Saturday, August 22, 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

Missouri Lowers Standards for Substitute Teachers
In an amazingly alarming move, the state of Missouri plans to lower standards for substitute teachers. One superintendent of a rural district has floated the idea of bringing in National Guard units as substitute teachers. Matt Davis, superintendent of Eldon, Missouri, schools, made the suggestion to Gov. Mike Parson in a July meeting, according to a report in the Fulton Sun. On Tuesday, the Miss
Biden and Harris May Forge a New Path on Education
Evie Blad of Education Week writes that a Biden-Harris administration may forge a new path on education issues. They have pledged to increase funding, regulate charters, and back away from standardized testing. They also have pledged to support the right to collective bargaining. This heartens advocates of public education, but frightens the corporate reformers who have controlled education for 2
Emily Harris: Have Faith in Tulsa Public Schools
Emily Harris teaches A.P. U.S. History at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa. She writes here about her faith in the public schools. She is concerned that some students have enrolled in the EPIC virtual charter school, which has a 

Bill McKibben: Don’t Let Trump Kill the Postal Service
Bill McKibben writes frequently about the environment, climate change, and rural life for the New Yorker.. Here he writes that Trump’s attack on the Postal Service Threatens democracy. The irony, McKibben points out, is that rural voters who heavily support Trump will lose the most by his actions. I’ve lived most of my life in small towns in pretty remote rural areas. Some were in red regions, so


Saturday: Demonstrations in D.C. to Demand Support for USPS
Friends and Neighbors, Join us tomorrow, Saturday, August 22nd from 11:00 am until 12 noon, outside the Chevy Chase, DC Post Office on Connecticut Ave. and Northampton St., NW, just south of Chevy Chase Circle in Washington, DC to show support for: The constitutional mission of the U.S. Postal Service, including priority for the secure delivery of ballots mailed from state election offices to vot
Jan Resseger: The Joy of Seeing Democrats Acknowledge the Importance of Public Schools
Jan Resseger points out the contrast between the two major parties’s treatment of public schools. Trump treats them as a babysitting service. Joe Biden’s wife Jill gave her Convention speech from a high school where she was a teacher. Trump and DeVos pledge to defund them. Biden and Harris pledge a massive infusion of funding. Trump pledges four more years of massive neglect. Biden and Harris ple
David Dayen Explains Why Steve Bannon Was Indicted
David Dayen writes a regular column for The American Prospect. In this post, he explains why Bannon was indicted. He and some of his friends created a website to “Build the Wall.” None of them had any engineering experience. They raised $25 million, and they paid personal expenses. Dayen says this scam was part of a long history of grifting by con artists. It was ironic that Bannon was taken into
Glen Brown: Trump’s Ignorance is an Ongoing Plague
Glen Brown, retired teacher in Illinois, suggests that Trump’s ignorance has had real consequences. In fact, it is dangerous and has contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Brown has maintained a running roll of actions Trump has taken to avoid controlling the coronavirus, updated to mid-August 2020. Check with Worldometer for the latest count of cases and deaths. Here are the w
Carol Burris: For-Profit Charter Aims to Take Control of Entire District in Pennsylvania
Carol Burris writes in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog about a for-profit charter corporation that about to take over the entire Chester-Upland school district in Pennsylvania. This district is one of the poorest in the state. Burris writes: Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) first opened its doors in 1998, just a few years after the school district found itself in financial distress.
Joe Biden: The Right Man for the Moment
Joe Biden gave a wonderful speech last night. He was sharp, hopeful, eloquent, compassionate, determined, visionary. If you missed it, watch it now. He was superb. He laid out a vision of a renewed America, united to conquer the virus, rebuild our infrastructure, bring people together, and heal the deep wounds inflicted on us during the past four years. After his speech, Republican consultant Ric

AUG 20

Barack Obama Speaks to the Democratic Convention—and the Nation
Barack Obama was president of the United States for eight years without a single scandal. None of his aides were arrested and jailed. I disagreed with his education policies but I respect him as a man of integrity and a patriot. This is the speech he delivered to the virtual Democratic National Convention. Please watch. It was riveting.
Grassroots Arkansas: An Open Letter to Superintendent Mike Poore of Little Rock
Grassroots Arkansas is a coalition of parents and civil rights activists. When reading anything about Arkansas, bear in mind that in the background is the Walton Family. They pull the strings. Grassroots Arkansas sent the following letter to Mike Poore, the state-appointed superintendent of the Little Rock School District: Mr. Poore, We realize that you have been serving the LRSD community as Sup
The Intercept: Rightwing Media Planted in Trump News Conferences
Robert Mackey of The Intercept reports that the White House plants far-right journalists in Trump’s press conferences and he makes sure to call on them. In the past, these fringe media never had White Gouse press credentials. He writes: IN AN APPARENT effort to make his daily news conferences even more like campaign events than they already are, the White House press office has been packing the b
Trump Defends QAnon Conspiracy Theorists as “People Who Love Our Country”
Trump defended the QAnon conspiracy theorists at a news conference as “people who love our country.” President Trump on Wednesday offered encouragement to proponents of QAnon, a viral conspiracy theory that has gained a widespread following among people who believe the president is secretly battling a criminal band of sex traffickers, and suggested that its proponents were patriots upset with unr
New York: Demand Cuomo Restore School Funding!
Governor Cuomo slashed school funding across the state of New York. Other governors have found ways to protect their schools and children. Please sign the petition of the Network for Public Education Action , calling on Governor Cuomo to restore school funding. Schools cannot safely reopen with less money.
A Shameful Shortage of School Nurses
The New York Times reports today on the shameful shortage of school nurses. Students are returning to schools even when there are no trained health professionals there. The previous post described the response to the pandemic a century ago. At least in the cities, every school had a nurse and some had doctors. That was the Progressive Era. This is the Regressive Era, where schools are expected to
What Schools Did During the Spanish Flu Pandemic a Century Ago
CNN published a very good article about what happened to the schools and their students during the so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1917-18. Many schools closed. Three large urban districts stayed open because officials believed that children were better off in schools than in their crowded tenements. The striking point in the article is that the schools were well-supplied with nurses and doct
Gail Collins’ Annual Contest for the Worst Trump Cabinet Member
Gail Collins, regular columnist for the New York Times, former editor of its editorial page, conducted her annual contest for the worst member of Trump’s Cabinet. Previously, the contest was won by Betsy DeVos. This year there was a new winner. She writes: If you run into Attorney General William Barr over the weekend, be sure to congratulate him. The readers have spoken! Barr was the runaway win

AUG 19

My Reaction to Day 3 of the Virtual Democratic Convention
I really really like Kamala Harris. I find her warm, intelligent, thoughtful. I love her smile and her laugh. But Barack Obama blew me away. He was intense, coiled, quietly angry, and very powerful. His words were gripping. The video of his speech is not yet online. The transcript is. But if you didn’t see it, you should. In the morning, I will post the video. You have to see him. You have to se
Harold Meyerson on Day 2 of the Democratic Convention
Harold Meyerson, editor of The American Prospect and a prominent spokesman for the American left, explains here what he liked and did not like about the second day of the Democratic National (virtual) Convention. I loved Bernie Sanders’ speech on the first night. I loved the roll call on the second night. In a usual convention, the roll call is a succession of politicians making political stateme
Fred Klonsky: Mailboxes Are Disappearing Across Chicago and It Matters
Fred Klonsky says there are many reasons to worry about postal service , including delivery of medicines. Open the link and see the photograph of the discarded mailboxes. Destroying federal property is a crime, isn’t it?
Los Angeles: Vote for Scott Schmerelson and Patricia Castellanos for LAUSD School Board
Control of the Los Angeles Unified School District is up for grabs in the 2020 election. You can be sure that the LAUSD prioritizes public schools by voting for incumbent Scott Schmerelson and newcomer Patricia Castellanos. The issue now is the same issue that has drawn a sharp divide on the school board for the past decade. Will the schools be controlled by a cabal of billionaires who favor priv
South Carolina: The Hoax of School Choice
Jen Gibson, who lives in Charleston, writes about how school choice will drain resources from underfunded public schools while not providing access to better schools or better education: Normally this time of year, my son and I are on the hunt for new shoes and the perfect pencil pouch. This year, we are struggling with masks and stocking up on hand sanitizer. Like most parents, our family is wre
Peter Greene: Rhode Island is a Henhouse Controlled by Foxes
Peter Greene turns his attention to Rhode Island and finds that it has been subject to a corporate education reform takeover. Not only is the governor a former venture capitalist who made her reputation by taking an axe to teachers’ pensions, but her husband Andy Moffitt is a TFA alum who moved on to McKinsey. Not only that, he co-authored a book with Michael Barber of Pearson about “Deliverology

AUG 18

Bernie Sanders’ Great Speech at 2020 Virtual Convention
I watched the Democratic virtual convention from start to finish. While all the commentary afterwards focused on Michelle Obama and her gracious remarks, the speech that wowed me was that of Bernie Sanders. He was focused, powerful, and passionate. He spoke for less than 9 minutes. Please watch. Trump tweeted yesterday afternoon about divisions between the Sanders and Biden camps. That’s not what
North Carolina: Voters Get Absentee Ballot Notice with Trump Message on It
CNN reports that voters in North Carolina received a notice to request an absentee ballot, adorned with Trump’s photograph and a political message. Given the crisis facing the United States Postal Service before a presidential election, the last thing John Herter expected to receive in the mail Saturday was an absentee ballot request form with President Donald Trump’s face on it. “Is this a joke?
Darcie Cimarusti: How Charters in New Jersey Double-Dipped into Federal CARES Funding
Darcie Cimarusti is a school board member in New Jersey and Communications Director of the Network for Public Education. Her telling of charter school greed in New Jersey reminded me of the song called “On That Great Come and Get It Day” from “Finian’s Rainbow.” No “Come and Get It Day” for public schools, onLy for politically connected charter schools. And for those who believe that charters pla
Teacher in Alabama: Why I Have a Sharpie in My Emergency Bag
Jen Coleman, a teacher in Alabama, explains why she keeps a sharpie in her emergency bag . I’m thinking about one Sharpie pen in particular. It’s black, medium thickness. And it stays in the blue emergency bag that I keep on the filing cabinet closest to my classroom door. Our school’s emergency bags are remarkably sparse. No band-aids, no first aid materials. We have one flashlight, one sign wit
Maurice Cunningham: Koch $$ for “National Parents Union”
Maurice Cunningham is a dogged researcher into Dark Money and its role in the pursuit of privatizing public education. Cunningham is a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts. Open the link and read in full. In his latest post , he reports that Koch money as well as Walton money, Zuckerberg money, Gates money, and Dell money, is supporting the “National Parents Union,” a fr

AUG 17

Arkansas: Mock Funeral for Students, Teachers, and Schools Today at 6 PM
Media Advisory August 17, 2020 For more information, contact: Chris Danforth (501)912-0168 Arkansas Public School Communities Funeral, Sponsored By: Grassroots Arkansas, the Central Arkansas Democratic Socialists of America, Arkansas Community Organizations, the National Association of Social Workers in Arkansas, and Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Little Rock,
Los Angeles: LAUSD Announces Massive Testing and Tracing Program
In an ambitious effort to restart safe schooling, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced the launch of a massive program of testing and tracing for students and staff in Los Angeles. Laura Newberry and Howard Blume report in the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Unified School District on Sunday said it was launching an ambitious coronavirus testing and contact tracing program for all students
Anette Carlisle: Mike Morath’s Plan to Abandon Local Control and Public Schools in Texas
Anette Carlisle, public education advocate in Texas, describes how State Commissioner Mike Morath, a non-educator, bought into the anti-democratic strategy of killing local school boards and privatizing public schools. He swallowed whole the disruption program of the Center for Reinventing Public Education, one of the Gates-funded think tanks that call for the abandonment of public schools. Despi
Europe: Schools Open with Apparent Success
This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal in August 14. Unlike the U.S., European countries first controlled the virus by strict measures, then reopened schools. And Europe, unlike the U.S., does not have a significant portion of the population that refuses—as a matter of principle—to wear masks or practice social distancing. BERLIN—European countries are pushing ahead with reopening schoo
The Internet Crisis: Why Isn’t Access Free Like Radio?
The Washington Post published a story about the millions of students who are effectively denied an education during the pandemic because their family can’t afford to pay for access to the Internet. The Post called the situation “a national crisis.” It is. The Internet has become as essential as free water and air. Why isn’t it a public utility, regulated by the FCC and free to all? When you turn

AUG 16

Leonie Haimson: More on Success Academy Settlement: SA Has Not Paid Attorney Fees, As Ordered
This morning I posted Gary Rubenstein’s post revealing that Success Academy agreed—after five years of litigation—to pay $1.1 million to parents whose children with disabilities were on the SA “got to go” list. Leonie Haimson has more on the story. SA never produced the documents demanded by parents. They never paid the attorneys’ fees. Here is the August 2018 decision by the US District Court Ju
Why You Won’t Get Christmas Cards Until January of 2021
Whether Trump wins or loses in November, it will take months or years to repair the damage he is inflicting on the United States Postal Service. Read about “Trump’s War on Christmas.”
Democrats in House Accelerate Hearings on Postal Service
Trump is obsessed with the U.S. Postal Service. He is certain that the U.S. mail is his enemy. One of his aides told him that he lost the 2016 popular vote because of mail fraud, and he’s ranted about the USPS ever since. He openly admitted in a recent news conference that he wants to block mail-in voting in hopes of cutting Democratic votes. Trump forced out the career professional who was runni
Alexandra Petri: Children Too Can Be Heroes!
Alexandra Petri is a humorist for the Washington Post. She explains here that Trump, Pence, and DeVos are offering the nation’s children a chance to be heroes by forcing them to return to school without safety measures in place. She writes: Wonderful news this week for those children who have long envied essential workers and sacrificial-economy grandparents their plaudits and wished that they, t
Job Posting: ELA Teacher Who Is Also Nurse, COVID-19 and Anti-Racism Specialist, and More
Samuel Jayne Tanner and Ben Stasny write a satirical posting for a middle-school English language arts teacher that appeared in McSweeny’s. Area School District is looking for a Language Arts Teacher/ Cheerleading Coach/ Custodian/ Nurse to help lead our COVID-19 and anti-racism instruction during this unprecedented moment. The Language Arts Teacher/ Cheerleading Coach/ Custodian/ Nurse/ COVID-19
Katherine Stewart: Betsy DeVos’s Plot to Transfer Public Funds to Private Schools During the Pandemic
Katherine Stewart, a scholar of rightwing evangelicals, writes in The New Republic about Betsy DeVos’s brazen transfer of public funds to private schools during the pandemic. Stewart is the author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Stewart surveys the generous distribution of federal funds to private and religious schools, far more generous than the fede
Gary Rubinstein: Success Academy Pays $1.1 Million to Settle with Parents on “Got to Go” List
Gary Rubinstein writes here about a lawsuit filed by parents of children on Success Academy’s “got to go” list. The celebrated charter chain settled for $1.1 million. The corporate chain fought the lawsuit for 4.5 years, refused to turn over documents but finally settled. Gary writes: Success Academy is the largest and most controversial charter chain in New York. By one measure — state test scor
Trump Announces Plan to Dispatch CDC Teams to Schools; CDC in the Dark
According to CNN, the Centers got Disease Control was ”blindsided” when Trump announced today that he was dispatching teams fron the CDC to help schools reopen safely. He didn’t mention sending money to equip schools to reopen safely. CDC blindsided by Trump’s statement it could deploy teams to schools this fall Leaders at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were blindsided this wee

AUG 15

Trump Acts to Dismantle U.S. Postal Service to Deter Mail-in Voting
Trump has convinced himself that the only way he can win is by suppressing the vote, by any means possible. He has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting as fraudulent, although both he and his wife filed to vote by mail in Florida and he hailed that state’s mail-in plans. He appointed Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor , as Postmaster General of the United States. DeJoy has begun systematically u
California: The Year of Teaching Dangerously: The Series
Please read the articles in Capital & Main’s series on teaching in the age of COVID-19, which is titled “The Year of Teaching Dangerously.” They spell out the frustrations and the learning curve that teachers and students have coped with in these uncertain times. Routines went out the window. Teachers had to improvise, to be creative and innovative, and to learn to live with unprecedented challen
California: The Year of Teaching Dangerously, Part 1
Capital & Main published a five-part series on teaching during the pandemic. The series is called “The Year of Teaching Dangerously.” Sasha Abramsky launched the series with an article about how schools in California were adapting to the pandemic . Abramsky writes about the uncertainty, confusion, and conflict that accompanied the shutdown, as teachers were required to address new realities and t
Fred Klonsky: Retired Teachers in Illinois Don’t Collect Social Security, Does It Matter if the GOP Kills It?
Fred Klonsky is a retired teacher in Illinois. Retired teachers in that state, like many others, don’t collect Social Security. Politicians of both parties have tried to cut teachers’ retirement benefits. Should he care that Trump wants to