Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, August 11, 2019

What Your Child Actually, Really, Truly Needs To Go Back To School

What Your Child Actually, Really, Truly Needs To Go Back To School

What Your Child Actually, Really, Truly Needs To Go Back To School

While many stores put up their back-to-school displays just as soon as the last echo of Fourth of July fireworks had died away, August is the month in which back to school prep gets serious. The National Retail federation is predicting that per-family spending will hit an all time high this year, at $696.70. That will result in a grand total of $26.2 billion spent. (For perspective, 2019 Valentine's Day spending was predicted to be around $30 billion.)
It is in the nature of human parents to overbuy for their children (raise your hand if your nursery had a beautiful changing table that ended up being one more shelf while you changed diapers on a bed, a couch, a table, or any other convenient flat surface). Parents get worried about making sure that their child has everything a student could possibly need for that first day of school, but as someone who taught in a classroom for almost forty years, I have one word of advice.
The retail back-to-school world has improved considerably in just the last five years. Where office supply stores used to post "This is what you must have or your child will flunk out of school and bring endless shame to the family" lists, now they take a less prescriptive approach, simply saying, "Here's a bunch of school supply stuff that you may or may not need for your child." Many stores actually allow teachers to post a back-to-school supplies list for their classroom which families can then look up.

Sites that aren't actually in the business of selling these supplies (like Real Simple and Good Housekeeping and Great Schools) still offer shopping lists. These should always be viewed with a critical eye. All of them are dauntingly long. Some lists still include items like protractors and non-blunted scissors; do not send your child to school with pointy, sharp objects. Some suggest six different kinds of writing utensils. Elementary lists suggest that the student arrive on the first day armed with a closet full of arts supplies (crayons, markers, glue sticks, glue bottles, art smock).
I fully appreciate the excitement of shopping for stuff; as a retired teacher, one thing I miss from my working days is shopping for office supplies. Shopping for supplies can be part of the process of building excitement for the school year. But here's the complete list of all the material objects your child needs for the first day of school: CONTINUE READING: What Your Child Actually, Really, Truly Needs To Go Back To School

Why do teachers have to bargain class size? – Fred Klonsky

Why do teachers have to bargain class size? – Fred Klonsky


As the end of August looms and my younger teacher friends already have the first days of school on their minds, I can’t quit it.
Once a career teacher, always a teacher.
At least in my head.
Once a union teacher, always a union teacher.
Even in retirement.
I was a part of our local’s bargaining team a dozen times at least.
Aside from bargaining salary and benefits, we also bargained working conditions. Any teacher will tell you that good working conditions for teachers are good learning conditions for students.
That includes class size.
There has always been a debate over the value of smaller class sizes. And the debate always includes some research showing it matters or it doesn’t matter.
If you want to know what conditions are best for kids look at what rich people do for CONTINUE READING: Why do teachers have to bargain class size? – Fred Klonsky

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Sacramento United Against Hate - #SacramentoUnitedAgainstHate

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Sacramento United Against Hate - Demonstration

Sacramento United Against Hate - Demonstration

Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival

#ElPasoFirme: A call to action against white supremacy

#SacramentoUnitedAgainstHate Peace Vigil

The  Sacramento  Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival (CAPPC), united with  Sacramento Region,  NorCal Resist, Zapatista Coalition of Sacramento, Sacramento Area Black Caucus, The Culture C.O-.O.P, LCLAA Sacramento Chapter, AFL-CIO, Urban Advocates & Achievers; Restorative Schools Vision Project, African Research Institute; Florin Chapter - Sacramento Valley (Florin JACL-SV) Japanese American Citizens, Indivisible CA-7,Sunrise Movement Sacrament, Sacramento to Black Child Development Institute, Coalition of Labor Union Women, CA Capital Chapter,  350 Sacramento, Sac Cultural Hub, Jewish Voice for Peace Sacramento, Sacramento Safe Ground, Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, Alianza and Jewish Action NorCal,  take a stand against white supremacy as #ElPasoFirme.

Across the country, millions of hearts beat with El Paso. El Paso is a community that straddles borders and cultures, a symbol of safety and inclusion for people from around the world, citizens and non-citizens alike. This is El Paso’s strength. Nothing will change that. Today, we must reaffirm our commitment to that strength. We must redouble our commitment to defeat the vile worldview of white supremacy. It is a moral imperative that ALL decent people speak out against this violence towards our Latino families.  

Today, communities across the country plan to hold vigils to remember and celebrate the lives lost and recommit to confronting the contemptible worldview behind the violence committed. Whether you work with an organization, church, business, or just want to express your individual support with family and neighbors, now is the time to speak out. Join us!

What:    #SacramentoUnitedAgainstHate Peace Vigil

Where:  California State Capitol, - West Steps

When:   Thursday, August 15, 2019 • 6:30PM-8:00PM

Who:    We stand in solidarity with the community of El Paso, Gilroy, Charleston, Dayton and all community impacted by gun violence and hate.

Please note:  no real candles with flames, instead please bring battery operated candles, flashlights or use your cell phone. Thank you for your cooperation!!

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Sacramento United Against Hate - Demonstration

enrique baloyra: At the #CloseTheCamps Rally in North Miami - YouTube

At the #CloseTheCamps rally in North Miami - YouTube

 At the #CloseTheCamps rally in North Miami

Enrique Baloyra with event organizer National Council of Jewish Women local director Amy Bloom
At the #CloseTheCamps rally in North Miami - YouTube


 Close The Camps -


CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Just A Quiet Day Edition (8/11)

ICYMI: Just A Quiet Day Edition (8/11)

Buying office supplies. Fretting about getting up in the morning. School must be getting closer-- but not too close yet. Have a cup of whatever you have cups of to relax, and take in some of the education reading from the last week. Don't forget to share the good stuff.

How much knowledge is necessary for comprehension?

You need some background knowledge in order to get better at reading (regardless of what you've been told about "skills"). Turns out there's even research about how much is the bare minimum requirement. Yes, it's from the Fordham blog, but I think it's worth reading, anyway.

Strategy Overdue for Special Ed 

Wendy Lecker, writing in the Register Citizen, looks at how lobbyists have made a mess out of Connecticut's special ed sector.

In PA, a Charter Rules Change To Benefit Just One School

WHYY uncovers a somewhat nuts story about political payback to benefit just one charter school. Because level playing field.

7 Harsh Truths That Will Improve Your Leadership Skills Overnight

From Inc., this piece isn't education-specific, but both teachers and administrators could benefit from these pointers.

Inside the NAACP Civil War Over Charter Schools 

Yes, charter advocates have gone so far as to plant folks inside the NAACP in an attempt to weaken the organization's stance on charter schools. From Rebecca Klein at HuffPost.

Student Culture in Question 

From Colorado, yet another example of a charter school that uses its "flexibility" to shaft its employees.

Nick Hanauer and Diane Ravitch

Ex-reformster rich guy Hanauer stirred things up a few weeks ago with his piece in the Atlantic. Listen to his podcast talking to Diane Ravitch; there's some really good stuff here.

Problems with Midyear Admissions 

Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat looks at one more way that charters game the test results and avoid taking on some of the tougher challenges of education.

Florida Charters Can Reject Kids With Disabilities 

The Orlando Sentinel just noticed one more way that Florida charter avoid providing an actual source of public education to all students.

How a Truly Epic Charter School Fraud Unfolded in Oklahoma 

And speaking of charter cheating, John Thompson is at the Progressive with an astonishing tale of how a truly ballsy piece of charter fraud was pulled off in plain sight.

New Orleans' Kennedy High School Grading Fiasco 

The indispensable Mercedes Schneider with the continuing story of how a NOLA charter has put the future of its students in jeopardy. Will anyone be held responsible?

This Teen Hacker Found Bugs In School Software That Exposed Millions of Records

Want one more story to make you anxious about the online work your students do? This Wired story is just the thing. This high school student didn't just find problems with obscure edusoftware-- he broke into Follett and Blackboard, then used them as doorways to millions of student records including grades, medical, schedules, cafeteria balance, photos, and more. And this was just what a bored, curious sixteen-year-old could do.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Just A Quiet Day Edition (8/11)


Reed Hastings: Stars In Every Position

We’re like a pro sports team, not a kid’s recreational team. Netflix leaders hire, develop and cut smartly, so we have stars in every position . That's Reed Hastings in a 2009 interview about his then-juggernaut business, Netflix. I came across it recently and, because Hastings has approached education and charter schools with the same business attitude, hoping to turn charter schools into a Netf
What Does "Personalized Learning" Even Mean?

Personalized learning is all over the educational landscape these days, even though nobody can offer a clear and consistent explanation for what it might be. The field encompasses everyone from teachers designing more effective methods to businesses with a new edu-product to sell. Assuming for the moment that there is no solid, universal definition, let's consider the different aspects of instruc

AUG 09

Guest Post: Please Treat Teachers Like Dirt

Last week I posted a blog on about the Phi Delta Kappa annual report on education. This year it features a focus on teacher morale, and I pulled the quote " Tired of being treated like dirt. " A reader-- Stacey Miller Chester-- wrote a reply on Facebook I just love, because I'm a sucker for good analogies and metaphors, and so I'm reprinting it here, with her permission: May I be hones

AUG 08

Indian Hill, Free To Teach, And How To Bust A Union

If you are a teacher in Pennsylvania, you have probably heard from the folks at Free To Teach (I'm sure there are at least two of them) about how much better your life could be without a union. Their most recent letter includes an example of a district where teachers are happily existing without any connection to the state or national unions. Free To Teach has been around for a while . It's an ope
Ed Reform vs. Democracy

It was not that long ago that I wrote a piece about how school choice, by shifting the locus of control for the education purse strings, tends to undermine democractic processes . After all, if only parents of school age children, or only rich folks who contribute to tax credit scholarships, get to decide which schools get paid, then the non-parent taxpayers who are footing the bills don't really

AUG 07

What Can We Learn From An Experimental High Tech Wunderschool Failure?

Max Ventilla launched AltSchool quietly enough in 2013, but within two years it was a hot Silicon Valley startup. In 2015, $100 million of investment dollars from major education reform players like Mark Zuckerberg and the Emerson Collective spurred an impressive wave of press. In just 24 hours the Silicon Valley Wunderschool had been covered by Kevin Carey in the Pacific Standard , Natasha Singe

AUG 05

PA: Governor Calls Charters Private, Makes Advocacy Group Sad

When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf trotted out his budget last month, he made it a point to note that he was raising money for public schools-- and that he had some definite ideas about which schools are public and which schools are not. He wants to see more of those basic education dollars to school districts get distributed through the state’s fair funding formula. He also wants to address conc
Ed Reform Was Supposed To Crush Unions

Every once in a while I stumble on an old article from back in the days when some reformsters would just say certain parts out loud instead of trying to be subtle or dog whistly. Take this piece from April of 2014 by Terry M. Moe. It's an excerpt from his book What Lies Ahead for America's Children and Their Schools , and it's really, really clear what this Hoover Institute Fellow has in mind. Her

AUG 04

ICYMI: What A Miserable Sunday Edition (8/4)

This has not been a great week in the US, but here we are again. Read some pieces about education if you can; otherwise, just go curl up with loved ones. Testing Craze Is Fading in U.S. Schools. Good. Here’s What’s Next . At Bloomberg, Andrea Gabor takes a look at testing and what may come after. Why Do White Reformers Keep Making This Obvious Mistake ? I Love You But You're Going To Hell adds som
Segregation: Who's The Worst?

A new study of segregation in charter schools has been released. Authored by Julian Vasquez Heilig, T. Jameson Brewer, and Yohuru Williams, " Choice without inclusion?: Comparing the intensity of racial segregation in charters and