Friday, September 28, 2007

California reading scores shameful -again.

California reading scores shameful- again: National Scores essentially stagnant.

Governors, Senators, and Assemblymembers , and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction have given many speeches, but as of last year they had not provided more funds for the schools. This makes for large class sizes. The results of their budget decisions are in.
The NAEP Reading Scores for California give an average score of 209; we rank right along with Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.
The NAEP results are important because schools and teachers can drill for the state tests, but NAEP measures against a national standard of whether children can actually read (NAEP, 2007). California has remained with these poverty stricken states for the last 12 years. Remember when the ideologues all claimed that by switching to phonics reading scores were going to go up? Or, others claimed that by eliminating bilingual education would produce dramatic gains. Well- where is the data?

Scores are similarly shameful for 8th. Graders with even Alabama out scoring California.

So, what do you do if you are an elected official, responsible for providing adequate resources but failing to do so? Well, you change the subject. You talk about state tests, where teaching to the test is possible, and the “achievement gap”. Stressing the achievement gap –which is real- places the responsibility and the blame on teachers and parents and shifts the focus away from the resource gap created by inadequate budgets.

This year new money began to be sent to low performing schools. It will take several years of consistently improved funding to overcome the reading deficits imposed upon our children in the last decade.

On the national level, the reading scores are essentially stable for the last decade. That is, there was no progress produced by No Child Left Behind. (perhaps because in part it was under funded by 52 Billion). You have to read the scores carefully since the U.S. Dept. of Education has become skilled at the process of claiming great progress for a one or two point gain. But, compare the scores over the last ten years and you will find very little change.

National scores on the math exams have improved over the same decades. More to come on that issue.
Duane Campbell
Professor of Education
author: Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. ( 2004)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Obama opens Calif. Campaign office

Obama to open Oakland office while Hillary’s here
Posted by Josh Richman on September 26th, 2007

Democratic presidential candiate Barack Obama is about to open his first regional campaign office outside the four early primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) on Sunday right here in Oakland — two blocks from where Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is scheduled to stage a big rally a few hours later. No, he won’t be here himself.

It hadn’t been lost on journalists or political observers that the Obama operation in California thus far has been almost exclusively grassroots; there’ve been some trainings and events, but not much in the way of professional staff or offices.

Former gubernatorial candidate and state Controller Steve Westly told me today that Oakland was chosen for the office because the junior Senator from Illinois enjoys a broad base of support in the Bay Area and Northern California — remember the 10,000 to 12,000 who turned out for his March 17 rally in Oakland? — and expects that widespread backing by minority and young voters will carry him to victory in the Golden State. Oakland represents the kind of ethnically, socio-economically and otherwise diverse audience to which Obama appeals, Westly added, and efforts have been underway for weeks to secure a location; it turned out to be 436 14th Street, not far from Frank Ogawa Plaza.

But Westly wouldn’t comment on whether it’s coincidence that the office will open at 1 p.m. Sunday, three and a half hours before Clinton’s “Club44 Block Party” is to begin on Clay Street between 12th and 14th streets. “Who knows?” he said.

The Obama campaign also today announced an expanded California staff, including communications director Debbie Mesloh; she’ll be on leave from her post as communications director for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, herself an avowed Obama supporter. Mesloh previously worked as Northern California Field Director for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and as press secretary for the Atlanta City Council.

Other hires include:

deputy campaign director and political director Vincent Harris, who’ll be on leave from his post as chief of staff to state Senator and Legislative Black Caucus Chairman-elect Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles. Harris earlier worked as deputy chief of staff to Gov. Gray Davis and as senior policy advisor to the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald; he has managed field operations as a regional coordinator in the Democratic Coordinated Campaigns in 1998 and 1990 and as campaign manager for congressional and city council elections in 1996 and 1992, respectively.
field operations director Buffy Wicks, who most recently was political director for the UFCW’s campaign. A California native, she has also worked as an organizer for the Howard Dean campaign and for the antiwar movement.
deputy political director and director of Asian/Pacific Islander outreach Van Tamom, who most recently was deputy director of public relations at the Los Angeles-based public relations firm Bomaye and was the 2006 Democratic nominee for the 60th California Assembly District.
Latino outreach director Edith Ramirez, on leave as a litigation partner in the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP; she’s also vice president of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board of Commissioners.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NAEP results: not definitive

The 2007 NAEP results are presently available on line. They are not yet available in print. As per past years, the Bush administration is making claims about the scores which are not supported by the evidence.
Here's a more intelligent article on the NAEP results than I've seen elsewhere. It brings out most of the important points, in my view. To wit:

1. The recent gains are quite modest, especially when it comes to closing "achievement gaps."
2. The upward trends in math and in 4th grade reading started well before NCLB took effect and appear to have leveled off a bit since that time.
3. The NAEP data offer no clear conclusions for policy -- it doesn't prove that NCLB is either helping or hurting.

Schoolkids Post Modest Gains in National Test
NAEP Scores Are Up Since '05, But Persistent Gaps Fuel Fight Over No Child Left Behind
Wall Street Journal
September 26, 2007; Page D1

Democrats and Congress fail on NCLB

Of all the things we expected Congress to fix when reauthorizing NCLB, the over-reliance upon standardized tests to measure both student learning and school success was first on the list. Maybe taking seriously the federal government’s historic and proper role in insuring equal educational opportunity for all our children was too much to ask. (See the previous edition of this newsletter for our hopes on that agenda). But given the overwhelming evidence of how the testing craze was dumbing down curricula, narrowing teaching and limiting the educational experience of our most school-dependent children, fixing this part of the law seemed obvious.

But the obvious has seemed to escape our representatives, so time for some more editing on the incomplete drafts of NCLB reauthorization we have seen so far.

There is an abundance of evidence of the harm that the NCLB-mandated regime of tests to be taken at least seven times by every child in America’s schools. Reports from the Center for Educational Policy , the Council for Basic Education, and even the usually administration-friendly Fordham Foundation illuminate what is going on. We have outlined these concerns in an earlier post. Unfortunately, while these and other reports have diagnosed the disease, the cure they often suggest—more testing in other areas, just spreads the illness around.

If you have any doubt that the press for more and more tests is hurting not helping schools, a front-line exposé leaves no doubt of what is going on. If you have not yet picked up a copy of Tested by Linda Perlstein get to your bookstore and order it now. And when you are done with it, march straight to your congressperson or senator’s office and insist they read it before voting to reauthorize NCLB. Perlstein spends over a year in a school struggling to make AYP, and they do. But the cost in terms of the school experience for both children and their teachers makes it clear the battle is not worth it. Perlstein pulls no punches, both pointing out that some teachers like the new packaged reading programs they use to jack up test scores because “now I don’t have to think” and chiding parents who send kids to school lacking sleep and supplies. But she saves her most important points for the policy makers that have put in place the test-driven accountability of NCLB.

Following the day to day experiences of real kids and real teachers she shows how the focus on tests is, as one teacher put it, making students “learn the (writing) formula but forget how to think.” Science kits are left unopened in the back of the classroom, engaging chapter books are left unread, school assemblies are only cheerleading efforts for test day, and district specialists plot out ways to have teachers concentrate on the ‘bubble kids’ (the ones who may just inch up their scores enough to pass and make the school look good). All of this in the name of getting more points on the mandated tests so the school meets the federal AYP goals.

It is stories like these that are probably behind the growing public dissatisfaction with NCLB and with our reliance on standardized tests to tell all there is to know about our schools and children. But even when, in the recent reauthorization bill put forth by Congressman Miller, chair of the House Education Sub-Committee, a small experiment allowing non-standardized assessments to be utilized is put forth the usual shouting and name calling begins. In hearings on the Hill so-called student advocate groups called such provisions a roll back on accountability and an abandoning of our commitment to equity.

This too is more of the same when it comes to NCLB. To date there has been no fair and honest discussion of fundamental assumptions that underlie the law and the issues that bedevil it. To wit: What evidence is there that the test scores the law sanctifies actually tell us anything about student success after school? What has been lost in our schools due to the focus on testing? How have we ignored students that are certain to pass or fail tests while schools focus on ‘bubble kids’? Why have perfectly good alternatives to such tests, as used both here and abroad, been attacked by the federal government? And, who benefits (or profits) from the over $570 million to be spent this year on standardized tests by our states—money that could have put almost 16,000 more teachers into classrooms this year?

Unless the reauthorization of NCLB addresses these issues, we will have to continue to return the draft legislation for revision. In the spirit of helping young writers improve on their craft, I want to suggest three resources they could consult in improving their work.

The Forum has published a research brief on performance-based assessments that illustrates what could be done instead of the current focus on standardized testing.
Senators Feingold and Leahy have introduced the “Improving Student Testing Act of 2007” which reduces the number of tests given, allows for and funds performance assessments, and holds off the date when all student must be proficient until NCLB is fully funded.
And The Forum’s original “Guiding Principles for ESEA Reauthorization" presents the changes we feel are necessary.
The Forum remains committed to educational policies that provide for equitable, engaging, and community centered educational opportunities for every child. As federal policy, NCLB fails on all of these counts. It is time that was admitted and a serious discussion of how to support our public schools is undertaken. As Perlstein puts it: “An honest airing (about where the accountability movement is taking our schools) would acknowledge how little the test tells us about students, and it would address the failure of accountability rules to do anything about some of the root causes of poor performance in schools: lack of preschool, lack of medical care, poor parent education, impoverished communities.”

Given the unwillingness of those inside the beltway to take on this discussion, it is unlikely that NCLB will be restructured in ways that will help every child learn or every teacher teach. It is time for something new.

Forum on education and democracy

NAEP: math scores improve, reading does not

September 26, 2007
Math Scores Rise, but Reading Is Mixed

America’s public school students are doing significantly better in math since the federal No Child Left Behind law took effect in 2002, but gains in reading achievement have been marginal, with performance declining among eighth graders, according to results of nationwide reading and math tests released Tuesday.

The results also showed that the nation had made only incremental progress in narrowing historic gaps in achievement between white and minority students, a fundamental goal of the federal law.

The reading and math tests, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress and administered by the Department of Education, were last given in 2005, and this year’s results landed in the midst of a fierce political debate over whether to renew the law. They offer ammunition both to the business leaders and other groups who support the law, as well as to teachers unions and groups who say its emphasis on standardized tests hurts schools.

President Bush called the results “outstanding,” adding, “These scores confirm that No Child Left Behind is working.” But critics of the federal law, including an antitesting group and a national teachers union, said many scores were rising faster before the law’s enactment.

The national tests were given to 700,000 fourth- and eighth-grade students in all 50 states this year.

“Overall, we’re doing well, but it’s clear that results are better in math than in reading,” Darvin Winick, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, the bipartisan group set up by Congress to oversee the tests, said in an interview. “Probably the educational establishment needs to look at middle school reading to see why we’re not making progress there.”

The federal law requires states to administer reading and math tests every year in grades three through eight, with the goal of bringing every student to “proficiency” in math and reading by 2014. But the law lets each state write its own tests and define proficiency. The national reading and math assessment is considered a more reliable indicator of performance than the state tests.

The good news came in math. The average math score for fourth graders is at its highest level in 17 years, and the percentage of fourth graders scoring at or above proficiency rose to 39 percent this year, up eight points since the federal law took effect. The latest results also show that eighth-grade students’ math performance has improved, although not as quickly as among younger students.

The reading results were sobering. On average, reading scores for fourth graders have increased modestly since the law took effect, but in about a dozen states the percentage of students who read at the proficiency level has stayed the same or fallen.

Eighth-grade scores have declined slightly, on average, since the law took effect, and in 18 states, including Connecticut, the percentage of students performing at the proficient level in reading has fallen. The biggest declines came in West Virginia, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

“Substantial improvement in reading achievement is still eluding us as a nation,” Amanda P. Avallone, an eighth-grade English teacher from Colorado who sits on the assessment’s governing board, said Tuesday.

The results showed minimal progress in narrowing achievement gaps between white and minority students. On this year’s reading test, for instance, fourth-grade black students scored 27 points below whites on the assessment’s 500-point scale, a slight improvement over 2003, when blacks scored 31 points lower than whites.

Federal officials said each point on the test equates to about a tenth of a school year’s worth of learning. In eighth-grade math, the gaps between white and black and between white and Hispanic students were as intractably wide as in 1990.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who as chairman of the Senate education committee helped the Bush administration pass the law in 2001, called the results “encouraging.”

The American Federation of Teachers congratulated its members for the improvements in math and in fourth-grade reading, but noted that “many scores were rising faster before No Child Left Behind was enacted.” Fair Test, an antitesting group, made a similar comment.

The results showed striking achievement differences among the states since the law was passed. Massachusetts, for instance, has made spectacular progress in math and good progress in reading in fourth and eighth grade. In New Jersey the percentage of fourth and eighth graders showing proficiency in math has risen significantly.

But achievement has stagnated elsewhere. The percentage of eighth-grade students proficient in math in New York declined to 30 percent this year from 32 percent in 2003, for instance.

The state education commissioner, Richard Mills, focused instead on results showing that New York has been more successful than the nation as a whole in raising the achievement of black and Hispanic students.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Juan Cole on Ahmadinejad

Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1
Demonizing the Iranian president and making his visit to New York seem controversial are all part of the neoconservative push for yet another war.
By Juan Cole
Sept. 24, 2007 | Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly has become a media circus. But the controversy does not stem from the reasons usually cited.

The media has focused on debating whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia University on Monday, or whether his request to visit Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11 attack in lower Manhattan, should have been honored. His request was rejected, even though Iran expressed sympathy with the United States in the aftermath of those attacks and Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims. Iran felt that it and other Shiite populations had also suffered at the hands of al-Qaida, and that there might now be an opportunity for a new opening to the United States.

Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. Critics have also cited his statements about the Holocaust or his hopes that the Israeli state will collapse. He has been depicted as a Hitler figure intent on killing Israeli Jews, even though he is not commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, has never invaded any other country, denies he is an anti-Semite, has never called for any Israeli civilians to be killed, and allows Iran's 20,000 Jews to have representation in Parliament.

There is, in fact, remarkably little substance to the debates now raging in the United States about Ahmadinejad. His quirky personality, penchant for outrageous one-liners, and combative populism are hardly serious concerns for foreign policy. Taking potshots at a bantam cock of a populist like Ahmadinejad is actually a way of expressing another, deeper anxiety: fear of Iran's rising position as a regional power and its challenge to the American and Israeli status quo. The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state.

The neoconservatives are even claiming that the United States has been at war with Iran since 1979. As Glenn Greenwald points out, this assertion is absurd. In the '80s, the Reagan administration sold substantial numbers of arms to Iran. Some of those beating the war drums most loudly now, like think-tank rat Michael Ledeen, were middlemen in the Reagan administration's unconstitutional weapons sales to Tehran. The sales would have been a form of treason if in fact the United States had been at war with Iran at that time, so Ledeen is apparently accusing himself of treason.

But the right has decided it is at war with Iran, so a routine visit by Iran's ceremonial president to the U.N. General Assembly has generated sparks. The foremost cheerleader for such a view in Congress is Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., who recently pressed Gen. David Petraeus on the desirability of bombing Iran in order to forestall weapons smuggling into Iraq from that country (thus cleverly using one war of choice to foment another).

American hawks are beating the war drums loudly because they are increasingly frustrated with the course of events. They are unsatisfied with the lack of enthusiasm among the Europeans and at the United Nations for impeding Tehran's nuclear energy research program. While the Bush administration insists that the program aims at producing a bomb, the Iranian state maintains that it is for peaceful energy purposes. Washington wants tighter sanctions on Iran at the United Nations but is unlikely to get them in the short term because of Russian and Chinese reluctance. The Bush administration may attempt to create a "coalition of the willing" of Iran boycotters outside the U.N. framework.

Washington is also unhappy with Mohammad ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He has been unable to find credible evidence that Iran has a weapons program, and he told Italian television this week, "Iran does not constitute a certain and immediate threat for the international community." He stressed that no evidence had been found for underground production sites or hidden radioactive substances, and he urged a three-month waiting period before the U.N. Security Council drew negative conclusions.

ElBaradei intervened to call for calm after French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said last week that if the negotiations over Iran's nuclear research program were unsuccessful, it could lead to war. Kouchner later clarified that he was not calling for an attack on Iran, but his remarks appear to have been taken seriously in Tehran.

Kouchner made the remarks after there had already been substantial speculation in the U.S. press that impatient hawks around U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney were seeking a pretext for a U.S. attack on Iran. Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation probably correctly concluded in Salon last week that President Bush himself has for now decided against launching a war on Iran. But Clemons worries that Cheney and the neoconservatives, with their Israeli allies, are perfectly capable of setting up a provocation that would lead willy-nilly to war.

David Wurmser, until recently a key Cheney advisor on Middle East affairs and the coauthor of the infamous 1996 white paper that urged an Iraq war, revealed to his circle that Cheney had contemplated having Israel strike at Iranian nuclear research facilities and then using the Iranian reaction as a pretext for a U.S. war on that country. Prominent and well-connected Afghanistan specialist Barnett Rubin also revealed that he was told by an administration insider that there would be an "Iran war rollout" by the Cheneyites this fall.

It should also be stressed that some elements in the U.S. officer corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency are clearly spoiling for a fight with Iran because the Iranian-supported Shiite nationalists in Iraq are a major obstacle to U.S. dominance in Iraq. Although very few U.S. troops in Iraq are killed by Shiites, military spokesmen have been attempting to give the impression that Tehran is ordering hits on U.S. troops, a clear casus belli. Disinformation campaigns that accuse Iran of trying to destabilize the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government -- a government Iran actually supports -- could lay the groundwork for a war. Likewise, with the U.S. military now beginning patrols on the Iran-Iraq border, the possibility is enhanced of a hostile incident spinning out of control.

The Iranians have responded to all this bellicosity with some chest-thumping of their own, right up to the final hours before Ahmadinejad's American visit. The Iranian government declared "National Defense Week" on Saturday, kicking it off with a big military parade that showed off Iran's new Qadr-1 missiles, with a range of 1,100 miles. Before he left Iran for New York on Sunday morning, Ahmadinejad inspected three types of Iranian-manufactured jet fighters, noting that it was the anniversary of Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980 (which the Iranian press attributed to American urging, though that is unlikely).

The display of this military equipment was accompanied by a raft of assurances on the part of the Iranian ayatollahs, politicians and generals that they were entirely prepared to deploy the missiles and planes if they were attacked. A top military advisor to Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday, "Today, the United States must know that their 200,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are within the reach of Iran's fire. When the Americans were beyond our shores, they were not within our reach, but today it is very easy for us to deal them blows." Khamenei, the actual commander in chief of the armed forces, weighed in as well, reiterating that Iran would never attack first but pledging: "Those who make threats should know that attack on Iran in the form of hit and run will not be possible, and if any country invades Iran it will face its very serious consequences."

The threat to target U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the unveiling of the Qadr-1 were not aggressive in intent, but designed to make the point that Iran could also play by Richard M. Nixon's "madman" strategy, whereby you act so wildly as to convince your enemy you are capable of anything. Ordinarily a poor non-nuclear third-world country might be expected to be supine before an attack by a superpower. But as Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the Iranian deputy speaker of Parliament, warned: "Any military attack against Iran will send the region up in flames."

In the end, this is hardly the kind of conflagration the United States should be enabling. If a spark catches, it will not advance any of America's four interests in the Middle East: petroleum, markets, Israel and hegemony.

The Middle East has two-thirds of the world's proven petroleum reserves and nearly half its natural gas, and its fields are much deeper than elsewhere in the world, so that its importance will grow for the United States and its allies. Petro-dollars and other wealth make the region an important market for U.S. industry, especially the arms industry. Israel is important both for reasons of domestic politics and because it is a proxy for U.S. power in the region. By "hegemony," I mean the desire of Washington to dominate political and economic outcomes in the region and to forestall rivals such as China from making it their sphere of influence.

The Iranian government (in which Ahmadinejad has a weak role, analogous to that of U.S. vice presidents before Dick Cheney) poses a challenge to the U.S. program in the Middle East. Iran is, unlike most Middle Eastern countries, large. It is geographically four times the size of France, and it has a population of 70 million (more than France or the United Kingdom). As an oil state, it has done very well from the high petroleum prices of recent years. It has been negotiating long-term energy deals with China and India, much to the dismay of Washington. It provides financial support to the Palestinians and to the Lebanese Shiites who vote for the Hezbollah Party in Lebanon. By overthrowing the Afghanistan and Iraq governments and throwing both countries into chaos, the United States has inadvertently enabled Iran to emerge as a potential regional power, which could challenge Israel and Saudi Arabia and project both soft and hard power in the strategic Persian Gulf and the Levant.

And now the American war party, undeterred by the quagmire in Iraq, convinced that their model of New Empire is working, is eager to go on the offensive again. They may yet find a pretext to plunge the United States into another war. Ahmadinejad's visit to New York this year will not include his visit to Ground Zero, because that is hallowed ground for American patriotism and he is being depicted as not just a critic of the United States but as the leader of an enemy state. His visit may, however, be ground zero for the next big military struggle of the United States in the Middle East, one that really will make Iraq look like a cakewalk.

NCLB approaches a vote

It looks like the vote on the re-authorization of NCLB will be after Oct.8. CTA has mounted a major campaign to stop the bill in its present form. There are many reasons to oppose it, including those of CTA.
Please write to your Congressperson today.
Your Congressperson:
Ie. Doris Matsui,

Congressman George Miller,
Chair, House Committee on Education and Labor,

Dear Congressman Miller,

I have read your statements on NCLB. You are not getting to the heart of the issues.
I write from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party and, I do not accept your present commitment to NCLB. It is a Republican bill, drafted by Republicans, and you are negotiating the margins.

The domination of school reform dialogue by conservative political forces and corporate financed institutes (1983- 2008) produced a shift in discussion of school issues away from equal opportunity and toward analysis of the “achievement gap” the gap in scores between ethnic and economic groups. . The accountability movement stressed increased testing rather than relying upon teacher curriculum decision making. It is noticeable in this debate that the conservative policy advocates did not have their children or grandchildren in low income schools where the curriculum and teaching has too often been reduced to drill and test. Their children are in middle class schools – higher achieving schools- where the curriculum and teaching strategies remain more open, more child friendly, more divergent and where schools pursue multiple goals, not only improved test scores

In political terms this shifted responsibility for children’s educational achievement from the unequal government funding and placed it at the feet of teachers and education professionals while also demonizing teachers’ unions and other education professionals. The accountability and testing movement changed the educational debates away from discussion of democracy and multicultural education toward measuring achievement in math and reading. These shifts were not accidental nor are they politically neutral.

We are in a difficult situation; our students’ futures and the health of our democracy depend upon engaging in the struggle for democratic education. If we want democracy, we must educate for democracy. Democracy depends upon the participation of its members in the political, social, cultural and economic institutions. We do this through public schools. The current federal law, No child left behind (NCLB) and most state school reform plans remove teachers, students and parents from active involvement in decision making about standards, testing, and curriculum, and restricts the decision making of elected school boards.
The fundamental issue is you need to start listening to teachers, not to "educational experts" who make their living by commenting on teachers lives.

In addition. The ultimate sanction against a low performing school is some form of take over or re-constitution. This has been done in many places including Oakland Unified. There is no evidence of improved achievement after a take over.
There are good talking points at and at and

Monday, September 24, 2007

Steal California initiative

Your website and framing on Dirty Tricks is excellent, but this is a plea for message discipline. The California Democratic Party has been fast out of the box and is calling the initiative the "Steal the State" Initiative. That name communicates instantly what the initiative is about. As the CDP is already out there branding the initiative, it would be great if the Courage Campaign would add that name and pound it in, along with the more centrist opposition.

Signature gatherers are collecting signatures on the Sac State campus on the Republican initiative to change the way California distributes the state’s electoral votes.
This is anti Democrat initiative. It will give electoral votes to the Republicans and could well determine the 2008 presidential election.
Those gathering signatures are deliberately misrepresenting the initiative as sponsored by the Democratic Party. When I confronted one operative, he seemed confused. He really did not understand the initiative, he was just earning money.
Today, signature gatherers were describing it as reforming the electoral college.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Move on gains from Bush assault: Republican attacks

From a Move on e mail.
Yesterday, an amazing thing happened. After the Senate's shameful vote, and after President Bush called MoveOn "disgusting,"1 our email started to fill up with messages like this one:

I'm currently in Iraq. I do not agree with this war, and if I did support this war, it would not matter. You have the RIGHT to speak the truth. We KNOW that you support us. Thank you for speaking out for being our voice. We do not have a voice. We are overshooted by those who say that we soldiers do not support organizations like MoveOn. WE DO.

YOU ARE OUR voice.

And then came the donations. By midnight, over 12,000 people had donated $500,000—more than we've raised any day this year—for our new ad calling out the Republicans who blocked adequate rest for troops headed back to Iraq.

The message from MoveOn members was loud and clear: Don't back down. Take the fight back to the issues that matter.

So today we're shooting for a very ambitious goal: Reach $1 million so we can dramatically expand the campaign we launched yesterday going after politicians who support this awful war. Can you chip in $10 toward our goal?
All day, messages from vets and military family members kept pouring into our email, many of them aimed at the Senate:

I have given a son to this country. My brother, my father, my uncle have all served honorably and bravely. I am a loyal American. I am outraged and sick to death of the tactics this administration uses to try to silence dissent to a war that is unjust, built and maintained on lies, political power, and greed. I was content to let others fight more loudly, but no more.
–Sharyn W., NC

I am a prior soldier who served in Iraq for 13 months, and am now an expecting mom with a husband who is deployed in Baghdad. I don't think I can ever forgive the Bush administration for the lies that tricked America into this war and hurt my family so badly. I am ashamed of those American politicians who would condemn an organization for practicing the Freedom of Speech that so many soldiers have died for.
–Danielle B., OH

As a US Navy veteran and an Iraq war veteran of over a year I want to ask, What has happened to us? What has happened to our voice? Where is this country going with stopping free speech and free press? ... Every time I think of the long nights I had in Anbar remembering what I was fighting for, well here it is....
–Ahmad H., LA

These folks have made sacrifices many of us can't imagine. Their charge to us was clear: keep speaking the truth about how President Bush and the Republicans have betrayed our trust.

So we're going to expand our ad campaign—keep it on the air longer and run it against other politicians who helped block adequate rest time for our troops. Can you chip in $10 to do it?

And still the messages kept coming ...

I've had three nephews serve since 2002, one of whom was killed in Anbar Province. I have a fourth nephew at Quantico training. I want this war over before he is deployed and before any more of our soldiers are sacrificed.
–Michele R., NE

Three members of my family are military. Two Marines have served in Iraq and an Army Lt. is deploying in November. If we had all spoken out when the administration used General Powell perhaps we would not be in this mess.
–Carol B., PA
As a Marine I served for many reasons but one of them was to allow people the freedom of speech, whether I agreed with it or not. Wearing a uniform does not mean someone isn't a shill, is spewing propaganda, and downright lies. MoveOn has every right to buy an ad and say what they want about a public figure. This administration has lied to us, deceived us, misled us and when posed with a challenge this is how they respond?
–Keith G., VA

The Senate won't pass a policy to end the war or even to make sure our troops in the field have enough rest time between deployments, but they hold votes to crack down on millions of Americans who are upset about the war?

Well—it isn't going to work. We put together a hard-hitting ad that highlights how Republicans failed our troops and if we can raise enough money today, we'll air it across the country. Please help if you can:

For all of us on the MoveOn staff, this week was a bit of a rollercoaster—MoveOn was attacked by nearly the entire Republican party, while too many Democrats ran for the hills. But what kept us going were messages like these—and the incredible privilege we feel to serve all 3.2 million Americans in

When the story is written of how the Iraq war ended, you will be the heroes. Thank you.

–Eli, Adam G., Adam R., Anna, Carrie, Daniel, Erik, Ilyse, Jennifer, Joan, Justin, Karin, Laura, Marika, Matt, Natalie, Nita, Noah, Tanya, Tom & Wes Political Action
Friday, September 21st, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Julian Bond on the Supreme Court decision

We Must Persevere
Recently, the Supreme Court rendered a decision that makes school integration far more difficult. Civil rights leader Julian Bond responds.

By Julian Bond

At age 15, my grandfather, born into slavery and barely able to read and write, hitched his tuition -- a steer -- to a rope and walked 100 miles across Kentucky to knock on the door of Berea College. The school admitted him and, 14 years later, asked him to deliver the commencement address when he finally graduated.

"In every cloud," my grandfather said, the pessimist "beholds a destructive storm, in every flash of lightning an omen of evil, and in every shadow that falls across his path a lurking foe. He forgets that the clouds also bring life and hope, that lightning purifies the atmosphere, that shadow and darkness prepare for sunshine and growth, and that hardships and adversity nerve the race, as the individual, for greater efforts and grander victories."

This summer, I thought of my grandfather and his steadfast optimism as I read the deeply divided Supreme Court's 169-page decision on school integration, a ruling that severely undercuts our nation's ability to provide equal educational opportunities for its children. Four conservative members of the Court went so far as to suggest that our schools may not take race into account to combat "de facto" segregation and the injuries it inflicts.

How very far we have fallen since that Spring day in 1954 when a unanimous Supreme Court mustered the moral courage in Brown v. Board of Education to demand, in 11 simple and eloquent pages, that our nation afford equal -- and integrated -- educational opportunities, so that our shameful tradition of white supremacy might be undone. How very hard it is to maintain optimism -- to see the sunshine my grandfather always saw behind dark clouds -- when contemplating what the Court has done in 2007.

Our schools have long been held up as our most important democratic institution, pathways to class mobility and generational progress. A public educational system that is fully integrated and treats minorities and whites equally is the antithesis of the larger society, which has been and remains profoundly segregated and unequal.

I once heard Minnijean Brown reflect on her experiences as one of the heroic Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High School in 1957. Someone asked why she kept coming back to school day after day, despite daily harassment and intimidation that would have driven most people away.

From the ferocity of her enemies, she said, "I knew there was something precious inside that school," and she was more determined to get it than they were to keep it from her grasp. Minnijean and the Supreme Court Justices who delivered and supported Brown understood schools as pathways to righting the wrongs of societal racism.

But today's Supreme Court has embraced another vision for American education: schooling as an instrument for reproducing the class and race privilege of the larger society. At the dawn of the 21st century, one in six African American children still attended what researchers call "apartheid schools" -- schools that are virtually 100% children of color -- and no school district in America has managed to create equal educational opportunities within these schools on a large scale or in a sustained manner, particularly at the secondary level.

Today's Court has turned its back on the millions of black and Latino children currently trapped in highly segregated, underperforming schools, leaving them to hang on the ropes of racial and economic disenfranchisement. The Court has paved the way for many more children of color to join them by outlawing the modest means numerous districts have adopted to promote racial diversity and overcome racial isolation. It has denied the very notion that our nation's schools should serve as equalizers.

Three years ago, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision, the country asked itself whether our nation had fulfilled Brown's promise. Many emphasized that Brown had brought about a sea change in American life — tearing down the walls of segregation and serving as an impetus for equal rights for groups other than African Americans. Others pointed to the facts that our schools were resegregating and that society was still marked by stark inequalities. The Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to be remembered as Brown’s final epitaph.

I think again of my grandfather, a man who walked 100 miles to a college that had not admitted him and who, once accepted, labored 14 years for his diploma. His actions are what speak most profoundly to me in this moment: We must persevere. We must strengthen our resolve against the destructive storm that has descended upon us.

If schools can no longer be used to address our country’s racist traditions, then we as a country must attack racism by other means. If our schools are no longer allowed to offset the consequences of persistent residential segregation, for example, then we as a country must attack the problem directly. If our schools are not allowed to serve as equalizers towards remedying the vast inequalities that continue to fester in our country, then we as a country must confront those inequalities head-on. If we cannot rely on the courts, then we must lobby the legislatures.

Only with a renewed commitment will we be prepared to undertake, as my grandfather would have said, the "greater efforts" towards the "grander victories" this new era requires. Only with renewed commitment can our country become the nation it should be. Only with renewed commitment will we fulfill the promise of Brown.

Julian Bond has served as chair of the NAACP Board of Directors since 1998 and is president emeritus and a board member of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes Teaching Tolerance magazine. He is a distinguished professor in the School of Government at American University in Washington, DC, and a professor of history at the University of Virginia.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Billions over Baghdad

Two excellent reporters, Donald Bartlett and James B. Steele, tell the story of corruption in Iraq.

Republican voter fraud- again

Signature gatherers are collecting signatures on the Sac State campus on the Republican initiative to change the way California distributes the state’s electoral votes.
As explained on the California Progress Report, this is anti Democrat initiative. It will give electoral votes to the Republicans and could well determine the 2008 presidential election.
Those gathering signatures are deliberately misrepresenting the initiative as sponsored by the Democratic Party. When I confronted one operative, he seemed confused. He really did not understand the initiative, he was just earning money.
Since some of the signatures were gathered under false pretenses, the initiative should be challenged in the courts.
It is a sad commentary on the state of higher education that university students would sign such an initiative without knowing or understanding its significance. they sign after a 30 sec. intro speech. This lack of civic education is another result of mis guided school reform. (

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NCLB: Some Democrats are listening

Improving Student Testing Act Moves Away from High-Stakes Testing as the Primary Measure of Achievement

September 17, 2007

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Improving Student Testing Act today to amend the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Feingold and Leahy’s legislation focuses on improving the quality of assessments used to measure student achievement in our nation’s schools. The legislation also encourages states to move away from high-stakes testing in reading and math as the primary measure of student achievement. Feingold and Leahy, who were among the ten Senators who opposed NCLB when it was passed in 2001, plan to push for changes during the reauthorization of NCLB.

“The federal government’s one-size-fits-all education policy under No Child Left Behind is the wrong approach,” said Feingold, who is seeking changes to the education law based on the feedback he has received from educators, administrators and others across Wisconsin. “Five years after the passage of NCLB, it is clear much work remains to be done to close the achievement gap that exists in our schools. Our legislation will ensure that the federal government leaves decisions that affect our children’s day-to-day classroom experiences up to the classroom educators, local districts, and the states.”

“Time and again I have heard from Vermonters that No Child Left Behind’s cookie cutter approach is not working for the students in our state,” said Leahy. “To raise the bar the right way for schools and students, states need the flexibility to design accountability measures that accurately reflect actual conditions and unique characteristics in real communities. A model that works for an urban school might be completely different than one that works for Vermont’s smaller, rural schools. We need to move away from a focus on penalties and failure, and toward a focus on the quality instruction that our children truly need to succeed.”

Feingold and Leahy’s Improving Student Testing Act of 2007 implements the following reforms to NCLB:

Provides grants to help promote stronger assessments of student learning. This funding will help encourage states to move away from accountability systems based primarily on standardized test scores in order to better take into account the diverse academic needs of all students.

Reforms the annual federal testing mandate to allow annual assessments at least once in grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12 for federal accountability purposes, instead of the current requirement for annual testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school.

Provides flexibility for states to develop alternative accountability models such as growth models.

Waives the 2014 deadline for 100% student proficiency if Congress doesn’t fully fund Title I formula grants, the largest source of NCLB funding.

Provides grants to states and local districts to help them develop better accountability systems, including developing increased infrastructure to use growth models and multiple measures of assessment in state accountability systems as well as implement school improvement programs in local schools.

Reforms the federal peer review process of state testing and accountability systems.

Requires states to report graduation rates by NCLB’s student subgroups to provide more information about schools to parents and educators.

Protects the privacy of students’ personal information within state education data systems.
Feingold and Leahy’s bill is supported by the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Education Association, the School Social Work Association of America, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the Wisconsin School Administrators Alliance, the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, the Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services, the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials, the Milwaukee Teacher Education Association, the Wisconsin School Social Workers Association, and the Wisconsin National Board Network of Wisconsin National Board Certified Teachers.

You can view a fact sheet on Feingold and Leahy’s legislation at

Thursday, September 13, 2007

George Miller and NCLB

Please write today to George Miller.
There are good talking points at
Congressman George Miller,
Chair, House Committee on Education and Labor,

Dear Congressman Miller,

You certainly make it difficult to contact the Congressman. Is he responsive to the electorate?
I have read your statements on NCLB. You are not getting to the heart of the issues.
I write from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party and, I do not accept your present commitment to NCLB. It is a Republican bill, drafted by Republicans, and you are negotiating the margins.

The domination of school reform dialogue by conservative political forces and corporate financed institutes (1983- 2008) produced a shift in discussion of school issues away from equal opportunity and toward analysis of the “achievement gap” the gap in scores between ethnic and economic groups. . The accountability movement stressed increased testing rather than relying upon teacher curriculum decision making. It is noticeable in this debate that the conservative policy advocates did not have their children or grandchildren in low income schools where the curriculum and teaching has too often been reduced to drill and test. Their children are in middle class schools – higher achieving schools- where the curriculum and teaching strategies remain more open, more child friendly, more divergent and where schools pursue multiple goals, not only improved test scores

In political terms this shifted responsibility for children’s educational achievement from the unequal government funding and placed it at the feet of teachers and education professionals while also demonizing teachers’ unions and other education professionals. The accountability and testing movement changed the educational debates away from discussion of democracy and multicultural education toward measuring achievement in math and reading. These shifts were not accidental nor are they politically neutral.

We are in a difficult situation; our students’ futures and the health of our democracy depend upon engaging in the struggle for democratic education. If we want democracy, we must educate for democracy. Democracy depends upon the participation of its members in the political, social, cultural and economic institutions. We do this through public schools. The current federal law, No child left behind (NCLB) and most state school reform plans remove teachers, students and parents from active involvement in decision making about standards, testing, and curriculum, and restricts the decision making of elected school boards.
The fundamental issue is you need to start listening to teachers, not to "educational experts" who make their living by commenting on teachers lives.

I will be publishing your response, or your lack of response, on my blog;

Dr. Duane E. Campbell
Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education. ( 2004) Merrill/Prentice Hall.
new edition written for 2009. It will comment on how the Democrats did, or did not , improve NCLB.

Vacaville, Calif. 95687

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The War in Iraq and NCLB

Hold on… Wait a minute!!!
Lets have some accountability here.
National news is filled with the reports of General Petraeus and Ambassador
Bush Administration spokespersons can not and will not state what they will do to improve the war situation in Iraq. They will not state what is the cost and what will be the result. We are asked to support this.

What about No Child Left Behind?
The Bush Regime and the California legislature demands that schools be held accountable. We must show progress in the schools. Even though NCLB was under funded by $25 billion per year.
Well- if you spend $50 million a month in Iraq with no measures and no accountability, but the Bush Regime refuses to fund NCLB, where is the accountability?
Why do we under fund our schools and demand accountability, but fund the war in Iraq and not demand accountability?
It seems that we value imperialist intervention more than our own children.
The Bush Administration has gotten us into a war that will continue for at least ten years. The Middle East is in turmoil. The wars involving Iran, the Kurds, Saudi Arabia, and others is in a downward spiral. Many more U.S. soldiers will die.
Why do we support imperialist intervention and not public education for our children?
Duane Campbell
What can you do? See prior posts. Call, write, e mail, Congressman George Miller about NCLB changes.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

New Sacramento Teachers

New teachers, extra hard task

Rookies plunge in at lagging schools

By Kim Minugh - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, September 8, 2007

Four days into her first year of teaching, Karina Figueroa assigned herself some homework: Figure out the campus phone system. Organize her filing system. Decide on a software program to use for grades.

In between the administrative duties, she has some tougher to-dos: Call the family of a student who missed class Friday after -- according to other students -- being arrested the day before. Figure out whom to call if one of her overdue students goes into labor in class. Ask about her legal and ethical obligations when she suspects, or a student admits to, an illegal activity.

"I have a lot of work to do this weekend," Figueroa said Friday with a weary smile.

Figueroa, a history teacher at Luther Burbank High School, is one of several dozen new teachers added to Sacramento County school rosters this year thanks to $2.7 billion in statewide Quality Education Investment Act funding.

This is the first of seven years the money will be distributed to select low-performing schools in California. State education officials hope the money will boost student achievement by helping schools lower class sizes, hire more counselors and provide more training for teachers.

But the money will create an additional challenge -- grooming inexperienced teachers to produce tangible results in some of the most demanding environments.

"(New teachers) bring energy, ideas, enthusiasm, idealism, sometimes new practices that help invigorate the school," said Ted Appel, principal at Burbank High. "The downside is they're not as good now as they're going to be in five years."

Appel hired 10 new teachers and two counselors with his share of the QEIA funding. He also created flexible schedules so teachers can teach classes together or focus on individual students.

Nearly 500 schools statewide will be making similar hires with the funds, part of a settlement in a lawsuit filed by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and the California Teachers Association against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Department of Finance.

The dispute stemmed from the governor's alleged failure in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 budget years to fully fund California's schools under terms laid out in Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimal level of funding for schools.

Across Sacramento County, 19 schools in six districts will receive funds. Sacramento City Unified gets the most -- $48 million -- to hire teachers and counselors at Burbank High, Hiram Johnson High, Rosa Parks Middle School and nine elementary schools. One school in Yolo County and another in El Dorado County also will receive some of the money.

At Burbank, Appel and his staff are looking for innovative ways to support their new educators who will need nurturing and guidance as they learn to manage students and tailor lessons for individual kids.

At schools like Burbank, that also means learning how to deal with poverty, racial differences, language barriers and students who move a lot.

"We have to make sure teachers have an understanding of how all these things affect student learning," Appel said.

But what new teachers lack in experience, they make up for in passion, Appel said. Strategies can be taught; dedication cannot.

If passion and commitment are signs of teacher success, then Figueroa and B. Russell Mills-Campisi, a new chemistry and biology teacher at Burbank, look as if they're going to make it.

Running on a few hours of sleep and pudding snacks between classes, Mills-Campisi breezed through his first week with confidence and enthusiasm -- and a few comedic gaffes.

When a student came by the room to pick up an attendance sheet, Mills-Campisi stuck out his hand for a shake. "I'm Russell," he said, then shook his head. "I mean, Mr. Mills-Campisi."

On Wednesday, his second day of teaching, he raced around the classroom in a flurry. When he finally sat down with students, he struggled to remember names.

"Are you feeling a little bit lost today?" one teen asked him.

Mills-Campisi paused, and laughed. "I'm feeling a little tired."

"Me, too," the student said sympathetically. "I'm feeling a little lost and tired."

The fatigue only worsened as the week wore on, but Mills-Campisi finished Friday feeling satisfied and encouraged about the year ahead.

"It went really, really, really well, like staggeringly well," said Mills-Campisi, 24, as he caught his breath during his prep period Friday. "I think I have a good prediction of how this year's going to go."

And his interactions with students and teachers only cemented his commitment to his school and profession.

"I'm in love with this school," Mills-Campisi gushed.

Reflecting on her week, Figueroa said Friday she wished she had planned better. She had expected one assignment -- she had asked students to write a biographical poem she hoped would help her get to know them better -- to take one period; instead, it took almost two.

She said she still thinks it was a good assignment.

One student allowed Figueroa to read her poem out loud. She wrote of growing up in Oakland, where she had to fight for respect and where the neighborhood ice cream truck sold hair weaves.

Other students were less forthcoming. Figueroa figured that some students might have been resisting her efforts to relate to them one-on-one.

Others shared more than she expected.

When she asked students to write two truths and a lie about themselves, a student gave her these choices: he was an "ex-con," he was trustworthy, and he had eight tattoos.

The last one was the lie, Figueroa said. "I think he only has like six."

Friday, even taking roll was eye-opening.

One of the absent students had been arrested the day before, the class told her. ("Really!" they insisted, "His car is still in the parking lot.") Figeuroa was speechless.

"I thought, 'You guys are messing with me,' " she said later. "I'm thinking, 'What do I do? What do I say?' "

The daughter of migrant farmworkers, Figueroa said she wanted to teach at a school where she could relate to students.

Teens at Kennedy High School, where Figueroa did her student teaching last year, had warned her about Burbank's reputation as a "bad school." To her, the warnings sounded more like invitations. After her first week, she said she's glad she accepted.

"I've heard about Burbank -- and it sounded like the kind of place I wanted to be," she said. "It's challenging ... but I'm totally down."
Karina is a graduate of the Bilingual/Multicultural Education program at CSU-Sacramento

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The California Legislature usually gets it wrong on public education

The California Legislature usually gets it wrong on public education because it listens to corporate sponsored lobbyists rather than teachers.
I was talking with a legislator at our Labor Day Picnic about his lack of support for our efforts to amend on small part of SB 1209 last year. He opposed our position. But, when I spoke with him it became clear that he had not heard our position. He was in favor of many of the items in SB 1209. He did not know that one provision imposed a crude accountability system on California Teacher Preparation. He did not understand that we were only trying to change one item out of nineteen.
Reflecting on this conversation led me to consider the several times when I have worked with legislators and their staffs. Usually they do not understand public schooling. This is a major problem since most school budgets, policies and curriculum decisions are now highly controlled at the state level by boards, commissions, and the legislature. And, their staff understand school policies only through the lens of lobbyists. Like others in California I lack confidence in the California Legislature and with the Democrats in the legislature.
When working on education bills you quickly encounter a number of lobbyists representing interests- none of them are teachers. Or, they may have been teachers but got out of teaching to make more money.
Since 1994 California legislature has been dominated by the concepts of accountability in education as has been most states. This effort to promote accountability is funded and directed by the Business Roundtable and other corporate sponsors. ( Emory, 2007) The best evidence is that this 13 year trip on the accountability train has not improved the schools ( Fuller, et al,2007, Nichols and Berliner, 2007, NAEP 30 year study, Laitsch, 2006 Lee, 2006)
Outsiders to education note that the California Teachers Association is one of the most powerful lobbies in the state- and they are. They, however, use this influence primarily on budget and working conditions issues. They do not typically join with teachers on policy initiatives. One exception was this year when they pushed hard for universal Kindergarden and to postpone testing until grade 3. These are valuable initiatives, but they leave the main agenda of accountability unscathed.
Beyond CTA, there are a number of other professional groups who try to influence legislation such as the California Reading Association, California Bilingual Association, Calfornia Council for the Social studies, etc. And there are a series of advocacy groups such as Ed Trust West and others.
The basic reality is that the legislature does not assist teachers- they respond to lobbyist with varying agendas.
One example of this is the way the legislature and the CDE has gone along with the destruction of programs for English Language Learners. In spite of the evidence, and in spite of a 26 person Hispanic Caucus, the legislature sits and watches as another generation of Latino students are failed. Ten years after the prohibition of bilingual education, there has been no improvement in English language scores nor Latino drop out rates. Here are some of the literature reviews:

1. Slavin, R. and Cheung, A. 2005. A synthesis of
research of reading instruction for English language
learners, Review of Educational Research 75(2):
2. Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., & Glass, G. 2005. The big
picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness
research on English language learners. Educational
Policy 19(4): 572-594.
3. Genesse, F., Lindolm-Leary, K., Saunders, W., and
Christian, D. 2005. English Language Learners in U.S.
Schools: An Overview of Research. Journal of
Education for Students Placed at Risk, 10(4), 363–385.
4. Francis, D., Lesaux, N., & August, D. 2006.
Language of instruction, In D. August & T. Shanahan,
(Eds.) Developing literacy in second-language
learners, pp. 365-413. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

In my experience the most fundamental problem of all is the arrogance of most legislators and their staff. They do not listen to teachers. They are approached by lobbyists all of whom have adopted the accountability mantra- even though the data does not support these positions. When teachers and others who work in classrooms try to be heard they are ignored. I assume from the legislator’s perspective this refusal to listen is due to their over busy schedules, but that is what they are elected for.

Jim Schultz in the Democracy Owner’s manual describes well the problems of lobbyists:
"At the local level, in the state legislatures, in elections for Congress and the presidency, campaigns are being dominated by the flow of contributions made by wealthy special interest groups to politicians. These same groups later come calling on those same politicians seeking public favors. The conflict is a clear one. If the money given were in the form of a bribe. Stuck in the politicians pocket, the act would be illegal and we would be aghast. Because those funds instead go into the candidates' campaign coffers, the transaction is legal and accepted, but the effect is the same.”

I am not naïve about the actual functioning of the legislature. I have spent over 35 years teaching young people- teachers and future teachers- to work toward democracy. I worked as a volunteer for the United Farmworkers Union for 7 years and lobbied on behalf of the UFW in the difficult fights to establish an Agricultural Labor Relations Board. I know the experience of being defeated by corporate power.
And, I have worked in electoral campaigns at all levels; Assembly, Senate, Governors, Presidents, propositions.
Yet, today, based upon my own direct experience, I have less confidence in California elected officials that ever before. I understand completely when students tell me that the government and the legislature lacks legitimacy. ( More on this in my book, Choosing Democracy) Most recent democratic theory recognizes that governments in electoral democracies depend upon their legitimacy as their primary source of power.
We, the voters, and we as teachers, retain control the vital issue of government legitimacy. No legislature can long stand that loses its legitimacy.

Unfortunately, in my view, the California legislature has given away most of its legitimacy. We elect representatives. The elected officials, who are supposed to be representing us, are now a significant part of the problem.
As an example, lets look at teacher preparation in California. The legislature has created a system where the state must continually train new teachers to replace those driven out by inadequate working conditions and the imposition of a failing accountability system. A recent report by Ken Futernick for the CSU system described how the current teaching conditions in schools drive new teachers out ( 2007)
An August 2007 report by Merrow on PBS newshour described nationally how skilled and experienced teachers ar now be driven from the classrooms. (
Having failed to provide adequate resources and working conditions to improve public schools, the legislature instead turned to accountability systems. Now, with over ten years of experience, those systems are not producing gains on normed national tests. In a typical non thinking manner, since the accountability mandates failed, the legislature in 2042 (2000) and SB 1209 (2006) imposed the accountability model earlier- to teachers during their preparation period.
This system, known as performance assessment under SB 2042, will cost each future teacher $300 - $400, is shaping their teacher preparation curriculum toward a very limited view of teaching, and de values the student teaching experience and the current system of on-site coaching and evaluation.
As reported on prior posts, a group of faculty tried to make one small amendment in SB 1209 to require that if the legislature imposed this accountability system they must fund that work. Our group represented 6 campuses in the CSU system. We had the support of the California Faculty Association and their Teacher Education caucus which represents the faculty of the university.
We were opposed by two lobbyists from the CSU administration who have never worked in classrooms nor with teachers and CTA took a neutral position. We were also opposed by former staff of the Commission on Teacher Preparation (CTC). These advocates too have never taught in public schools. Another strong source of opposition was the office of Senator Scott who chairs the Senate Education committee and enjoys the support of both teacher unions.
The provision which we sought to amend out of SB 1209 imposes a low quality accountability system on teacher preparation in place of the performance assessments which currently exist. Campuses who have tried early pilot versions of this system – known by its acronym PACT- have found that the system angers students, frustrates students and encourages many students and faculty to leave the profession. In spite of this, we were unable to get a hearing on this developing crisis in teacher preparation in the legislature. For details on this specific issue see the paper “ Problems with California Legislation on Teacher Preparation” at (

The problem is growing. All campuses in the CSU system must use one of two systems of performance assessment by July 2008, and the legislature has provided no money for the implementation. The best guess is that the costs of the system will be passed on to college students just as the students have been charged a 10% tuition and fees increase for three of the last four years.
Schools fail due to conditions in schools and conditions outside the schools.
Corporate funded advocacy groups like Education Trust have their reason for existence in convincing the media and elected officials that the problem is with “teacher expectations’ and the achievement gap. This focus allows the groups to be funded to continue to produce reports and position papers – and they have been successful. This focus has not improved learning conditions for students.
Few new teachers want their students to fail. When teachers accept low expectations it is primarily a result of their experience of working in under funded – under staffed schools. They learn from the teaching conditions provided and not provided. It is not from lack of in-service workshops on expectations and the achievement gap.
I am not yet ready to give up on the political process. See my book, Choosing Democracy (2004) on the critical importance of democracy and multicultural education for the survival of this society. But- working with the elected officials and their staffs is more than frustrating. The problem is legislative insularity –distance from the public and the voters. I have been defeated by corporate power before, but this was defeat by corporate framing of the debate and by legislative inertia.
The issue is not simply one of the small bill AB 750 which we ran last year to make an adjustment to SB 1209. The more basic problem is how the legislature deals with- or refuses to deal with- teachers, schools, and school children. The lack of respect for teachers – or even willingness to listen to teachers- is revealed in the legislatures commitment to “accountability” without measuring whether accountability has worked.
BTW. A broad coalition of teacher forces are presently trying to be heard on the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind. Initial drafts of the amended legislation do not indicate that the Democratic majority is listening to those who do the work in the classrooms.

So, if our elected system Is failing us, what do we do? I am not willing to give up on democracy.
We can work for public finance of elections, we can support legislative re districting so that there are competitive legislative districts. But, what can we do to get the legislature and a future governor to listen to the students and the teachers?
Currently the legislature, ensconced in its strange version of accountability, is failing our schools and our teachers. To be fair and balanced, there are some legislative staffers who are well prepared – open- and willing to listen, but far too few.
Perhaps we will have to get tougher. The Democrats in the legislature want to amend term limits. Term limits have increased the influence of paid lobbyists not brought the legislature closer to the voters. The Democrats want us to defeat the Republican initiative to re distribute electoral votes. Our support should come at a price. I am interested in other options. One step would be to elect more ex teachers as legislators like Jackie Goldberg (and fewer lawyers). You will not always agree with her, but at least teachers will be heard.

Duane Campbell

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day: Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez: One man, one cause: Chavez and the UFW

By Cesar Chavez -
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, September 3, 2007

Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was the cofounder and president of what became the United Farm Workers. He delivered this address, excerpted here, to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on Nov. 9, 1984:

All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation which treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings.

Farm workers are not agricultural implements. They are not beasts of burden -- to be used and discarded.

That dream was born in my youth. It was nurtured in my early days of organizing. It has flourished. It has been attacked.

I'm not very different from anyone else who has ever tried to accomplish something with his life. My motivation comes from my personal life -- from watching what my mother and father went through when I was growing up, from what we experienced as migrant farmworkers in California.

That dream, that vision grew from my own experience with racism, with hope, with the desire to be treated fairly and to see my people treated as human beings and not as chattel. It grew from anger and rage -- emotions I felt 40 years ago when people of my color were denied the right to see a movie or eat at a restaurant in many parts of California. It grew from the frustration and humiliation I felt as a boy who couldn't understand how the growers could abuse and exploit farmworkers when there were so many of us and so few of them.

Later, in the 1950s, I experienced a different kind of exploitation. In San Jose, in Los Angeles and in other urban communities, we -- the Mexican American people -- were dominated by a majority that was Anglo.

I began to realize what other minority people had discovered: that the only answer -- the only hope -- was in organizing. More of us had to become citizens. We had to register to vote. And people like me had to develop the skills it would take to organize, to educate, to help empower the Chicano people.

We experienced some successes in voter registration, in politics, in battling racial discrimination -- successes in an era when black Americans were just beginning to assert their civil rights and when political awareness among Hispanics was almost nonexistent. Deep in my heart, I knew I could never be happy unless I tried organizing the farmworkers. I didn't know if I would succeed. But I had to try.

All Hispanics -- urban and rural, young and old -- are connected to the farmworkers' experience. We had all lived through the fields -- or our parents had. We shared that common humiliation.

How could we progress as a people, even if we lived in the cities, while the farmworkers -- men and women of our color -- were condemned to a life without pride?

How could we progress as a people while the farmworkers -- who symbolized our history in this land -- were denied self-respect?

How could our people believe that their children could become lawyers and doctors and judges and business people while this shame, this injustice was permitted to continue?

Those who attack our union often say, "It's not really a union. It's something else: a social movement, a civil rights movement. It's something dangerous." They're half-right. The United Farm Workers is first and foremost a union. A union like any other. A union that either produces for its members on the bread and butter issues or doesn't survive.

But the UFW has always been something more than a union -- although it's never been dangerous if you believe in the Bill of Rights.

The UFW was the beginning! We attacked that historical source of shame and infamy that our people in this country lived with. We attacked that injustice, not by complaining, not by seeking handouts. We organized.

Farmworkers acknowledged we had allowed ourselves to become victims in a democratic society -- a society where majority rule and collective bargaining are supposed to be more than academic theories or political rhetoric. And by addressing this historical problem, we created confidence and pride and hope in an entire people's ability to create the future.

The UFW's survival -- its existence -- was not in doubt in my mind when the time began to come -- after the union became visible, when Chicanos started entering college in greater numbers, when Hispanics began running for public office in greater numbers, when our people started asserting their rights on a broad range of issues and in many communities across the country.

The union's survival -- its very existence -- sent out a signal to all Hispanics that we were fighting for our dignity, that we were challenging and overcoming injustice, that we were empowering the least educated among us, the poorest among us. The message was clear: If it could happen in the fields, it could happen anywhere -- in the cities, in the courts, in the city councils, in the state legislatures.

I didn't really appreciate it at the time, but the coming of our union signaled the start of great changes among Hispanics that are only now beginning to be seen.
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