Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Phyllis Bush: Our hero of public education remembered - Network For Public Education

Phyllis Bush: Our hero of public education remembered - Network For Public Education

Phyllis Bush: Our hero of public education remembered 


It is with profound sadness that the Network for Public Education announces the passing of one of our founding board members Phyllis Bush after a courageous battle with cancer.
NPE President, Diane Ravitch, remembers how impressed she was when she first met Phyllis. “I will never forget meeting Phyllis. I spoke at a university event in Indiana, and no sooner did I step off the stage, then I was surrounded by Phyllis and her team. She wanted me to know everything about what was happening in Indiana. I realized I was in the presence of a force of nature. When Anthony Cody and I began creating a national board for the new Network for Public Education, I immediately thought of Phyllis. She was loved and respected by everyone with whom she came into contact. We will miss her. I will miss her.”
Phyllis was a warrior for public education. A retired public school teacher, Phyllis taught English Language Arts to students in Illinois and Indiana for 32 years. Upon retirement, she devoted her energies to fighting high-stakes testing and school privatization. She founded the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education and devoted her energies to lobbying for sound public education policies in her state and the nation.
“Whenever I spoke with Phyllis, she was preparing for, or coming back from traveling to Indianapolis where she would speak with legislators about the importance of supporting public schools. It did not matter whether they agreed with her or not—she was walking
into their office and making her case. When she was not lobbying herself, she was continue reading: 
Phyllis Bush: Our hero of public education remembered - Network For Public Education
Please give to the Phyllis Bush Memorial Award fund so that we can continue to honor her memory for years to come.
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The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society.

Jeff Bryant: Our Schools - Independent Media Institute

Our Schools - Independent Media Institute

Our Schools


By Jeff Bryant

It’s been some time since I’ve shown up in your inbox but doesn’t mean important education news hasn’t continued to break around the country. An exciting new media project I’ve started called Our Schools, in collaboration with the Independent Media Institute, takes you to the frontlines of these stories – from communities in New Jersey to California – to report on the nationwide effort to privatize and undermine the public education system. I’ve been exposing the false promises of charter schools, voucher programs, and corporate-style reforms and spotlighting how communities are fighting back and often succeeding against the school privatization agenda. My reporting appears on major national news outlets including Salon, AlterNet, and Naked Capitalism. But the best way for you to keep up with this reporting is to subscribe at the Our Schools website. And please help support the project with a generous donation.
Subscribe to Our Schools … 
Donate to Our Schools …

Jeff Bryant

Chief Correspondent, Writing Fellow for Our Schools
Jeff Bryant is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy.

Latest Work

About

Our Schools goes to the frontlines of the nationwide effort to privatize and undermine the public education system. It exposes the false promises of charter schools, voucher programs, and corporate-style reforms and spotlights how communities are fighting back and often succeeding against the school privatization agenda.

3/19/2019 – New ‘Our Schools’ Media Project To Report On Privatization Movement

3/19/2019 – New ‘Our Schools’ Media Project To Report On Privatization Movement

3/19/2019 – New ‘Our Schools’ Media Project To Report On Privatization Movement


THIS WEEK: Kentucky Teachers Close Schools Again … Fund Our Future … DeVos Voucher Plan … Oregon Teachers May Strike … New Class Size Legislation

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

New ‘Our Schools’ Media Project To Report On Privatization Movement

By Jeff Bryant

It’s been some time since I’ve shown up in your inbox but doesn’t mean important education news hasn’t continued to break around the country. An exciting new media project I’ve started called Our Schools, in collaboration with the Independent Media Institute, takes you to the frontlines of these stories – from communities in New Jersey to California – to report on the nationwide effort to privatize and undermine the public education system. I’ve been exposing the false promises of charter schools, voucher programs, and corporate-style reforms and spotlighting how communities are fighting back and often succeeding against the school privatization agenda. My reporting appears on major national news outlets including Salon, AlterNet, and Naked Capitalism. But the best way for you to keep up with this reporting is to subscribe at the Our Schools website. And please help support the project with a generous donation.
Subscribe to Our Schools … 
Donate to Our Schools …

NEWS AND VIEWS

‘Tired Of Being Unsupported And Messed With’: Teachers Stage A Bold Protest That Scores National Attention

Our Schools

“Hundreds of other teachers in Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky’s largest school district that includes Louisville, called in sick, prompting the district to close schools for over 100,000 students … The Kentucky teachers’ actions are the latest in what has become a wave of teachers using their collective power to influence legislation in state governments, but the sick-out in Kentucky is also a sign of how teacher protests are evolving. Teachers who once saw labor actions as effective tactical responses to attacks on their financial well-being are now understanding that their labor power is part of a broader strategy to even the playing field in a political landscape that is increasingly unequal. And there’s strong evidence they’re having an impact.”
Read more …

Teachers’ Strikes Prompt Renewed Calls For More Education Funding

The Progressive

“Teachers have been actively protesting their working and living conditions. Many of the disputes have centered around stagnant teacher pay, large class sizes, and down-sized pension arrangements, while others focus on the spread of charter schools and other school ‘choice’ schemes that undermine public schools. These actions highlight an increased show of political power from teachers … The American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers union in America, hopes to seize on this increase in teacher-led actions. They just launched a nationwide campaign, ‘Fund Our Future,’ which they describe as a ‘major education initiative aimed at pressing lawmakers in state capitals and Congress to increase funding for public schools and universities.'”
Read more …

Betsy DeVos Promotes Plan To Hand Over Billions In Federal Tax Credits To Private, Religious And Home Schooling

AlterNet

“DeVos has been touring the country to promote her plan to hand over $5billion dollars in federal tax credits to dramatically expand the number of students attending private schools, religious schools, or even being homeschool. The program, part of a bill in Congress, would be funded through private donations in exchange for tax credits. In other words, tax dollars would effectively be paying for the program, as those dollars will have to be made up by taxpayers … The reception in Sec. DeVos’ stop in Iowa appeared less than enthusiastic. ‘Pitching her proposal to fund scholarships for private school and home-schooled students, federal education secretary Betsy DeVos met behind closed doors Friday with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state leaders and lobbyists’ … Sec. DeVos and Senator Ted Cruz, a big hom-schooling advocate, promote this bill … calling it a ‘civil rights issue.'”
Read more …

Oregon Teachers Plan For Walkout If Budget Deal Isn’t Reached

KEZI

“After years of negotiations and disappointment with the Oregon State Legislature’s proposed budgets, Oregon educators are saying enough is enough. And if a deal can’t be reached soon, teachers say they plan to hold a walkout. Tad Shannon, who has been president of the Eugene Education Association for seven years, said they’ve kept steady pressure on lawmakers to get the resources teachers need to best serve students. In a letter sent out to teachers, Shannon wrote: ‘No one can do this for us. The time is now. We can’t wait any longer.’ The letter claims Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation as well as the third highest class size.”
Read more …

Senate Bill Proposes Smaller Class Sizes For High-Poverty School Districts

Next City

“Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced a new bill to incentivize smaller class sizes in kindergarten and first, second and third grades. The legislation, which would allocate $2 billion for competitive grant funding, primarily to high-poverty school districts in the United States, is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Michael Bennet (CO) … Influential research has suggested that setting the class size cap below 20 students will yield the greatest benefits, and Merkley’s bill caps class size at 18.”
Read more …

Weingarten: Teachers strikes “successful examples” of community-based action benefiting workers – People's World

Weingarten: Teachers strikes “successful examples” of community-based action benefiting workers – People's World

Weingarten: Teachers strikes “successful examples” of community-based action benefiting workers



NEW ORLEANS—The wave of teachers’ walkouts and strikes for almost a year – forced on the workers by penny-pinching and tax-cutting GOP administrations and politicians – represent “successful examples” of community-based action where victories benefit everyone, says Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten.
That’s because those walkouts, in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Denver, Los Angeles, among Chicago charter school teachers and now in Indiana and at Summit Academy in Parma, Ohio, centered not around pay and pensions, but around what’s best for schools and kids, she adds.
That community-centric focus is a model other unions could plan to follow, and she believes they will.
Weingarten gave her analysis in a March 13 interview after a session on organizing during the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in New Orleans. The session featured presentations by Weingarten, Food and Commercial Workers President Marc Perrone and other leaders.


Some of those leaders, including Weingarten and Communications Workers President Chris Shelton – chair of the AFL-CIO Organizing Committee – also participated in a “Future of Unions” conference in D.C. several weeks ago.  Speakers there discussed engaging with and involving communities, not just unionists, in issues that matter to all. Weingarten said that works for the teachers and it works for other causes, too.
“You’re seeing more and more people engage in issues they care about,” she explained. “Good schools for our kids, keeping our skies safe, health care…You get people more and more involved and you win.”
But they won’t get involved unless they see examples of prior wins using community-based issues, she warned. That’s where the past teacher strike successes come into play. Those strikes were characterized by bottom-up organizing, community concern and involvement and mass action to pressure politicians to change anti-education, anti-teacher policies.
The first strike in West Virginia, over crumbling schools, revenue robbed from them by tax cuts for the rich CONTINUE READING: Weingarten: Teachers strikes “successful examples” of community-based action benefiting workers – People's World
Image result for WINNING FOR OUR STUDENTS

Bill Gates says AI should improve education and medicine - CNET

Bill Gates says AI should improve education and medicine - CNET

Bill Gates says AI should improve education and medicine
Artificial intelligence is "both promising and dangerous," like nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, Microsoft's co-founder says.
Artificial intelligence is an unusual technology with the potential to both harm and help us, Microsoft co-founder and now philanthropist Bill Gates urged. So to ensure it's a boon, we should put AI to work improving health and education.
"The world hasn't had that many technologies that are both promising and dangerous," Gates said Monday, mentioning nuclear energy and nuclear weapons as other examples with that much potential for profound change. As for areas where AI has helped society so far, he said, "I won't say there are that many."
But that doesn't have to be the case. He singled out medicine and education as areas where AI could help out the humans while speaking at a conference run by the new Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.
"It's a chance to supercharge the social sciences, with the biggest being education itself," Gates said of AI's promise. Gates, for years, has expressed worries about the risks of AI technology.
AI, boosted by the new utility of technology called neural networks that are based loosely on the way human brains work, has revolutionized the technology industry. It's used for everything from facial recognition to scouring spam out of email inboxes. Gates wants more than just tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook to benefit, though.

More selenium, fewer premature births

As one example, he said, AI has been used to pore through 23andMe genetic data to discover that a shortage of the element selenium could be associated with premature births in Africa. In 18 months, we should find out whether the resulting program to give 20,000 women more will help.
"We expect to see about 15 percent reduction in prematurity, which for Africa as a whole would project out to be about 80,000 lives saved per year," Gates said.
For education, he hopes AI will let us find what works in schools and reproduce that elsewhere. "We have not even begun to do that work of understanding motivation and engagement and teaching styles that would really improve the output of the system -- better learning, less dropouts," Gates said.
Gates grew rich from technology as his company's software -- namely Microsoft Windows and Office -- spread across the globe. He's since shifted to philanthropic efforts, perhaps most notably an effort reduce deaths from malaria.
Among other comments:
  • The US has lost its technological edge over other countries, Gates said: "The US was in this totally unique position for most of these breakthrough technologies. Now the US is still very much the leader, but not in a the same dominant, dominant way." A decade from now it may not be researchers in the US who figure out how best to create an AI that reads scientific research papers to CONTINUE READING: Bill Gates says AI should improve education and medicine - CNET

The LAUSD Empire Strikes Back

The LAUSD Empire Strikes Back

The LAUSD Empire Strikes Back

Why, you slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler! You’ve got a lot of guts coming here after what you pulled.”
– Lando Calrissian
Much to the chagrin of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Austin Beutner and his charter school industry supporters, parents overwhelmingly backed the District’s teachers when they went out on strike in January. At one point, less than a fifth of LAUSD students were attending class, even as principals pleaded with and threatened parents to send their children to school. One survey taken during the work stoppage found that 80% of Angelenos were supporting the strike.


One of the reasons for the community’s support was that salary issues had been mostly resolved and the majority of the remaining demandswere centered around improving students’ educational experience. These demands included smaller class sizes, a full-time nurse in every school and one counselor for every 500 students in a school. The union also sought a requirement that every middle and high school should have a full-time librarian.
As a result of the strike, every secondary school will have a librarian five days a week by the 2020–2021 school year. However, since United CONTINUE READING: The LAUSD Empire Strikes Back

Momentum Grows for Desperately Needed Regulation of Charter Schools | janresseger

Momentum Grows for Desperately Needed Regulation of Charter Schools | janresseger

Momentum Grows for Desperately Needed Regulation of Charter Schools


Last summer the Schott Foundation and the Network for Public Education’s published a fine report on the privatization of public education.  Grading the States begins with a reminder that charter schools educate the few at the expense of the many: “The ability for every child, regardless of race, income, disability, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other immutable characteristic, to obtain a free quality public education is a foundational principle in American society.  This principle is based on the belief that everyone should be given the opportunity to learn…. Although the public school system is not perfect and has continual room for improvement, it is… the cornerstone of community empowerment and advancement in American society.  In fact, the overwhelming majority of students… continue to attend public schools with total public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12 projected to increase by 3 percent from 50.3 million to 51.7 million students. This compares with a 6% enrollment in charter schools….”


Wooed by the ideology of freedom of choice, however, the public has not been willing to demand that government rein in what the Network for Public Education’s Carol Burris has called “charters gone wild.” However two recent news analyses highlight growing public skepticism and even outrage about charter schools destroying local public school districts.
For The American ProspectRachel M. Cohen summarizes what she calls “the washout” in the past month of charter schools in California: “Following the United Teachers of Los Angeles’ six-day strike, where opposition to charters was a central point of the teachers’ advocacy, the L.A. school board approved a nonbinding resolution in support of an eight-to-ten month moratorium on new charter schools, pending a study on California’s charter laws… A public opinion survey of Los Angeles County residents taken during January and the first two weeks of February found that 75 percent of respondents said they wanted to focus on improving existing public schools, and just 25 percent said the focus should be on giving families more school choices… Further north in California, teachers in Oakland went on strike in late February, ending with an agreement that included among other things, (a resolution for) a moratorium on charter schools… Last week, the California Assembly approved a bill that CONTINUE READING: Momentum Grows for Desperately Needed Regulation of Charter Schools | janresseger

Is it finally time to get rid of the SAT and ACT college admissions tests? - The Washington Post

Is it finally time to get rid of the SAT and ACT college admissions tests? - The Washington Post

Is it finally time to get rid of the SAT and ACT college admissions tests?



Is it finally time for colleges and universities to stop requiring applicants to take the SAT and ACT college admissions exams?
The question, long asked by testing critics, is being revived with new urgency amid the explosive college admissions bribery scandal rocking the world of higher education. As part of an investigation they called Operation Varsity Blues, federal prosecutors last week charged some 50 people, including famous Hollywood actresses and wealthy financiers. The alleged schemes included hiring impostors to take SAT and ACT exams, or rigging the test by asking for additional time to take it even when that wasn’t necessary.
As high-profile as Varsity Blues is, it is just the latest issue facing the College Board, which owns the SAT, and ACT Inc. — including repeated cheating scandals and fundamental questions about the value of the scores. Now, the testing giants find themselves again defending the integrity of their exams.
Colleges admissions tests have for decades played an important — and sometimes decisive — role at colleges and universities as they choose who to admit and who to reject. Millions of students take one of the two exams each year, earning millions of dollars for the nonprofit organizations that own them. Schools like to use the scores as a concrete data point to compare thousands or even tens of thousands of applicants.
The College Board and ACT say their tests are objective. The College Board said in a new statement, “Without an objective measure like the SAT, gaming the system to gain access to higher ed through wealth and connections would be much more common." They both say their tests help predict how well students will perform in part or all of college, and even perhaps beyond.
But critics say SAT and ACT results follow a pattern of all standardized test scores: Kids from poor families do CONTINUE READING: Is it finally time to get rid of the SAT and ACT college admissions tests? - The Washington Post

Teaching Integrated Science at MetWest (Part 4) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Teaching Integrated Science at MetWest (Part 4) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Teaching Integrated Science at MetWest (Part 4)


On a table next to me is a fan whooshing air. A few students are waiting in line to see if a design of a pinwheel windmill they made out of thin wooden rods, rubber bands, scotch tape , twine, corks, and glue will twirl its blades as it holds a cup of at least eight pennies. I watch as the  teams of two to three students stand in front of the fan to see if their design works.
I am observing an integrated science class at MetWest taught by Jake Puzycki.*  He is wearing a Lehigh College T-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. As students entered the class, Jake held a basket into which each student dropped his or her cell phone. There are 18 students sitting in a horseshoe arrangements of desks–one side of horseshoe facing the other side–with a large open space with the teacher’s desk at the front near a large whiteboard. Next to one wall is a table holding raw materials for the pinwheel including a bucket of pennies and a fan blowing air.
On one wall of the spacious classroom is a poster:
Norms of Engagement
* I can participate fully
* I can honor my experience and the experiences of others
* I am Science-able and I can celebrate failure and learn from it
* I can create the environment I need to be successful
Previous lessons worked on the design and  all of the variables that go into make a simple wind turbine that can carry weight. Today is the test of the turbine and the completion of a worksheet. Photo below illustrates one kind of prototype. Also see YouTube segments of students trying out his creation in other science CONTINUE READING: Teaching Integrated Science at MetWest (Part 4) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Badass Teachers Association Blog: The College Admission Scandal from a Public School Educator’s Perspective

Badass Teachers Association Blog: The College Admission Scandal from a Public School Educator’s Perspective

The College Admission Scandal from a Public School Educator’s Perspective
Related image


A particular news that otherwise would be of interest only to a small percent of Americans, carried too much drama for the media not to cover it widely— the largest college admission cheating scandal in history! Chiefly, the interest was triggered by the famous, wealthy, and well connected characters in this show. According to ABC Nightline, the operation “Varsity Blues” exposed a massive admission cheating scheme that included well known TV stars, Silicone Valley tycoons, a hedge fund CEO Manager, and a head of a prestigious law firm among others. All of them wealthy enough to pay generously a consultant company that guaranteed them to get their children into elite colleges.

If learning about the existence of private consultant companies dedicated to help candidates to enter elite universities was not interesting enough, the fact that this particular company showed no scruples whatsoever to achieve its client’s wishes definitely provided intriguing angles. For one, it is alarming to realize the wealthy clients’ disposition to pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars on what it was clearly an illegal scheme. In addition, it amazes the extent of this company’s corruptive activities to guarantee success -- falsifying documents, altering SAT scores, doctoring photographs, bribing SAT proctors, coaches, and athletic directors, and even fabricating sports qualifications.

However, what tops it all is the win-win profitable financial scam for the clients. Cleverly, the head of that company, Rick Singer, created one fake college counseling non-profit to allow his deep pocketed customers to mask the potentially embarrassing nature of the payment, while allowing them to report the expense as a write off from their taxes. That information alone would be enough to hook, entertain, and inform the general audience. After all, as taxpayers we partially ended up footing the bill in this scheme. However, as an educator the scandal exposes the much larger issue of meritocracy and how it affects public education and millions of college students as well.

Although this illegal episode involves only wealthy and privileged characters in elite institutions, it has significant implications for students in public education. Mainly, it forces to reconsider the American notion of a meritocratic system so regularly invoked by politicians . So how important CONTINUE READING: 
Badass Teachers Association Blog: The College Admission Scandal from a Public School Educator’s Perspective


Audio: LAUSD Board to Submit Cost-Cutting Plan to County Regulators | 89.3 KPCC

Audio: LAUSD Board to Submit Cost-Cutting Plan to County Regulators | 89.3 KPCC

LAUSD Board to Submit Cost-Cutting Plan to County Regulators


L.A. Unified school board members will vote Tuesday on a cost-cutting plan requested by county regulators who have warned that the school district’s finances are precarious.  The L.A. County Office of Education has raised concerns that LAUSD's promised salary increases and other ongoing spending reached as part of the deal to end the teachers' strike might not be sustainable. 
The proposed changes call for another $50 million in cuts from next year’s budget — most of which is achieved by lining up possible cuts to the district’s central office bureaucracy.  If county officials aren’t satisfied that plan is enough, they can take further action — including appointing a “fiscal advisor” with the power to invalidate the LAUSD’s board decisions
Big Education Ape: CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST: Troubling report on LEA fiscal solvency :: K-12 Daily :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2019/03/troubling-report-on-lea-fiscal-solvency.html


Big Education Ape: Layoff notices will go to hundreds of Oakland school workers to trim budget - SFChronicle.com #Unite4SACKids #WeAreSCTA #WeAreCTA #strikeready #REDFORED #SCTA #CTA #UTLAStrong #Unite4OaklandKids #WeAreOEA - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2019/03/layoff-notices-will-go-to-hundreds-of.html

Big Education Ape: The Oakland Teachers’ Strike Revealed California’s Education Crisis - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-oakland-teachers-strike-revealed.html

oakland-teachers-strike-signs-ap-img

CURMUDGUCATION: DeVos Voucher Tour Hits Iowa

CURMUDGUCATION: DeVos Voucher Tour Hits Iowa

DeVos Voucher Tour Hits Iowa


Secretary of Education Betsy "The Federal Government Shouldn't Meddle In State Education Affairs But I Have This Policy I Really Really-- Oh What The Heck I Can Make Peace With Federal Overreach When It's In The Service Of Something I Want" DeVos has decided to get out there and stump for her Education Freedom Scholarships.

For those of you late to this party-- EFS are one more shade of lipstick to be slathered onto the undead pig that is school vouchers. They exist in several states and, in fact, are sometimes quite profitable for the fauxlanthropists who donate to the funds-- plus, what they're "donating" is actually some of the tax dollars they owe to Uncle Sam. It's a clever dodge on several levels, but at root, it accomplishes what all voucher programs do-- it uses public tax dollars to help finance a private school education for a few select students. The private school in question is usually a religious one.

Most folks seem to think that this measure, like much of the Trumpian budget, has little chance of becoming real. But DeVos actually ventured out into the world to try to pump it up anyway, and last week that meant trekking out to Iowa.


She went to meet with Governor Kim Reynolds, who just a month or so ago was cheerfully proclaiming a Happy School Choice Week to Iowans. State Senator Bard Zaun (formerly a mayor and hardware store owner), stood with DeVos after the meeting; Zaun is a gun-toting, planned parenthood defunding, education privatizing Republican, and he has taken some heat for many of his proposed bills, with some critics seeing a connectionbetween Zaun and ALECSourcewatch finds that ALEC is pretty busy in Iowa, and reports that ALKEC members have contributed almost $20 million to Zaun   CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: DeVos Voucher Tour Hits Iowa