Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dora Taylor: Why ‘School Choice’ is Rooted in White Supremacy - Progressive.org

Why ‘School Choice’ is Rooted in White Supremacy - Progressive.org

Why ‘School Choice’ is Rooted in White Supremacy
A new book highlights how the movement to privatize education started with the effort to keep schools

In Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement, Steve Suitts provides much needed context for the current debate raging over “school choice,” charter schools, school vouchers, and other forms of privately operated schools that compete for public money. At 128 pages, the book is a fairly quick read but full of important content, through documentation and an impressive number of photos.

Suitts, a founding director of the Alabama Civil Liberties Union, makes an impressive and convincing case that the phrase “school choice”—a term influenced by libertarian economist Milton Friedman—is the latest foray in the long effort to resegregate public schools.

Overturning Brown begins with the origin of school vouchers in the Southern states, where they emerged as an attempt to keep schools segregated after the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that schools were to be desegregated in Brown v. Board of Education. After a decade-long battle, it was declared by the Supreme Court that the doctrine of “separate but equal” was unconstitutional.

We are now hearing the term “school choice” again. 

Mitt Romney, while on the presidential campaign trail in 2012, touted a proposal to overhaul public schools by providing vouchers to low-income students—even though he knew most students in that category would receive CONTINUE READING: Why ‘School Choice’ is Rooted in White Supremacy - Progressive.org

April Fools’ Blog Post Suspended | Cloaking Inequity

April Fools’ Blog Post Suspended | Cloaking Inequity

APRIL FOOLS’ BLOG POST SUSPENDED

For the past 11 years I have posted an April Fools’ blog post in the vein of The Onion— satire about education (a quick search of the blog reveals some of the most epic, including last year’s about Besty Devos). However, because of the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic (See April Fools’ Day pranks are not funny right now. Don’t do them), I will delay this post until later in the year when we have a vaccine and the world has returned to normalcy. You have been warned. 馃槈 Stay healthy out there and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Educators continue census outreach, despite COVID-19 - Education Votes

Educators continue census outreach, despite COVID-19 - Education Votes

Educators continue census outreach, despite COVID-19


By Amanda Litvinov / image by Marka 27 for NEA’s 2020 census campaign
Music teacher Yolanda Calder贸n had just five minutes on Monday to enter her school and get what she needed. What was the one thing she went in for? “My iPad!” says Calder贸n, because it has the app and information she needs to communicate with her students’ families directly.

Colorado music teacher Yolanda Calder贸n

She teaches at Wheeling Elementary in Aurora, Colo., but she hasn’t been there since Gov. Jared Polis closed schools on March 25 to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Among the most critical messages she needed to send the parents of her students via the ClassDoJo app: “Don’t forget to fill out the U.S. Census!” She’d been planning to host a census information booth at an event that had been cancelled. Now she needs to connect with the parents online to encourage them to participate.
Educators have a long proud history of supporting the important work of the United States Census, through both classroom lessons and advocacy work in undercounted communities. The census is crucial to direct over $1.5 trillion in federal funds to communities nationwide, and to ensure full political representation in our democracy.
But COVID-19 has presented a new barrier to advocacy that typically involves face-to-face conversations and community gatherings. The pandemic has shuttered schools around the CONTINUE READING: Educators continue census outreach, despite COVID-19 - Education Votes

How Schools Worldwide Are Tackling the Coronavirus Challenge - Yes! Magazine

How Schools Worldwide Are Tackling the Coronavirus Challenge - Yes! Magazine

How Schools Worldwide Are Tackling the Coronavirus Challenge
Schools are closed for hundreds of millions of students, but educators, parents, and children are still learning—including how to keep a sense of connection.


Cats, puppies, and stuffed animals prance across Tracy Westberg’s screen.
A sixth grade social studies teacher north of Seattle, Westberg is conducting a virtual session on the Tuesday after her Washington state school district’s switch to all-online education, because of the coronavirus.  Westberg had planned a session about world religions, only to watch her students erupt into silliness and gleeful chaos, as they seized the chance to share their most cherished home items with classmates during a show-and-tell break.
It’s been an unexpected joy amid a massive online education experiment.
“OK, time out!” Westberg says, clicking “mute” to regain control of the group of about 60. After a pause, her students continue to astonish her. As she launches an overview of Buddhism, her students post queries in a shared virtual chat. Other students jump in to answer.
“I’m super excited,” Westberg says after closing the session Tuesday. The sidebar chatting among students would not have happened in a brick-and-mortar classroom.
As authorities worldwide attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus by closing schools and universities, more than 420 CONTINUE READING: How Schools Worldwide Are Tackling the Coronavirus Challenge - Yes! Magazine

NYC Educator: Letter to Staff on Easter/ Passover Break

NYC Educator: Letter to Staff on Easter/ Passover Break

Letter to Staff on Easter/ Passover Break


Dear colleagues:

This last week or two has gone by in a blur for me. Without actually leaving my home and going to work, it feels like one day just blends into another. Last night I was thinking about someone at the union who told me we were going to fight Cuomo on the rollback of Easter/ Passover break. It felt a world away but I’d only heard it 24 hours earlier.

It’s not easy for me to find words now, and I usually have them bubbling around everywhere. Here’s the thing—like you, I’ve been working around the clock trying to manage these online classes I’m giving. Like you, I’m on a pretty steep learning curve. We’re not the first to do this. There are a whole lot of cyber charter schools, and they are terrible. Bill Gates did an online program at a city school and it bombed, The students walked out in protest. Yet here we are trying to do this thing with virtually no prep whatsoever.

And now, while we’re already under all this pressure, we learn that our much-needed break has been pulled out from under us by Governor Cuomo. Cuomo looks like a big hero on TV, as he’s evidently a grownup who’s not insane. (Our standards for heroes have dropped since we were kids.)  It’s hard for me to see him like that. One of the reasons there are not enough hospital beds is that Cuomo has been closing hospitals for ten years. He’s also about to turn down almost seven billion dollars in Medicaid funding and talking cuts to education as opposed to taxing the New Yorkers who could best afford it.

Cuomo is responsible for our cumbersome and much-dreaded evaluation system. So forgive me if he’s your hero. He’s certainly not mine. That said, the legislature CONTINUE READING: 
NYC Educator: Letter to Staff on Easter/ Passover Break

Even Though Schools Are Closed, Advocates Must Keep on Pushing to End Dangerous School “Deformer” Policies | janresseger

Even Though Schools Are Closed, Advocates Must Keep on Pushing to End Dangerous School “Deformer” Policies | janresseger

Even Though Schools Are Closed, Advocates Must Keep on Pushing to End Dangerous School “Deformer” Policies



Those of us who care about American public schools have spent nearly twenty years working to undo the damage of a school accountability and privatization movement that has ruined our schools, heaped pressure on teachers and children, and created a publicly funded, private education sector. School privatization on top of widespread state tax slashing has robbed education budgets—ensuring that our children can have neither the basic services they need nor the kind of stimulating, exciting and rigorous education our wealthiest society in the world ought to be able to provide for them.
The pause this month, as public schools are closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, has forced a lot of people to notice that public schools are a more important institution than many had perhaps realized.  We are noticing, for example, that virtual learning cannot substitute for real live teachers working personally to support children as they learn together. And we’ve been forced to notice all the ways we count on schools, as a universal system that provides care and supervision every day and even ensures that hungry children are fed.
At some point, however, schools will reopen, and when they do, I hope those of us who have been working for decades to repair the damage of twenty years of “school deform” won’t have been distracted.  Because we are a society with a short memory, it’s worth reviewing the goals we were working to realize before March, 2020 when the pandemic shut down our public schools.  There is a likelihood that the economic damage from the pandemic may bring added challenges, and we will no doubt be told that the new crisis, whatever it is, is the only thing CONTINUE READING: Even Though Schools Are Closed, Advocates Must Keep on Pushing to End Dangerous School “Deformer” Policies | janresseger

Schools, the Coronavirus, and the Near Future (Part 2) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Schools, the Coronavirus, and the Near Future (Part 2) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Schools, the Coronavirus, and the Near Future (Part 2)


When the coronavirus has run its course and Americans return to work, and try to restore their daily routines to what they recognize as “normal”–some things will change in schools. What all of those changes will be, I cannot predict.
When I look back on my predictions about school reform and technology, it is clear that I am no seer. At best, my trying to look around the corner has been half-right and half-wrong. Not an enviable record. Especially because economic, political, and social policymaker decisions produce consequences that touch people’s lives. So being half-right ain’t too good. Nonetheless, I plunge ahead.
One change I do believe will occur is about how much time children and youth will spend in school after they return to their desks. One result of the pandemic has been the loss of the last quarter of the school year and decisions will be made about whether school should be held during the summer of 2020 to make up for lost time and whether students should be promoted to the next grade. Spring testing of students, an annual rite for decades, has vanished. Test scores for 2019-2020 to crow or despair about–won’t circulate in mainstream and social media this year.
Moreover, nearly all states require 180 days of school of six or so hours daily in classroom instruction. For 2019-2020, that’s gone. Remote learning may recover some of the time but states and districts will either waive their requirements or mandate a new calendar for the summer and autumn to recoup losses in time or do a mix of both. State-required seat-time in school to get credentials in a highly CONTINUE READING: Schools, the Coronavirus, and the Near Future (Part 2) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

All Things Education: Thoughts on schooling in the era of COVID-19

All Things Education: Thoughts on schooling in the era of COVID-19

Thoughts on schooling in the era of COVID-19


Well, a whole lot has changed since I returned to blogging a month and half ago. In case you didn't notice, and I'm sure everyone reading this did, there's a global pandemic. I also am going to suspend my new "brief post" practice for this one, so hang with me.

First, I will share some twitter threads I wrote at different stages of this.

1. This came before and during Virginia Governor Northam ordered all Virginia public schools closed for minimum two weeks, dated March 13th, and presented some rudimentary thoughts on Virginia school divisions' response to/navigation of COVID-19:


FWIW, I have some rudimentary thoughts on Virginia school divisions' response to/navigation of that might be informative and helpful. (Or they might not be at all. . .)

Thread.


2. This one was written for anyone trying to navigate learning at home who has children in Virginia public schools, dated March 17th:


Thread for anyone trying to navigate learning at home who has children in Virginia public schools who might want to hear from a Virginia public high school teacher & parent.

3. This one came on March 20th, at the end of the first week of the initial 2-week school closure and discusses what local school districts should keep in mind to prepare and discussed differences between "precaution" and "last resort":

So, as we are at the end of Week 1 of pandemic-based public K-12 school closures in Virginia, I have some thoughts.

Thread.


Of course, by now, Governor Northam has ordered all Virginia public schools closed through the end of the academic school year. This has not been easy news for schools and families to process and it will have devastating consequences for Virginia's families and children, but as I explained in this thread, this is a measure of last resort focused on saving lives, meaning more people will die if the schools aren't closed:



Many/some (how many I don't know) Virginia public schools stakeholders, including local schools' and school district leadership, think of this 2-week closure as a mere precaution, a measure take out of an "abundance of caution." I have heard it described by some as a "break."
In reality, this mandated 2-week closure of all VA public schools & other measures were measures of "last resort," which means:

"to be the only person or thing that might be able to help you, when every other person or possibility has failed" or "if all other methods fail."


As I explained in this thread, school districts were given guidance by the Virginia Department of Education to come up with food services and continuation of instruction plans during extended school closures. In terms of the continuation of instruction plans, we have been told and are being told to put together sets of activities that will last 10 days each through some point in April. As far as I understand, these activities cannot be graded, they cannot present new material, and they cannot require the internet, and they should be project-based and not worksheets. I teach US & Virginia Government to seniors so it's not so hard to put such a set of activities together. I am also pretty creative so it's not hard for me to think of projects (and in fact, I am looking forward to using some of these whenever I teach face-to-face again). But it is tough assuming no access to the internet. At some point, starting some time in April, as far as I understand, we will be able to present new content and to use internet resources and forums to do so.

Second, there's a great deal of discussion of out there about COVID-19 related school closures and the lack of equity CONTINUE READING: 
All Things Education: Thoughts on schooling in the era of COVID-19

California: State Superintendent Thurmond Says Schools Probably Will Not Open Again This School Year | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: State Superintendent Thurmond Says Schools Probably Will Not Open Again This School Year | Diane Ravitch's blog

California: State Superintendent Thurmond Says Schools Probably Will Not Open Again This School Year



California public school campuses are unlikely to reopen for the remainder of the academic school year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, state Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said Tuesday in a letter to school district officials.
“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year,” Thurmond wrote. “This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning.”
Earlier, Thurmond had resisted suggestions that there was no hope for returning to campus. His letter Tuesday represented a shift of direction.
His statement also echoed remarks from Gov. Gavin Newsom at a midday Tuesday news conference:

The Student Coronavirus Creative Response Project: Youth Voices Countering COVID 19–submit your project and be heard! – I AM AN EDUCATOR

The Student Coronavirus Creative Response Project: Youth Voices Countering COVID 19–submit your project and be heard! – I AM AN EDUCATOR

The Student Coronavirus Creative Response Project: Youth Voices Countering COVID 19–submit your project and be heard!


Seattle area educators have partnered with Colorful PagesBlack Education MattersFamilies of Color Seattle (FOCS) to launch a citywide “Student Coronavirus Creative Response Project” to have students reflect on and take action to support those most affected by the pandemic. This project has different versions designed for both Elementary School and Middle School and High School. Students will submit their projects to the website to be displayed publicly and send their projects to the politicians who need to hear the message about how this virus is impacting the most vulnerable communities.
Beginning on Monday, March 30th, educators around the city and state are being asked to begin finding ways to resume lessons remotely to the extent possible, and the creators of this project hope that this will provide students with deeply meaningful work–even as we realize that many students face very challenging times right now that may prohibit their ability to engage in this projects or other academic pursuits. Additionally, many students– even in a city like Seattle with so many tech companies–do not have regular access to the internet. Nonetheless, the we hope that the project can help contribute to a better understanding of inequities and how they are compounded by coronavirus.
Local social justice activist Indira Bahner said of the project,
I am so grateful to the community that is collaborating to launch this project to amplify the voices of young people about what they believe should be done to address the coronavirus crisis.
This project will ask Seattle youth to analyze how coronavirus (COVID-19) is the most vulnerable people and explain what should be done in our society to best support those people.  Students are encouraged to send their creative response area politicians who have the authority to improve the conditions for the most vulnerable people.  There is an elementary school version of the project too. In addition, the projects will be uploaded to the Student Coronavirus Creative Response Project website.
The project asks students to pick one of seven prompts and respond creatively.  Here, then, are the four steps to complete the project.

Project Overview:

1)    Pick one of the 6 creative response prompts:
Prompt #1: Women, Women of Color, and Helping Professions
Prompt #2: Income and Debt
Prompt #3: Medical Coverage
Prompt #4: Mental Health, Addiction, & Developmental Disability
Prompt #5: Jail/Prison Populations and COVID-19
Prompt #6: Combating anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism
Prompt #7: The Impact of COVID-19 on Undocumented & Immigrant Communities
2) Research your issue. 
We have included some information for each prompt but you can do more research on your own.
3) Deiced what kind of creative response you will create and get to work. 
Do you want to write a letter, create a video, make a drawing, create a PowerPoint, create a board game, or something else?
 4) Submit your project
We encourage you to submit your projects to local, county, and state legislators and copy creative.response.projects@gmail.com on your communication so we can add your project to library and inspire others.
The four core educators who collaborated to produce this project are:
Indira Bahner–Chief Program Associate for the YWCA, social justice activist.
Jesse Hagopian—High School ELA/Ethnic Studies teacher, author, editor for Rethinking Schools magazine.
Kaitlin Kamalei Brandon—Ethnic Studies Elementary School Teacher, Director of Colorful Pages.
Wayne Au—Education Professor, author, editor for Rethinking Schools magazine.
Jesse Hagopian said of the project,
Many educators and parents are looking for a ways to engage young people in a meaningful dialogue about the coronavirus crisis.  This project gives students the opportunity to share their valuable insights about COVID-19—and helps them make a difference in outcomes for the most venerable people in our region.