Saturday, July 11, 2020

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Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

A site to discuss better education for all

Pennsylvania: The Death Spiral of York City Public Schools
This is a powerful editorial written by the editorial board of the York Dispatch. The Republican-controlled legislature has imposed a funding system that is literally forcing the school district to starve in order to survive. It is an outrage. This should be a cover story in every national magazine. It isn’t, because it’s all too common. When we starve our schools, we destroy the education of the
Charlotte: Synagogues Ask City to Remove Statue of Jewish Confederate Hero
Now, here is a new story. Two synagogues in Charlotte have asked the city to take down a statue of Judah Benjamin, the most prominent Jew in the leadership of the Confederacy. It was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1948, without their approval. Amid the nationwide movement to take down memorials to Confederacy figures, two Charlotte synagogues are calling for the removal of
Jack Schneider: Why Study History?
Jack Schneider is a historian of education and a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. He wrote this essay at my request. Why study history? It’s a legitimate question during times like these, when the future 

Oakland: Teachers Will Not Go Back to Work Unless the Schools Are Safe for Students and Staff
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 10, 2020 Contact: Bethany Meyer OEA Secretary and Communications Chair (510) 575-7060 This week, educators from the Oakland Education Association began talks with the Oakland Unified School District to determine what learning will look like for students in the upcoming school year. We, the educators of Oakland, want more than anything to return t
Los Angeles: UTLA Votes to Keep Schools Closed Until They Are Safe
For immediate release July 10, 2020 Media Contact Anna Bakalis 213-305-9654 POLL Results: 83% of UTLA members say LAUSD schools should not physically reopen August 18 Out of the more than 18,000 UTLA members who submitted responses to our informal poll in less than 12 hours, 83% agree with the UTLA Board of Directors and Bargaining Team that LAUSD should not physically reopen schools on August 18
The Report of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force: Good But Weak Pablum on Charters
The Biden and Sanders campaigns created a “Unity Task Force” to make recommendations on important issues. Here is their report with recommendations. It is 110 pages. There is much to like in the report, proposing an agenda to reverse four years of savage attacks by Trump on the environment, on the rule of law, on government itself. The education portion aPears on pp. 22-27. It contains welcome pl
Mercedes Schneider: A Parent at Success Academy Tells All
A parent of two children at the Success Academy charter chain in New York City reaches out to Mercedes Schneider in Louisiana to spill the beans about the chain’s efforts to kick her children out. The teachers and administrators made it clear that her children should find another school, but she stubbornly hung on. They weren’t problem children, but the older child was “average,” and the younger
Texas and Florida Tell Schools to Reopen Fully, Despite Surge in Virus Cases
Two states—Texas and Florida—are moving forward to open their schools for five-day, in-person instruction, even though the rate of coronavirus infections in both states is rising. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has demanded that schools across the nation restart and become fully operational, although she has no power to force schools to reopen when local officials believe it is unwise and uns
Ohio: Audit Finds Misspending and Conflict of Interest at Richard Allen Charter Schools
Once again, a state audit has uncovered waste and misspent funding at a charter chain, in this case, the Richard Allen Charter Schools in Ohio. Among other findings, the head of the school leased a Maserati with public funds. A new state audit of the Richard Allen charter schools includes multiple findings of improperly spent money in 2016-17, and allegations of ethics violations and conflicts of

JUL 09

UTLA: It Is Not Safe to Open Schools This Fall
Media Contact / Anna Bakalis 213-305-9654 For immediate release / June 9, 2020 Press release: UTLA recommends keeping LAUSD school campuses closed; refocus on robust distance learning practices for Fall LOS ANGELES — Amid COVID-19 infections and deaths surging to record highs, Trump’s threats to open schools prematurely, and
House Democrats to Trump and DeVos: We Won’t Let You Defund Public Schools
Leading Democrats in the House control the federal government’s appropriations. They have the power of the purse, given to the House of Representatives by the Constitution (do Donald and Betsy know that?). They have a message for Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos: Bo bullying. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 9, 2020 CONTACT Katelynn Thorpe (DeLauro), 202-225-1599 Bob Schwalbach (Sablan), 202-309-5787 Chair
Reject the Trump-DeVos One-Size-Fits-All Plan
Call on Congress and Governors to supply the funding to reopen our schools safely! Don’t open schools where the pandemic is raging. Protect the lives of students and staff!
Happy Birthday, Oliver Sacks!
This appeared in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.” It’s the birthday of writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks (1933) (books by this author), best known for his lyrical explorations of the brain’s strangest mysteries in books like Awakenings (1973), The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985), and Musicophilia (2007). Sacks was born in London. He was the youngest of four boys and both his
Palm Beach County: This Video Explains Why the Pandemic Is Surging in Red States
Want to know why Florida, Texas, and Arizona are the new hot spots for the coronavirus? Watch this video and you will see and hear why some people refuse to protect themselves and others. What would Dr.Fauci say?
Kevin Welner on Trump’s Failure to Make It Safe to Open Schools
Kevin Welner is the director of the National Education Policy Center and a Professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He writes: The definition of chutzpah, according to the old joke, is the kid who kills his parents and then asks the judge for mercy because he’s an orphan. President Trump has added a twist on the joke: the kid who kills his parents and then complains that they don’t dri
Arizona: School Leaders Worry About Reopening as Virus Spreads
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey—a zealot for charters and vouchers whose election was funded by Charles Koch and Betsy DeVos—has ordered the state’s public schools to reopen on August 17 as the disease rages out of control in his state. School leaders are not so sure this is a good idea . Common sense suggests it is a very bad idea. The Arizona Republic reports: The school year hasn’t begun, but an A
BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court Rules That Trump Must Release Tax Returns to NY Prosecutors!
No one is above the law! We are still a nation of laws. Separation of powers exists still. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Trump must release his tax returns to prosecutors in New York who are investigating him. David Savage of the Los Angeles Times writes: The Supreme Court dealt President Trump a major defeat Thursday by rejecting his claims of presidential immunity and upholding subpoenas fr
Tom Ultican: Don’t Reopen the Schools. It’s Not Safe.
Tom Ultican says that we have to face facts. It is not safe to reopen schools. Ultican recites the politicians and pundits demanding that the schools open on-time, in-person, no excuses, no new funding. He writes: These neoliberal forces are promoting the idea that teachers and children must be thrust into an unsafe environment so the world’s economic engines can continue providing decent return
Say NO to Trump-DeVos Pressure to Reopen without Resources for Health and Safety
Trump and DeVos demand that schools reopen in full, in-person, on time in a few weeks, even as they block the resources needed by schools to protect students and staff from the pandemic that is raging across the nation. Districts in which there are no COVID infections, or none for at least 14 days, may choose to reopen if they have the resources to do it safely. But in states and districts where

JUL 08

Tulsa: Health Officials Say Trump Rally “Likely” Source of Surge in Coronavirus Infections
Tulsa experienced a surge in new infections, and Tulsa health officials say that the Trump rally on June 20 was a likely cause. Keep watch on the numbers in Arizona and South Dakota, where Trump held rallies, also Trump’s next stop, New Hampshire. He is a Super Spreader. He is a one-man catastrophe. In six weeks, the Republican National Convention will be held in Jacksonville, Florida. No social
Breaking News: The Mayor of Houston Cancels GOP State Convention
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has canceled the State GOP Convention, which was scheduled for next week. In light of the dangerous health situation in Houston, the mayor said it was unsafe. Good to know that local elected officials take the pandemic seriously, even though the president does not.
The Swedish Experiment Failed
Most nations in Europe imposed strict quarantines, masking, and social distancing. They eventually got the virus under control. Not Sweden. It took a different route, relying on the good sense of individuals and the hope of “herd immunity.” It didn’t work, according to this story in the New York Times. LONDON — Ever since the coronavirus emerged in Europe, Sweden has captured international attent
Supreme Court: Teachers in Religious Schools Not Protected by Laws Against Discrimination
The US Supreme Court ruled today that teachers in religious schools are not protected by federal anti-discrimination law. Please note that Justice Alita says that the central mission of religious schools is to teach the faith, which is why so many object to public funding of religious schools. If religious schools take public money, are they still exempt from public laws that cover public schools
Trump Will Seek Federal Aid for Private and Religious Schools in Any New Coronavirus Relief Bill
Trump has made clear that he wants federal funds to flow to private and religious schools if any new aid is approved to help public schools reopen. DeVos and Trump will use any opportunity to push federal money to religious schools. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Espinoza case, which ruled that any state that aided private schools had to provide aid to religious schools, has encouraged Trump
Jeff Bryant: Charter Operators Take Advantage of Pandemic to Expand into Suburbs
Jeff Bryant noticed and documented a worrisome new trend: Charter operators are taking advantage of the pandemic to open new charter schools in suburban districts with good public schools. Public school parents have spoken out, as he shows, because they understand that new charters will drain money from their good public schools and weaken them. Because reopening public schools in the coming scho
The Federal Paycheck Protection Program Was a Bonanza for the Charter Industry
I have posted reports of individual charter schools that received hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars, from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. These charters claimed to be small businesses, not public schools, which were not eligible to get PPP money. Until two days ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to release the names of those who asked for PPP money. N
Trump Friends and Family Received Federal Bailout Money, Along with Financiers and Big Law Firms
Remember how Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin fought to keep private the names of those who received federal coronavirus funds intended for small businesses? The trillion or so was meant to keep people employed by small businesses at risk of bankruptcy. Now we know why Mnuchin wanted to seal the books. The recipients included the politically powerful and members of the Kushner and Trump families
Trump and DeVos: Schools Must Reopen, Without Needed Resources
Trump demanded that schools reopen for in-person instruction in a few weeks , as the pandemic surges in more than half the states. He and his party have refused to pass the HEROES act to provide additional resources for schools. DeVos blasted school districts that hesitate to open, fearing risk to students and staff. She said, patronizingly, that life has many risks: get over it. THE ANSWER IS NO

JUL 07

Happy Birthday, David McCullough!
Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” posted this greeting: It’s the birthday of American author, historian, and narrator David McCullough (books by this author), born in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1933). McCullough has won two Pulitzer Prizes, both for nonfiction books about presidents. The first was for Truman (1993); the second was for John Adams (2001). At
Reform Jewish Leaders Criticize Supreme Court’s Espinoza Decision
Leaders of Reform Judaism criticized the Supreme Court decision to allow public funding of religious schools. MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Garfinkel, West End Strategy Team; Cell: 202-765-4290 Reform Jewish Movement Denounces Supreme Court Decision Allowing Government Funding of Religious Education WASHINGTON – In response to the Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montan
Carl J. Petersen: Los Angeles Charter School Took $4.6 Million from PPP, Then Laid Off Employees
Carl J. Petersen, writer and public school parent in Los Angeles, writes here about a Los Angeles charter schools that took millions from the federal Paycheck Protection Plan, then laid off employees anyway. The purpose of PPP was to help small businesses and to ensure that they did not fire employees because they couldn’t afford to pay them. But charter schools, which had suffered no economic ha
Carol Burris: Why Schools Should Reopen, Safely
Carol Burris, experienced teacher and educator, writes here about the importance of reopening schools, with caution. Carol is executive director of the Network for Public Education, but she writes here on her own behalf; NPE has not taken a position on when or whether schools should reopen. This article appeared on Valerie Strauss’s blog, “The Answer Sheet” at the Washington Post. When covid-19 h
Andre Perry: Defund Private Schools. They Perpetuate Racism
Tomorrow night, Andre Perry and I will talk about his new book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Lives in a ZOOM discussion sponsored by the Network for Public Education. We can accommodate only 100 people, so please sign up early. If you don’t get into the first 100, the discussion will be live-streamed on NPE’s Facebook page and archived on its website. Andre

JUL 06

Trump Defends the Confederate Flag
Today, Trump made a point of defending the Confederate flag , responding to NASCAR’s decision to ban it and Mississippi’s decision to remove it as part of the state flag. Trump has become the nation’s leading defender of the Lost Cause, the great champion of states’ rights and white supremacy. The New York Times reports: President Trump mounted an explicit defense of the Confederate flag on Monda
Happy Birthday, Frida Kahlo!
Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” notes that today is Frida Kahlo’s birthday. Today is the birthday of Frida Kahlo, born in Coyoacán, just outside Mexico City (1907). She was born in her parents’ home, La Casa Azul — the Blue House. When Kahlo was 18, the bus she was riding collided with a streetcar. Her collarbone, spine, and pelvis were fractured. She was bedridden for several months, a
Peter Goodman: Why Is the New York Board of Regents “Bleeding” Public Schools by Expanding Charter Schools?
Peter Goodman is a long-time observer of education politics in New York State and New York City. In this post, he asks a reasonable question: Why, at a time of fiscal stringency and uncertainty, is the Board of Regents of New York State rubber-stamping the expansion of charter schools? Charter schools, as he shows, cherry-pick their students to inflate their test scores. Despite state law, their
Mike Klonsky on KIPP’s Rebranding
KIPP is the largest charter chain in the nation. It grew thanks to the generosity of the Walton Foundation, the Fisher Family Foundation (the Gap, Old Navy, etc.), other billionaire funders, and huge grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter School Program (thanks, Betsy DeVos). KIPP’s slogan was “Work Hard, Be Nice.” Jay Mathews wrote a laudatory book about KIPP with that title. It
Jersey Jazzman: A Practical Guide to the Problems of Reopening During a Pandemic
In this post, experienced teacher Mark Weber (aka Jersey Jazzman) explains “How Schools Work” and the practical problems that will arise if and when schools open during a pandemic. Even if schools get all the money they need (which is far from certain), there will still be the issues he raises. Even if schools get all of the money they need, and staff show remarkable ingenuity and creativity, the
A Grand Bargain: Reopen the Schools (Where Feasible) But Only If the Feds Pay for It
This post will propose a GRAND BARGAIN for reopening the schools. There is a great demand to reopen the schools for the sake of the economy, and there is great resistance to reopening the schools due to fears about the safety of children and staff. Parents and teachers are worried that if schools open too soon, they won’t be safe. Students won’t be safe if classrooms are crowded. If students don’

JUL 05

Bonnie Lesley: We Have Lost a Champion for Children in Texas
It is with great sadness that I inform you that our dear friend Bonnie Lesley, leader of Texas Kids Can’t Wait, died of pneumonia. She was a champion for children, and we will miss her friendship and her guidance. She was beloved by everyone who had the good fortune to know her. Her son Bruce posted this notice today on Facebook: Our family is devastated and heartbroken that my mother, Bonnie Les
Wendy Lecker: Connecticut Charter Schools Are Double Dipping
Wendy Lecker is a civil rights attorney who writes often for the Stamford (Ct.) Advicate. she writes here about the disgraceful double dipping of charter schools in Connecticut, taking funds designated for public schools, then seeking and getting federal funds intended for small businesses. Are charter schools to be defined as public schools or private businesses? When it’s time to get public mon
Mitchell Robinson: Let’s Talk About Reopening Schools
Mitchell Robinson is a professor at Michigan State University. In this post , he reviews the issues involved in reopening schools in the fall. Teachers should not be expected to return unless conditions are safe for both students and adults. That means more resources, not budget cuts.
Steven Singer: Distance Learning Is Horrible, Death is Worse
Steven Singer is a veteran teacher in Pittsburgh. He loves being a teacher. But he loves being alive even more. He doesn’t think it will be possible to open the schools safely because our government has failed to take the steps necessary to control the pandemic. Other nations have. But we haven’t, and now we are paying the price. Singer writes: Nearly every other comparable country kept that down
Anya Kamenetz: Pediatricians Believe Young Children Should Return to School in Fall
Anya Kamenetz of NPR reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that young children should return to school in the fall. She writes: The guidance says “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being.” The AAP cites “mounting evidence” that transmission of the coronavirus by young children is uncommon, partly because they are less likely to contract it in

JUL 04

Trump Is the Second Coming of George Wallace
I am old enough to remember the original George Wallace, a hateful racist who was Governor of Alabama. He ran for president as a champion of white nationalism. His base is now Trump’s base. Trump is the second coming of Wallace. This post says it succinctly. Trump channeled Wallace in front of Mount Rushmore. Racism is alive and living in the White House. On June 10 the Lincoln Project, the effor
Advice from Frederick Douglass: How to “Fix” Lincoln’s Statue in D.C.
This Wall Street Journal article by Ted Mann tells a story of a fascinating discovery , the kind that makes historians swoon. Two historians were debating the fate of the Lincoln Emancipation memorial in Washington, D.C. it depicts Lincoln standing beside a kneeling, nude slave who is breaking his chains. Then one discovered a letter written by Frederick Douglass that provided a solution agreeabl
Donald Trump Defends Confederate Heroes as America’s Great Heritage
Donald Trump somehow imagines that the nation–at least the white portion of the nation–shares his nostalgia for the Confederacy. He is prepared to fight to the bitter end to save statues of Robert E. Lee and others who rebelled against the United States of America and fought a war that cost more than 600,000 lives. He calls this our “great heritage.” This is the same man who ridiculed Senator Joh
Trump Politicizes Mt. Rushmore. But His Face Will Never Be There.
Please read Ken Bernstein’s article and open the Lincoln Project’s latest video about the fraud who is our “president.” Of one thing we can be sure. There will be no monuments or statues to Donald Trump. Not even at NASCAR.
American Fascism: It Did Happen Here
To those who think that Donald Trump represents a new phenomenon in American politics, Sarah Churchwell’s essay in The New York Review of Books is a necessary antidote . Open the link to see the alarming photographs that accomparticle. Yes, it happened here. Yes, you should describe to the New York Review of Books . She writes: As militarized police in riot gear and armored vehicles barreled into
Frederick Douglass on the Fourth of July
Frederick Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July to enslaved people is an eloquent and historic document. Here is the source . Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818 in Maryland. He escaped slavery in 1838, in a perilous journey to freedom. He became a leader of the abolitionist movement due to his eloquence. He is one of the most eminent figures in American history. A s
Celebrating July 4
Having grown up in the middle of World War II, I have always been patriotic. We were the good guys. We stand for liberty, freedom, and the rights of all. I was aware from a young age that we didn’t live up to our ideals. I experienced religious bigotry. Living in a racially segregated city, I saw racial bigotr
Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all