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Sunday, May 7, 2017

NYC Public School Parents: Macron, Trump, class size vs. charter schools, and my letter to the NY TImes

NYC Public School Parents: Macron, Trump, class size vs. charter schools, and my letter to the NY TImes:

Macron, Trump, class size vs. charter schools, and my letter to the NY TImes

Today the big news is that Emmanuel Macron was elected as President of Franceby a huge margin - 65% to 35% - over Marine Le Pen.  This was a terrific win for many reasons, including one not often mentioned in the US media.

Macron has proposed radically reducing class size -- with a plan to hire 5,000 teachers to cut class size to 12 in the early grades in high-need communities.  

His platform is aligned with the findings of renowned economist Thomas Piketty, who after analyzing the gains of students in an earlier governmental class size reduction program, concluded that capping class size at 15 in high-poverty schoolswould eliminate the achievement gap between racial and economic groups.

Meanwhile, last week the US Congress voted to approve a continuing resolutionthat funds the federal budget through September.  But the budget they approved cuts Title IIA funds by 12.5%, a reduction of $300 million.  About one third of Title IIA funds are used to lower class size, especially in high-poverty districts where classes already are too high.  In NYC, the entire allocation of Title IIA funds of more than $100 million is used to keep teachers on staff and prevent further increases in class size, which have already risen sharply since 2008.  More on this here.

This is what the NEA had to say about the Congress vote:

Randi Weingarten sent this statement to Education Week, which she shared with me: 

The amount is better than the zero that President Trump initially proposed, but a cut will have consequences. In this case the consequences are larger class sizes for students and the loss of high quality professional development for teachers. We will watch what comes out in the President’s budget in May and continue to resist Trump administration’s push to defund public education and fight to regain and add Title II funding in the next budget cycle.

President Trump, of course,  has proposed slashing the education budget for next year by over $9 billion, and totally eliminating the $2.4 billion Title IIA program for next school year-- which would decimate efforts to keep class sizes under control throughout the country, especially in large urban districts.   

Instead Trump wants to divert as many federal dollars as possible to charter schools, vouchers, and tuition tax credits for private schools.  On Wednesday, he appeared at a White House event along with Vice President Pence and Education Secretary DeVos, promoting school "choice" and the DC voucher program, even though the results of that program have had negative effects.

I wrote a letter published in today's NY Times, along with several others critiquing an earlier column by David Leonhardt that argued that expanding charter schoolswould be a good solution to improve our education system.  The letters are all worth reading, and make good points.  

The problem is that few if any charter school studies undertaken by researchers have examined their impact on the entire ecosystem of 
NYC Public School Parents: Macron, Trump, class size vs. charter schools, and my letter to the NY TImes:

The Elementary Education of Donald Trump | deutsch29

The Elementary Education of Donald Trump | deutsch29:

The Elementary Education of Donald Trump

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In a Sirius Radio interview on Monday, May 01, 2017, Donald Trump offered journalist Salena Zito some (at best) puzzling commentary regarding his opinion about Andrew Jackson and the Civil War:
I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?
Trump’s bizarre philosophical waxing produced ample media response, including this NPR piece in which journalist Miles Parks asks NPR Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep, who wrote a book on Jackson, to offer his own commentary on Trump’s words.
In short, Inskeep reveals a Jacksonian-era knowledge level that escapes Donald Trump.
In a more searing response, Pulitzer-Prize-winning Washington Post journalist George Will bulls-eyes the situation with his observation that Trump “does not know what it is to know something”:
What is most alarming (and mortifying to the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated) is not that Trump has entered his eighth decade unscathed by even elementary knowledge about the nation’s history. As this column has said before, the problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something.
Will alludes to the two years that Trump spent Ivy-Leaguing it at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, from which he graduated in 1968. However, as New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz so cleverly captures in his satire entitled, “Fourth-Grade Class Touring White House Answers Trump’s Questions About the Civil War,” learning about the Civil War (and about the order of the presidents and when they lived) are a commonly-acknowledged part of American education gained in elementary school.
Let me also offer the following observation:
Had a current public school student offered Trump’s same words regarding Andrew Jackson’s purportedly saying that there was “no reason” for the Civil War and also The Elementary Education of Donald Trump | deutsch29:

The Trump In All Of Us | The Jose Vilson

The Trump In All Of Us | The Jose Vilson:

The Trump In All Of Us

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At EduCon, a group of EduColor folks sat around a table at a Chinese restaurant. This idea comforted me. Generations of activists, from veterans of the teaching activism game to an infant with her fist raised. We sat there, saddened by those who couldn’t join us, excited at possibilities for resistance, and united under this thing we call a movement. What loomed over us, however, was this strange sense that we were each dispossessed of something post-election. Maybe our communities felt less safe. Maybe our bodies felt more vulnerable. Maybe our schools felt like the foundations would shake from under us at any given moment.
But in times of uncertainty and vulnerability, it’s important to have communities of folks that want to address the danger of Trump head on.
What kept nagging at me throughout that fateful January was how flawed and vulnerable human beings would so easily embrace messages of separatism and fascism even while fighting for their own respective humanity. The president-elect might have dog-whistled to white nationalists all over the world, but he also whispered tweet nothings in the form of isolation, authority, and toxicity. He would be the president for anyone who believed in closing the borders on anyone who didn’t fit his line of thinking. He would be the president for anyone who thought they were the one representative for a specific ideology. He would be the president of “That’s just x being x” without accountability towards the ways that those flaws bully and harangue fellow community members.
In short, he is not just the President of the United States. He’s also the symbol for those who secretly cheered his approach, even if they don’t believe in his ideas.
What are the parts of us aren’t allowed to heal? What parts of us won’t seek restitution because we don’t love ourselves enough? What parts of us don’t see other people as human beings? What parts of us want to love ourselves by hating other people? What would it look like to build spaces that sustain us? When we envision a collective love and The Trump In All Of Us | The Jose Vilson: