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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

My Message to the Teachers of Los Angeles | Diane Ravitch's blog

My Message to the Teachers of Los Angeles | Diane Ravitch's blog
My Message to the Teachers of Los Angeles

The United Teachers of Los Angeles have voted to authorize a strike. The union has been negotiating with Superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker who has no experience in education.
I sent the following message to the teachers of Los Angeles.
I am writing to my friends who teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District to encourage you to stay strong in your demands for smaller classes and the resources your students need.
Your working conditions are your students’ learning conditions.
You should not be expected to pay out $1,000 or more from your salary for school supplies.
I am astonished that one of the cities with the greatest concentration of wealth in the world is unwilling to pay what it costs to educate its children.
John Dewey wrote more than a century ago: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his children, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.”
The billionaires who have declared war on public education and who are funding the California Charter School Association would not tolerate overcrowded classrooms, obsolete textbooks, and crumbling buildings in the schools their children attend. They should not tolerate such conditions in the public schools of Los Angeles that other people’s children attend, people without their wealth.

They want the best for their children, and they should demand the best for all children, and pay for it.
Please fight against “school choice,” an idea that was first launched by segregationists in the South to block the Brown decision in the late 1950s. It is now the favorite cause of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who wants to replace our nation’s democratically-controlled public schools with a menu of “choices,” none of which are as good as public schools.
In California, as elsewhere, charter advocates oppose accountability and Continue reading: My Message to the Teachers of Los Angeles | Diane Ravitch's blog

GET OUT THE VOTE: It’s More than Seats at Stake | Schott Foundation for Public Education

GET OUT THE VOTE: It’s More than Seats at Stake | Schott Foundation for Public Education

GET OUT THE VOTE: It’s More than Seats at Stake

There is so much at stake this mid-term election. Organizers, activists and candidates alike have been focused more than ever on Get Out the Vote efforts, knowing that turnout will be the deciding factor in many tight races. There are signs it’s working – more than 30 million Americans have cast early ballots so far, which has already surpassed 2014 early voting, and more are still coming in. Still, on average only about 40% of eligible voters participate in mid-term elections, and even the best case scenarios do not assume turnout this time around will exceed 50%.

Most of the attention this election is on swing seats in House and Senate, which will determine which party will hold the majority of seats going into the next session. Additionally, all eyes are on historical gubernatorial races in Florida and Georgia, where Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams are running on campaigns for fully funding supports-based education, expanding access to health care, protecting voting rights, reforming criminal justice and addressing climate change. The potential for replacing the historic policies rooted in racism and hate with policies that provide love and support to all is what is at stake in these elections, but the candidates aren’t the only reason to get out the vote this election cycle.
Garnering much less attention, but still of critical importance, are the ballot measures that are up for votes in each state across the country. Civic engagement isn’t just about selecting our representatives for national, state and local seats – voters get to shape the actual policies directly with their votes on important measures that go straight to The People, and this cycle there are key decisions shaping social justice that our elected officials are asking the people to weigh in on. Getting out the vote and ensuring people are aware of the measures on their ballots could mean passing critical measures for funding schools and transportation, reinstating voting rights in places where suppression has been allowed for far too long, and reforming the ways our local and state systems work to provide an opportunity for all. Platforms like Justice on the Ballot highlight some of the most critical measures on state ballots this election, and actionable ways to get involved in last minute calls to mobilize voters around those issues.  
Here are some examples of state measures on education equity and social justice that provide yet another reason to get out the vote:
  1. Increasing investments in schools in Colorado (Amendment 73 and local school bond proposals), Georgia, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Utah: In Colorado, an unprecedented $3 billion dollars for school funding is on the ballot  to increase the number of classrooms, improve school infrastructure, retain more teachers and counselors, and provide special programs to meet the rapidly growing student population in Colorado. Voters in Georgia, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Utah are also being asked to support measures that open the door for more funding for K-12 and higher education, through sales taxes, property taxes, bonds or fuel taxes. And in Arizona, voters will decide whether to repeal the law that allows families to draw public funds to pay for private school tuition and other education-related expenses.
  2. Increasing the minimum wage in Arkansas (Issue 5): This citizen-initiated proposed statue would raise the state’s hourly minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 by 2021. The Loving Cities Index for Little Rock highlights working poverty as a critical issue (people working full-time with income below 200% of federal poverty level). With over 30% of Latino and 15% of Black full-time workers not earning enough to make ends meet in Little Rock (compared to only 5% of White full-time workers), a change to minimum wage could dramatically impact access to resources and supports for children from lower income communities and communities of color.
  3. Restoring voting rights (Amendment 4) and banning oil and gas drilling in Florida (Amendment 9): Florida is one of only four states with a lifetime ban on voting because of a prior felony conviction, and as a result, 1.4 million Floridians are permanently excluded from voting. Having a vote, especially for those that have paid their debts and want to be civically engaged, is critical to ensuring our systems are set up to support and provide paths to opportunity. Environmental protection in Florida has also become a central issue with green algae and “red tide” infesting shorelines, killing marine life, harming humans and stifling tourism. With pollution, health and education outcomes inextricably linked, measures and elected officials that will reinstate the environmental regulations gutted under Governor Scott’s watch will contribute to better systems for healthy living and learning environments.
  4. Requiring unanimous juries to convict someone of a felony in Louisiana (Amendment 2): Louisiana is one of only two states that allows a jury to convict someone even if two people on the jury don’t think that person is guilty. As a result, Louisiana has the second highest incarceration rate in the world. Reforming our criminal justice systems to restore justice in ways that rehabilitate and keep families together ensures that children have love, support and stability, and can come to school ready to learn.
  5. Defeating a voter suppression initiative in North Carolina (Voter ID Amendment): This initiative would add a photo ID requirement for voting to the state constitution, affecting 281,000 residents who do not currently have photo ID by effectively disqualifying them from voting in 2020 if passed.
  6. Changing drug possession to a misdemeanor in Ohio (Issue 1): This would cause approximately 10,000 people to be released early from prison in Ohio next year, and contribute to less spending on our prison industrial complex. In addition to keeping people out of jail for drug possession, it would prevent people from being imprisoned for non-criminal probation violations.
  7. Creating an independent redistricting commission in Colorado (Amendments Y and Z), Michigan (proposal 2), Missouri (Amendment 1) and Utah (Proposition 4). Several states are taking on partisanship in drawing district lines in favor of independent commissions that would aim to increase transparency and fairness. These ballot initiatives in addition to related measures in these states and others that increase ease of voting and limit campaign spending all aim to make the processes for electing representatives more fair and accessible.
  8. Protecting transgender rights in Massachusets (question 3): The law passed in 2016 protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places, including restaurants, stores, hospitals, libraries and gyms, will face potential repeal, which would roll back the hard fought anti-discrimination laws that protect the human rights of transgender people. With the White House considering harmful, hate-inspired changes to the definition of gender under federal civil rights laws, it's more important than ever that we reaffirm our commitment to gender equity and fair treatment of all people at the local and state levels this election.
With one day left to go, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! And call on your friends and community members to vote as well. There is too much at stake to sit this election out – the future of our children and their access to healthy living and learning environments where they can succeed depends on us. Let’s make sure we are not only electing individuals that will fight for the rights and opportunities for ALL, but that we are taking the time to support the ballot measures that open up resources and supports for children and families.
GET OUT THE VOTE: It’s More than Seats at Stake | Schott Foundation for Public Education

From South Carolina to California, charter school-loving billionaires are plowing money into midterm local and education races - The Washington Post

From South Carolina to California, charter school-loving billionaires are plowing money into midterm local and education races - The Washington Post

From South Carolina to California, charter school-loving billionaires are plowing money into midterm local and education races

In Charleston, S.C., advocates for the public school district are worried. They have watched some of the state’s wealthiest people — including billionaire financier Ben Navarro — form a coalition this year to back school board candidates who support a broad expansion of charter schools.
The Charleston Coalition for Kids has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising as 11 candidates vie for four seats on the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees. The coalition, which is run by a former Teach For America executive in charge of recruiting educators in the state, has won big endorsements in town, including from former mayors and school board members.
And it has links to Michelle Rhee, the controversial former D.C. schools chancellor and pioneer in the school “reform” movement that sought to use standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, principals and students and pushed for alternatives to publicly governed school districts.
Coalition leaders say they simply want to improve education in the city. But some residents — including pastors, former and current school board members and parents — say the group’s real aim it to expand charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated. Those residents say that will harm the 50,000-student school system.

“Though Charleston Coalition for Kids claims to seek to disrupt the status quo, its record suggests it aims to continue experiments in privatization that continue to fail those who need quality public education the most,” said Allison Mackey of the nonprofit Quality Education Project.
What’s happening in Charleston is mirrored in cities, counties and states across the country: The super- Continue reading: From South Carolina to California, charter school-loving billionaires are plowing money into midterm local and education races - The Washington Post

Badass Teachers Association: BAT Eye on the Elections!

Badass Teachers Association: BAT Eye on the Elections!

BAT Eye on the Elections!

Well, it's finally here, election day 2018. We have seen an unrivaled amount of educators running for office across the nation in response to the #RedforEd wave.

BATs have a few of our own long-time members that have sacrificed their own lives to put their name on the ballot.

In Tennessee we have Larry Proffitt. A long time BAT member, former admin and Tennessee power-house, Larry is running for  Tennessee House District 66. He was officially endorsed by NPE Action and this is his second attempt as a candidate.

Janet Garrett, a long-time Ohio BAT and a veteran teacher of 35 years is running for Congress in the 4th district.

Amy Perruso, from the great state of Hawaii, has her sights set on the statehouse.

From Michigan, we have Dayna Polehanki, 2018 Teacher of the Year that is running for State Senate in Michigan's 7th district.

We asked our BAT State Admins (A quick thank you to all of the work that they do!) what races they will be following closely this year. Here are some of their replies:

“Question 1”... we want it...our only education funding through a gas tax


Governor Gillum vs. DeSantis
Senate Nelson vs. Scott
Amendments especially 4 ~ restoring voting rights:
If Amendment 4 is approved by more than 60 percent of voters on Tuesday, most felons will automatically be able to register to vote after completing all terms of their sentences. An estimated 1.2 million people who currently can't vote would be affected by the change. Those who committed murder or sex crimes are not eligible.

Senator Annette Taddeo

Donna Shalala for Congress

Governor .... Rauner (funder of Janus) vs Pritzker.
Sara Dady, (US Rep.) Jake Castanza, Angie Bodine (IL State Rep)

West Virginia
The West Virginia teachers' strike was a staring contest with the West Virginia State Senate. 34 members, 22 Republicans led by State Senator Mitch Carmichael. Half the members (17) are up for election; ten seats either have Republican incumbents or were held by Republicans who lost their primaries. If the Dems don't pick up seven seats, Carmichael will revisit the issues from the strike and will pretend he now has a mandate of some kind.

There's Joe Manchin's race against WV Attorney General and former drug company lobbyist Patrick Morrisey (who treated to put teachers in jail during our strike). Manchin may not be every liberal's dream Senator, but he's an easy pick in that race.

We are also closely watching State Senator Richard Ojeda's bid for the vacant 03 District Congressional seat.

In Michigan, the whole ticket is exciting. But the key ones are Gretchen Whitmer for Gov., - Dana Nessel for Atty Gen. - Haley Stevens & Ellisa Slotkin for US Congress. Dayna Polehanki for State Senate (She's a Teacher of the Year and a BAT). Plus Sam Bagenstos & Megan Cavanagh the Dems for Mich Supreme Ct. If they both win the court flips from Republican to Democrat. Yes on Proposal 2 will eliminate gerrymandering so that's huge too. The boots on the ground for the Dems have been more than I've ever seen here in Michigan.

The Governor's race!!

The Govenor's race and Tammy Baldwin

All of our 23 endorsed candidates in OH and Senator Sherrod Brown's re-election, hopefully handily.

J.D. Ford vs Mike Delph for State Senator for Indiana District 29. J.D. has a master's degree in education from Purdue University and has been working as a substitute teacher while campaigning. He's liberal, 36 and If he wins, he'll be the state's first openly gay lawmaker.

PA Governor Race-Tom Wolf (D) vs Scott Wagner (R)
PA Senate Race-Bob Casey (D) vs Lou Barletta (R)


Tony Thurmond
Duncan Hunter (R), Mimi Waters (R), Dana Rohrbacher (R).

Governor race
Prop 305

New York
The State Senate - we need to flip it!

North Dakota
Senator Heidi Heitkamp

Senatorial... Incumbent Jon Tester (D) vs. Matt Rosendale.

New Jersey
Andy Kim for Congress District 3

 As I sat here typing this out, I received a personal call from our brother, Larry Proffitt. Much love to you and you will be in our hearts!!!  ~Melissa Tomlinson, Assistant Executive Director

Badass Teachers Association: BAT Eye on the Elections!