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Friday, August 19, 2016

Trump’s perplexing comments about education - The Washington Post

Trump’s perplexing comments about education - The Washington Post:

Trump’s perplexing comments about education

Donald Trump said a few things recently about education that are, well, perplexing.
One set of comments left anyone who knows anything about the past few decades of public education reform  wondering how much the Republican presidential nominee knows about it, while the other raised questions about where Trump is getting education policy from — besides his daughter, Ivanka.
Trump was in Milwaukee on Tuesday, where he spoke broadly about what kind of education policy he supports. Specifically, he said:
“On education, it is time to have school choice, merit pay for teachers, and to end the tenure policies that hurt good teachers and reward bad teachers. We are going to put students and parents first.”
As lawyer and blogger Stephen Dyer noted, it is hard to imagine why Trump would say “it is time” for school choice. This past June, the charter school movement — a pillar of school choice — celebrated its 25th anniversary, and more than 6,500 of these publicly funded schools now educate between 2½ and 3 million students around the country.
Another central part of the choice movement are private school vouchers. Trump, whether he knew it or not, was speaking in the city where school vouchers began in 1990. Vouchers — and other similar programs — essentially use public funds to pay for private school tuition. There are now nearly 30 states with a voucher or tax-credit program or something similar.
Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program, the country’s longest-running voucher program, created ostensibly to provide quality school choices for children from low-income families, has not only failed to bridge the achievement gap but has also, critics say, harmed traditional public schools by siphoning off resources. A recent study of voucher schools in Milwaukee by University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh Professor Michael R. Ford, a voucher supporter and a  former vice Trump’s perplexing comments about education - The Washington Post:

Seattle Schools Community Forum: 100 Black Parents Meeting on Garfield

Seattle Schools Community Forum: 100 Black Parents Meeting on Garfield:

100 Black Parents Meeting on Garfield

Before starting this thread I want to acknowledge that long-time (and beloved) staffer, Joe Bland, died on August 11th.  From the Garfield PTSA Facebook page:

Joe was a cherished presence at Garfield High School for almost 30 years where he worked as a teachers assistant in the gym (basketball, volleyball and wrestling), with the kids in detention and the incoming freshmen in the Bridge Program. His warmth and kindness touched so many.
I went to this meeting truly not knowing what to expect. 

First, kudos to the 100 Black Parents group.  The meeting was well-organized, they had water available (it was hot - I brought a hand fan), an well-thought out agenda and even a door prize. 

The meeting was led by Anita Adams (who works for the Mayor's office as an advisor but I believe was only there as a 100 Black Parents member) and Chukundi Salisbury (who owns a media company but again, was there as a 100 Black Parents leader.)  
Second, the meeting featured an elder, Mrs Horton, who said that they wouldn't have a prayer as they normally would to start the meeting (I think in deference to the topic and that not all in the meeting might be members of Mt. Zion Baptist) but we had a moment of silence.  At the end, she said, "Amen."   I had to smile. 

Mr. Salisbury set a very easy-going tone and said that sometimes African-American parents can be "reactive" but that this meeting was about being "proactive."  He said he wanted the focus on not what has or had not happened but what their group wants to see happen.

He also said that while the teachers were here to talk about Honors for All, that 
Seattle Schools Community Forum: 100 Black Parents Meeting on Garfield:

Seattle Schools Community Forum: KUOW Looking for Input -

Tears, hugs, follow jurors’ $3.1 million award to whistleblower in teacher credentialing case | The Sacramento Bee

Tears, hugs, follow jurors’ $3.1 million award to whistleblower in teacher credentialing case | The Sacramento Bee:

Tears, hugs, follow jurors’ $3.1 million award to whistleblower in teacher credentialing case

Kathleen Carroll, a former attorney for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, lost her job after disclosing a three-year backlog in teacher misconduct complaints and other problems at the agency. Then-state Auditor Elaine Howle characterized the commission as one of the “worst run” agencies she had ever investigated. Loretta Kalb The Sacramento Bee

Read more here:

A Sacramento woman fired from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing after disclosing a three-year backlog in teacher misconduct complaints has won a $3.1 million jury verdict in a lawsuit against the agency and two of its executives.
Whistle blower Kathleen Carrroll, an attorney for the commission until her termination in November 2010, revealed sweeping backlogs, nepotism in the agency and favoritism that within a year led to a blistering state audit of its educator discipline process. Then-state Auditor Elaine Howle characterized the commission as one of the “worst run” agencies she had ever investigated.
Carroll said she cried after the jury verdict. “This has been six years of my life,” Carroll said this week. “As the jurors were walking out, some of them had tears in their eyes and came to me and hugged me. It was very emotional. I think they put themselves in my position. They seemed very compassionate about what I went through.”
Sacramento Superior Court jurors issued their verdict Aug. 10 following a 20-day trial and after little more than six hours of deliberations, said Dan Siegel, Carroll’s attorney in Oakland. The whistleblower retaliation suit named the commission along with former General Counsel Mary Armstrong, who headed the division that oversaw teacher sanctions, and Assistant Chief Counsel Lee Pope. Both have since retired.
The commission issued a statement expressing, in part, disappointment with the outcome. Neither Armstrong nor Pope responded to Bee requests for comment.
In 2012, Carroll lost her appeal to the State Personnel Board for reinstatement, failing to prove she was dismissed because of whistle-blowing. But Superior Court jurors this month did find that Carroll’s whistleblowing contributed to the commission’s decision to fire her. Jurors held the commission liable for the bulk of the $3.1 million in damages. The award included punitive damages against Pope of $130,000 and against Armstrong of $90,000. The law does not allow punitive damages against public agencies.
Carroll said the years of court battles have been both emotionally and financially draining. As a heart transplant recipient, she deals with high medical bills and has spent all her personal and retirement savings. She has not been able to buy tickets to visit her mother in Connecticut, who is 87 and in ill health. “There were many times I felt like I have got to see my Mom and this is not worth it,” she said. She said her mother cannot understand why Carroll has not to come to visit.
“I could have just looked the other way,” Carroll said. “But I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. These were not little offenses; they were serious.”
Siegel said while many complaints against school employees with credentials are routine, others can involve child molestation, child pornography or drug addiction. “What Kathy learned was there was a huge backlog of work” of all sorts that wasn’t being processed, he said. During the years required for the commission to act, teachers could leave one school district and get a job in another.
Carroll said some cases would have resulted in mandatory license revocations because of court convictions.“They are automatically revoked,” she said, “and that was not happening. That was one of the things that pushed me.
“There were stacks of paper everywhere. Some were in desks and some in boxes. They hadn’t been entered into the computers. Student assistants were finding those serious convictions in some of those stacks.” The day of that discovery, she said, “my heart dropped.” One case left unaddressed for three years involved a middle school teacher arrested for allegedly showing pornography to a student, she said. When the commission finally pursued it, they could no longer find witnesses.
“That person is still teaching today,” she said.
When she sounded the backlog alarm with colleagues, she said, “I was shunned like I was radioactive.” Then, according to the lawsuit, Armstrong told commissioners at a public meeting in August 2009 there were only little backlogs from time to time.
Siegel said when Carroll raised the issue, executives at the commission “basically blew her off.” In mid December 2009, Carroll turned to the Bureau of State Audits’ Whistleblower Hotline and later spoke to a member of then-Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s staff. “They did their due diligence and concluded she knew what she was talking about,” he said. Steinberg requested the audit, which began in mid-2010.
Siegel described Carroll as admirable character who “went out on a limb” for what she believed. He said that in the months leading up to Carroll’s firing in November 2010, some of the commission’s executive leadership “began plotting to see how they could get rid of her.” They tried to lay her off, proposing her elimination as cost-cutting measure tied to just one employee, according to the suit. Ultimately, the commission fired her outright.
The audit found major flaws in nearly every aspect of the commission regulatory process, including lapses in launching investigations, gathering facts, tracking cases and revoking or suspending teacher credentials for misconduct. The backlog reached 12,600 cases at one point. Surveys tied to the audit showed that 40 percent of employees said hiring and promotion at the agency were compromised by family relationships or favoritism. And 43 percent of respondents at the commission said they feared retaliation if they filed a grievance or formal complaints.
At a Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing in May 2011, then-Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat, said he wanted to see a shakeup of the commission’s 15-member governing board and called for resignations at the head of the agency.
“Somebody needs to be held accountable for the gross mismanagement of the commission,” said Lara, who chaired the committee and is now a state senator. The next month, Executive Director Dale Janssen said he would retire.
The commission this week signaled that it could appeal. “The Commission will carefully consider all legal options before deciding how to move forward,” the agency statement said. “The events surrounding this case occurred nearly seven years ago under far different circumstances. The commission has undergone a complete transformation in serving the needs of California's students and teachers.”
The commission meets September 8 and 9 and is expected to consider in closed session whether to recommend an appeal of damages, said spokesman Joshua Speaks. Commissioners could also consider whether to recommend that the state pay the punitive damages jurors found against Armstrong and Pope.
Asked what’s next for her, Carroll said, “My priority is to see my mom.”Tears, hugs, follow jurors’ $3.1 million award to whistleblower in teacher credentialing case | The Sacramento BeeLoretta Kalb: 916-321-1073, @LorettaSacBee

What Comes Next? Part 2 - United Opt Out at the Crossroads

What Comes Next? Part 2 - United Opt Out at the Crossroads:

What Comes Next? Part 2 - United Opt Out at the Crossroads

Pleas e join Internet radio host Dr. James Avington Miller Jr. and special guest Dr. Mark Naison for a special two hour show devoted to United Opt Out.

Dr. Miller and Dr. Naison will be examining what is going on with United Opt Out. They will discuss what the movement has done in the past and what will it may be doing in the futiure. They will attempt to bring some clarification to recent changes in this crtically important group.

The discussion will be enlightening and will bring understanding to what has been taking place as United Opt Out takes a new direction.

Please tune in and call in this Sunday.

This is the RESISTANCE and we need to be unified in our fight against those forces overtaking and usurping our public schools.

Knowledge is power !



Please click on the website below to listen live:
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 What Comes Next? Part 2 - United Opt Out at the Crossroads:

Big Education Ape: I Don't Belong To Any Organized Party: I'm A Democrat -

Most charter boards didn’t comply with or know about open-meetings law | The Lens

Most charter boards didn’t comply with or know about open-meetings law | The Lens:

Most charter boards didn’t comply with or know about open-meetings law

Until The Lens investigated last month, only one charter school board in New Orleans may have been fully complying with a two-year-old state law that requires public bodies to post their minutes online, or an older law that requires the same for their agendas.  
And even now, as most work to comply, few are completely falling into line with amendments to the state Open Meetings Law that legislators made in 2012 and 2014.
The Lens this summer examined the websites of the 40 Orleans Parish charter school boards, which run 81 schools in the city, to gauge compliance.
The posting of these official documents is more than a technicality or an administrative requirement. Few news media outlets are able or willing to commit the resources necessary to cover the meetings of these publicly funded boards, which collectively manage hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Few parents attend these meetings. The minutes are one of the few ways to easily keep track of a board’s actions.
Even for some school boards that post the documents, the minutes lack basic information required by law.
And regarding a third, more recent law that went into effect just at the beginning of the month, fewer than half listed their official custodian of records. That’s the person responsible for providing public records to those who request them.
Transparency and good government were why the Louisiana Legislature updated the Open Meetings Law, said Rep. Neil Abramson, (D-New Orleans), the author of the 2014 bill. He said he wouldn’t be surprised to hear if other public bodies were failing to post official accounts of their meetings.
“I’d imagine if the charter schools aren’t doing it, it’s not unique to them,” he said. “Other people are probably dropping the ball where they shouldn’t.”
When we first looked, seven of the 40 school boards regularly were posting minutes for their full board meetings. Only the board of New Orleans College Preparatory Academies was closest to meeting all the requirements by posting thesame documentation for its committees. However, the minutes posted by that board didn’t have some of the legally required information, including who was absent from the meeting.
For the boards that have formed committees — nothing requires public bodies to do so — much of the substantive discussion takes place in those smaller meetings, and full boards usually approve their recommendations with little discussion.
The law requires the boards to keep the minutes posted for at least three months.
The Lens emailed the 33 fully non-compliant boards for explanations. Some blamed website revisions or other technical issues, others said they weren’t aware of the law and others offered no reason or didn’t respond.
Within two weeks, 30 boards posted their full board meeting minutes to their websites. However, none included committees, though some have recently begun to do so.


Andrew Shahn, the ARISE Academy principal, said their latest minutes were not posted because they were written by hand instead of electronically.
A few boards, including those of the Algiers Charter School Association and Friends of King, declined to comment.
The Community Leaders Advocating Student Success board, which governs Fannie C. Williams Charter School, never responded to several calls or emails, but its site was among those quickly updated.
The head of the Greater New Orleans Collaborative of Charter Schools, which includes 12 schools in the city, said its boards “just weren’t aware” that the law was amended two years ago to require posting meeting minutes online.
The amendment “slipped through the cracks in the way it was referenced,” said Executive Director Ken Ducote. “It was not flagged in Most charter boards didn’t comply with or know about open-meetings law | The Lens:

Charter Schools: The New Private Prisons? Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

Charter Schools: The New Private Prisons?

By:  Mitchell Robinson Originally published on his blog at

new report from the Justice Departmentrecommends the suspension of contracts for private prisons, effective immediately. In explaining the justification for this decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates concluded that "the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government."

Teachers and those who have observed the impact of the corporate education reform agenda on public education over the last decade or so may notice some striking similarities between the findings of this Justice Department report and the explosion of the charter school industry in our country. As with the private prison scenario, the explosion of charter schools in the last decade has created parallel school systems--both allegedly public, but fighting for limited resources, and competing on an uneven playing field.

As my friend, Steven Singer, says: "In Brown vs. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to have 'separate but equal' schools, because when they’re separate, they’re rarely equal. Having two parallel systems of education makes it too easy to provide more resources to some kids and less to others."

Initially proposed in the 1970s as a "laboratory in innovation" for pedagogical practices, and even embraced by AFT President Albert Shanker in 1988, charter schools were intended to function as incubators for innovative teaching techniques, strategies and policies.

Today, the experiment has been co-opted in many states by "for-profit" charter school management companies, such as, which was supported by the investments ofconvicted felon Michael Milken. These for-profit networks are characterized by schools staffed with uncertified, lowly-paid, alternatively-prepared short-term faculty, many of whom are ill-equipped to handle the duties of teaching. These teachers are expected to deliver scripted lessons from canned curriculums, and follow a "teach to the test" approach controlled by "no-excuses" behavior management strategies that result in a joyless educational experience marked by high rates of student suspension, especially among Badass Teachers Association:

Test Question: Why Are Newspapers in Washington State Fighting to Save Charter Schools? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Test Question: Why Are Newspapers in Washington State Fighting to Save Charter Schools? | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Test Question: Why Are Newspapers in Washington State Fighting to Save Charter Schools?

In Washington state, supporters of public schools–Like the League of Women Voters–have filed a lawsuit to stop the legislature from funding charter schools, which the state’s highest court declared are NOT public schools, because their boards are not elected.
Somehow, across the state, major newspapers posted editorials opposing any effort to block charters, some using the exact same language. Do you find that odd? Parent activist Dora Taylor does. Read her account here.
She writes:
“There are many who are unhappy about the new lawsuit against the new charter school law. This includes several editorial boards across the state with some exceptions. What’s quite telling about their arguments are three things.
“Their arguments seem to be on the notion that this is a frivolous lawsuit and we should just leave the charter schools to do their thing.
“Another issue I found is that some of these editorials so closely mirror each other (down the the use of the word “distraction” in two headlines) that you would think someone faxed out talking points. The Times uses the word four times.
“Still another issue is that some of them are saying it’s the teachers union and “a coalition of groups.” Why wouldn’t they acknowledge who is in that group which includes parents and solid citizen, non-union groups like League of Women Voters and El Centro de la Raza? Why? Because they know it would not serve their viewpoint to be honest on who stood up to put their names on the lawsuit.
“It’s also of interest that some editorials leave out that there appear to be a couple of constitutional issues and instead, tell their readers it’s about “thwarting the will of the voters.” The Times goes so far as to say it’s an “intimidation tactic.”
“It’s a sad day when trying to stand up for the constitution is considered a bad thing. Maybe the people who wrote these laws should have thought of the constitution as they did their work (see Article 3, Section 22.) That names the role of the state superintendent and “public schools.” If the state superintendent is to oversee all public schools, does that mean he/she gets to oversee them in the same manner or do charters get a different oversight? And who decides? That role is not written into this law.”
Just to be clear: Fighting to privatize public schools is a good thing. Fighting to stop privatization is not. Why “distract” from what Bill Gates wants? He paid for the referendum.Test Question: Why Are Newspapers in Washington State Fighting to Save Charter Schools? | Diane Ravitch's blog:

With A Brooklyn Accent: School Reform in the US and Italy: A Critical Analysis

With A Brooklyn Accent: School Reform in the US and Italy: A Critical Analysis:

School Reform in the US and Italy: A Critical Analysis

It is very disturbing to learn that the same attack on teachers, public schools, and public education that has taken place in the US in the last 20 years is also taking place in Italy. In the US, this attack has been bi-partisan, endorsed by Democrats as much as Republicans, and implemented as aggressively by Barack Obama as it was by George W. Bush. It has been enthusiastically promoted by foundations and non profit organizations financed by some of the wealthiest people in the country such as Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Michael Bloomberg, along with new billionaires in the hedge fund sector. Initially, teachers and advocates for public education were caught by surprise by the sheer force of this attack. In the last 8 years, they have started to fight back, with resistance taking the form of the Save Our Schools Coalition, the Badass Teachers Association, United Opt Out and Network for Public Education, along with a wide array of local resistance groups. But the amount of money and political muscle the self styled “School Reformers” have at their disposal makes resistance difficult, especially since the Reformers have co-opted the language of Social Justice and Civil Rights to argue for policies which increase testing and reduce teacher power and autonomy. They have argued that it is “bad” or selfish teachers who are responsible for the persistence of racial and economic inequality in school performance, if not in the whole society.
Why has this top down, data driven approach to education policy, which devalues teachers and teaching gained so much currency? One part of it is sheer economic interest. The education market in the US is enormous, with total expenditures exceeding 600 billion dollars. Capturing this market for private investment is an irresistible temptation for economic elites who have seen opportunities in the housing market dry up with the onset of the global financial crisis. Opportunities to invest in With A Brooklyn Accent: School Reform in the US and Italy: A Critical Analysis:

CNS - L.A. Schools Deny Job-Seekers Second Chance

CNS - L.A. Schools Deny Job-Seekers Second Chance:

L.A. Schools Deny Job-Seekers Second Chance

All of Us or None | LSPC -

  LOS ANGELES (CN) — Los Angeles Unified School District illegally rejects job-seekers who have expunged misdemeanor records, two members of the civil rights group All Of Us or None say in a lawsuit against the district.

     All Of Us or None, founded in 2003, promotes the civil rights of people who have been convicted of a crime, including help in employment and legislative advocacy.
     It sued LAUSD, its Superintendent Michelle King and the top officials in its Personnel Commission and Human Resources Division, on Monday in Superior Court.

     Plaintiff Jane Roe has one conviction, for credit card fraud when she was 19, in 2006. It was reduced to a misdemeanor and then dismissed 2011. Since then she has earned a bachelor's degree in behavioral sciences, a master's degree in sociology and a teaching certificate and is in the first year of a doctoral program in education.
     Plaintiff John Doe was convicted of multiple misdemeanors.

     California Labor Code states that employers cannot use convictions that have been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed as a factor in determining whether to hire a job candidate, according to the complaint.

     Roe and Doe say they both were rejected for positions at LAUSD based on misdemeanor convictions that have since been expunged or otherwise dismissed.

     Roe taught at LAUSD as an urban resident teacher from June 2013 to June 2014, and applied toward the end of 2013 for the certified position of middle-school science teacher.
     The district placed her on a list of eligible candidates and Wright Middle School hired her as a science teacher in June 2014. She was fingerprinted for a criminal history background check the next month. Roe started her job at the middle school on Aug. 11, 2014, before the background check results had come in.

     Two weeks later, the district "informed Roe that she was ineligible to work for LAUSD based on her background check result," she says in the complaint.

     The district never provided her with a copy of her background check, but she believes it disclosed her expunged misdemeanor conviction. She says she was not given a reason for her firing, nor notice that she has the right to appeal.

     John Doe was convicted of multiple misdemeanors between 1986 and 2004, including presenting a false ID to a peace officer, battery on a spouse, possession of a concealed weapon and driving under the influence.

     "As part of court-ordered programs, Doe successfully completed anger management classes in 2004, which helped him understand and control his anger and emotions. As a result, it has been more than a decade since his last conviction, and he has devoted his life to his parenting obligations, including care for his daughter during her treatment for leukemia," he says in the complaint.

     Doe graduated from Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is skilled in maintenance work, but has had difficulty finding employment due to his criminal record. With help from A New Way of Life Reentry Project, he was able to have all of his convictions set aside and dismissed in 2013, Doe says.

     With his newly expunged record, he applied for a job with LAUSD as a maintenance worker, which would have been his first stable paycheck with regular hours. He was fingerprinted and the district obtained a copy of his rap sheet. He was not given a copy of the rap sheet but he believes it disclosed his expunged misdemeanor convictions.

     "LAUSD rejected Doe's employment application based in whole or in part on information obtained from his DOJ rap sheet," the complaint states.
     Doe appealed but has yet to hear back from the district.

     "At no time was Doe given an opportunity to present any evidence of mitigation, rehabilitation, relevance of the expunged convictions to the job position, or the nature of his original convictions," he says.

     Both plaintiffs seek to clarify the scope of protection the state offers people who have expunged their records and are looking for employment.

     "Most importantly, plaintiffs seek to vindicate the rights of FICP [formerly incarcerated or convicted people], to restore their dignity, and to be free from undue prejudice of employers such as LAUSD," the complaint states.

     They also want to be placed on top of the list of eligible candidates and allowed to proceed to the next stage of the hiring process, as they want to see copies of the rap sheets obtained by the district.

     They are represented by Joshua Kim with A New Way of Life Reentry Project, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did the school district.
CNS - L.A. Schools Deny Job-Seekers Second Chance:

An Effective Video About the Way Adults Talk to Kids Is Causing Debate

Coalition for Public Education/Coalición por la Educación Pública: An Effective Video About the Way Adults Talk to Kids Is Causing Debate:

An Effective Video About the Way Adults Talk to Kids Is Causing Debate

Video tries to show how the way adults talk to kids matters

A video about the way adults talk to kids is causing debate. It focuses on the ways adults can affect a child’s education through interactions with them. Although the response is varied, there’s no denying the power of its message.

The Atlanta Speech School released a video called Every Opportunity and the story it depicts is eliciting a strong reaction from teachers and parents. It follows a little boy throughout his day at school and shows how the adults he encounters, from bus driver to teachers, interact with him.

It starts with the child climbing the bus steps and giving the driver an enthusiastic hello that’s met with little more than a grunt. The boy tries to greet an aide at the school’s entrance and she ignores him. He asks the cafeteria employee for his student number and she’s short-tempered and impatient. His teacher grows annoyed at the behavior in his classroom and speaks to the children in a harsh tone.

The second half of the video shows all the same scenarios, but with the adults responding to the children positively. By the end, the kids are depicted as their adult selves, confident and ready for the world because the teachers and staff gave them the encouragement and positivity they needed to succeed.

The video is hard to watch and as such, is provoking a response from some teachers who say these interactions are not the norm and that they make every effort to treat their students with respect.

Nonsense! Let’s demonize teachers as usual. The kids at my school beg to stay during school vacations and are sad when summer break starts. School is the most stable and safe environment for a lot of them. Yes adults should watch their tone with kids, but to make teachers out to be drill sergeants is unfair.

In my 9 years of teaching, I’ve never seen the jerk teachers that are portrayed here. Every one I know works extremely hard to make sure their child is loved and respected. That’s why we are teachers. I agree that education is in need of reform, but this teacher-shaming video is ridiculously inaccurate. Teachers are the ONE thing in education that are doing what’s right by their Coalition for Public Education/Coalición por la Educación Pública: An Effective Video About the Way Adults Talk to Kids Is Causing Debate:

John Thompson: State of the Schools: Education systems like skyscrapers - NonDoc

State of the Schools: Education systems like skyscrapers - NonDoc:

State of the Schools: Education systems like skyscrapers

State of the schools
Devon Tower highlights the Oklahoma City skyline in early August. (Ashiq Zaman)

James Spurlino, a member of ReadyNation and the owner of Spurlino Materials of Ohio, knows early education, and he knows concrete.
Speaking at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce’s annual “State of the Schools” luncheon Wednesday, Spurlino noted that a visitor on the 50th floor of the Devon Tower rightfully has confidence in the skyscraper’s concrete columns. Even so, employees would not feel safe in the office building if it were built without a foundation. While they can’t see the below-ground concrete, regardless of how well the above-ground tower was built, nobody would trust a huge edifice that doesn’t have a well-engineered foundation.
The same applies to public education.

OKCPS trying to invest despite funding woes

Prior to Spurlino’s remarks, Wednesday’s audience of around 500 local leaders had just heard Oklahoma City Public School Superintendent Aurora Lora’s overview of the excellent efforts that OKCPS has undertaken. Under Lora’s leadership, a compromise over the KIPP relocation plan has been nailed down. Despite funding and support shortages, the system seeks to raise its attendance rate to 95 percent. Even better, private donations will now fund field trips for 5th and 9th graders. Also assisted by public-private partnerships, the OKCPS is focusing on early literacy and numeracy in pre-kindergarten through second grade.
Owing to $30 million in budget cuts, the OKCPS cut 400 positions. Even so, the district posted a 25 percent increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses, and it would like to provide physics and other STEM classes in all of the district’s high schools. A 489 student increase in AP enrollment is barely more than 1 percent of the OKCPS’s student population, however. Significant and meaningful improvements in the nearly 90 percent low-income system won’t be possible until a foundation is laid by creating high-quality early education opportunities.

Spurlino: Early education must come first

Spurlino, the State of the Schools’ keynote speaker, reviewed the cognitive science which explains why we must build an early education system before the efforts of Lora and the OKCPS produce the results needed for competing in the global marketplace.
Between 80 percent and 90 percent of the brain’s development occurs during the first five years of childhood. This is the time when neural synapses are formed and then pruned. Not only is the foundation for language and reading laid during the first years of life, the State of the Schools: Education systems like skyscrapers - NonDoc:

Protect Yourself From ASDs | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Protect Yourself From ASDs | Gary Rubinstein's Blog:

Protect Yourself From ASDs

If you’re a student, a parent, a teacher, or otherwise interested in education policy, you will soon likely hear about the latest fad in education reform ― ASDs.  An ASD, short for ‘Achievement School District,’ is something modeled after ‘The’ ASD in Tennessee.  Tennessee’s ASD was an education experiment started in 2011 where the state either took over, or turned over to charter networks, schools with test scores in the bottom 5% of the state.  These takeovers are the school district equivalent of martial law.  Most, if not all, of the teachers and administrators are fired.
In return for this ultimate flexibility, the Tennessee ASD promised, according to its website, to ‘catapult’ these schools into the top 25% within 5 years.  Two years after the creation of the Tennessee ASD an optimistic superintendent, Chris Barbic, claimed that three of the six original ASD schools were on track to achieve that ambitious goal, one of them having made so much progress it could break the barrier after just four years.  But this turned out to be a very rosy view.  Now five years have passed and the number of schools that achieved this goal is exactly zero.  Of the six original ASD schools, actually,five out of six remain in the bottom 5% while the other one has only catapulted into the bottom 7%An independent report from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College from December 2015 concluded after crunching the numbers that “the performance of ASD schools has been inconsistent across school years, in most cases showing no difference from the comparison schools.” Another report recently released by George Washington Universitycame to the same conclusion and tried to identify what the causes of their failure were.  It might be time to rename it the Underachievement School District.  It is no wonder that many members of communities that the ASD has invaded are angry.  The other established ASD, Detroit’s Education Achievement Authority (EAA), has been such a failure that it is getting phased out.
But publicly available facts like this have played little role in the proliferation of such districts.  This approach to school reform has been popping up in state after state.  ASDs currently exist in Tennessee, Detroit, Nevada, Milwaukee, and North Carolina while legislation has been proposed to create them in Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Protect Yourself From ASDs | Gary Rubinstein's Blog:

CURMUDGUCATION: Do Rock Star Teachers Really Need A Union???

CURMUDGUCATION: Do Rock Star Teachers Really Need A Union???:

Do Rock Star Teachers Really Need A Union???

Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr., is a teacher-blogger who put in some years in the Baltimore school system and who now is working a charter gig. And in a recent post, he asks the question that lots of union critics think, but don't always have the nerve to articulate.

The question often comes from people not working in public education-- why do you need a union or tenure or a lock-step pay grid? Isn't all that stuff for the crappy teachers, to protect them from the consequences of their own crappiness? Wouldn't school districts do their best to hold onto super-duper rock star teachers and pay them super well?

That kind of kibbitzing is typical in every field that draws backseat drivers with no experience or expertise ("Doctor, why don't you just prescribe exactly the right dose of exactly the right drug the first time?"). But it's always a little bit of a surprise to hear it coming from teachers. At the risk of sounding like the aged fart that I am, I can't help notice that teachers who pose this rhetorical comment are most often "less seasoned" or "newly minted" or "young." Not that all young teachers have this issue-- the vast majority know better. But some still want to ask this question, so let me try to answer it.

First of all, the question presumes that the rock star teacher works for a rock star principal and a rock star superintendent. This is a large presumption. The rock star teacher may in fact be working for a complete Lawrence Welk administrator, a school leader who hasn't got a clue.

In fact, since school administrators these days turn over at a faster rate than teachers, chances are the rock star teacher is working for someone who had no hand in hiring her. I don't know that anyone has done the research (or could) but it would be interesting to see how many teachers are working for someone that didn't hire them in the first place. I'm going to bet that the percentage is 
CURMUDGUCATION: Do Rock Star Teachers Really Need A Union???:

Show Solidarity with Words & Actions | The Jose Vilson

Show Solidarity with Words & Actions | The Jose Vilson:

Show Solidarity with Words & Actions

Kaden Pagani, 8, left, and his brother Kingston, 6, carry signs as they march down Broadway toward Frank Ozawa Plaza during a Black Lives Matters protest in Oakland on Thursday, July 21, 2016. Image by Michael Short.

“Your Silence will not protect you”Audre Lorde calls for our silence to be transformed into language and action in her 1977 speech. But if our silence will not protect us, then why do we hold on to it for comfort? Why do revert to silence when we witness, see and read about the injustices and cruelty of this world? Why do we let fear take over? Why do we let compliance sink in?
There are many reasons for silence. But I am not looking to hear reasons and excuses for your silence or lack of action. I am here to tell you that while educators dominate the Twitter-sphere with their skyrocketing number of tweets, only a small fraction of those tweets are dedicated to discussions on racism, social justice, inequity, Islamophobia, homophobia and prejudice. Conversations are happening, but they’re a very minor, and often times you see them in spaces where people of colour have already paved the way for them, such as on #EduColor and #SoJustEdu.
Pew Research Centre published survey results on social media conversations about race. According to the survey, “two of the most used hashtags around social causes in Twitter history focus on race and criminal justice: #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter”.
So then why are educators so silent when it comes to race conversations? 
According to Pew Research Centre’s survey, “roughly two-thirds (67%) of whites who use social media say that none of things they post or share pertain to race”. Why are Twitter’s most dominant users silent on issues that concern the very youth who are driving these conversations online? How can Show Solidarity with Words & Actions | The Jose Vilson:

Massachusetts Locked Over Charter School Expansion, Offering a Glimpse of the Politics Playing Out at the National Level

Education Law Prof Blog:

Massachusetts Locked Over Charter School Expansion, Offering a Glimpse of the Politics Playing Out at the National Level

The national opposition to charters from the NAACP and Black Lives Matter is strengthening the position of those at the local levels who might otherwise fold under pressures to expand charters.  At least, that appears to be the case in Massachusetts.  As some may recall, an advocacy group filed a novel claim in Massachusetts last year arguing that the state's limitations on the number of and funding for charters violated the state constitution's mandate of a quality education. The theory, in many respects, copied that of the constitutional attack on teacher tenure in California: if there is an education policy you do not like and you think your policy would produce better results, challenge the policy you do not like as an unconstitutional impediment to a quality education.  In fact, it worked at the trial level in California.  But as I demonstrate here, constitutional education claims require a lot more than this.  The challenge to tenure was riddle with factual holes and the Court of Appeals eventually saw through them.  But the charter claim in Massachusetts is not even theoretically valid.  
The state's obligation is to provide a quality education in its traditional public school system, not create an alternative system of charters for those who want to exit broken schools.  To be clear, broken traditional public schools are a constitutional violation, but the notion that courts could mandate charters as the remedy is an enormous stretch. Nonetheless, the threat this litigation posed and, more important, the rhetoric and attention it brought to the issue of charters appeared to turn the political tide.  Numerous leaders in the state, including the governor, were voicing support for a change to charter laws in the state shortly after the lawsuit.  Quite honestly, I thought a new charter law was a foregone conclusion a earlier this year.
The current story out of Boston suggests the pendulum is already swinging back.  Democratic leaders are standing stronger against charter expansion.  And given that this particular change being debated will disproportionately fall on minority schools and communities, their views at both the local and national level are sure to loom large.  But as my posts the past two days show, the differences in opinion between local and national opinions can run deep.  The interesting question in Massachusetts is the possibility that differences in opinion between state leaders and local communities may also run deep.Education Law Prof Blog: