Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, January 20, 2019

LOIS WEINER: What LA Teachers Have Already Won #UTLAStrong #StrikeReady #March4Ed #WeAreLA

What LA Teachers Have Already Won

What LA Teachers Have Already Won

The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the city’s teachers union, has now reentered negotiations with a school board chastened by a strike that has shown the movement’s political power in massive demonstrations with community members and parents.
Los Angeles teachers have become a beacon for the rest of organized labor.
The energy of the “Red for Ed” teacher walkouts last spring in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, and elsewhere was channeled into electoral activity by both the AFT and NEA, with an unrelenting refrain that achieving the demands that had led angry teachers in those states to strike could only be made by electing friendly politicians. UTLA’s strike has shown, as did Red for Ed walkouts and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) 2012 strike, how mobilizations and direct action nurtured with an eye to building community and parent support are far more effective than an exclusive focus on electing “friends.”
Though incremental gains may have been possible in recent decades, even with a largely passive membership, a narrow definition of members’ interests to bread-and-butter issues like wages and no more, and a hierarchical organizational structure, teachers unions have been unable to win meaningful economic gains, let alone stanch deteriorating working conditions, for at least a decade. Capitalism has changed, radically; the unions have not. Both Democrats and Republicans have supported policies of austerity like privatization and union-busting, which have led to the well-documented transfer of wealth and power from working people to wealthy elites. The idea that education is a market that has to be opened to profit-making is central to this offensive of wealthy elites to overturn social and political gains of the past fifty years.
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) assertion that money does not exist to fund the union’s demands is based not just on the district’s unwillingness to part with its reserve fund of nearly $2 billion but on the false premises of austerity, claiming scarcity for the poor but unlimited resources for CONTINUE READING: What LA Teachers Have Already Won

The Radical Organizing That Paved the Way for LA’s Teachers’ Strike | The Nation

The Radical Organizing That Paved the Way for LA’s Teachers’ Strike | The Nation

The Radical Organizing That Paved the Way for LA’s Teachers’ Strike
In 2014, a progressive Union Power caucus took over UTLA—and that has made all the difference.

There are three picket lines at the Harry Bridges Span School in Wilmington, California, on the morning of Wednesday, January 16, but the one in front of the gate is where the action is. There’s a truck driver there to make a delivery. He’s looked at the picket line and kept on driving for the previous two days, to the jubilation of the rallied teachers, parents, and neighbors holding the line. But today his supervisor is there, and it appears the supervisor has called the police to clear the way for the drivers.
The teachers are facing off with the police officers—one teacher is in tears—as they explain why they think fellow unionized workers should stand with them, not try to cross the line. One woman taps my shoulder, saying, “The police should be going after bad people, not teachers!” Another picketer asks where all these police cars are when someone gets shot.
But the line holds. The police don’t make good on their threats to cite or arrest teachers, and the truck and police cars drive off. One of the officers even gets on his radio before he leaves and says, “Don’t let them come between us. We support you!”

Four days into the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) strike, the picket lines are working like well-oiled machines—and the groundwork that union reformers put into reshaping a massive organization into a fighting union, one that has taken over the city with mass rallies and pickets, is showing. So is the work the union has put into building community alliances, as parents, students, and community groups continue to organize solidarity actions that include visits to the homes of schoo-board members and charter-school funders. The UTLA strike, which leadership has called “a battle for the soul of public education,” at this point looks to be a model for how to keep public-sector unions strong in the age of Janus Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
It’s still raining—it has been since Monday, the first day of the strike—but that doesn’t stop anyone. Phyllis Hoffman, the chapter leader at Harry Bridges school, and Michael Gearin, the “cluster leader” who coordinates with other local schools, are running around. They’re talking with police, leading chants, accepting donations of donuts, coffee, and breakfast CONTINUE READING: The Radical Organizing That Paved the Way for LA’s Teachers’ Strike | The Nation

Showcasing Tolerance and Kindness in America’s Public School Students Through Their Writings

Showcasing Tolerance and Kindness in America’s Public School Students Through Their Writings

Showcasing Tolerance and Kindness in America’s Public School Students Through Their Writings
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, I thought it would be nice to promote children and teens around the country who have demonstrated tolerance and kindness through essays.
Our public schools and public school teachers nurture that hope.
Our children learn from adults. That’s why we must encourage students to be tolerant and kind. Self-expression through writing is one of the best ways for students to reflect on who they are and what they believe.
It’s a common project on this holiday, for teachers to guide students, and help them to make sense of their world. Hopefully, this will help children grow up to be respectful and caring, and to make a more beautiful, peaceful world for all.
These are a sampling of those essays that made it into the news. I know there are many teachers who help their students with such writings that don’t get published. This is a CONTINUE READING: Showcasing Tolerance and Kindness in America’s Public School Students Through Their Writings

Teacher Strikes Expose The Corrupt Privatization Of Schools | PopularResistance.Org #UTLAStrong #StrikeReady #March4Ed #WeAreLA

Teacher Strikes Expose The Corrupt Privatization Of Schools | PopularResistance.Org


This Week, Republican Lawmakers Held A Press Conference On Capitol Hill To Kick Off National School Choice Week, An Annual Event That Began In 2011 Under President Obama Who Proclaimed…

This week, Republican lawmakers held a press conference on Capitol Hill to kick off National School Choice Week, an annual event that began in 2011 under President Obama who proclaimed it as a time to “recognize the role public charter schools play in providing America’s daughters and sons with a chance to reach their fullest potential.” This year, Democratic lawmakers took a pass on the celebration. You can thank striking teachers for that.
In the latest teacher strike in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school system, some 30,000 teachers walked off the job saying unchecked growth of charter schools and charters’ lack of transparency and accountability have become an unsustainable drain on the public system’s financials. The teachers have included in their demands a cap on charter school growth, along with other demands, such as increased teacher pay, reduced class sizes, less testing, and more counselors, nurses, librarians, and psychologists.
The LA teachers’ opposition to charter schools is just the latest voice in a growing chorus of public school teachers calling on politicians to do more to support the public schools we have rather than piling more dollars and accolades onto a competitive charter school industry. And with the backing of nearly 80 percent of Los Angeles County residents, according to one survey, the teachers likely have the clout to change the politics of “school choice” in California, and perhaps the nation.
#RedForEd in a Blue State
Many of the grievances the LA teachers have are familiar to anyone who followed last year’s startling #RedForEd movement, which resulted in mass teacher CONTINUE READING: Teacher Strikes Expose The Corrupt Privatization Of Schools | PopularResistance.Org

Chicago: Mass Charter School Teacher Strike | Dissident Voice

Chicago: Mass Charter School Teacher Strike | Dissident Voice

Chicago: Mass Charter School Teacher Strike
Unprecedented, Long Overdue, and a Harbinger of Things to Come

Angering Wall Street and other millionaires and billionaires who promote charter schools, in early December 2018 hundreds of teachers at a corporate charter school chain in Chicago called Acero set a historic record and held the nation’s first mass charter school teachers’ strike.
The strike at Acero’s 15 charter schools, attended by mostly poor and low-income Latino students, was something wealthy private interests urgently wanted to avoid because it would bring too much attention to many problems that have been plaguing charter schools for years.
Smaller classes, more school personnel, better pay, and greater teacher voice were some of the many demands that 500 Acero teachers made. Out-of-touch Acero CEO, Richard Rodriguez, made many misleading statements about the striking teachers in order to discredit their struggle and rights. Like other charter school supporters, Rodriguez is eager to deprive people of their perception and consciousness, and desperately wants people to believe the opposite of what is happening and what is needed. He wants to operate with impunity while casting teachers as irresponsible for defending their rights and the rights of their students.

Extensive research easily obtained online shows that the charter school sector has been rife with fraud, corruption, racketeering, investigations, and arrests, as well as a lack of regulations, unions, teacher stability, accountability, or transparency for decades. These and other conditions common to charter schools nationwide have long produced a low level of teaching and learning, and a high level of stress, dissatisfaction, and frustration for everyone. It was only a matter of time before a large number of teachers at a corporate charter school chain joined together to defend their rights and protest long-standing horrible working conditions. Teachers’ working conditions, and therefore students’ learning conditions, in charter schools have been subpar for decades.
About three million youth are currently enrolled in approximately 7,000 charter schools across the country. These privately operated, publicly funded schools are legal in 44 states, Washington, DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico. They CONTINUE READING: Chicago: Mass Charter School Teacher Strike | Dissident Voice

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Too Much Snow Edition (1/20)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Too Much Snow Edition (1/20)

ICYMI: Too Much Snow Edition (1/20)

While you're waiting to dig out (or feeling clever because you live somewhere where you don't have to), here are some pieces from the week for your reading. Remember to share. Only you can amplify writer voices.

These Students Walked Onto Westminster Campus And Into History

Another chapter from the history of integration in the US.

Five Years After Common Core A Mysterious Spike In Failure Rate Among NY High Schools

Huh. What could it be? The Hechinger Report lays out the phenomenon.

League Of Women Voters Calls For Charter Changes 

The usually-quiet League has some feelings about the problems with charter schools-- and they're getting some flack for them.

Summit Learning-- Where's The Research

Summit Learning would rather not let Havard take a look any their actual results-- but they would like to claim that such research has happened.

Cory Booker and Charters

While LA teachers were striking and raising the issue of charter schools, Cory Booker was at a charter school for a rally. Steve Singer takes a look at Booker's privatizing history.

Kids in Disadvantaged Schools Don't Need Tests To Tell Them They're Being Cheated 

Boy, have I missed Jersey Jazzman, but he's back at the blogging biz, strong as ever (only now we have to call him Dr. Jazzman).

Writing As Filling In The Blanks

You may be unaware that the creator of the Mr. Fitz comic strip also blogs, and has some important things to say about the state of test-driven faux writing instruction.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Too Much Snow Edition (1/20)

Why TFA Doesn't Get More Edu-respect

The title of the article is "I Switched Jobs 4 Times--Each With A $20,000 Bump. " It is part of the series "My 6-Figure Paycheck." This article is a quick interview with a Head of Talent Acquisition in San Francisco who currently makes $117,000 for a salary. She went to UC Berkeley for poli sci and then picked up a masters in project management from Northeastern, and her interview includes this pa
US Teens At Their Worst

This is one of the more upsetting things I've seen in a while. This MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protestor at the Indigenous Peoples March. — Talia (@2020fight) January 19, 2019 From other angles, it only gets worse It’s even worse when you see the full mob effect. — Lulu Says (@lulu_says2) January 19, 2019 And here's a desc

JAN 18

DeVos Offers Advice From Within The Bubble

Betsy Devos is rich. She was born rich, married rich, and barring any French Revolution style upheaval, she will die rich. This does not automatically make her evil, but it does make her susceptible to life in a bubble-- particularly since she never created nor ran any of the businesses that made her wealthy. And it's important to remember all this when she starts waxing rhapsodic about the lesson

JAN 17

If You Care About Early Childhood Education

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I have concerns about the current direction of education for the littles. These are not strictly academic concerns-- between. children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, there are seven members of my family in the under-five age bracket. So I am happy to see this announcement in my in-box from Defending the Early Years: DEY is excited to announce
Oh, Arne.

Arne Duncan is always talking and it's never good. Let's take a look at two recent batches of word salad thrown up by the former secretary of education and current ed reform gun-for-hire. Earlier this month the Duncanator was the keynote speaker at Morgan Park High School' s career day in Chicago. The appearance would have been unexceptional had Duncan not spelled out in perhaps the starkest terms

JAN 16

FL: The Unsurprising Teacher "Shortage"

The Florida Department of Education has released a report on teacher shortages in the state , for the 2019-2019 school year, and the news is not great. The news is not just that there's a shortage (t hat's old new s), but that Florida deals with the shortages by filling classrooms with teachers uncertified for the subject. The news is also in where the shortages are being felt. It's not unusual to

JAN 15

Jeanne Allen on LAUSD: Fire Them All

The Center for Education Reform is a charter advocacy group whose most visible feature is Jeanne Allen, CEO and sometimes President of a board that includes pioneering privatize Chris Whittle. Allen loves charters and hates teachers unions. As you might guess, she has some thoughts about the LA teacher strike. After I wrote about the strike at, the Pinkston Group , a PR fit, shared some

JAN 14

SAT: New Frontiers In Pointlessness

David Coleman, he who single-handedly built the architecture of Common Core ELA in the image of his own (untrained) biases about how language should be taught, is taking a step back from some of his College Board duties. That news has been accompanied by further evidence that the SAT is increasingly pointless. Like most of the CC architects, isn't stick around to make sure his baby was properly in

JAN 13

ICYMI: Jazz In Church Edition (1/13)

Today was m day to visit my brother's church to play some jazz versions of old hymns. Fun times, but it ace for a full family day. Nevertheless, I have some reading for you from the week. Remember-- if you think it's a good one, share it and amplify the voice. Charter Lobby Still Spending Money in Connecticut Wendy Lecker lays out the ways in which the usual charter lobbyists are still plying thei

JAN 12

Four Reasons Charters Are A Bad Fit For Rural Communities

For just a moment, I'm going to set aside the larger problems of charters and privatization nationally. Charter advocates and education reformers have recently turned their attention to rural communities. Last summer, Mike Petrilli (Fordham Institute) unleashed one of his wide-release op-eds to point out the "problem" of "charter deserts" --those markets where charter schools have made few inroad

JAN 11

Why The Reading Wars Will Never End

I made the mistake of tossing a comment into the middle of a twitter thread on Monday. Not a nice quiet subject like vaccinations or abortion or Trump's wall, but reading. As soon as it became apparent that thread would blow up and swallow my feed, I could have asked to be cut loose or just muted the participants, but I was curious. How much longer would this go on? The answer is that after five d

JAN 10

GA: Cyber Schools Failing Here, Too

In what could be news only to someone who has not been paying any attention to cyberschooling in the US, a report from Georgia's Department of Audits and Accounts found that the state's cyber schools "underperformed ." Mind you, I'll argue that the state's College and Career Ready Performance Index is a lousy way to measure the performance of schools. But those are the rules that reformsters want

JAN 09

Bill Gates Is Still Pushing Common Core

Sigh. You've undoubtedly heard the news over the past couple of days-- the Gates Foundation is going to throw $10 million at teachers to help promote "high-quality" curriculum. There are several problems with this, and none of them are new. First, despite the headlines, this money is not actually being thrown directly at teachers. “We want to identify the content-specific professional development
Id: Ibe Hp Vp Bs

Idaho Business for Education (IBE) is "a group of nearly 200 business leaders from across the state who are committed to transforming Idaho’s education system." IBE works with the legislature and key Idaho stakeholders to help set our students up for success in school, work and life, and build the workforce that will lead to a vibrant economy for years to come. Our 2019 initiatives include the Sc

JAN 08

PA: How Charters Damage a Public School System

Erie has come a long way since the days that visitors would travel to the beaches just to be appalled by the dead fish on shore, the days when Western Pennsylvanians called it "The Mistake on the Lake." The waterfront is now pristine and beautiful, the city now boasting great theaters, hotels and recreation. But public education is still struggling. Just two and a half years ago, the previous sup

JAN 07

Why You Can't Fire Your Way To Excellence

For some reformsters and accountability hawks, the dream remains the same-- find those Bad Teachers, fire them, and replace them with Awesome Teachers. Crack the accountability whip and fire our way to excellence. We have discussed some of the obvious flaws with this approach. How do you even define a Bad Teacher, and is it a permanent condition or a day-to-day variable? How do you find your Bad T

JAN 06

ICYMI: Still Waiting for Winter Edition (1/6)

Still no snow in my neck of the woods, but still plenty of writing about education to be read. Remember, sharing is caring. Keep That Same Energy Jose Luis Vilson has my favorite kick off the new year piece. Check it out. Excuse Me While I Teach Your Child A greatest hits fun and games from McSweeney's