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Saturday, July 18, 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

Parent: Why Not Open Outdoor Classrooms in Tents and Other Temporary Structures?
Josh Bell is a New York City public schools parent. He wrote this article for the New York Daily News. The article reminded me that New York City public school officials in the early 20th century conducted outdoor classes for students with tuberculosis. He writes: Last weekend, the city started closing down sections of dozens of busy streets for several blocks in all five boroughs so that restaur


Trump Surpasses 20,000 Lies
Salvador Rizzo, fact checker for the Washington Post, marvels that Trump has surpassed 20,000 lies in his term in office, surely a record. Trump is definitely Number One! 20,000 “What we do have is we have perhaps the lowest, but among the lowest, but perhaps the lowest, mortality rate — death rate — anywhere in the world,” President Trump said July 9, 2020, the day he surpassed 20,000 false or m
Stop Tax Breaks for the 1%. Fund Schools If You Want Them Open
Everyone wants schools to open but Congress and the Trump administration don’t want to pay for it. That cost includes reduced class sizes for social distancing, additional teachers, cleaning services, nurses, ventilation improvements, personal protective equipment, and whatever is recommended by CDC. In places where the disease is out of control, reopening will not be possible. First control the
McConnell Is Shaping a New Relief Bill—But Not for You
David Dayen of The American Prospect reports in his series “Unsanitized” that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are hammering out a new coronavirus relief bill, but its main beneficiaries will be businesses and hospitals that want liability protection. Are you surprised? There might be funding to help schools reopen but it will likely be too little and too late. It’s tough to plan an opening
Illinois: Governor Pritzker Seeks Court Order to Require Masks in Schools
Governor J.B. Pritzker is acting like a responsible, intelligent leader. Imagine that! He actually wants to protect the lives and health of the children and adults in school. He won’t permit them to decide whether they can be free to infect others with a deadly disease. He understands that public health takes precedence over private whim. Gov. J.B. Pritzker took the unusual step Thursday of preem
Peter Greene: The Modern School Choice Movement Was Created by Southern Segregationists
Peter Greene read Steve Suitts’ book about the origins of the modern school choice movement— Overturning Brown — and highly recommends it. Suitts demonstrates beyond doubt that the school choice movement was launched by southern segregationists to fight the Brown decision. Standards were also used to sort students by race. Greene writes: These segregationists developed strategies and language tha
Steve Suitts: The Supreme Court is Reversing the Landmark Brown Decision
Steve Suitts is a civil rights lawyer who has worked for the Southern Education Foundation for many years. His recent book Overturning Brown documents the segregationist history of the school choice movement. He wrote recently that the Espinoza decision , which awards public money to religious schools, is another step in the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Brown decision. In a case decided on the
Florida: Nearly One-Third of Those Tested Under 18 Were Positive for Coronavirus
This is worrisome. Those demanding the speedy and full reopening of schools have taken for granted that children are unlikely to become infected with coronavirus. But the latest data from Florida show that complacency is unwarranted. Those localities where the pandemic is growing and out of control should be cautious and aware of the risk to children. The Huffington Post reports: Nearly one-third

JUL 16

Borowitz: Georgia Governor Bans Science
Andy Borowitz is a humorist for the New Yorker magazine. He writes a joke almost every day. Today, he tells us, Governor Kemp of Georgia has banned science. (Unreal life, Kemp told localities that they could not mandate face masks to protect people from COVID-19). He writes: ATLANTA ( The Borowitz Report )—In his latest response to the coronavirus pandemic , Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, has is
The Anniversary of Publication of “A Catcher in the Rye”
This appeared today in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”: J.D. Salinger ‘s novel The Catcher in the Rye was published on this date in 1951 ( books by this author ). The novel begins, “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and al
Candace Valenzuela Wins Her Race for Democratic Nomination for Congress in Texas!
Candace Valenzuela is one of the most inspiring candidates in the current election cycle. She won her primary in Texas on Tuesday. Please watch her campaign commercial, in which she describes her difficult childhood, when she was homeless. What saved her was that she always had a “home” at school, where her teachers encouraged her. She went on to finish high school and college, to run for and win
The Debate About Reopening Intensifies: What Some Other Nations Are Doing
How and when should schools reopen? Here are the choices: 1. To reopen schools fully for in-person instruction, with no additional funding, which is dangerous and ignores the CDC guidelines for safety; this is the option advocated by Trump and DeVos. 2. To reopen schools fully, with the funding needed to protect the safety of students and staff; thus far, neither Trump nor Mitch McConnell has sho
Bob Shepherd: Post-Espinoza Business Plan to Expand His Gubmint-Funded Private School in Flor-i-Duh
Bob Shepherd reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn state laws banning public money to religious schools if the state is subsidizing other private schools. Bob lives in Florida, which already funds private and religious schools to the tune of $1 billion a year and has just increased the funding for them. Religious schools in Florida do not take the state tests, do not have to hire
Black Students and Staff Speak Out About Charters
Black students/staff at charter schools fight back on Instagram. Lots of amazing stuff here. @blackatuncommon @_theuncommontruth @dearcharterschool @truecolorsofcharter @blackandbrownatdp @defundcharterschools @beingblackatkipp @survivors_of_successacademy @sa.vanguards
Faculty and Staff at U. of Penn. Want University To Pay Taxes to Philadelphia Schools
Over 600 faculty and staff at Penn have organized Penn for PILOT S and issued a statement calling on the university to make “payments in lieu of taxes” (PILOTs) to the Philadelphia public schools. As is well known, the public schools in Philadelphia are chronically underfunded, thanks to a hostile Republican legislature, and they are currently facing devastating cuts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. P

JUL 15

“The Trump Loyalty Test”
Politico reports that the administration is going full-paranoid in an effort to root out potential leakers. THE TRUMP TEST — In the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, the White House has an urgent question for its colleagues across the administration: Are you loyal enough to President Donald Trump? The White House’s presidential personnel office is conducting one-on-one interviews with
Thomas Pedroni: Detroit School Board Votes to Reopen Schools Despite Concerns of Teachers and Parents
Last night the Detroit Board of Education, which opened for summer school Monday, voted to unanimously reopen school on the regular first day in August. This happened despite three hours of unified testimony by teachers, parents, and community organizers that the schools should not be reopened until minimum conditions are met. We held a state wide Press conference this morning calling on schools
Houston: Schools Not Ready to Reopen in Midst of Pandemic Surge, Board and Union Agree
Contact: Zeph Capo 713-670-4348 Texas AFT, Houston Federation of Teachers Fully Support Houston Independent School District Reopen Plan Plan Stands in Contrast to Neighboring Spring Branch ISD Hybrid Plan HOUSTON— Texas AFT and the Houston Federation of Teachers fully support the Houston Independent School District’s reopening plan announced today, which calls for delaying the
Trump Guts Environmental Protections
Trump is the worst president in American history, not “modern times.” He is an international menace and a threat to all living things. His incompetence and stupidity are equaled only by his arrogance. The New York Times reports: WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday unilaterally weakened one of the nation’s bedrock conservation laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, limiting public revi
New York Times: DeVos Allies Try to Understand Her Abandonment of Local Control
The New York Times wrote about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ sudden turnaround, from champion of local control to heavy-handed advocate of federal threats to reopen schools regardless of local conditions or wishes. Those quoted in the story are DeVos allies, which makes sense, since they must feel a sense of betrayal. *Keri Rodrigues of the Walton-funded National Parents Union; she was a le
Dana Milbank: Trump’s Blatant Racism May Transform Anerica
Dana Milbank argues in this column that Trump’s overt racism is creating a massive backlash that will unseat him and transform American politics for the better. Here’s hoping and praying he is right. Trump’s racism has stigmatized the Republican Party. Moderates have jumped ship, and the party is now identified with white nationalism and the KKK, all to protect a president who had no party affili
Dr. Nan Fulcher and Justin Parmenter: A Warning for North Carolina
NBCT Teacher Justin Parmenter and epidemiologist Dr. Nan Fulcher write here about North Carolina’s reliance on limited studies to justify reopening schools. A Warning for Governor Cooper: the burden of COVID-19 in NC is far higher than in countries that struggled with school outbreaks after reopening On Tuesday Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina students will return to school for i
Ralph Ratto: COVID and School Ventilation
Ralph Ratto is a retired teacher in New York State. In this post, he reminds readers of the importance of school ventilation systems, which are seldom in a good state of repair, and the necessity of paying to clean and upgrade them for the safety of students and staff. He asks: Why is Congress willing to fund banks and big corporations but not the health of our nation’s children and their teacher
Making Black Lives Matter in School
The following article appeared in the Grio and was co-authored by Dr. Andre Perry, Jitu Brown, Keron Blair, Richard Fowler, Stacy Davis Gates and Tiffany Dena Loftin. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and now Rayshard Brooks — all Black people whose lives and purposes were snuffed out by White Supremacy. These four slain Americans were fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, and one-time students of our

JUL 14

Happy Birthday, Woody Guthrie!
Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” reports that today is Woody Guthrie’s birthday. He may be America’s most beloved and most often sung folk singer. Everyone sings “This Land is My Land,” but not usually with all the lyrics. Guthrie was radical in his politics, having experienced the hard times of the Depression. At one point, he lived in an apartment in Queens owned by Fred Trump, and he
The Reopening Question: Is It Safe?
There is one basic principle that must be honored in deciding whether and when to reopen schools: SAFETY FIRST. No child or teacher or staff member should die because of a rush to reopen. NBC News reported : WASHINGTON — As the calls from the White House to fully reopen schools grow louder, evidence continues to pile up to show that scenario is unlikely to happen, at least not on the national sca
New York City: How Does a District with More than One Million Students Plan to Reopen?
Leonie Haimson writes here how New York Coty hopes to reopen its public schools, which enroll more than one million students. Haimson has chided the city for years about its failure to reduce class sizes, and that long history of neglect is making it even more difficult to find space to reopen with small classes. DOE officials have determined that to maintain proper social distancing, a range of
Irony! Gompers Charter School Fights Union!
There is a charter school in San Diego called the Gompers Preparatory Academy. Since 2018, its private management has been fighting teachers who want to form a union. When the COVID crisis struck and the state planned budget cuts, Gompers laid off more than a third of the staff. By coincidence (!), nearly all the teachers laid off were the very ones who wanted to form a union! Does the charter ma
Massachusetts: Students, Parents Charge Charter School with Racism
Students, parents, and alumni of the high-performing Mystic Valley Regional Charter School have raised questions about racism at the school, alleging that racism permeates its culture. Similar questions have been raised at Success Academy in New York City and other “no excuses” charter schools that emphasize test scores and tough discipline over human relations. Hayley Kaufman wrote in the Boston

JUL 13

Orange County Approves Full Reopening
The Orange County, California, school board approved a full reopening of schools in the fall, with no mandatory masks or social distancing. Orange County education leaders voted 4 to 1 Monday evening to approve recommendations for reopening schools in the fall that do not include the mandatory use of masks for students or increased social distancing in classrooms amid a surge in coronavirus cases
Philly-Area Charters Collect $30 Million+ in PPP Funding
Charters in the Philadelphia area received more than $30 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds, while public schools in Philadelphia continue to be systematically underfunded. The big winner in the PPP sweepstakes is the for-profit Chester Community Charter School, owned by a major Republican donor and billionaire. One of the largest loans, between $5 million and $10 million, went to Chest
Salon: Charters May Have Taken $1 Billion in PPP $$
No one has yet gathered a complete list of charter schools that collected funds from the federal relief fund for small businesses called the Paycheck Protection Program. The list was released just a week ago, and there were more than 600,000 recipients. The Network for Public Education is creating spreadsheets and hopes to compile a comprehensive list. Salon estimates that the charter industry ma
Which Charter Schools Got Federal PPP $$ in Your State or Zipcode?
Do you wonder which businesses, schools, and nonprofits in your neighborhood or state got a piece of the hundreds of billions of dollars handed out by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the Paycheck Protection Program? He tried to keep the names of the recipients secret but eventually released the list. Now you can easily review the list. ProPublica put all the awards into a search engine which
Arizona: Charter Schools, Private Schools, and Religious Schools Cash In on PPP
Curtis Cardine of the Grand Canyon Institute created this updated list of the charter schools, private schools, and religious schools in Arizona that received federal grants from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was supposed to help small businesses survive the pandemic. It is a very long list. Public schools were not eligible to apply for these funds. Charter schools collected millions fro

JUL 12

New York Times: Secret CDC Report Warned of Danger of Opening Schools Without Proper Safeguards
Eileen Sullivan and Erica L. Green of the New York Times managed to get a copy of an internal (secret) report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that warned of the dangers of opening schools without adequate protection of students and staff. WASHINGTON — Federal materials for reopening schools, shared the week President Trump demanded weaker guidelines to do so, said fully reopening schoo
G.F. Brandenburg: The Looting of America
In recent days, the public learned that Jeff Bezos’ net worth has soared to more than $170 billion . Bill Gates trails Bezos at “only” $114 billion. The Walton family is in the same range ($150 billion among three of them). This vast accumulation of wealth by a very tiny number of people distorts the entire economy, especially since it contrasts with millions of people who are unemployed, homeles
ProPublica: Contractor Wins Federal $$ to Build the Wall, Which May Fall into the River
ProPublica wrote about a private contractor who wanted to help “build the Wall.” He won a federal contract for $1.7 billion and quickly erected three miles of Trump’s Wall. Problem is that it’s now at risk of falling into the Rio Grande River. Working in collaboration with the Texas Tribune , ProPublica wrote: Tommy Fisher billed his new privately funded border wall as the future of deterrence, a
Ken Bernstein: The Practical Problems of Reopening Safely
Ken Bernstein has been a teacher for many years. He blogs at the daily Kos as Teacher Ken. He writes here about the practical problems of reopening, such as social distancing in classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and on buses. This is what he writes about classrooms: CLASSROOMS — It is impossible in most schools to have 6 foot between students. Last year I had up to 30 seniors in a room at a time,
Claudia MacMillan: A Remarkable and Inspiring Program of Learning in Dallas and Fort Worth
Claudia MacMillan is the director of the Cowan Center for Education at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. I met her several years ago when I was invited to speak at the Institute. At that time, Claudia allowed me to sit in on seminars where public school teachers were discussing the Iliad, Shakespeare, and other great classics. I met with school superintendents from Dallas and the su

JUL 11

Meet Andre Perry, a Superstar in Education!
I had two recent contacts with Andre Perry, and I fell in love with him. I’m no threat to his wife because I’m 82 and married. We met for the first time on this Zoom conversation. As you will see, he is candid, honest, open, smart, and charming. I don’t always fall for guys just because they have a great smile, but Andre surprised me. I thought he would be super-serious but he wasn’t. He talked a
Humor from the BBC about Religion and Race
The BBC airs a comedy show where nothing is off limits. This one made me laugh out loud. I hope you are not offended. It turns popular prejudices inside out.
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 seems so uncertain. The past, one might argue, is the past; it’s what c
Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all