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Friday, December 7, 2018

The Tide May Be Turning on Billionaire Backers of Charter Schools in California | Cloaking Inequity

The Tide May Be Turning on Billionaire Backers of Charter Schools in California | Cloaking Inequity

THE TIDE MAY BE TURNING ON BILLIONAIRE BACKERS OF CHARTER SCHOOLS IN CALIFORNIA

For years, billionaires have donated millions to promote pro-privatization, school choice candidates in political races ranging from local school board, to state houses, to Washington, D.C. An avalanche of political donations from deep-pocketed national advocates for private-management of education—such as entrepreneur Eli Broad, the Walton family (heirs to the Walmart fortune), co-founder of the Gap retail chain Doris Fisher, and other wealthy ideologues—has elected politicians and promoted district leaders who have enacted school choice policies focused on private management. California has perhaps been the state most impacted by this surge of cash, although enrollment growth is slowing, the Golden State has more students attending privately managed charter schools than any other state.


According to a chapter in the forthcoming second edition of the Handbook of Research on School Choice, campaign filings from the City of Oakland and the Alameda County Office of Education show more than a million dollars was spent in the past two school board elections in Oakland California, most of it to promote charter school friendly candidates (full disclosure: I was part of the team that conducted this analysis). In Los Angeles, charter school political support groups spent over $9 million in the 2017 school board elections. Hoping to tip the scales in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, the billionaires spent $23 million in support of Antonio Villaraigosa. Of these examples, only Villaraigosa failed to win, while school leaders in Oakland and Los Angeles continue to enact school choice policies focused on charter schools.

But the results of the 2018 midterm elections in California show the tide may have turned on the billionaires, and the fortunes of the progressive movement that seeks community-based education reform solutions may be trending upward.
School choice advocates experienced a big loss when they broke spending records and contributed nearly $40 million to Marshall Tuck, a former charter school operator, to try to defeat Assemblyman Tony Thurmond in a race for superintendent of California schools. Thurmond came from behind to win and overcame an election night deficit once all of the votes were counted.
Soon after winning the election, Thurmond called for a temporary ban on any new K-12 charter schools in the state, saying California has reached a “tipping point” with too many charters that have financially harmed public school districts and that California “shouldn’t open new schools without providing the resources for those schools… It is time to have perhaps a pause on the opening of new schools until we get clear about how we will fund any new schools.”
In San Francisco, where charters schools were recently approved by the California Board of Education, even when the CONTINUE READING: The Tide May Be Turning on Billionaire Backers of Charter Schools in California | Cloaking Inequity



Big Education Ape: Doris Fisher: Down the Dark Money Rabbit Hole | Capital & Main #UTLAStrong #StrikeReady #kidsdeserveit #marchforpubliced #WeAreCTA @WeAreCTA - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2018/12/doris-fisher-down-dark-money-rabbit.html

An open letter to Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education - Lily's Blackboard

An open letter to Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education - Lily's Blackboard

An open letter to Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education



The National Education Association stands firmly with the millions of people in the United States, including our students and educators, who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, gender expansive and/or intersex.
We are alarmed by recent news reports that indicate that the Administration is contemplating policy to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations. The NEA strongly opposes such damaging and dangerous policy efforts. 
We oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender non-binary, gender expansive/non-conforming or who are intersex. NEA logo
We oppose any attempts to eliminate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
We view any attempts to narrowly define gender as a deliberate attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ individuals and part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate or undo federal protections for LGBTQ people on the part of the current administration.
Transgender, gender non-binary, gender-expansive/non-conforming and intersex individuals are our students, our colleagues, our members and our families.
We call for equality in policy-making and equality under the law for transgender, gender non-binary, gender-expansive/non-conforming and intersex individuals.
Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a 
An open letter to Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education - Lily's Blackboard




CARL J. PETERSEN: Dismantling Our Public Schools

Dismantling Our Public Schools

Dismantling Our Public Schools

– Cheryl Ortega
Under what circumstances should the police be called on a five-year-old child? According to parents at Mayberry Elementary School in the Silver Lake/Echo Park area of Los Angeles, the principal has called the Los Angeles Police Department about students under her charge on six different occasions. In one incident, a kindergarten student was questioned by police after he “pulled his pants down to a playmate”. When the boy’s mother, Britney Ingram, attempted to find out what was happening, she was told by the officers that the matter was a “confidential problem”, that she could not “be present while they questioned her son” and “that if her son did not testify they would take him to the police station.” Another parent who attempted to record the events was removed from the school at the direction of the principal despite the fact that she “was a registered [school] visitor at the time this happened”.
If Ingram lived in one of the six Board Districts that currently has an elected representative on the School Board, she could have sought assistance from this Board Member. Unfortunately for her, she lives in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board District 5, the area CONTINUE READING: Dismantling Our Public Schools

CURMUDGUCATION: The Disordered Order of Competencies

CURMUDGUCATION: The Disordered Order of Competencies

The Disordered Order of Competencies

Competency Based Education (or Proficiency Based Learning, or Outcome Based Education, or Mastery Learning, or whatever new name appears next week) is the up-and-coming flavor of the week in education, even though it is neither new nor well-defined by the people who promote it (or the people who are implementing it in name only). But the basic principle is simple and, really, fairly common sensical. It offers a different solution to the age-old tension at the heart of education: students should definitely learn a certain core group of competencies, and they have to learn them in 180 days.
Traditionally, we resolve the tension by siding with the 180 days, and so some students are pushed through even though they don't necessarily fully master the material. But what if we flipped that? What if we said that every student must fully master one skill or unit of content knowledge before she moved on to the next one, regardless of how much or little time it took her to do it.
There's an obvious challenge here. What if Chris only takes 30 days to complete the full list of competencies? Worse, what if Pat needs 400 days to master the same full list? But there's another, less obvious issue here.
CBE is often presented with math lessons as the examples. That's handy, because CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: The Disordered Order of Competencies

Chicago's Charter-School Strike Is the Nation's First - The Atlantic

Chicago's Charter-School Strike Is the Nation's First - The Atlantic

The Charter-School Teachers’ Strike in Chicago Was ‘Inevitable’
The move could signal a shift in the long, contentious relationship between teachers’ unions and these privately run schools.



Teachers’ strikes have been a constant across the country in 2018, popping up in six states, from West Virginia to Oklahoma. But so far, the wave of activism has been limited to educators at traditional public schools. That is, until earlier this week, when unionized teachers from one of Chicago’s largest charter-school networks, Acero Schools, took to the picket line. The strike is the first of its kind in U.S. history; although other charter-school teachers have unionized—collective bargaining is a requirement for charters in Hawaii and Maryland—these teachers are the first in the country to actually stage a walkout.
Teachers from all 15 Acero schools—which range from elementary to high school—resorted to a strike after failing to arrive at an agreement with Acero on Monday night over the terms of a new contract, in which they had requested higher salaries and smaller class sizes.
While teachers’ unions such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) had been gearing up for a possible strike for weeks, this decision to walk out is unprecedented: For decades, charter schools have championed themselves as a radical experiment in education that eschews the constraints of unions and traditional-public-school bureaucracy in favor of the flexibility to innovate. Now, at least in Chicago, the mentality seems to be shifting—and charter-school advocates fear it’s a sign that teachers’ unions, in a desperate effort to retain their clout, are co-opting charters for their own political reasons. Concurrently, the head of Chicago Public Schools, Janice Jackson, recommended on Monday that the city stop accepting proposals for new charter schools, a moratorium also supported by J. B. Pritzker, the governor-elect of Illinois.

“Ten years ago, that would have been a pretty unimaginable stance to be taken in this city,” says Elizabeth Todd-Breland, a historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies education reform in the city. However, as a close watcher of Chicago charter schools, she long considered a strike like this to be “inevitable.” For several years, charter-school teachers have been joining the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff union, which recently merged with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU)—an organization that is affiliated with the AFT and has historically opposed including charter-school teachers, Todd-Breland says. “I think after a number of conversations [among charter-school and traditional-public-school teachers’ unions], they came to the Continue reading: Chicago's Charter-School Strike Is the Nation's First - The Atlantic

7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism - Education Votes

7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism - Education Votes

7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism
Image result for educators  rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism


With the number of students and educators participating in actions growing each week, many educators have questions about their rights when they engage in activism and protest on social justice issues.
In a national call with NEA members earlier this year, attorneys with NEA’s Office of General Counsel addressed many of these issues, answering the questions we are hearing most often about legal and free speech protections for educators who participate in actions in support of gun safety, DACA, Black Lives Matter@School, and more.
Below are a number of the key questions they addressed:

1. Do educators have First Amendment rights to speak up at school? What about outside of school?

The First Amendment enshrines the right to speak out, to assemble, and to speak without being punished.  But this right is not absolute, and public employees, like public educators, have limited First Amendment rights.
Before speaking out or participating in an action, it is always good to ask yourself two questions: 1) Which hat will you be wearing when you speak – an educator’s or private citizen’s?  And 2) What are you speaking about? Is it a topic of general public concern, or a personal grievance?
Generally, a public educator has the greatest free speech rights when speaking as a private citizen (outside of school and not to students or parents) about issues of public concern. You may have no First Amendment protections at all when speaking as an employee (in school or to students or parents) or about workplace or personal issues outside of school.
Before speaking out or participating in an action, it is always good to ask yourself two questions: 1) Which hat will you be wearing when you speak – an educator’s or private citizen’s?  And 2) What are you speaking about? Is it a topic of general public concern, or a personal grievance?
So, for example, an educator who speaks out about a hot-button political matter such as gun control outside of the school will be protected by the First Amendment. But speaking in class about the same issue would not be protected. Educator speech about personal issues or specific workplace complaints would also not be protected.

2. What other laws might protect educators?  

It’s always a good idea to check with your local or state NEA affiliate about which other laws may apply. Many, but not all, states have teacher tenure laws. Under these laws, your employer has to show cause to discipline or terminate a tenured teacher. Newer teachers and other educators often don’t have these rights, so they may want to act a little more cautiously.
Collective bargaining laws may also protect you when speaking out about issues that relate to the terms and conditions of your employment. So if you work in a state that permits public education collective bargaining, you may have stronger protections to speak out about specific issues in your school or district.
Anti-discrimination laws may also provide additional protection against discipline or termination that is imposed because of your gender, race, ethnicity, religion or other protected characteristic.
All of these protections are typically strongest when educators are speaking on non- Continue reading: 7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism - Education Votes

The best — and worst — education news of 2018 - The Washington Post

The best — and worst — education news of 2018 - The Washington Post

The best — and worst — education news of 2018



Every December veteran educator Larry Ferlazzo looks at the year in education news and makes his list of what he thinks the best — and the worst — of it was.
Of course it is subjective, and if you disagree with him, tell him (nicely) in the comments.
Ferlazzo is a teacher of English and social studies at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento He has written numerous books on education, writes a teacher advice blog for Education Week Teacher and has his own popular resource-sharing blog.
See whether you agree with his assessment. You can find links to his lists from past years at the bottom of this post.
By Larry Ferlazzo
As usual, I don’t presume to say this compilation all-encompassing, so I hope you’ll take time to share your own choices. I’ll list the ones I think are the best first, followed by the worst. It’s too hard to rank them within those categories, so I’m not listing them in any order.
The Best Education News Of 2018
* The November elections brought lots of good news:
It wasn’t all good news, and some school funding measures lost, but — overall — it was a Continue reading: The best — and worst — education news of 2018 - The Washington Post



More Education News from Chicago: WBEZ Publishes the Troubling History of Chicago’s Public School Closures | janresseger

More Education News from Chicago: WBEZ Publishes the Troubling History of Chicago’s Public School Closures | janresseger

More Education News from Chicago: WBEZ Publishes the Troubling History of Chicago’s Public School Closures


It is quite a week for education news from Chicago.  Yesterday this blog covered the first teachers’ strike at a charter school network, UNO-Acero Charter Schools in Chicago.

Today’s post considers nearly two decades of closures of traditional neighborhood schools in Chicago.  Chicago’s closure of so-called “failing” schools began in 2002. Two years later, Chicago’s technocratic model of test-based, punitive, turnaround-based school reform was formalized into Renaissance 2010, the program led by Arne Duncan. The “turnaround” idea—later brought by Duncan into federal programs— was to punish schools posting low test scores by firing teachers and principals, closing schools, and replacing them with privately operated charter schools.  It was an early example of an ideology the inventor of this kind of school policy calls “portfolio school reform“—the idea that a district manage its schools, public and charter alike, as though they are a stock portfolio. Keep and invest in the schools that raise scores, and shed the failures.
The “portfolio” model features disruption as a virtue and condemns stability as the product of bureaucracy and tradition.  It is a business-school idea whose proponents have forgotten to consider that real children, parents and communities are involved, and that there might be human damage from this kind of disruption. The theory involves test scores, moving kids around, and formulas to determine which buildings are being optimally utilized. The ideology dreams up a spiral of continuous growth in the number of high-scoring schools.

On Monday, Chicago’s WBEZ published a history of the Chicago school closures which have been the centerpiece of this plan: “In the time it has taken for a child to grow up in Chicago, city leaders have either closed or radically shaken up some 200 public schools—nearly a third of the entire district…. These decisions, defended as the best and only way to improve chronically low-performing schools or deal with serious under-enrollment, have meant 70,160 children—the vast majority of them black—have seen their schools closed or all staff in them fired… 61,420 black children affected. The number of children who have lived through a More Education News from Chicago: WBEZ Publishes the Troubling History of Chicago’s Public School Closures | janresseger

CURMUDGUCATION: MI: Baldfaced Power Grab

CURMUDGUCATION: MI: Baldfaced Power Grab

MI: Baldfaced Power Grab


Lansing is witnessing one of the most extraordinary power grabs ever attempted, and one of the targets of these lame duck Republicans is the state board of education.

Several actions are being attempted by the legislature, and they include an attempt to complete supplant the constitutionally established and democratically elected state board of education.

The move to overturn the democratic process is not unusual for either education or Michigan. Reeformsters have long used the move of pushing aside, dissolving, or neutering elected school boards, and Michigan also has s history of appointing "emergency managers" to strip power from locally elected officials (think Flint and how well that worked out).


Lansing in the winter, with bitter GOP sadness in the air
But generally speaking, these power grabs have two main characteristics-- one is that the voters who are stripped of their voting power are usually black or brown, and the other is that some sort of noble pretense is offered (such as the ever-popular "we're doing this For The Children).

But in Michigan, the GOP is prepared to negate the votes of an entire state (even the white folks). And in Michigan, the masks are off. As in Wisconsin, where a similar GOP revolt against democracy is under way, there is not even a thin veil of reasoning for the power grab. The argument is simple-- the Democrats are going to have power, and we don't want them to.

In fairness to the Michigan coup leaders, there's also an element of "They never obey me." The state board is about two shift from a 4-4 GOP-Dem makeup to a 6-2 spoilt favoring Democrats, but the Continue reading: 
CURMUDGUCATION: MI: Baldfaced Power Grab