Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mississippi lawmakers propose ‘license to harass’ for transphobic teachers – ThinkProgress

Mississippi lawmakers propose ‘license to harass’ for transphobic teachers – ThinkProgress

Mississippi lawmakers propose ‘license to harass’ for transphobic teachers
It's the first bill of its kind in the country.

Mississippi lawmakers have proposed new legislation that would ensure teachers cannot be disciplined if they refuse to respect a transgender student’s gender identity. This “license to harass” is the first bill of its kind in the country.
HB 1176 would update state law determining how school employees may be disciplined, adding specific language prohibiting their dismissal or suspension “for referring to any individual student’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
School employees would be barred from being disciplined “despite the student’s preference to identify as the opposite gender after undergoing stages of transition as a pansexual, transsexual or transgender, whether through sex reassignment, gender identity transitioning, hormonal therapy treatment or other philosophical processes.”
The proposed measure also clarifies that schools cannot force an employee to comply with a directive to respect a student’s identity if it violates that employee’s “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”
The bill reiterates the full text of Mississippi’s unique “license to discriminate” law passed in 2016. That measure created broad protections for people who refuse to provide service because they oppose same-sex marriage or oppose sex outside of man-woman marriage, or because they reject the legitimacy of transgender identities. The law was challenged in court, but upheld on a technicality.
The proposed bill is likely a response to multiple high-profile incidents around the country in which teachers and school officials have been disciplined for disrespecting trans students.
An Indiana orchestra teacher resigned, for example, rather than follow his school’s policy requiring that he respect trans students’ identities; a Virginia French teacher was fired for repeatedly misgendering one of his students; and a West Virginia assistant principal was suspended for policing a student’s bathroom use. Additionally, a professor CONTINUE READING: Mississippi lawmakers propose ‘license to harass’ for transphobic teachers – ThinkProgress

How Los Angeles Teachers Organized and What They Won -

How Los Angeles Teachers Organized and What They Won -

How Los Angeles Teachers Organized and What They Won
“It’s really hard to overstate the incredible feeling of empowerment, solidarity, and joy that you saw in school site picket lines and at the massive rallies that we held every single day.”

Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest school district, was rocked by a six-day strike of over 34,000 educators who galvanized popular support and won major victories for public education. Jesse Hagopian interviewed Gillian Russom, a history teacher at Roosevelt High School and member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles Board of Directors, about how the strike was organized, the significant gains it made for students, and implications for the ongoing uprising of teachers around the country.
Jesse Hagopian: I want to begin by asking you about the groundwork that made the strike possible. You have been working for years to strengthen the union. Talk about the Union Power caucus you are a part of, and the vision you all had that culminated in this six-day victorious strike.
Gillian Russom: There’s been a long history around the country of progressive caucuses fighting for unions to be more active, and to have a broader vision and a broader set of alliances in our struggles. The Chicago 2012 strike and the work of CORE—Caucus of Rank and File Educators—leading up to that strike really helped to educate so many of us around the country and clarified our direction. I’ve been a teacher and union activist in Los Angeles for eighteen years and I studied what worked in Chicago and joined together with others to help bring those lessons here to LA.

In 2013, we pushed for a referendum within our union calling for a campaign for the “Schools LA Students Deserve.” This was modeled off of the Chicago teachers who based their strike around their own “schools our students deserve,” aiming to draw in parents, students, and the community.
Our agenda for union transformation basically came down to transforming the union from a top-down service model to an organizing model. We were crafting our agenda of union demands in conversation with community allies so that it would be an agenda that would draw the active participation of people beyond our own union membership. Up until 2014, we still had a model of one union rep for every school, including massive high schools of like 100 teachers.
Q: Only one per school?
Russom: Yes, but then we took the model of Chicago’s contract action teams, where you have leadership that can actually have one-on-one conversations CONTINUE READING: How Los Angeles Teachers Organized and What They Won -

Marie Corfield: Super "Bowling For Dollars" — How Politicians & The @NFL Screw Taxpayers #SuperBowlLlll #ImWithKap -

Marie Corfield: Super "Bowling For Dollars" — How Politicians & The @NFL Screw Taxpayers

Super "Bowling For Dollars" — How Politicians & The @NFL Screw Taxpayers
Happy Super Bowl LIII! Today is Georgia taxpayers' day to get screwed! 

During the NFC & AFC playoffs, I wrote about the financial train wreck that was Super Bowl XLVIII, played in New Jersey in 2014, and how the NFL and its teams reap all the profits while host cities—and taxpayers—get screwed. Today the train wreck comes to Atlanta.

The city just opened the shiny, new $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, paid for by taxpayers, the majority of whom cannot afford a Mercedes Benz; all of whom had no say in how their tax dollars were going to be spent.

Michael Farren and Anne Philpot, researchers with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, reported on just how much the state will lose not only during the Super Bowl, but for many years to come. This isn't an anomaly. This is what happens when taxpayers subsidize professional sports. This is why 70% of Americans are against this practice.

So sit back with your guacamolé and wings and read their words. All emphasis mine:

Sunday’s Super Bowl, a rematch 17 years in the making, harkens back to a thrilling 2002 title game between Tom Brady’s underdog New England Patriots and the high-flying St. Louis (now-Los Angeles) Rams. 
But the host of this year’s game, Atlanta’s sparkling new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, reminds us of something less thrilling: the $1 billion or so that politicians give away in unnecessary public handouts to professional sports every year. 
The $1.6 billion stadium was underwritten by $248 million in local bonds. Once taxpayers pay those off, they’ll then write the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons an annual check for stadium operations and upkeep. 
Our calculations suggest taxpayers will pay around $1.02 billion over the course of the deal. Combined with $77 million in sales tax rebates, infrastructure investments, and city-provided land, locals could be on the hook for over five times the initial $200 million estimate. 
The story is the same in most other sports cities. And like other sports teams, the Falcons rake in buckets of money: corporate sponsorships ($900 million) and personal seat licenses ($267 million) could have paid for 75 percent of the stadium cost alone, not  CONTINUE READING: Marie Corfield: Super "Bowling For Dollars" — How Politicians & The @NFL Screw Taxpayers

Why the federal government should stop spending billions on private sports stadiums - on @BrookingsInst
Image result for Why the federal government should stop spending billions on private sports stadiums



Threat of SCTA first amendment lawsuit forces Superintendent Aguilar to unblock posters to Sac City social media accounts.
Facing a threat of a first amendment lawsuit from SCTA, Superintendent Jorge Aguilar unblocked posters to the District’s social media accounts. In a Friday evening letter to SCTA, Mr. Aguilar wrote the he “is unaware on any individuals who are blocked.” Mr. Aguilar did not mention that the district appears to have unblocked those who were previously blocked just before he sent his letter.
We are aware of at least one teacher who remained block and notified Mr. Aguilar so that he could correct it. If you are aware of anyone who remains blocked please let us know.

Victory For The First Amendment: Court Rules That Government Officials Who Tweet to the Public Can't Block Users Who They Disagree With | Electronic Frontier Foundation - on @eff

School Reform for Social Justice?* | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

School Reform for Social Justice?* | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

School Reform for Social Justice?*

Should public schools in a democracy prepare students for what is or what should be?
This question about the fundamental role of public schools in a democracy has been asked repeatedly by reformers since John Dewey’s “Pedagogic Creed” appeared in 1897. The question continues in reformers’ quest for Kipp-like schooling for poor children of color and charter schools with the phrase “social Justice” in their title or those reformers who swear by common core standards making U.S. schools competitive with Shanghai and Singapore, and, of course, advocates for transforming schools into high-tech havens. Tracking the use of the phrase “social justice” in English language publications since the early 1900s, according to Google’s Ngram viewer, the graph line indicating increased use of phrase climbs steeply since the early 1990s.
Finally, add those champions of “critical pedagogy” to that list of what public schools in a democracy should be doing. Beyond preparing students with the language, social, and academic skills for a highly competitive labor market (e.g., “Everyone Goes To College,” Common Core Standards), “critical pedagogy” and its various incarnations seek to equip low-income minority students with the language skills and academic content to analyze the culture and structures of power  in the U.S. and use both to gain access to equal opportunities and alter the trajectories of their lives with confidence rather than embarrassment (see Ball and Alim pdf Preparation, Pedagogy, Power, and Policy). Proponents of Black English, for example,  (see PDF Critical_language_awareness )  state that “[o]ur pedagogies should not pretend that racism does not exist in the form of linguistic discrimination. Nor should they pretend that linguistic profiling does not directly affect the personal and family lives of our students who speak marginalized languages.” An arsenal of sociolinguistic approaches exists to answer the question: “How might the vernacular of African American children be taken into account in efforts to help them do better in schools?” Scholar John Rickford at Stanford University has spelled out different strategies and their classroom applications. All of these efforts seek to disprove that low-income minority African American, Hawaiian, Mexican American language practices brought into classrooms are deficits; they can be, in the hands of knowledgeable and skilled teachers–strengths.
That mission requires schools to attack political, social, and economic inequalities.  For that to occur, a critical mass of teachers holding these beliefs CONTINUE READING: School Reform for Social Justice?* | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Deborah Gist Used to Fight Teachers Unions. Now She’s Marching With Them. - POLITICO Magazine

Deborah Gist Used to Fight Teachers Unions. Now She’s Marching With Them. - POLITICO Magazine

Deborah Gist Used to Fight Teachers Unions. Now She’s Marching With Them.
How a hardcore education reformer switched sides in the teacher wars.

TULSA, Oklahoma — On a fall morning in 2018, veteran technology teacher Abraham Kamara was working with his robotics team at Memorial Junior High School when Tulsa school superintendent Deborah Gist entered the classroom with a TV news crew. Gist was there to surprise Kamara with the school year’s first Golden Apple Award, recognizing him as one of Tulsa’s “outstanding teachers.”

“We have heard so much about everything you do … making sure your kids have all the tools they need to be successful,” Gist said, her exuberance matched by the candy-apple red blazer she wore for the occasion. Handing him the palm-sized trophy, she continued, “We also recognize that you go above and beyond in this room, often at your own expense,” adding that the award comes with a $500 classroom grant.

Gist launched Tulsa’s Golden Apple Awards when she took the helm of the district three years ago, partnering with the local Fox News affiliate, where the awards are a regular morning show feature, and cable operator Cox Communications, which funds the grant.

Kamara, a native of Sierra Leone who fled the country’s civil war, was nearly moved to tears by the award. It’s a gesture of appreciation that goes a long way in a school district beset by steep budget cuts and a long-standing teacher shortage. According to the most recent available Department of Education figures, Oklahoma spends less money per pupil than all but three states. First-year teachers in the state earn less than $38,000 a year, making them some of the nation’s worst paid, and 40 percent of Tulsa’s teachers have less than five years of experience, district officials say.

After years of budget cuts and low teacher pay, Oklahoma has become the latest flashpoint in a roiling national debate over education spending. Last spring, teachers in the state staged a walkout, marching 110 miles from Tulsa to the state capitol in Oklahoma City to demand higher salaries. Last week, a Republican state representative introduced a bill that would not CONTINUE READING: Deborah Gist Used to Fight Teachers Unions. Now She’s Marching With Them. - POLITICO Magazine

How Teachers in Baton Rouge Beat ExxonMobil | Diane Ravitch's blog

How Teachers in Baton Rouge Beat ExxonMobil | Diane Ravitch's blog

How Teachers in Baton Rouge Beat ExxonMobil

In the Public Interest, a nonpartisan organization that fights privatization of public assets, reports good news from Louisiana:
ExxonMobil is the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas corporation, often cutting deals with authoritarian leaders in countries like Angola and Equatorial Guinea. Its fourth-quarter profit last year nearly quintupled to $8.38 billion after President Trump’s tax cuts.

Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has a $30 million budget deficit and teacher shortage. Its school buildings and buses are crumbling. Ninety-seven percent of its students, the majority of which are black or brown, qualify for free or reduced lunch. Teachers and school employees haven’t had an across-the-board pay raise since 2008.

Yet, ExxonMobil has received $700 million in local property tax exemptions from the parish over the last 20 years.

Not anymore.

Earlier this month, the school board narrowly voted against giving ExxonMobil two property tax breaks totaling about $2.9 million over a decade, one for a refinery and one for a chemical plant. Both facilities have already been built, which left some school board members scratching their heads.

“I would be a lot more receptive for a new project, something that’s going to bring in new business, new jobs,” one board member said.

But this isn’t just a story of elected officials making a rational decision based on the facts. It’s also one about democracy— and one that rings out even louder after striking teachers in Los Angeles, California, just won more resources and support for their students.

A teacher walkout threat set the stage in Baton Rouge. Last October, teachers and school support staff voted overwhelmingly to hold a one-day school shutdown to demand that the school board reject ExxonMobil’s request. Within hours, the requests were taken off the agenda for a CONTINUE READING: How Teachers in Baton Rouge Beat ExxonMobil | Diane Ravitch's blog

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Really Big List Edition (2/3)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Really Big List Edition (2/3)

ICYMI: Really Big List Edition (2/3)

Was it the cold? Did we all just have more time to wander the internet? I don't know, but it's a huge list this week. Remember to share-- that's how the word gets out.

LA Strike: Charters Are An Existential Threat To Public Education   

The LA strike was extraordinary in that it addressed so much more than wages and benefits, but also addressed policy as well. Here's a good look at where the LA charter movement fits in the bigger picture.

The Headband Obsession with Student Concentration.

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" files, the program that's going to read student minds via fancy science headbands.l

Betsy DeVos Fabricating History To Sell Bad Education  Policy

DeVos has been talking a lot lately-- well, at least for her-- and much of it has been a sales pitch based on history that is not exactly accurate

Only Two Percent of Teachers Are Black Men Yet Research Confirms They Matter. 

Let's go over this again- we need more black men teaching in the classroom.

Teacher Strike Interview

NEPC fellow Terrenda White creates some context for the strikes of the last year, up to and including the current struggle in Denver

Betsy DeVos's Favorite Teacher Story Wants Her To Stop

DeVos likes to tell a story about a teacher named Jed to help make some of her points. Rebecca Klein tracked Jed down; turns out he wishes DeVos would knock it off.

Can Altschool Save Itself From Failure

This might be the "if you only read one piece this week" article. Susan Adams is the education editor at Forbes, and she took a good hard look at Max Ventilla's super cool ed tech charter, Altschool, and probably got one of the most fluff-free looks at it ever (complete with cringing PR people). Joins Andrea Gabor's book in pointing out that some of these guys thinking they can business model their way to ed reform are actually using bad business models.

Shark Tank Recap: Teaching Harvard Grad Financial Lesson

Speaking of bad business. A Harvard grad goes on shark tank with her idea for mail order Montessori and her tail of having blithely burned through a mountain of investor money. Things do not go well for her.

This Is How Horribly Teachers Are Paid In The US

The story here is that this piece ran in Vice, not exactly known for their prodigious education coverage. This is brief, solid, and sad.

DC C charter Administrators Have Some Of The Highest School Salaries In Town; Their Teachers, Some Of The Lowest

City Paper goes digging, and has to work at it, because of course Freedom of Information Act doesn't apply to charters. Most amazing part-- a charter wouldn't let a teacher see her own salary schedule to know what steps up she might expect.

Another KIPP Teacher

Need another reminder of how awful a Teach Like A No Excuses Champion school can be. Here's are some words from a teacher who used to be a KIPPster.

Their Levers Are Destined To Fail.

A new-to-me blog with a post looking at the different ways reform has tried to bring teachers to heel.

America Is Falling Out Of Love With Billionaires

Not exactly an education story, except of course it is. Are US citizens getting fed up with the oligarchs?

Here We Go. Another Koch Push 

More news you didn't want to hear-- the Koch brothers have decided to help fix education some more.

When Schools Say "All Means All," What Do They Really Mean.

Peter DeWitt talks about safeguarding our LGBTQ students

10 Out Of 15 PA Cyber Schools Are Operating Without A Charter

Steven Singer calls for a little less cyber charter baloney and a little more-- or just some-- oversight.

Broken Promises: Camden's Renaissance Charter Schools

Jersey Jazzman with yet another tale of charter shenanigans.

That's it. I mean, that's not really it, because there is always more (which reminds me-- your recommendations are always welcome).

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Really Big List Edition (2/3)

Measuring Success: A Study in Contrasts
Two items tossed my feed this week that underline contrasting ideas about what constitutes success in education. First, let's go to the Jackson-Madison County school system of Tennessee. At JMCSS folks are pretty excited because they've made such strides with the addition of a unified curriculum. They know this worked because they have all sorts of growth data, much of it exceeding expectations. N

JAN 31

How American Should American Schools Be?
Part of the impetus behind modern education reform is the idea that more of the education system should be operated by businesses. Many merits and drawbacks of that approach continue to be debated, but one aspect is rarely discussed. Modern business is multinational, so we need to ask--how much control of our educational system do we want to send outside of U.S. borders? Charter schools have been

JAN 30

MA: Turnover Starts To Give Charters A Clue
Teacher churn in Massachusetts charter schools is high ( about 30% ). And apparently at least some charters have decided to do something about that. But as this article by Carrie Jung at WBUR indicates, there is some sort of mystery involved. Maybe there are clues in there. I do give the charters involved credit for at least thinking about the issue-- in many modern charters, teacher churn is a fe

JAN 29

There Is No Teacher Shortage
I've made this point a dozen times in other contexts, but let me take a day to address it directly. There is no teacher shortage. Oh, across the nation there are districts that are having trouble filling openings with fully-qualified certified teachers. But there is no teacher shortage. "Shortage" implies a supply problem. Like maybe people are born teachers and for some reasons, the gene pool has

JAN 28

The Truth About Davos, AI, and Firing All the Humans
This article ran last week, and it made my ICYMI list Sunday, but you really, really need to see this. Kevin Roos went to Davos for the New York Times to see what the masters of the universe are up to, and his most striking discoveries was " The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite. " The short version is simple. In public, they are going to talk about how much Artificial Intelligence will
TN: Legislator Says Bring On Fashion Police
Tennessee state representative Antonio Parkinson (D) considered all the issues facing education and decided that the one he wants to address is-- parent dress codes . Schools may be figuring ou t-- slowly-- that body-shaming students and chasing them down for ripped knees might be counterproductive. But this Memphis lawmaker wants to crack down on the parents : "People wearing next to nothing. Peo
MD: Failing Five Year Olds
Maryland joins the ranks of those states that have kindergarten exactly backwards. News overage of this Alarming Crisis starts with this sentence : Less than half of Maryland’s children have the behavior and academic skills they need to be successful in kindergarten, according to a new state report. Only 47% tested as "ready" (that's up 2% from last year). And I want to smack my head so hard that

JAN 27

ICYMI: Here Comes Another Arctic Blast Edition (1/27)
So it's going to get cold again. But in the meantime there are useful things to read about education. Here's the list for this week-- remember to share what you think needs to be shared. Denver's Portfolio Model School District is a Failure Thomas Ultican breaks down some of the details in the long-running reform experiment in Denver schools. Automation at Davos This is pretty stark stuff. The dif

JAN 26

Is Competency The Hot New Thing?
Tom Vander Ark thinks that competency is the up-and-coming next big thing in education. He just said so a few weeks ago at Forbes , but he's been saying so for several years now . Vander Ark has been at the education reform biz longer than most, but his career also includes the launch of K-Mart's competitor to Sam's Club, point man for the Gates small schools initiative , and an attempt to launch
OK Legislator To Teachers: Shut The Hell Up
Oklahoma has worked hard to get itself in the front of the pack of States Most Hostile To Public Education. Maybe not number one (relax, Florida), but right up there. Ultra-low teacher pay. Slack charter rules . The kind of state where the idea for improving education is to gear it more toward providing meat widgets for employers. The kind of state where a serious idea about improving teacher pay

JAN 25

WV: Legislative Extortion
Last spring, West Virginia's teachers stood up and stood up loud, shutting down every single school in the state. They were out with five demands -- better wages, health insurance, defeating an expansion of charter schools, keeping seniority, and killing a "paycheck protection" bill. They won, the governor signed a pay raise , and teachers won the right to shout at the end , "Who made history? We
DeVos Has A Hammer
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been busy lately, making actual somewhat-public appearances and talking about all her favorites subjects. Thursday it was the 87th annual United States Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, and her remarks included many of her favorite points. But she's not just beating a drum; she's working with a big, heavy hammer. Bang bang bang. Here are some highlights: D