Sunday, March 01, 2015

Screw State Universities

But the current batch of GOP landslide beneficiaries in the states are not quite so lucky, at least so far. While the economy has slowly picked up pace since the first cohort of them took office in 2011, it’s hardly roaring. And it’s not clear who’s in a worse position: veteran Republicans in budget trouble because of tax cuts already passed, or the 2015 freshmen who took office promising tax cuts they have no way to pay for without deep budget cuts. An additional complication is the revenue crisis facing states—most of them governed by Republicans—depending disproportionately on oil and gas severance taxes, which have been decimated by the recent fall in world oil prices.
Some high-profile Republican governors and legislative leaders are in a particularly deep hole of their own making, and are taking on the state version of the political “third rail” by attacking higher education spending.
There are plenty of reasons why higher ed is an unusually tough place to cut, varying from the power of alumni to football and basketball and the perceived economic payoff of a good state university system. Still, during the depths of the Great Recession, virtually all states cut higher ed subsidies, which non-coincidentally produced a large wave of tuition increases. But some cut more than others, and are doing less to replace lost funding now that the economy’s doing better. Only eight states failed to increase per student higher ed spending in Fiscal Year 2014: Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Louisiana, West Virginia and Wyoming. And now in 2015 it generates headlines when significant higher education cuts are proposed, as in Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Louisiana.
You may note that these are all states with highly ideological Republican state administrations and legislatures. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback narrowly survived a reelection challenge focused on his credit-damaging tax cuts and unpopular education cuts; now, with little to lose, he’s back for more. In North Carolina, a state often matched with Kansas as a deliberate conservative policy experiment station, state legislators (guided by a conservative think tank founded by highly influential billionaire Art Pope) are seeking shutdowns in ideologically unfavored parts of the university system.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Students need more funds, not more tests.

As a teacher of more than 20 years at an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, I saw the value of federal dollars sent to our local public schools through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In fact, millions of America’s poorest schoolchildren depend on the Title 1 funding that was established in the law as part of the landmark 1965 “War on Poverty” legislation. 
In Los Angeles, Title 1 funding allowed us to buy paper, pens and pencils that, while taken for granted in many communities, were a luxury for children and parents living in poverty. It also allowed us to hire instructional aides and provide programs that gave thousands of students the help they needed to succeed in school and prepare for college.
Congress must now decide whether to reauthorize the act, and whether to continue with the high-stakes testing mandates adopted as part of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Elect Eric Guerra

The Sacramento Progressive Alliance supports Eric Guerra for Sacramento City Council, District 6.
Special election.  April 7, 2015.
The Sacramento City Council has not had a Latino member for twenty years. Most of the Democratic Party clubs are supporting his opponent. Eric was a strong ally of multicultural education while he was President of ASI at Sac State.
Contract the Guerra campaign on Facebook. Campaign volunteers are needed.
The decision was made at our board meeting on Feb.21. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Violence Against Children and Teachers

by Steven Singer 
She was smiling and laughing, but her eyes were terrified.
Sitting in class among her fellow middle school students, her words were all bravado. But her gestures were wild and frightened. Tears were close.
So as the morning bell rang and the conversation continued unabated, I held myself in check. I stopped the loud rebuke forming in my teacher’s throat and just listened.
“You know that shooting at Monroeville Mall Saturday night, Mr. Singer? I was there!”
I swallowed. “My gosh, Paulette. Are you okay?”
She acts street smart and unbreakable, but I can still see the little girl in her. She’s only thirteen.
She slowed down and told us what happened; a story framed as bragging but really a desperate plea for safety and love.
She went to the mall with her mother. When they separated so she could go to the restroom, the gunfire began. She ran out and Mom was gone. She was ushered into a nearby store where the customers were kept in lockdown. She stayed there until the police cleared the mall, and it was safe to find her mother and go home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CSU hurts students by relying upon part-time lecturers

Lilian Taiz,
It’s bad enough that the California State University is using more part-time than full-time professors.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that CSU has been choosing, decade after decade, to follow a corporate model that builds its part-time workforce at the expense of recruiting and retaining permanent faculty. That model is bad for the employees, but it also has serious implications for the 447,000 students who rely on CSU for quality public higher education.

That hiring pattern is a long-term policy that the CSU has been advancing regardless of the state of the economy. Moreover, in recent years despite greater investment in the CSU at the state level (though not as much as the system needs), these hiring practices have continued.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What has NCLB wrought ?

Lily Ekelsen Garcia, President NEA
I have a pop quiz for you.
In 2001, before No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed, there were six federally-mandated tests per student. Guess how many there are now?
  • 6
  • 8
  • 10
  • 17
The answer: 17
Let that sink in for a minute...17 federally-mandated tests. And that's on TOP of all the other state and local assessments that are being administered. 
But that's not even the real issue. It's the high stakes that are tied to those tests and the lack of attention on what really matters - the opportunities we're providing our students across ALL zip codes.
That is the real heart of the problem. Join me in speaking up about it now.
Right now, Congress is reauthorizing this cornerstone piece of education legislation - the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
It's a HUGE deal that will dictate not only the amount of time students spend on testing, but also the resources like advanced courses, extracurriculars, and access to school counselors - they receive. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Schooled for Failure: California's k-12 Crisis

Bill Raden
“You can see a big difference between students who have gone to preschool and who have not,” Jones told Capital & Main in her tidily organized classroom. Aggravating the situation, she adds, is that Angeles Mesa is surrounded by charter schools that tend to siphon higher achieving students and attract more motivated parents, who are drawn as much by safety concerns as academic excellence. That has created an additional inequality within an inequality, as Angeles Mesa is left with a disproportionate population of underachievers lacking in basic social and learning skills.
“It is definitely difficult to have a child come into kindergarten who’s never been read to,” Jones explained. “And it’s not that they haven’t been read to because their parents don’t want to — it’s just when you’re a single mom and you’re working four jobs, it doesn’t always work out that way.”
If there is a lesson in evidence-based research for California policy makers, say Orfield and Gandara, it is that there are limitations to what even the most inspired teachers alone can achieve in a society plagued with inequities.
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