Saturday, October 31, 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

Texas Parent PAC: A Model of Action for Every State
Parents in Texas got disgusted 15 years ago when the Legislature almost passed a voucher law. They organized the Texas Parent PAC, which is a highly effective voice on behalf of public schools and more than five million students. The website of Texas Parent PAC has a list of the endorsed candidates, both Democrats and Republicans. Their guiding principles are a model for parents, grandparents, an


Trump Regime Expels Immigrant Children to Mexico, Not Their Home Country
When the history books are written in years to come, the Trump administration’s cruel, callous, inhumane treatment of immigrant children may well be the most horrifying chapter. Caitlin Dickerson writes in the New York Times that border officials are sending unaccompanied minors to Mexico, even though it is not their home country and they have no family there.
Trump Appointee Seeks to Destroy Voice of America
For many years, the American government’s broadcast outlet was widely perceived as independent and nonpartisan. Trump has sought to demolish that reputation by putting a loyal Trumper in charge. The Washington Post editorial board wrote: THE U.S. government’s international broadcasting has long had one big advantage over its Russian and Chinese competition: a commitment to independent journalism,
Florida: Voucher Schools Still Firing Gay Teachers
Last year, the Orlando Sentinel reviewed the websites of the state’s voucher schools and discovered that scores of them publicly admitted that they do not admit the children of gay families and do not hire gay staff. The legislature then refused to require that voucher schools stop discriminating against gays; mustn’t trample on their freedom to be bigots. Some voucher schools removed the languag
New York City: Double-Dipping Charters Got 4x as Much Federal CARES $$ as Public Schools
Carol Burris and Greg LeRoy analyzed public data about federal CARES Act funding and discovered that nearly 60% of the city’s charter schools received Paycheck Protection Program funding, which was intended to help small businesses survive the pandemic, when so many teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. Someone slipped in an opening for nonprofit organizations, and charters cashed in, along with t
Ohio: No Accountability for This Virtual Charter
Businessman William Lager launched “The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow” in 2000. Over nearly 20 years, he collected $1 billion from the taxpayers of Ohio, despite the fact that ECOT had the lowest graduation rate in the nation, high attrition, and low scores. Lager created related businesses to which he gave contracts for services. In 2019, he declared bankruptcy rather than pay multimillion do
Jennifer Berkshire: Will Education Cause The GOP to Lose Arizona?
Jennifer Berkshire writes in this post about the educational awakening in Arizona, the result of #red4ed and the teachers’ revolt of 2018. Proposition 208 is on the ballot. It calls for a 3.5% tax increase on people earning over $250,000 a year, to be used to raise teachers’ salaries and hire more teachers. Surprisingly, 60% of voters appear to favor the measure, including a sizable number of Rep

OCT 29

“The Economist” Endorses Joe Biden
“The Economist” is a highly respected British publication that is conservative in the old sense of the word (e.g. supports tradition and responsibility, opposes racism and profligate spending). Its editorial board endorsed Joe Biden. Our cover this week sets out why, if we had a vote, it would go to Joe Biden. The country that elected Donald Trump in 2016 was unhappy and divided. The country he i
Handwriting Expert Analyzes Trump’s Signature
A handwriting expert analyzed Trump’s signature and was shocked by what he saw.
North Carolina: Elect Supporters of Public Schools!
Since 2010, North Carolina has been controlled by radical Tea Party extremists intent on privatizing and monetizing every public service. They have passed numerous laws to authorize school privatization (charters and vouchers) and to punish public school teachers. Stuart Egan, NBCT teacher in North Carolina, urges the vast majority of the public who send their children to public schools to vote f
Indianapolis: Stop the Billionaires from Capturing Our School Board!
John Loflin of Indianapolis writes about the money flowing into the city’s school board elections from out-of-state billionaires and their usual front called Stand for Children. Loflin writes: To whom it may concern: Just in case you have not seen this Recorder story, “Political groups give over $200,000 to Charter friendly candidates for IPS” here’s the link: Political Groups Give $200,000 To So
Peter Greene: Secretary DeVos Should Help or Pipe Down
Peter Greene says that Secretary DeVos should either “help or hush,” which is certainly more civil than, say, help or shut up. DeVos has threatened to cut off funding to schools that don’t open fully, but fortunately she lacks the authority to shut any school for not following her orders. She spends her time campaigning for charters and vouchers, and has nothing to offer the public schools that t
Los Angeles School Board Race: Dirty and Expensive
Larry Buhl of Capitol & Main explains the LAUSD school board elections. They are shaping up as the nastiest and most expensive in school board history. As usual, the combatants are charter school billionaires, who want more charters, versus the United Teachers of Los Angeles, who are fighting for public schools and to protect the gains they made in the strikes of 2019. The charter side has far ou
NAEP 12th Grade Scores: Unchanged Since 2005
Those of you who have followed this blog for many years know that I don’t put much stock in twelfth grade NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores. Having served for seven years on the NAEP governing board (the National Assessment Governing Board), I know that twelfth graders are a perennial problem. Unlike students in fourth and eighth grades, the seniors know the test doesn’t c
Rachel Cohen: Emily Oster Was Too Optimistic about Children and COVID
Economist Emily Oster of Brown University has become the go-to expert on the risks that children might get COVID. She has written widely in the popular press and been quoted extensively by others about the low risk of reopening schools. Oster is an economist, not a public health expert. Writing in The American Prospect , journalist Rachel Cohen quotes many public health experts who disagree with

OCT 28

Jared Kushner: Trump Knows More than the Doctors!
As the pandemic was surging in mid-April, CNN reports that Jared Kushner told Bob Woodward that Trump had “cut out” the doctors and scientists and taken control; the pandemic would soon end, and Trump would reopen the country. Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner
Add Your Name to the “Democracy Declaration”
Please consider signing this Democracy Declaration , which is a simple affirmation of our belief in democracy, the rule of law, and the right to vote and have every vote counted. I signed. I hope you will too.
Trump Accuses Nation’s Doctors of Inflating COVID Death Count to Hurt Him
Not only does Trump feel no sympathy for the 225,000 Americans who died of coronavirus (so far), he thinks that doctors across America have inflated the death rate to make him look bad. The Boston Globe reports: Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, had just finished a 15-hour shift Saturday night when he opened Twitter and saw a video of President Trum
Danny Feingold: Why Californians Should Approve Three Ballot Propositions
Danny Feingold, publisher of Capitol & Main, explains why voters in California should right civil wrongs by voting for Proposition 15, 16, and 21. He writes: Proposition 15 would make amends for one of the most far-reaching ballot measures in American history — 1978’s era-defining Prop. 13. With its landslide passage, Prop. 13 not only upended California’s revenue stream for public education, it
Bill Moyers Recommends These Documentaries Before Election Day
Bill Moyers is one of our most respected commentators on current affairs. I had the good fortune to be interviewed by him some years ago, and I have never forgotten how warm, thoughtful, and insightful he was. In this article, he recommends 14 documentaries that he thinks you should see before the election. You probably don’t have time to see them all, but perhaps you can catch a few.
The Guardian Endorses Joe Biden
This editorial was published yesterday. Donald Trump’s presidency has been a horror show that is ending with a pandemic that is out of control, an economic recession and deepening political polarisation. Mr Trump is the author of this disastrous denouement. He is also the political leader least equipped to deal with it. Democracy in the United States has been damaged by Mr Trump’s first term. It

OCT 27

Happy Birthday, Sylvia Plath
This notice appears in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”: It’s the birthday of poet Sylvia Plath ( books by this author ), born in Boston (1932). She was an excellent student, and she went to Smith College with the help of a scholarship endowed by the writer Olive Higgins Prouty. One summer during college, she was chosen to be a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine. She was only 20 year
Washington Post Fact-Checker: Trump Passes 22,000 False Claims, Now Averaging 50 per Day
The Washington Post has a fact-checker who tries to keep count of Trump’s misstatements, false claims, and lies. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it. The fact-checker is currently eight weeks behind because the lies come so fast every day. Salvador Rizzo writes: As President Trump entered the final stretch of the election season, he began making more than 50 false or misleading claims a day.
Sam Wineburg on Teaching History
The Silence of the Ellipses : Or Why History Can’t Be About Telling Our Children Lies Sam Wineburg is the Margaret Jacks Professor of Education & (by courtesy) History at Stanford University. His most recent book is Why Learn History (When It is Already on Your Phone) , University of Chicago Press, 2018. He tweets at @samwineburg. Aware his days were numbered, a tuberculosis-stricken George Orwel
Montana: Libertarians Fight Masks While Infections Rise
States like Montana have a strong tradition of rugged individualism. That tradition is now in conflict with the need for public health measures. This story in the Los Angeles Times is a fascinating read. A doctor in small-town Montana is a leader of the anti-masking rebellion. So far, she’s winning. WHITEFISH, MONT. — When Steve Qunell won a seat on the City Council last year in this town of 8,00
Betsy DeVos Tells Kentucky That Now is the Time for Charters and Vouchers
Betsy DeVos traveled to Kentucky to sell her used goods (schmattes is the Yiddish term): charter schools and vouchers. For DeVos, a pandemic is the perfect time to push school privatization. Day in, day out, for 30 years or so, DeVos has been promoting charters and vouchers. LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – School choice supporters should “insist” that state and federal policymakers back measures like pu

OCT 26

The Absurdity of Privatizing Essential Government Services
I invite you to engage in a thought experiment with me. Trump and DeVos believe that our nation’s public schools, which have been a staple of our democracy are “failing government schools,” and they propose to hand out billions of dollars so that children can go to low-cost religious schools or Mrs. Smith’s Tutoring School or any place that wish to go. Clearly they have an animus against public s
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Explains Dark Money and Its Corruption of Our Democracy
Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator from Rhode Island, gave a masterful presentation on the power of dark money at the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Please take 30 minutes and watch it. If we don’t put a stop to the power of dark money, we will lose our democracy. Senator Whitehouse names names. He details the “Scheme,” the money trail, the big donors (where they can be identified) w
Trump’s Radical Attack on the Federal Civil Service
Trump has repeatedly been frustrated by career civil servants who are by definition protected from political vendettas. Unlike political appointees, they can only be removed for cause. Political appointees serve at the pleasure of the president or the political boss who hired them. When I served in the first Bush administration from 1991-1993, the civil servants referred to us political appointee
John Thompson: Instead of Funding Public Schools, Oklahoma Bankrolled a For-Profit Virtual Charter
John Thompson, historian and retired teacher, writes in the Progressive about the epic failure of a for-profit virtual school in Oklahoma. The Epic virtual charter school was well positioned to benefit from the demand for remote learning during the pandemic. But it just happened that its great moment was spoiled by the state’s discovery of financial irregularities. On October 12, Oklahoma’s Board

OCT 25

James Hohmann: Obama Takes on Trump
James Hohmann of t reviewed former President Barack Obama’s speech in Philadelphia in support of Biden. Obama lashed back at Trump’s specious claims and lies. The former president stood on a makeshift stage in a parking lot in front of the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium and spoke to a drive-in audience. Here are Obama’s top 10 daggers from his 36-minute speech : 1) Shredding Trump’s covid-19 respon
The New Republic: “Newsweek” Has Turned into “A Zombie Magazine”
Alex Shephard writes in the latest issue of The New Republic that something odd has happened to Newsweek . It has become an outlet for rightwing advocacy. The Newsweek story has been covered by many media outlets over the past several years, but I had not seen those stories and had no idea about what happened to this once iconic magazine. For half a century, Newsweek was owned by the Washington P
Reimagining Capitalism in Chelsea, Massachusetts
The Boston Globe reports that Chelsea, Mass., is about to launch a bold experiment in addressing the persistent problem of poverty. Chelsea, one of the poorest cities in the state, is about to host a bold experiment in reimagining capitalism, one that may answer an age-old question: Can giving away money with no strings attached help people out of poverty? Beginning in November, about 2,000 low-i
The Most Important Radical Rightwing Group You Never Heard of
In this post, Bill Moyers conducts an important interview with investigative journalist Anne Nelson, who talks about her new book, SHADOW NETWORK: MEDIA, MONEY, AND THE SECRET HUB OF THE RADICAL RIGHT. Read this and you will understand the dark forces that are undermining our democracy and our democratic institutions, including our public schools. BILL MOYERS : Let me begin with the most current
Sacramento: Vote for the Pro-Public School Candidates!
If you live in Sacramento, you have an opportunity to flip the board because four of seven seats are up for grabs. Fortunately, there is an excellent pro-public school slate with four outstanding candidates, each of whom has been endorsed by Sacramento City Teachers Asociatuon, SEIU Local 1021, the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Sacramento County Democratic Party. The billionaire boys (

OCT 24

Arizona: Gov. Ducey Blasts Referendum to Increase $$$ for Education
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who is often called a Koch puppet because the Koch network donated heavily to his elections, denounced Proposition 208, which would increase taxes to raise teachers’ salaries. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stood by his side, presumably pleased with his attack on higher wages for the state’s teachers. He made his remarks while visiting a charter school and lauding
NPE Action Endorses Sarah Schultz for Michigan House of Representatives
If you live in Michigan and you want to stop the privatization of public school funding, the Network for Public Education Action urges you to support Sarah Schultz for the House of Representatives, District 98. The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse Sarah Schultz for the Michigan state House District 98. Sarah, who was born and raised in Flint, is married to a public school t
Historian: How Do Pandemics End? Most Don’t.
NĂ¼khet Varlik, a historian at the University of South Carolina, studies the history of diseases and public health. In this article, she reveals that epidemics and pandemics seldom completely disappear . Only one epidemic–smallpox–has been eradicated. Many others survive. She writes: A combination of public health efforts to contain and mitigate the pandemic – from rigorous testing and contact tra
Do Communities Need Competing Police and Fire Departments?
A few days ago, I spoke to a statewide group of public education advocates in Texas, brought together by my friends at Pastors for Texas Children. For some reason, Texas is ground-zero for the charter industry right now. Betsy DeVos has given over $250 million to the IDEA charter chain (the one that wanted to lease a private jet for its executives, and she recently gave $100 million to the State
Ohio: The Staggering Cost of Privatization of Public Money
Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Advocacy, is a retired state superintendent in the state. He has focused like a laser on the importance of funding public education equitably and adequately. He writes here about the staggering cost of privatizing public money to pay for charters, virtual charters, and vouchers. This is money deducted from the public schools, which outper
The Future of Public Education is on the Ballot on November 3! Vote!
Derek Black, Jack Schneider, and Jennifer Berkshire wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the future of public education is on the ballot on November 3 (for the record, I got a credit for doing some minor editing). Should Trump be re-elected, you can count on him and Betsy DeVos to continue their brazen assault on public schools and to continue their demand to transfer public funds to private a
NPE Action Endorses Melissa Romano for Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction!
The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse Melissa Romano in her campaign to become Superintendent of Public Instruction in Montana. Romano, a 16-year career elementary math teacher and the 2018 Montana 

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