Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Is Sacramento the Next Big Fight in #RedForEd Wave? - California Educator

Is Sacramento the Next Big Fight in #RedForEd Wave? - California Educator

Is Sacramento the Next Big Fight in #RedForEd Wave?

Sacramento City Teachers Association authorizes strike over unfair labor practices

The #RedForEd Wave has already swept through Los Angeles and Oakland this year, with thousands of brave educators going on strike and leading massive movements to fight for the soul of public schools. Is Sacramento the next big fight of the Educator Uprising?

Frustrated and fed-up by continued deceit, disrespect and outright violation of their contract, Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) voted to authorize a strike over egregious unfair labor practices and unlawful activity by Sacramento City Unified School District’s superintendent and school board. With 70 percent of SCTA members voting, 92 percent approved a strike to stop the district’s unfair practices and unlawful behavior, SCTA leaders announced Friday.
The SCTA bargaining team offered to meet with SCUSD at the end of the month to give the district an opportunity to correct its ongoing unlawful behavior. If SCUSD’s conduct and unfair practices continue, the executive board is authorized to set a strike date, likely in the next month.
“It’s truly unfortunate that teachers may be forced to strike to get Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, Board President Jessie Ryan and other district leaders to obey the law, including things as simple as agreeing to meet with us and honoring agreements they signed 15 months ago,” said Sacramento City Teachers Association President David Fisher. “What kind of example are they setting for the 40,000 students in our district?”

If 2,800 Sacramento City educators do indeed go on strike, it would be the first #RedForEd-era strike in the country over unfair labor practices and a school district reneging on a contractual agreement. SCTA says SCUSD’s continued unlawful activity is giving them no choice but to take direct action. These transgressions include:
  • Refusing to honor the collective bargaining agreement approved by both sides in December 2017, which included class-size reduction and increased numbers of school nurses and psychologists, violating the contract;
  • Refusing to meet at reasonable times and places with representatives the educators have elected to have represent them, and attempting to dictate who the teachers have represent them at the bargaining table;
  • Making unilateral and unlawful changes to the wages and working conditions of teachers without bargaining;
  • Failing to send district representatives to the bargain table who have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the district, rendering bargaining meaningless.
SCTA has also challenged the legality of recent school board actions to lay off 400 educators in light of alleged violations of the Brown Act’s open meeting requirements (detailed here and here). Additionally, SCTA has questioned SCUSD’s gross fiscal mismanagement—the district stands on the brink of state takeover due to insolvency, particularly in the aftermath of a scathing audit by the State of California’s Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team. If all that wasn’t enough, there are also serious unanswered questions about potential conflicts of interest by Superintendent Aguilar and other top district administrators. Recently, the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee directed the state auditor to conduct a forensic audit of SCUSD due to growing concerns of fiscal mismanagement.
Follow SCTA on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news on this fight.

Billionaire-Backed Lawsuit Against Teacher Tenure Fails in Minnesota -

Billionaire-Backed Lawsuit Against Teacher Tenure Fails in Minnesota -

Billionaire-Backed Lawsuit Against Teacher Tenure Fails in Minnesota
Trump has proposed to slash funding for public education in his 2020 budget. In courts across the country, however, public schools are holding up in lawsuits brought by pro-charter interests.

President Donald Trump just released his 2020 budget, and once again, education funding is on the chopping block. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has prioritized pumping more dollars into the Defense Department while cutting funds from the Department of Education as well as health and human services.
So far, Congress has refused to enact the large-scale cuts to education that Trump has proposed. For 2020, Trump is seeking a 10 percent cut in education spending, equaling just over $7 billion. Targeted programs include a student loan forgiveness program for those who take up public-service jobs, a professional development model for teachers , and funding for student enrichment opportunities.
There are a few education programs that the Trump Administration is eager to douse with resources, however. The 2020 budget calls for an increase of $60 million for federal charter school grants to facilitate the growth of the publicly funded yet privately managed schools. Similarly, Republican lawmakers have pushed a tax-credit scholarship program—worth $5 billion annually—that would divert resources from public education and promote access to private schools.
These priorities line up with those of Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. In a statement regarding the 2020 budget, DeVos praised the Trump Administration for its “continued commitment to expanding education freedom,” and celebrated the many ways this “freedom” can be acted upon—including school choice, and a preference for “returning power education decisions to those closest to students.”
DeVos’s plans and the Trump Administration’s budget proposal reveal a solid commitment to market-based school privatization strategies as the way to manage public education in the United States. But as a recent case in Minnesota highlights, many of these plans may not work.

In Minnesota, a billionaire-funded, pro-education reform outfit, recently backed away from its behind-the-scenes effort to blame unionized teachers as the cause of unequal access to a high quality education.
The Partnership for Educational Justice has attempted to tackle teachers’ unions from a legal angle, primarily through a handful of lawsuits filed in CONTINUE READING: Billionaire-Backed Lawsuit Against Teacher Tenure Fails in Minnesota -

Ed Notes Online: School Scope: Parent Action Conference: Opt Out Yes, Charters NYET!

Ed Notes Online: School Scope: Parent Action Conference: Opt Out Yes, Charters NYET!

School Scope: Parent Action Conference: Opt Out Yes, Charters NYET!

By Norm Scott

The annual Parent Action Conference sponsored by NYC Kids PAC, Class Size Matters and Community Education Council District 2 (CECD2) took place on March 9 at the Peck Slip School in lower Manhattan, attracting some of the leading parent activists in the city. Kids PAC is the only lobby group focusing its attention directly on the interests of the children in public schools. The opening session was a discussion with state legislators:
Alicia Hyndman, Queens NYS Assembly Democrat 29th District, Jo Anne Simon, Brooklyn NYS Assembly Democrat 52nd District, Robert Jackson, NYS Senator from Manhattan. They were asked to respond to questions on a number of issues.

They all supported parent rights to opt out of standardized tests, opposed attempts to punish schools when numbers of parents opt out and opposed lifting the cap on charters in New York City, which has been reached. There are still over 90 slots open in the rest of the state and the charter industrialized complex has been pushing to get those added to our oversaturated city. It was pointed out that Republican state legislators support charters but few if any charters exist in their districts – they love them from afar as long as those charter bucks role in – but otherwise, NIMBY. They were also asked about the upcoming renewal debate on mayoral control. They all called for more limits and oversight.

At lunch we heard from Brad Lander, City Councilman from Brooklyn, and newly elected State Senator John Liu, who is making a comeback after being out of the public eye since the 2014 mayoral election – he was my choice. Liu is very well liked and as new chairman of the State Senate Education committee will have a lot to say about education. He is holding hearings on March 15 on the mayoral control issue – I am hoping to cover some of the hearing for The WAVE – maybe after a nice morning ferry ride.

Workshops were held on a number of issues. I attended the opt-out workshop which gave parents thinking of opting their children out of testing some practical hints on how to push back against administrators trying to talk them out of it. There is a parent opt out support group for anyone reading this who might be interested in saving their kids from the torture of the test. Contact me.

I also attended a workshop on fighting charters and there were a hell of a lot of angry parents there whose schools have been fractured by charter co-locations, including some former charter parents whose children were pushed out of the schools. A representative of the Community Education Council in District 15 (CECD15) reviewed some of the proposed changes to the charter law that calls for more oversight of charters. CEC15 has passed resolutions supporting these changes and word is CONTINUE READING: 
Ed Notes Online: School Scope: Parent Action Conference: Opt Out Yes, Charters NYET!

Badass Teachers Association Blog: Pam Harbin Wants to Go From Pittsburgh School Board Watchdog to School Board Member by Steven Singer

Badass Teachers Association Blog: Pam Harbin Wants to Go From Pittsburgh School Board Watchdog to School Board Member by Steven Singer

Pam Harbin Wants to Go From Pittsburgh School Board Watchdog to School Board Member by Steven Singer

My friend Pam Harbin is trying to undergo a startling metamorphosis.
She wants to transform from an education activist into a Pittsburgh School Director.
Now that Board President Lynda Wrenn is stepping down after 4 years, city voters in District 4 will have to decide whether Harbin can make the change. The election is on May 21.
Residents in parts of Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, Shadyside and North Oakland already know Harbin as a fierce warrior for children’s civil rights, the plight of disabled kids and authentic public schools.
I’ve known Pam, personally, for years in my own role as an education activist. Though I don’t live in the city, I’ve participated in numerous collective actions to fight for the schools all our children deserve. And right beside me in every case – often in front of me – was Pam.
I may not live in the district, but I wish I could vote for her. Harbin is an amazing leader with boundless energy, piercing intelligence, a deep knowledge of education policy, an advanced degree in finance and marketing, and an impressive track record of education justice achievements.
“I am deeply concerned for our system of public education,” she says. “The status quo isn’t working for all children. Thankfully, there are many people here in Pittsburgh and across the country who are fighting for investment in, and transformation of, our public schools. Unfortunately, their efforts are hindered by the well-funded organizations who fight for public school disinvestment, privatization, and for the elimination of teachers’ right to unionize.”
For the past 12 years, Harbin has been at the forefront of every major battle for the future of Pittsburgh’s public schools and the rights of its students.
Harbin was instrumental in pushing city school board directors to enact a suspension ban from Pk-2nd grade for minor non-violent conduct. She successfully fought to stop the district from implementing a physical restraint protocol that wasn’t trauma informed. She successfully fought against a policy that would have allowed school police officers to carry guns. She supported a CONTINUE READING: Badass Teachers Association Blog: Pam Harbin Wants to Go From Pittsburgh School Board Watchdog to School Board Member by Steven Singer

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Ignoring St. Patrick's Day Edition

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Ignoring St. Patrick's Day Edition

ICYMI: Ignoring St. Patrick's Day Edition

The Irish contribution to civilization is huge and their history in America is instructive, but don't get me started on the wearing of the green. At any rate, I have your weekly reading list handy. Remember to share!

Southwest Key Schools, Charters and Immigrants

How to make money from the misery of children, and how charters tie to the detention of immigrants. A charter operation makes millions, but students eat in the gym.

Portfolio Model Explainer

Matt Barnum puts together a pretty decent explainer of the whole portfolio system. I'd correct a few points, but if you're trying yo figure out what it's all about, this is a good primer.

Education Reformers Keep Pushing the Same Stuff

Nancy Flanagan pulls apart a Mike Petrilli piece and finds the same old same old hiding inside.

The Chicago Charter CEO Gets A Raise-- But Not A Big One 

One more example of charters operating like a business-- a bad one. This charter is just struggling to meet minimum standards. Must be time to give the CEO a raise.

Remember All Those Anti-Tenure Lawsuits? One Just Died In Minnesota

Sarah Lahm follows another of those Campbell Brown-spawned lawsuits designed to strip teachers of job security. It hasn't gone well for reformsters.

State Leaders Rip Takeover Law 

Ohio legislators are waking up to how big a mess their state takeover law (proposed and passed in just one day) is making, just as it is poised to gut some of the state's major districts.

Who Pays for the Education Writers Association

Laura Chapman takes a look at who exactly foots the bill for the EWA. It's not a list to inspire confidence (and I'm not just bitter because bloggers can't join).

The Cost of Ignoring Developmentally Appropriate Practice    

It can't be said too much-- pushing the littles in the hopes that they can somehow be made smarter faster sooner is not just dumb, but is actually destructive.

And for a non-education policy moment of beauty, check out the=is Van Gogh painting rendered into a 1.2 acre field of plants and landscaping.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Ignoring St. Patrick's Day Edition

OK: The Four Day Week

Oklahoma has been a great demonstration of what happens when state leaders decide that they just don't want to spend money on education. Oklahoma has led the nation in education spending cut s, and schools and teachers have paid the price. But Oklahoma performed an interesting little experiment, one that is apparently about to end. The path was cleared by a rule that measures the school year in ho

MAR 15

Micro-Credentials 101: Do We Need Badges?

Micro-credentials are one of the hot rising ideas in the education space. To understand the basics, go look at your child's Xbox or PlayStation. For most of the major games, there is an accompanying set of achievements, or badges. Every time a player achieves a particular task (kill 50 zombies without reloading, drive over every tree in the enchanted forest, smash every Lego fire hydrant, etc.) t

MAR 14

Maybe We Should Talk About College Readiness Again

College and career ready. College and career ready. College and career ready. How long have we been reading and listening to that magical phrase, quietly at first and now omnipresent as the euphemism of choice for people who no longer dare say "Common Core." It is a hollow phrase, completely empty of meaning. It never, ever, comes with a list, description, or quantification of what "college ready"

MAR 13

OH: Beating Back School Takeovers

If there is any benefit at all to the complete hash of the takeover of Lorain City Schoo ls, it's that it has brought renewed attention to Ohio's terrible takeover law and renewed energy to attempts to bust that law. There are actually two proposals floating around currently, both bipartisan. State Reps. Kent Smith, D-Euclid, and Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, announced House Bill 127 this week. The
NY: Rochester, Mayoral Control, Vultures, and the Problems of Democracy.

It has been almost a decade since a mayoral school coup was a hot topic in Rochester . Mayor Robert Duffy wanted to implement NYC style mayoral control. There seemed to be support for the move; the superintendent even had a nifty portfolio plan whipped up and ready to go . But Andrew Cuomo tagged Duffy as his running mate for governor, and Duffy was out of Rochester politics about a year after he'

MAR 11

Gigging, Progress, and the Unmaking of American Work

This is not really about education, and it is totally about education. Over at The Nation, Malcolm Harris has written a review of Sarah Kessler's Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work. It's a thoughtful and worthwhile read, even if you decide not to tackle the entire book. Harris opens with the cautionary tale of failed start-up Webvan, and notes the lessons that the founder Peter Rela

MAR 10

Bug-In-Ear Coaching: Why Is This Still A Thing?

You're a young teacher, working hard to get the hang of running a classroom, sequencing instruction, monitoring a roomful of students, tracking the clock, and otherwise managing your role as educational Boss Of The Room. It reminds you of when you first started driving, and it was taxing just to carefully monitor everything that needed to be monitored. Your hands are full and your brain is just th
ICYMI: Actually Nice Out Edition (3/10)

Here's an assortment of goodies to read from last week. I know I say this all the time, but it takes readers to make a piece of writing spread. So always share what you think needs to be shared. Everyone can amplify the important voices, and these days that is super-important. Winning At Any Cost Arkansas gives prize money to its top schools. How far did the charter Haas Hall Academy go to stay on

MAR 08

TX: Charters Don't Want To Serve All Students

The charter school pitch often focuses on the idea that all students deserve choices, that families should be able to explore options. Here's the CEO of KIPP Texa s, speaking about the big Texas KIPP merger: We realized our organizations wanted to improve student success across the state and we wanted to create an environment to serve more KIPPsters. And here's Starlee Coleman, CEO of the Texas Ch

MAR 07

Can HAL 3000 Take Your Class Notes For You (And Is EdWeek Starved For Story Ideas?)

Can a piece of computer software take notes for students in a K-12 classroom? No. Okay, we should be done here, but Benjamin Herold, staff writer, has posted a curious article at EdWeek. The headline (Could Artificial Intelligence Automate Student Note-Taking?) might have alarmed you if you saw it, but I'm going to explain why you can relax. Here's how he leads off: "I'm afraid I missed the part a
Why Do Teachers Have Such Lousy Parental Leave?

At Working Mother, Amy Sherman asks a really good question-- It's a Mom-Dominated Profession. So Why Are Teachers Getting the Shaft on Maternity Leave? Of course, we're talking about US teachers, because we rank at the very bottom of the barrel for developed (or in some cases, even semi-developed) countries when it comes to maternity leave. For all our noise about babies and motherhood and how par

MAR 06

Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea

Florida's governor is planning to boost the state bonus program for teachers , even as Denver teachers walked off the job over their district's version of an incentive program. So it's worth taking a moment to step back and remember why teacher merit pay and bonus systems are just a bad idea. First, they can't work like a private sector bonus system. In the business world, bonuses and incentives

MAR 04

The $5 Billion DeVos Money Laundromat

You have read by now that Betsy DeVos is finally going to get one of her favorite policy ideas floated past Congress . But what the heck is it, and why is it a problem? To understand, we have to look first at what's been happening in some states. The financial device we're talking about is a Tax Credit Scholarship, and it's a bit of a clever dodge. Let's say I'm the State of New West Virkota. The