promotes the building of new knowledge and the sharing of information. See the EHS NRC ‘About Us’ section or email

How many programs does Early Head Start include?           
Early Head Start, a federally funded community-based program for low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers up to age 3, has 745 programs in all 50 Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: Pint Sized Common Core | commoncorediva:

An Insult to Teachers - The New York Times

An Insult to Teachers - The New York Times:

An Insult to Teachers

In “No Teachers Are Required for Grading Common Core” (news article, June 23)we have final confirmation on the state of the teaching profession today. We prepare our teachers poorly in programs that are rarely rigorous and almost never useful to the practitioner; we pay them far less than what other professionals make while simultaneously requiring them to obtain more and more specialized degrees; we tell teachers that we will evaluate them fairly based on standardized test results from students; and now we hire former wedding planners to grade those tests so we can rate those teachers.
Doesn’t anyone recognize the insanity of public education these days? How can we make the claim that teaching at any level is a profession when there is every indication that our public policy treats it in such an insulting fashion?
It is small wonder the most accomplished students from the college ranks predominantly seek other avenues of employment. Can you imagine doctors having their performance be judged on some standard operation, a dubious premise to begin with, and then have the results be evaluated by — what — truck drivers? I happen to love truck drivers, and I know they would be the first to tell us they don’t want to rate doctors or have doctors rate them, so why is it O.K. for teachers?
Of course it’s always the money, isn’t it? Maybe we think: Anyone can teach. That may be true, but anyone can do surgery, too, except the trick is that you are supposed to heal patients, not harm them. Great teachers heal, and we treat them like dirt.
Princeton, Mass.
The writer has been a teacher, a dean and a headmaster.An Insult to Teachers - The New York Times:

HISTORY IS BEING MADE at #NEARA15. Fred Klonsky from The Land of Lincoln… | Reclaim Reform

HISTORY IS BEING MADE at #NEARA15. Fred Klonsky from The Land of Lincoln… | Reclaim Reform:
HISTORY IS BEING MADE at #NEARA15. Fred Klonsky from The Land of Lincoln…

Fred Klonsky - racism and Confederate flag

Fred Klosky IEA - Confederate flag“The Illinois delegation voted support for my NBI 11. I will now offer it on the floor of the NEA RA.”
NBI 11:
The NEA RA directs the NEA to support, in ways it finds appropriate and effective, efforts to remove the Confederate flag and other symbols of the Confederacy from public schools and public spaces.
The use of the Confederate battle flag as a symbol has become widespread among racist and violent hate groups. The flag and similar Confederate symbols have no place at public schools or in public spaces.

HISTORY IS BEING MADE by a delegate from Illinois, “The Land of Lincoln.”HISTORY IS BEING MADE at #NEARA15. Fred Klonsky from The Land of Lincoln… | Reclaim Reform:



The Hard Way

 The Fourth of July is always a popular time for folks to reflect on what this country stands for, and we come up with many fine lists both of the best and the worst. Today, I'd like to add my own item to the list.

America stands for doing things the hard way.

When it comes to running a country, the easiest way to do it is to put one guy in charge and let him tell everybody how to do everything. He can be picked by heredity or tradition or power or wealth; he can be installed by a committee of Important People, or by the roar of the crowd, or even a legitimate-ish election. But the important part-- the easy part-- is that once you have him installed, you just let him run everything. No debates. no discussions, no big arguments about What To Do Next-- just let your Grand High Potentatial Poohbah decide it all.

There's a Less Easy but Still Pretty Easy way of doing things, which is to use an absolute democracy. Every issue that comes up, you vote on. The answer chosen by the majority is the answer the whole country uses, and discussion of the issue is over. If you're in the minority, you just shut up, and stay shut up.

We certainly toyed with all of these. Early on many citizens wanted to just crown George Washington King of America and be done with it. The founding fathers wrote all sorts of rules that they didn't want to be held to (all people are created equal, but not really) and many envisioned a country ruled by the votes of the Right People.

But instead, we dedicated our country to doing things the hard way. We wrote down a bunch of foundational premises for running a country, and then we set up a mechanism by which, over time, those principles could be interpreted and extended to their natural conclusions, even if the majority of founders didn't agree with those conclusions. The constitution is the ultimate exercise in saying, "Look, I'm going to agree to these principles, and every time I try to weasel out of actually following them, I want you to bop me over the head and stop me."

Furthermore, we set up a system based on the principle of not shutting people up, sorting them 

GUEST: Are Christie and Baraka telling it like it is? What does that mean? And who are they really? | Bob Braun's Ledger

GUEST: Are Christie and Baraka telling it like it is? What does that mean? And who are they really? | Bob Braun's Ledger:

GUEST: Are Christie and Baraka telling it like it is? What does that mean? And who are they really?

Baraka: Telling it like it is? What did his epiphany mean?
Baraka: Telling it like it is? What did his epiphany mean for Newark?

Christie: Telling it like it is? Is he still the decider of what happens in Newark?
Christie: Telling it like it is? Is he still the decider?

By Mr. Outside

This analysis of the–perhaps dangerous–political chess game between Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was written  by a Newark teacher who prefers to be known as “Mr. Outside.”  It was submitted as a comment to my blog but I thought it should be seen by a wider audience.  I  use pseudonymous submissions at my discretion and when they are as good as this one.

Telling it like it is, huh? Ok. If that’s what we’re going to be doing, then let’s do that.
Baraka ran a campaign singularly focused on local control of Newark’s public schools. Nothing else. He didn’t run a campaign focused on job creation, reducing the city’s deficit, growing the city’s infrastructure– none of that boiler plate stuff. He focused almost exclusively on local control of the schools.
He managed somehow to lose sight of the many other issues the city facing; issues that resulted in more out-of-town oversight: a) the state taking over the city’s ball of yarn finances, and b) the justice department monitoring the city’s police force. I support Baraka. Always have. And I am supporting Baraka now. Not the office of the Mayor–but Ras Baraka. I am supporting him when I tell it like it is in the following lines. The man occupying the office of the Mayor of Newark did not anticipate the weight of managing a city like Newark– which is competing with Hoboken, Jersey City and New York City. He didn’t anticipate how far removed from grass roots politics, he would be when it came to wheeling and dealing with forces like Prudential, like “big-charter,” with federal agencies and yes, even foreign governments. It’s different as a councilman. He at once, has the burden of playing nicely in the sandbox with those whose moral, philosophical, cultural and social codes have long since been compromised, and appealing to the constituency that elected him. Ras Baraka could probably rise to the occasion. But the Mayor of Newark simply cannot. The seat of that office is an ivory tower. A prison. As the Mayor he is a pawn, to Bill Wolf’s point, who got played.
I read that NJ Spotlight article. I was disappointed at its conclusion. The Mayor has allowed himself to be deluded into thinking that he arrived at some epiphany; that it became clear for him what he ought to do when Christie declared himself the decider. Somehow, Baraka thought, or continues to think, Christie backed himself into a corner. No. Christie simply affirmed his and Baraka’s position and the nature of their relationship. The Mayor of Newark is not in control. Everyone else but the GUEST: Are Christie and Baraka telling it like it is? What does that mean? And who are they really? | Bob Braun's Ledger:

Happy the 4th of July - The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.

"But the educated citizen knows how much more there is to know. He knows that "knowledge is power," more so today than ever before. He knows that only an educated and informed people will be a free people, that the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all, and that if we can, as Jefferson put it, "enlighten the people generally ... tyranny and the oppressions of mind and body will vanish, like evil spirits at the dawn of day." And, therefore, the educated citizen has a special obligation to encourage the pursuit of learning, to promote exploration of the unknown, to preserve the freedom of inquiry, to support the advancement of research, and to assist at every level of government the improvement of education for all Americans, from grade school to graduate school." John F. Kennedy

Becoming the People We Wish We Were: An Address to the Graduating Students of Harvey Milk High School | Joy Ladin

Becoming the People We Wish We Were: An Address to the Graduating Students of Harvey Milk High School | Joy Ladin:

Becoming the People We Wish We Were: An Address to the Graduating Students of Harvey Milk High School

Commencement address delivered to the graduating class of Harvey Milk High School,
a New York City school created for LGBT students 
and others whose home schools are not safe
June 25, 2015

I'm supposed to tell you that with hard work and persistence, you can do anything. But you know that already. If you didn't, you wouldn't be graduating. So I want to tell you something different: that you can become the person you wish you were.
When I was your age, I didn't know that. In fact, till I was in my mid-forties, I believed that because I was born into a male body, I could never become the person -- the woman -- I wished I was.
When I was growing up, there were no transgender people on TV, no openly trans people holding jobs, being teachers, running for public office, being models or talk show hosts or Navy SEALS or famous athletes. Everyone I saw was either male or female. Every teacher. Every doctor. Every politician (actually, back then, they were mostly male). Every famous person in history. When I was young, I didn't even know there were other transgender people. I felt like an alien, a monster, a mistake. I wanted, and tried, to die.
When I stumbled across a magazine article by a woman whose son had become her daughter, I learned that I wasn't the only trans person in the world, and that there was a way for me someone born male to change my body and live as a woman. I longed to do that, but I was was terrified that my family and friends would reject me, that I would be homeless, alone and unloved and unlovable. I could become the person I wished I were, but I was sure that my family, my neighborhood, my country, my world, had no place for anyone like me.
So I kept pretending I was the boy, then man, that people thought I was, pretending I wasn't always thinking about dying, pretending I was really alive when most of time, I felt dead.
As trans kids go, I was lucky. I made it through high school, and then through college. A few months after graduation, I married a woman I had starting seeing in my freshman year. I had feared no one would love me if I revealed that I was transgender. But I had told her I was trans when we were sophomores, and she said she didn't mind that I felt female inside, that she would stay with me as long as I acted like a man.
It was a terrible mistake to commit to a relationship in which I would only be loved as long as I agreed not to become the person I wanted -- needed -- to be, but when I lived as a man, all my relationships were like that. My job, my friendships -- everything depended on me giving up on living my gender identity.
By the time I got married, I had completely surrendered to the prejudice against transgender people that surrounded me. If people were going to hate me for being who I was, well, I would do my best to pretend I was someone else. I didn't stand up for my rights, or anyone else's; I kept quiet when I saw injustice and oppression. And above all, I stayed hidden, avoiding anything -- any activity, opinion, clothing, even tone of voice -- that might reveal my female gender identity.
Prejudice and fear not only ruled my life; they ruled my heart. I hated myself for being trans, and I hated myself for being afraid to become the person I wanted to be: the honest person, the brave person, the kind person, the joyful, grateful, generous person, the person who didn't make excuses or blame others for my decisions, the person who would stand up and make a difference.
I knew I couldn't become that person as long as I was pretending to be a man. But gender was only part of the problem. I couldn't become the person I wished I were by hating myself, or by telling myself I had no power over my life or by running away Becoming the People We Wish We Were: An Address to the Graduating Students of Harvey Milk High School | Joy Ladin:

New tune for piano-playing senator: Revised education policy - SFGate

New tune for piano-playing senator: Revised education policy - SFGate:

New tune for piano-playing senator: Revised education policy

FILE - In this May 22, 2015 file photo, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., plays piano in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Tennessee Republican has been playing music, and politics, his whole life, blending the two last month as he practiced an upcoming performance on a borrowed piano in his Senate office. But this week, Alexander’s stage is the Senate floor, where he’ll do his day job as the top Republican on education issues by managing a bipartisan bill to update the No Child Left Behind Act with a policy giving states more power over their own public schools. Photo: Susan Walsh, AP / AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — How does a musician-senator fill the time during yet another partisan Senate stalemate?
In Sen. Lamar Alexander's case, he sits down at a borrowed piano in his Capitol Hill office and, with a grin, bangs out "The Memphis Blues."
He's been blending music and politics his whole life. And this coming week, the three-term Tennessee Republican hopesDemocrats and the GOP harmonize as the Senate becomes Alexander's stage.
The son of a school teacher and principal, this former federal education secretary and onetime university president will be shepherding a bill he's been working on for seven years: a rewrite of the contentious No Child Left Behind law.
Alexander acknowledges "getting a little emotional" when his polarized committee — the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — approved the measure unanimously this spring. "But," he said in an interview, "I'm going to save my emotions until we get a presidential signature."
The carefully balanced legislation is a long way from becoming law and faces an uncertain future in the House. But it's perhaps the most consequential shot Alexander will have at a lifelong effort to loosen the federal government's grip on public schools.
"Legacy, to him is not, 'I need to do something so people will remember my name,'" said Democrat Phil Bredesen, who, like Alexander, is a former Tennessee governor who made education a priority. "For him, it's that, 'I need to leave a mark that will do good things in the future.'"
For the 75-year-old Alexander, the bill's success would punctuate a legislative career fueled by pragmatism and the drive for results, a sharp contrast to new GOP colleagues such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have blocked legislation and are proud of it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds up the product of Alexander's negotiations with his Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, as a model for the way he wants the Senate to work under GOP control.
"I think the way he navigated a committee that has the most liberal members of the Senate and a few of the most conservative, to get to this point, is why I was willing to give this issue floor time," the schedule-setting McConnell said in a recent interview. "In my job, floor time is the coin of the realm. It means that I have confidence that the underlying bill is going to succeed."
The proposed rewrite stands on the premise that states and localities are better positioned to assess their own school performance than what Alexander calls the "national school board" created by the 2001 law that Republican President George W. Bush championed.
It helped that Republicans and Democrats — and the army of teacher and education lobbyists swarming around the rewrite — agree on that general idea, Alexander says. The turning point came earlier this year as Republicans assumed control of the Senate, when Murray suggested that she wanted to get an agreement.
"He comes to the negotiating table with a very strong philosophy, and what he thinks is right, but he also understands the art of compromise," Murray says.
For the first time, the proposal will get a debate and likely vote on the Senate floor.
"It's a chance for him to leverage all of those experiences that he had as governor, as secretary of education and president of the University of Tennessee," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
For all of the platforms from which Alexander has advocated for education, the bully pulpit of the presidency was not to be among them. He lost the 1996 GOP nomination to Kansas Republican Bob Dole despite a splashy campaign featuring New tune for piano-playing senator: Revised education policy - SFGate: