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Monday, July 25, 2016

With A Brooklyn Accent: A Window Into Rural Poverty- By a Teacher in Upstate New York

With A Brooklyn Accent: A Window Into Rural Poverty- By a Teacher in Upstate New York:

A Window Into Rural Poverty- By a Teacher in Upstate New York

I teach in upstate New York at an elementary school that is designated by NYSED as "High Needs/Rural" I would like to share some of the experiences I had today while my colleague and I conducted home visits with the families of four of the 80 kindergartners entering our school this year. Two of the families we visited today are on varying degrees of public assistance. One family I would categorize as working poor and the other lower middle-class.

      In the two homes of families in need of public assistance, I was struck by the dimness.  Not one light on. I suspect one family had their electricity turned off. Neither of us heard even the hum of a refrigerator. So quiet. I think of my own children's and my lighting habits. How we take for granted being able to flip on the light to cheer up our space or do work not thinking about the little bit of extra $$$ it takes to create a warm, inviting, and workable atmosphere. I know how it makes me feel when I'm not in a comfortably lit room.  As I looked at the little girl clinging to her mother with her dirty and disheveled clothes, I began thinking about the impact being in a well lit school environment might have on her. Would the vacant look eventually be replaced by the tiny spark of a twinkle. Later, my colleague and I noted on the post visit form. "No twinkle" or even an eyebrow raised at the mention of things most 5 year old hearts would flutter over. Several  years ago I had this mother's daughter in 4th grade(now 20) Mom is approximately 45 years old and has three grandchildren of her own.  I knew she was a single mom and commiserated with her about the common struggles being one myself. She seemed to open up a little more after that. At the end of the meeting, I asked her what were some things she wished she could do for her daughter that she just can't because of financial limitations. Mom's answer: "Sometimes she asks me to buy her a book when we're out shopping and I just tell her 'Mommy can't do that right now.'"  How many times have my own kids come to me asking for a certain book they need to read for pleasure or school. We love to keep our books. Within minutes it's ordered on Amazon and in their hands within two days.
Libraries are of course an option, but limited transportation and incurred late fees are often a hindrance. One post visit note recorded: "Black teeth. In need of dental care." Was this little girl not talking or smiling because her mouth was in pain?

We visited with a young mom and dad (at the most 23) with their two young daughters. When asked if they had any concerns or questions With A Brooklyn Accent: A Window Into Rural Poverty- By a Teacher in Upstate New York:

UPDATE! NEA President speaks at DNC! - Education Votes

NEA President speaks at DNC tonight! - Education Votes:

NEA President speaks at DNC tonight!

Lily and Clinton

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia will be speaking on education and immigration tonight at the Democratic National Convention and we’ll be carrying the livestream right here! Lily is expected to speak around 7:00 pm Eastern. Check back here to catch the speech live.NEA President speaks at DNC tonight! - Education Votes:


NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia spoke on Monday, July 25 at the Democratic National Convention. You can read the text of her speech below, and video will be posted as soon as it is available.
Muy buenas tardes, compañeros.
What an honor to be here representing the nearly three million educators of the National Education Association.
My story isn’t so different from my students’ stories: My mom is an immigrant. My dad served in the Army. My parents worked hard so that their six kids could have a chance to get ahead. And they were so proud when I became a teacher.
But today, too many students in our classrooms feel like they won’t get the chance I got, especially those from immigrant families. They tell us they’re afraid that their parents might be taken away, that they might be deported for not having the right piece of paper.
Hillary Clinton believes families should be together. She believes in our DREAMers. And she believes educators should be focused on education—not deportation.
Donald Trump sees things…differently. My mom says that if you can’t say something nice about somebody, at least make it funny. But I can’t make this funny. Donald Trump sees immigrants as criminals, drug dealers, rapists. He’d round up families and deport them. He’d build a wall.
We’re better than that. Our kids deserve better than that.
Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to divide people with walls of hate. She wants to build bridges to a better future for all.

#‎OptOutBus2016‬ "Let the Children See Us Trying" (Rev. Barber) Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

All Aboard the Opt Out Bus - Day 4 Journal: "Let the Children See Us Trying" (Rev. Barber)

by Susan and Shawn DuFresne 7.16.16

originally published on the Facebook page All Aboard the Opt Out Bus:


Just prior to the time we needed to get packing for the #OptOutBus2016 Coast to Coast Free Books for Kids Tour, our nation was brought to its knees [again] by the back-to-back shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Then another tragedy in Dallas. The country's focus turned to racism once more for the time being.

I was torn. Do we go forward with the tour? I seriously considered painting the ‪#‎OptOutBus‬and creating a ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ Bus. As I was packing, I looked at all the messages on the bus - the most recent being written predominantly by black and brown students and parents at Garfield HS.

I paused to reflect on 12 year old Asean Johnson's speech at the Save Our Schools and‪#‎PeoplesMarch16‬ in DC...on Jesse Hagopian's speech there, Reverend Barber's speech, Jitu Brown's, Yohuru Williams', and Julian Vasquez-Helig's, to name a few.

Jesse said, ‘For black lives to matter, black ‪#‎education‬ has to matter.’…/for-black-lives-to-matter…/
Reverend Barber said, "Let the children see us trying."

Like I've said before, we aren't expecting the #OptOutBus to suddenly end high stakes testing. But as you can see - #BlackLivesMatter and corporate education reform are connected deeply. There was no need to start over on the bus, we simply needed to add on.

As a result of Philando Castile's life mattering to so many children - to so many public school colleagues of his, to so many in his community - it felt important to visit St. Paul, MN. Today was the day.

I worried about stepping into a sacred circle, as an outsider to be honest. We weren't coming as white saviors, but to demonstrate our compassion through a small act of kindness. How do I navigate this attempt - to what I know is to make a small gesture - towards demonstrating that black lives do matter to some of us whites? We wanted to "let the children see us trying"...

A stop at Subway enroute to Philando's school brought us to Jen. Jen was very receptive to our thoughts of giving books to the children from this neighborhood. She knew someone closely connected to Philando and immediately made a phone call. She said we had 3 options: 1) Philando's family was having a picnic at the neighborhood park and we could give books to children there 2) We could go to his school where he worked and see if kids were at the playground, and 3) There was an ongoing protest at the Governor's mansion and maybe some kids would be there.

Jen wrote out directions, we thanked her, and headed to the park. Turning into a parking lot we saw a small family picnic in action. I tend to be shy and wanted to be respectful. I approached, but not too closely - and chose to speak to what appeared to be the parent of the group of kids. I smiled and asked if I could ask her a question. She smiled and approached. I 
Badass Teachers Association:

Meet Tim Kaine’s wife, a longtime child welfare advocate and Virginia’s secretary of education - The Washington Post

Meet Tim Kaine’s wife, a longtime child welfare advocate and Virginia’s secretary of education - The Washington Post:

Meet Tim Kaine’s wife, a longtime child welfare advocate and Virginia’s secretary of education

Timothy M. Kaine takes the stage with his wife, Anne Holton, and daughter, Annella Kaine, after winning a U.S. Senate seat for Virginia in 2012. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

In tapping Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) as her running mate, Hillary Clinton didn’t just choose the popular former governor of a purple state that she hopes will turn out for Democrats in November. She also chose one half of a Virginia power couple with a history of public service and advocacy on issues related to child welfare and education.
As governor, Kaine championed early childhood education, a cornerstone of Clinton’s education platform, and pushed for more money to support public preschool. And in the Senate, he has been a champion of career and technology education and efforts to fight sexual assault in high school.
But Anne Holton, his wife — who serves as Virginia’s secretary of education — has an even more extensive record when it comes to advocating for children, particularly foster youth.
As a schoolgirl in 1970, she was on the front lines of the fight to desegregate Virginia’s public schools. Holton is the daughter of Virginia Gov. A. Linwood Holton (R), who championed integration in a state that was known for its vigorous efforts to resist it. To drive home this point, he sent his daughters to a historically all-black Richmond City public school, escorting Anne Holton’s sister to class in a gesture captured in a historic photograph.
“I have spent much of my working life focused on children and families at the margin, with full appreciation of the crucial role education can and must play in helping young people escape poverty and become successful adults,” Holton wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in June 2015.
Holton and Kaine also sent their three children, who are now grown, to Richmond public schools.
The pair met at Harvard Law School, from which they both graduated. She became a legal aid lawyer representing low-income clients in Richmond and eventually a judge in the city’s Meet Tim Kaine’s wife, a longtime child welfare advocate and Virginia’s secretary of education - The Washington Post:

Teachers For Social Justice: Solidarity with Mexican Teachers and Farmworkers-July 26 Event

Teachers For Social Justice: Solidarity with Mexican Teachers and Farmworkers-July 26 Event:

Solidarity with Mexican Teachers and Farmworkers-July 26 Event

Solidarity with Mexican Teachers and Farmworkers-July 26 Event


Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 5pm 
La Catrina Cafe 
1011 W. 18th St., Chicago

Download flyer here.
Teachers For Social Justice: Solidarity with Mexican Teachers and Farmworkers-July 26 Event:

Five Facts About School Meal Programs - The Pew Charitable Trusts

Five Facts About School Meal Programs:

Five Facts About School Meal Programs

School meal programs
Today’s school lunches, such as this one served in Menomonie, Wisconsin, are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fat and sodium.

More than 30 million students—about 3 in 5 schoolkids—participate daily in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), even though many of them and their families may not realize it. Created by Congress in 1946, the NSLP helps pay for 5 billion healthy lunches served each year in 95 percent of public schools and thousands of private ones too. The School Breakfast Program (SBP), established 20 years later, provides morning meals to about 14 million children, a number that’s been rising steadily.
Here are five facts about these far-reaching and sometimes misunderstood programs.
1. All students in participating schools have healthier food and drink choices because of these programs. That’s because breakfasts and lunches, a la carte menus, and snacks sold in school vending machines and stores must meet a consistent set of science-based nutrition standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2012, USDA began strengthening these guidelines, some of which had not been updated in 30 years. The revised standards ensure that all students are offered more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grain-rich items, and that foods and drinks on campus do not have excess saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.
2. These programs support affordable food for all students. Schools’ routine encouragement that families apply for free or reduced-price meals can give the impression that national meal programs benefit only lower-income students. The truth is, kids who pay full price represent 27 percent of the daily participants in the NSLP and 15 percent in the SBP. Schools receive a federal reimbursement for each meal children buy, regardless of household income, and for those provided free of charge, which helps districts offer nutritious, quality meals to all kids. Students receive an entree, three healthy sides, and a carton of milk for less than what many people spend on their daily coffee.  
3. Healthy school meals improve kids’ eating habits. Major studies have shown that children are eating more of their nutritious school lunches and wasting less food since districts implemented USDA’s updated nutrition standards. For example, middle school students consumed larger shares of their entrees and vegetables in 2014 compared with the year before the stronger standards took effect.
4. Today’s school meals offer healthier—not fewer—calories. Under current guidelines, meals can provide students essentially the same total calories that were typical prior to USDA’s revisions. Lunches offered in high schools, for instance, have to average no more than 850 calories over the week—seven calories less than the average offered before updated standards. Children are able to get the energy they need to learn and grow, but with the healthier standards, it’s just coming from more nutritious foods.
5. Students’ cafeteria choices are increasing. USDA’s updated standards require schools to serve fruits and vegetables with every meal and to offer a variety throughout the week to give children access to all the nutrients important for their health. Menu options are expanding in other ways too. In just the first year under higher nutrition standards, a third of elementary schools expanded the selection of entrees on their menus.
Check out the resources below to learn more, and plan a school lunch date to see firsthand what’s working in the school cafeteria. Five Facts About School Meal Programs:

Additional Resources

When Play Is Criminalized: Racial Disparities in Childhood

When Play Is Criminalized: Racial Disparities in Childhood:

When Play Is Criminalized: Racial Disparities in Childhood

Racial disparities in the way children are allowed to play denies many Black kids an important childhood right. (Photo: Stefano Brivio / Flickr)

A significant segment of the child-age population in the United States is effectively denied one of the most important rights of childhood: free play. The trend away from unstructured play can have deleterious effects on the cognitive, social and emotional development of affected children. Because of disparities in opportunities for physical activity at school, the semi-privatization of public space, and the criminalization of Black and Brown bodies in motion, children of color, especially those of low socio-economic status, too often miss this essential requirement for healthy childhood development.
According to Diane Barnes, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in private practice in New York City, "both children and adolescents require at least 60 minutes or more per day" of physical activity. "Their activities," Barnes says, "are obviously different. While young children are running around the playground, older kids are more likely to be engaged in exercise that is related to a sport such as football or soccer."
It is the "running around" -- the uninhibited activity -- that is so crucial to cognitive, social and emotional childhood development. "Free play should be imaginative and self-directed," says Barnes. "The ideas should come from within. Dance classes and soccer classes do not count as free play." Indeed, even school physical education classes, while important to overall wellness and an essential component of a balanced, healthy education, don't count as free play. "While it would be wonderful to increase PE," Barnes says, "PE should not be mistaken as free play because it is not. It is not only necessary for children to have the room to play, but this play needs to be free play and not under the microscope of teachers or other professionals."
The Importance of Free Play
Indeed, a growing body of research proves the influence of play on children is overwhelmingly positive, as it leads to greater academic achievement and better executive function . Free play looks less like PE and more like recess -- or at least like recess time as memorialized in the well of the American imagination. Images of children goofing off, climbing, leaping, falling and even bruising with wild abandon populate the collective consciousness of our past.
However, despite the efforts of movements like Free-Range Kids , American children rarely move independently, without the watchful gaze of adults who monitor their every movement. This hypervigilant eye is watchful even when older school-aged children play in their own neighborhoods. For children who are Black and Brown, this adult gaze -- in the form of surveillance by both police and school authorities -- often criminalizes their young bodies. Sufficient research reveals the tremendous racial disparities in disciplinary responses to children's behavior in schools and in communities.
An issue brief published by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity found that,
African American students, and especially African American boys, are disciplined more often and receive more out-of-school suspensions and expulsions than White students. Perhaps more alarming is the 2010 finding that over 70% of the When Play Is Criminalized: Racial Disparities in Childhood:

Tax Spending Without Representation - Change The LAUSD

Tax Spending Without Representation - Change The LAUSD:

Tax Spending Without Representation


-California Charter School Association
As Eli Broad prepares to implement his plan “to reach 50 percent charter market share” within the LAUSD, now is the time for Angelenos to begin asking what this privately controlled system would look like. While Broad claims that his takeover of public education will bring an “expansion of high-quality charter schools in Los Angeles,” is there any proof that existing charter schools have reached this standard of excellence? Do charter schools help to “ensure that no Los Angeles student remains trapped in a low-performing school,” or would this expanded network of publicly funded private schools continue to cherry-pick the easiest to teach students who are more likely to increase their school’s reported test scores. Most importantly, do these schools actually want “parents [who] are effectively engaged” or will their right to elect representatives to the governing boards be revoked once these schools are established?
The LAUSD “already has more than 200 charters, the most of any school system in the country,” which provides plenty of examples of how these types of schools are operated and what should be expected from Broad’s private school district. One example is Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS), which bills itself as “the largest single education reform effort in the country.” The school shows its willingness to play loose with statistics when it says that it “serves nearly 4,500 families.” The official school profile states that it only has 4,300 students, so unless it bans siblings from attending the school together, the claim of 4,500 families seems to be exaggerated.
While the California Department of Education reports that the LAUSD has164,349 English Learners or 25.4% of its total enrollment of 646,683 students, GHCHS has 146 or 3.4% of its population. This is down from the  291 English learners it served when it converted to a charter in 2003. The California Charter School Association says that “charter schools understand their responsibility to serve all students and are committed to serving students with exceptional needs.” GHCHS serves 301 of these students, or 7% of its population, including those with 504 plans, who usually “spend the entire day in a general education classroom,” but require an accommodation to deal with a disability. By comparison, the LAUSD serves 82,759 special education students or 12.7% of its total population. GHCHS is also run by a governing board that is no longer democratically elected and, therefore, does not give parents, teachers or community members a formal say in how the school operates.
When GHCHS was first converted from a LAUSD run school to a charter it was done so with the promise of allowing the “community to be more actively involved.” In its first charter renewal application, it was able to legitimately state that its “governing structure is designed to foster participation by all stakeholders,” as these stakeholders were represented on a democratically elected governing board. As described in their charter, this board consisted ofTax Spending Without Representation - Change The LAUSD: 

In School Choice Fight, a Fresh Force Emerges | The Texas Tribune

In School Choice Fight, a Fresh Force Emerges | The Texas Tribune:

In School Choice Fight, a Fresh Force Emerges

Astroturf lobbying refers to political organizations or campaigns that appear to be made up of grassroots activists but are actually organized and run by corporate interests seeking to privatize and destroy Public Education. Such groups are often typified by innocent-sounding names that have been chosen specifically to disguise the group's true backers

*Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that Texans for Education Opportunity co-founder Stacy Hock was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to the Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability.
An ambitious new player has emerged in the controversial effort to use taxpayer dollars to help Texas parents send their kids to private or religious schools.
Texans for Education Opportunity, whichlaunched in May, supports all forms of “school choice,” including charters and traditional public schools, said Executive Director Randan Steinhauser, an Austin-based school choice activist and public relations consultant who co-founded the nonprofit advocacy organization.
But she said the group’s main goal is to get Texas lawmakers to create “education savings accounts” — a program under which the state would dole out taxpayer money directly to parents via debit card to cover approved education-related expenses, like private school tuition, tutors or homeschooling materials. About a half-dozen other Republican-dominated states, including Florida and Arizona, have already created such programs, although most of them target specific student populations, including disabled and low-income students. (Nevada is an exception, offering assistance to all students.) 
Literature provided by Texans for Education Opportunity, which appears to be the first statewide organization focused solely on school choice, suggests the state offer up to $7,800 for any student pursuing an alternative schooling route. That is about 90 percent of what the state provides on average to traditional school districts per student for annual maintenance and operations, the pamphlet says.
The concept is similar to private school vouchers, in which taxpayer funds are awarded directly to schools, but it is larger in scope.
Monty Exter, a lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said education savings accounts are worse than vouchers because there is no good way to control how parents spend the money. The states that have implemented such programs have included no provisions that allow them to reclaim money if parents spend it on "a flatscreen TV or a bag of crack," he said.
"Who's to say that a laptop isn't an educational expenditure, but who's to say that it is? Who is going to police that?" he said. "Are we going to pay someone at the state level to monitor this program, and how much is that going to cost?"
Exter said that concern is separate from the larger one school and teacher groups have long expressed in opposing such programs — that they divert much-needed dollars away from struggling public schools.
But Steinhauser said such a program would have “the biggest benefit to families” because — unlike private school vouchers — it would empower parents to choose the option that works best for their child.
“We’re working to educate legislators on the specifics,” she said, arguing that there is rampant misinformation about how such a program would function. “We’re making sure they understand the positive impact it could have on the state of Texas and on students in their district and families in the state who are desperate for another option.”
Literature provided by Texans for Education Opportunity, which appears to be the first statewide organization focused solely on school choice, suggests the state offer up to $7,800 for any student pursuing an alternative schooling route.
The group, whose board of directors includes former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, has so far raised more than $100,000 from a variety of local and national organizations to fund its work, Steinhauser said. And it expects to raise hundreds of thousands more dollars through the political action committee it will form this fall to dole out campaign contributions to the state lawmakers who assist with its mission. 
Businesswoman and philanthropist Stacy Hock, who co-founded the group, has spearheaded fundraising. (She serves on the board of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank. Earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott also appointed her to serve on the Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability, where she serves as vice-chair.)
“We’ll be supporting legislators who stand up and fight for an education savings account during the session” next year, Steinhauser said.
Creating such a program is a top priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has tried unsuccessfully to do so since he was a state senator. Last year, under his leadership, the Senate passed a bill that would’ve provided up to $100 million in tax credits to businesses that donated money for scholarships for school choice families. But it died in the House, where a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has long blocked such proposals. 
Steinhauser said she has worked closely with Patrick since her 2013 move to Texas, where she was surprised to find that school choice initiatives weren’t further along. She had previously traveled the country lobbying for school choice legislation as national director of external affairs for the American Federation of Children, the nation’s largest school choice organization.
In addition to her new role heading Texans for Education Opportunity, Steinhauser also is an adviser for both National School Choice Week and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. And she is a partner at the political and public relations consulting firm she co-founded with her husband, Brendan Steinhauser, a Texas native whose clients include U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin.
Disclosure: The Association of Texas Professional Educators and the Texas Public Policy Foundation have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed hereIn School Choice Fight, a Fresh Force Emerges | The Texas Tribune:

Beyond ‘Mad Men’: More Public Schools Advertise To Survive | StateImpact Indiana

Beyond ‘Mad Men’: More Public Schools Advertise To Survive | StateImpact Indiana:

Beyond ‘Mad Men’: More Public Schools Advertise To Survive

Fort Wayne Community Schools will spend about $10,000 on billboards this summer. District spokesperson Krista Stockman says state funding from a gain of two new students would pay for the billboards. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)
Fort Wayne Community Schools will spend about $10,000 on billboards this summer. District spokesperson Krista Stockman says state funding from a gain of two new students would pay for the billboards. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Forget Don Draper. Forget Peggy Olson. The newest era of advertising may live within your public school district.
Schools will start soon, but where you live doesn’t necessarily determine where you go to school anymore. Families can choose where to go to school — private, charter or public school. The aim behind providing this choice? Proponents say it will force allschools to better themselves.
Whether it has done that remains controversial. But it has given birth to a new reality for public schools: with education competition, comes the need for education marketing.


If Marnie Cooke had her way, you’d see school colors plastered throughout downtown Noblesville.
“I don’t know when the city of Noblesville is planning on changing over street signs,” said Cooke, Noblesville Schools communications director. “But I hope to put a bug in their ear that it might be cool to have some black and gold street signs.”
Black and gold. The district’s colors.
In Noblesville, voters recently agreed to bump up property taxes to help fund the district. Cooke wants everyone in the small central Indiana city to feel connected to the schools.
The district relies on the community for funding, internships and students. So the district hired Cooke because of her private-sector marketing background.
A poster for Noblesville Schools hangs in a coffee shop window of Noble Coffee and Tea Company. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)
A poster for Noblesville Schools hangs in a coffee shop window of Noble Coffee and Tea Company. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)
“When school starts you’ll see Noblesville school banners hanging on those posts,” Cooke said. “And we have a coffee shop over here that has a Noblesville Schools poster in the window.”
Plus, there will be community events, fliers and social media advertising. It’s deliberate marketing to keep schools on the community’s mind.
Two hours south, that marketing gets even more direct.


Clarksville Community Schools developed an advertising campaign with an express purpose: drive students to their district.
The southern Indiana district paid the ad agency Bandy Carroll Hellige over $160,000. Beyond ‘Mad Men’: More Public Schools Advertise To Survive | StateImpact Indiana: