Friday, January 30, 2009

Why is Latino and Asian History left out of California History Textbooks?

"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. "
Cesar Chavez. Nov.9, 1984.

Textbooks in California are selected by the State Board of Education based upon recommendations of their Curriculum Committees and the state frameworks and standards, in this case the History /Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
The framework is revised each 7 years. The framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. In 2009, the History /Social Science Framework is up for re consideration.
It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation. The current Framework reflects the historiography of the 1950’s. It was written in 1986 by senior scholars, they in turn were educated in the early 1970’s or before. It is substantially out of date.
The view of history that won out in California was crafted by neoconservative historian Diane Ravitch and supported by Paul Gagnon and former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig, among others (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995). Gary Nash of UCLA was a participant in the later effort to establish national history standards.
The 1987- 2005 Framework expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and additions of photos such as of Cesar Chavez . Latinos currently make up 48.1 percent of California’s student population and Asians make up 8.1 %.

The dominant neo conservative view argues that textbooks and a common history should provide the glue that unites our society. Historical themes and interpretations are selected in books to create unity in a diverse and divided society. This viewpoint assigns to schools the task of creating a common culture. In reality, television and military service may do more to create a common culture than do schools and books.
Conservatives assign the task of cultural assimilation to schools, with particular emphasis on the history, social science, and literature curricula. Historians advocating consensus write textbooks that downplay the roles of slavery, class, racism, genocide, and imperialism in our history. They focus on ethnicity and assimilation rather than race, on the success of achieving political reform, representative government, and economic opportunity for European American workers and immigrants. They decline to notice the high poverty rate of U.S. children, the crisis of urban schooling, and the continuation of racial divisions in housing and the labor force. In California they decline to notice that Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and Latinos as well as Asians contributed to the development of this society.
This consensus conservative viewpoint history dominates textbook publishing in California , but these partial and incomplete histories do not empower students from our diverse cultural communities. By recounting primarily a consensual, European American view, history and literature extend and reconstruct current White supremacy, sexism, and class biases in our society. When texts or teachers tell only part of the story, schools foster intellectual colonialism and ideological domination (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995).
As citizens of California we have an opportunity to insist that California history, and the nation’s history, be accurately taught in the schools. The process begins with revisions to the History/Social Science Framework for California Schools. The other way to achieve this long overdue revision is to pass legislation requiring revision. We should not be writing history by passing legislation. Rather, the History/Social Science Framework Committee should perform the tasks of revision with care. Their first meeting is Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, in Sacramento.
More to come on this topic.
Duane Campbell

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Economic Stimulus and the schools

January 28, 2009
Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education

By SAM DILLON The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.

Critics and supporters alike said that by its sheer scope, the measure could profoundly change the federal government’s role in education, which has traditionally been the responsibility of state and local government.

Responding in part to a plea from Democratic governors earlier this month, Congress allocated $79 billion to help states facing large fiscal shortfalls maintain government services, and especially to avoid cuts to education programs, from pre-kindergarten through higher education.

Obama administration officials, teachers unions and associations representing school boards, colleges and other institutions in American education said the aid would bring crucial financial relief to the nation’s 15,000 school districts and to thousands of campuses otherwise threatened with severe cutbacks.

“This is going to avert literally hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and chairman of the House education committee, said, “We cannot let education collapse; we have to provide this level of support to schools.”

But Republicans strongly criticized some of the proposals as wasteful spending and an ill-considered expansion of the federal government’s role, traditionally centered on aid to needy students, into new realms like local school construction.

Economic crisis and the schools

Where We Stand _CTA.

January 15, 2009

California schools and students are suffering, and local school districts are already at the tipping point. The $3.5 billion in cuts made last year have led to larger class sizes, more than 10,000 layoffs of teachers and other education support staff, and the further elimination of art, music, and career technical education programs. Some schools have even shut down their libraries. The governor’s latest budget proposal would just make things worse.

The Governor’s proposal to cut an additional $10.8 billion over the next 18 months is an irresponsible assault on California’s students and schools. And adding further insult, the governor is redefining Proposition 98, the state’s minimum school funding law, to take $7 billion from our schools that would never be repaid, in direct violation of the constitutional guarantee. Lawmakers need to raise revenues and solve California’s budget problem without further detrimental cuts to an already underfunded public school system.

These additional cuts will further devastate schools and colleges, causing thousands of additional layoffs, even larger class size increases, more program cuts, and possible school closures. Some local schools are talking about increasing all class sizes to 40 students, while others are planning to eliminate all sports programs. The cuts proposed by the Governor will totally change public schools in California as we know them, robbing our children of a well-rounded education and leaving an academic scar on an entire generation.

It’s long past time for lawmakers to stop playing partisan politics and pass some revenue increases. Investing in public education is the best investment we can make in the future of our children and our state. We warned the Legislature last year that relying on more borrowing would just make the situation worse – and it has. Every day they don’t take action, our kids pay a bigger price.

Education Week recently released a report that shows California has dropped from 46th to 47th in per-pupil funding, and lags behind the national average by $2,400. Those figures don’t even include the latest cuts or indicate where the state would be ranked under the governor’s new proposal. Lawmakers should be working to improve support for students, not making things worse.

The governor’s proposal to cut the school year by five days does nothing to improve student learning. California students cannot continue their recent progress if the state takes away important instruction time. The governor’s proposal hurts students in poorer communities most by eliminating all funding designed to help lower-performing schools.

CTA opposes any changes to the state’s successful Class Size Reduction program. Smaller class sizes are key to improving student learning, especially for ethnic minority children and English learners. The governor’s proposal for complete and permanent “flexible” use of all categoricals is simply encouraging school districts to rob Peter to pay Paul. The fact is, flexibility without adequate funding provides false hope that schools can do more with even fewer resources.

The use of deferrals and accounting gimmicks in the Governor’s proposal further shortchanges schools this year and will lead to cash flow problems for school districts. It pushes the problem down the road and does nothing to address the need for new and reliable revenue sources for public schools.

For our community colleges the proposed cuts could reduce enrollment by at least 5 percent, force community colleges to turn away nearly 263,000 students, and seriously impact thousands of unemployed Californians who recently enrolled to seek training for new jobs.

The Governor’s proposed 10 percent cut to the UC and CSU systems would be devastating. The California State University announced the cuts will force CSU campuses to turn away at least 10,000 students who apply for admission next fall. It is the first time that the nation's largest four-year university has officially endorsed a system-wide concept of refusing admission to eligible students.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Getting Accountability Right

Getting Accountability Right

By Richard Rothstein
The federal No Child Left Behind Act has succeeded in highlighting the poor math and reading skills of disadvantaged children. But on balance, the law has done more harm than good because it has terribly distorted the school curriculum. Modest modifications cannot correct this distortion. Designing a better accountability policy will take time. We cannot and should not abandon school accountability, but it's time to go back to the drawing board to get accountability right.

The first step is to understand today's curricular distortion. It has arisen because No Child Left Behind holds schools accountable for only some of their many goals. When we demand adequate math and reading scores alone, educators rationally respond by transferring resources to math and reading instruction (and drill) from social studies, history, science, the arts and music, character development, citizenship education, emotional and physical health, and physical fitness.

This shift has been most severe for the disadvantaged children the law was designed to help, because they are most at risk of failing to meet the math and reading targets. But they are also most at risk of losing curricular opportunities in other domains. In these other areas, NCLB has widened the "achievement gap."

President Barack Obama has vowed to correct this distortion. He has noted that NCLB "has become so reliant on a standardized-test model that ... subjects like history and social studies have gotten pushed aside. Arts and music time is no longer there. So the child is not having the well-rounded educational experience I benefited from and most in my generation benefited from." We must change No Child Left Behind, he has said, "so that the assessment is one that takes into account all the factors that go into a good education."

Although some Democrats and Republicans want to ignore the law's goal distortion, observers with varying policy perspectives share the new president's view that NCLB requires a radical reconsideration. The Center on Education Policy, headed by Jack Jennings (formerly an aide to Democrats on the House education committee), has publicized the loss of instruction in social studies, science, the arts, and physical education, especially for disadvantaged children. Chester E. Finn Jr. and Diane Ravitch, who served as federal education officials in Republican administrations, complain that present policy means only "top private schools and a few suburban systems will stick with education broadly defined." While rich kids study a wide range of subjects in depth, they write, "their poor peers fill in bubbles on test sheets." There is a "zero sum" problem, Finn and Ravitch say, because "more emphasis on some things ... inevitably mean[s] less attention to others."

Yet public discussion of the law's upcoming reauthorization focuses almost entirely on correcting flaws in math and reading measurement: substituting "growth models" for fixed levels, modifying the 2014 deadline for attaining student proficiency, standardizing state definitions of proficiency, modifying "confidence intervals" in reporting. While these steps may improve the sophistication of math and reading data, none addresses the goal distortion caused by exclusive accountability for basic skills.

Designing accountability tools that require satisfactory performance across a balanced set of outcomes requires a significant federal research-and-development effort, which could build on prior experience. When the National Assessment of Educational Progress was developed in the 1960s, it measured a broad range of cognitive and noncognitive knowledge and skills. NAEP abandoned that breadth when its budget was slashed in the 1970s, however, and never restored it.

To see whether students learned to cooperate, for example, the early NAEP program sent trained observers to sampled schools. In teams of four, 9-year-olds were offered prizes (such as yo-yos) for guessing what object was hidden in a box. Students could ask yes-or-no questions, but all team members had to agree on each question asked. NAEP rated the students on whether they suggested new questions, gave reasons for viewpoints, or otherwise demonstrated cooperative problem-solving skills. It then reported to the nation on the percentage of children capable of cooperative problem-solving.

For teenagers, NAEP assessors provided lists of issues about which young people typically had strong opinions. Students had to collaborate in writing recommendations to resolve them. For 13-year-olds, lists included topics such as whether they should have curfews for getting home, and for 17-year-olds, the age eligibility for voting, drinking, or smoking. NAEP rated students on whether they took clear positions, gave reasons for viewpoints, helped organize internal procedures, and defended another's right to disagree.

Early NAEP understood that teaching civic responsibility involved more than having students memorize historical facts. So in 1969, during the era of the civil rights revolution, the assessment asked teenagers what they felt they should do if they saw black children barred from entering a park. NAEP reported that 82 percent of 13-year-olds and 90 percent of 17-year-olds knew that they should do something constructive, such as tell parents, report it to a civil rights or civil liberties organization, write letters to the newspaper, or take social action such as picketing or leafleting.

The early version of NAEP also assessed 17-year-olds' ability to consider alternative viewpoints, by asking them to state arguments both for and against a heated public issue of the time, such as whether college students should be drafted. It asked 9- and 13-year-olds if something reported in a newspaper might be untrue. It also asked teenagers if they belonged to any nonschool clubs or organizations; interviewers followed up with questions to verify answers' accuracy.

To assess commitment to civil liberties, NAEP asked teenagers if someone should be permitted to say on television that "Russia is better than the United States," that "some races of people are better than others," or that "it is not necessary to believe in God." The assessment reported the discouraging result that only a small minority of the teenagers thought all three statements should be permitted.

The early NAEP program also assessed personal responsibility. Seventeen-year-olds were asked what to do if, when visiting a friend, they noticed her 6-month-old baby was bruised. The correct answer was "suggest that your friend call her baby's doctor." Incorrect choices included "ignore the bruises because they are none of your business." A follow-up prompt said that at a later visit, bruises remain and "you are now suspicious that your friend may have hurt the baby." Students were asked what to do now. The correct choice was "call the local child-health agency and report your suspicions."

Certainly, if school systems were evaluated by such results, not simply by math and reading scores, incentives would shift. National reporting of low scores on the civil liberties questions, for example, could spur demands that schools do a better job on citizenship; then, the incentive to drop cooperative learning in favor of test prep in math and reading would diminish.

Designing a new accountability system will take time and care, because the problems are daunting. Observations of student behavior are not as reliable as standardized tests of basic skills, so we will have to accept that it is better to imperfectly measure a broad set of outcomes than to perfectly measure a narrow set. We will have to resolve contradictory national convictions that schools should teach citizenship and character, but not inquire about students' (and parents') personal opinions. To avoid new distortions, we'll need to make tough decisions about how to weight the measurement of the many goals of education.

The time to start on these difficult tasks is now, but the new administration won't have to begin with a blank slate. Looking back at the early National Assessment of Educational Progress can start us on a better path.

Richard Rothstein ( is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute. This article summarizes an argument from his recent book, co-written with Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder, Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (Teachers College Press).
Published in Ed Week.

Unfortunately legislators and media writers have too often accepted claims of accountability rather than serious study of accountability measures. This year the California Legislature and the Governor provided $10 million for accountability in Teacher Performance Assessment. The TPA/PACT process is neither valid, nor reliable. However, since it goes under the frame of accountability it has been funded even while schools are cutting classes, increasing class sizes and closing schools.
To read more about the problems of TPA/PACT go to

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Its time to take over the banks : Baker

"The banks have stolen enough. It's time to take them over."

by Dean Baker
Huffington Post

Hold onto your wallets. The bankers are coming bank for more money.
They burned through the $350 billion that we gave them in the first
round of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and they are worried
that even the second $350 billion will not be enough money to keep
them solvent. The selective leaks from Treasury tell us that the banks
will need far more money to cover their bad debts.

The latest story is that the banks want to sell us their bad assets at
above market prices, which was the original plan that Treasury
Secretary Paulson proposed, except the banks want to push off their
junk on an even bigger scale. In one version, the government would set
up a Resolution Trust-type corporation (RTC), like we did with the
bankrupt Savings and Loans in the 80s, which would hold all the
garbage and then gradually resell it to the private sector to recover
a portion of what the government paid.

This is a reasonable course, except there is one big difference
between what we did with the S&Ls in the 80s and the leaked plan being
floated. The S&Ls were taken over by the government and then resold to
the private sector. These were bankrupt institutions that were put out
of business. The stockholders were wiped out, which is what is
supposed to happen to stock holders when their company goes bankrupt.

But this is not what happens in the plan being discusses. In this
plan, the taxpayers just do the banks the great favor of paying above
market prices for their junk so that we can relieve them of the burden
of their past mistakes. The taxpayers get to eat the losses and the
bank executives and their shareholders go on their merry way.

These folks are not market fundamentalist types. The Wall Street view
of the world, and apparently the view of at least some people in the
Obama administration, is that the government always is there to help a
bank or banker in need.

The idea that we would give one more penny to this crew that has
wrecked the economy should make taxpayers furious. There is a
legitimate public interest in keeping the banks operating; a modern
economy needs a well-operating financial system. But, there is zero
public interest in rewarding shareholders and overpaid banks

These executives bankrupted their banks and brought the economy down
with them. They belong in an unemployment line not collecting
multi-million dollar paychecks in their designer office suites.

The obvious answer is to take over the insolvent banks, just as we did
with the insolvent S&Ls. The government should form an RTC as we did
in the 80s, which would dispose of the assets over time, collecting as
much money as possible for the government. The bankrupt banks would be
restructured and sold back to the private sector as soon as their
books were straightened out. The point of the exercise is not have the
government run the banks, the point is to keep the financial system
running without giving even more money to the richest people in the

This is the only reasonable solution to the mess that the bankers have
created. The other solutions are simply efforts to transfer dollars
from hardworking taxpayers to overpaid and incompetent bank
executives. It is hard to believe that anyone would take it seriously,
if not for the enormous political power of the Wall Street gang.

It's too bad that the Republicans' anger over giving tax breaks to
workers who did not pay income taxes does not extend to giving tax
dollars to Wall Street banks who have wrecked our economy. Where are
the anti-government conservatives when we need them?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stimulus plan is too limited : Greider

Obama's Economic Plan Is Not Going to Save Us
By William Greider, The Nation
Posted on January 22, 2009, Printed on January 22, 2009

The nation's fast-darkening circumstances define the essential dilemma of Barack Obama's presidency. His instinct is to govern by consensus, in the moderate middle ground of politics. Yet dire events are pushing the new president toward solutions more fundamental than those he had intended. The longer he resists taking more forceful action, the more likely it is that he will be overwhelmed by the gathering adversities.

Three large obstacles are blocking Obama's path. The first is one of scale: his nearly $800 billion recovery package sounds huge, but it is perhaps two or three times too small to produce a turnaround. The second is that the financial system--still dysfunctional despite the bailouts--requires much more than fiscal stimulus and bailout: the government must nationalize and supervise the banks to ensure that they carry out the lending and investing needed for recovery. This means liquidating some famous nameplates--led by Citigroup--that are spiraling toward insolvency. The third is that the crisis is global: the US economy cannot return to normal unless the unbalanced world trading system is simultaneously reformed. Globalization has vastly undermined US productive strength, as trade deficits have led the nation into deepening debtor dependence.
Read the entire post at the site:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lets arrest the bank managers

No bottom in sight yet: a conversation with Doug Henwood
By Steve Perry | Published Wed, Jan 21 2009 8:07 am

Doug Henwood
For the past 20 years plus, journalist/author Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer newsletter has been an essential source for economics news and analysis from a left-progressive viewpoint. Likewise his books, which include After the New Economy, a critique of the tech bubble years and “new economy” hoohah, and Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom, which is available for free download at the LBO website. He's currently working on a book about the American ruling class.
I spoke to Henwood (who also hosts a weekly radio show at WBAI in New York that’s archived at LBO) yesterday afternoon, just a couple of hours after Barack Obama took the oath of office, to see what he makes of the tea leaves and of Obama’s likely course.
SP: A great many economists--including Nouriel Roubini, who famously predicted the credit crisis back in 2006--now say that the likeliest scenario is a very steep recession that lasts through this year and part of next year. What's the most compelling case about the length of this downturn that you’ve encountered?
Doug Henwood: It’s hard to say. There are really no signs of it approaching a bottom yet. None of the leading indexes seem to have approached a bottom. If we were going to see some kind of stabilization by mid-year, that would start showing up in some of the leading indexes now or soon. So we’ll be looking for that, but there’s no reason to believe we’re anywhere near that point.
If you look at the history of financial crises--and there’s a good paper by a couple of economists, Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, that looks at some of the major financial crises of the past several decades and looks at what happens to real economies after them--the average increase in unemployment rates was about 7 points. We started at 4.5, which means we’d end at 11.5, which would be a post-1930s record. The authors also saw very, very steep declines in GDP, on the order of 9 or 10 percent. We’ve only seen a fraction of a percent so far.

So judging on the basis of past financial crises, we are not even halfway through this.

See the entire article here.

OK. So most people don’t know what to do. Here is one idea.
Lots of serious economists and observers are now saying that this economy is in crisis and needs a significant jolt to return confidence. ( see below) Well, most of them are not talking about what would produce confidence among working people.
So, I will give it a try.
I think the government should arrest the top 100 or so corporate CEO’s and prosecute them for theft. They have taken billions from investors, caused the decimation of pensions, and caused 1.2 trillion to be drained from the economy.
By any standard they are thieves.
On the other hand, they should receive a fair and impartial trial. Much of what corporate finance did with their derivatives was illegal until 2001 when Democrats and Republicans united in the U.S. Congress to make this looting legal.
See, William Black, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, and David Cay Johnston, Perfectly Legal. and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich themselves at Government Expense (and stick You with the Bill).
My knowledgeable friends tell me that you can’t arrest these people. They claim that our major banks and industries would collapse. I don’t think so. If you arrested the top twenty executives at Citicorp, for example, there are at least 40 more officers just below them who could take over. And, If you arrested the top twenty, the next forty would be much more careful with the public’s money in the future.
Of course another option is to nationalize the major banks, but that seems radical.
Duane Campbell

What to do about the banks?

And this from the New York Times.
JANUARY 21, 2009, 4:00 PM
Should Obama Seize Citigroup?

This is probably not a news story that a new president wants to read on his first full day in office. reports:

U.S. financial losses from the credit crisis may reach $3.6 trillion, suggesting the banking system is “effectively insolvent,” said New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini, who predicted last year’s economic crisis.

“I’ve found that credit losses could peak at a level of $3.6 trillion for U.S. institutions, half of them by banks and broker dealers,” Roubini said at a conference in Dubai today. “If that’s true, it means the U.S. banking system is effectively insolvent because it starts with a capital of $1.4 trillion. This is a systemic banking crisis.”

Last week’s bad news from Citigroup and Bank of America had already prompted a round-robin discussion in the blogosphere on the wisdom of nationalization. With tongue somewhat in cheek, John Quiggin blogged at Crooked Timber on Monday:
All reasonable commentators now agree that nationalisation of big banks like Citigroup, Bank of America and Royal Bank of Scotland must take place soon, explicitly or otherwise. As I said at just before the second (failed) Citigroup bailout, banks like Citi are not only too big to fail, they’re too big to rescue with any of the half-measures that have been tried so far.

Others were wary of this solution: At his New Yorker blog, The Balance Sheet, James Surowiecki wrote the same day, “I think that as the ‘nationalize now’ meme has taken hold in the blogosphere, people are talking about nationalization ‘awfully casually.’ . . . [T]he idea that most of Barack Obama’s Presidency will be spent presiding over a government-run banking system is a daunting thought.”

And at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen listed his concerns about how a nationalization strategy would play out:

How many years of profits are needed to create the cushion of capital which is required for re-privatization? And how many years of government ownership will be needed to generate that many years of profits? Will banks owned by the government be allowed to pursue profits, rather than lending to troubled industries in the districts of influential Congressmen? Or will government just stick money in the bank and hope they have thereby created a sound enterprise?

Quiggin’s argument is that current rescue efforts — especially including leaving current bank managers in place — simply won’t work. Blogging today in response to Surowiecki and others, Quiggin writes:

Financial restructuring is going to be a huge challenge, involving both a radical redesign of national regulations and the construction of an almost completely new global financial architecture. To attempt this task while leaving the banks under the control of discredited managers nominally responsible to shareholders whose equity has, in the absence of massive transfers from taxpayers, been wiped out by bad debts, seems like doing live electrical work while wearing a blindfold and standing in a pool of water.

In Britain, where the banks and the pound are collapsing, and the government announced its new, just-short-of-nationalization rescue plan on Monday, Financial Times blogger Willem Buiter is leading the charge for going all the way.

Yesterday he laid out his thinking in a long post, which began with a comparison of the recent banking excesses in Iceland and the U.K.:

Both countries allowed the unbridled growth of banks that became too large to fail. In the case of Iceland, the banks also became too large to rescue. In the UK, the jury is still out on the ‘too large to rescue’ issue, but I have serious and growing concerns. Incrementally, the British authorities have guaranteed or insured ever-growing shares of the balance sheets of the UK banks. And these balance sheets are massive. RBS, at the end of June 2008 had a balance sheet of just under two trillion pounds. The pro forma figure ws £1,730 bn, the statutory figure £1,948 (don’t ask). For reference, UK GDP is around £1,500 bn. Equity was £67 bn pro forma and £ 104bn statutory, respectively, giving leverage ratios of 25.8 (pro forma) and 18.7 (statutory), respectively.

With a 25 percent leverage ratio, a four percent decline in the value of your assets wipes out your equity. What were they thinking? The fact that Deutsche Bank used to have a leverage ratio of 40 and is now proud to have brought it down to just below 34 is really not a good excuse.

Buiter goes on to argue that the near-nationalization rescue plans will only make things worse:

In the name of preventing a collapse of the UK banking system, we are witnessing the socialisation — at first gradual, but now quite rapid — of all balance sheet risk of the UK banks by the UK government. This is risky and, in my view, unwise. The manner in which it is done also seems designed to maximise moral hazard. The good news is that it is unnecessary for restoring and maintaining the flow of new credit in the the British economy. . .

My belief that the UK government should take over all UK high street banks (on a temporary basis) is based on the simplification this would provide as regards the governance of these institutions under extreme circumstances, when private ownership and governance have clearly failed, and on its positive effect on incentives for future bank behaviour (’moral hazard). When the public interest and the interests of the existing private shareholders and the incumbent managers and boards of directors diverge as manifestly as they do in this crisis, the sensible thing to do is to buy out the existing shareholders (as cheaply as possible). That way the failed and failing management and boards can be restructured (fired without golden parachutes) and the new owner can insist on and enforce an open, verifiable valuation of toxic and dodgy assets, on and off the balance sheet of the bank.

He then lays out his four-point plan:

(1) Take into complete state ownership all UK high street banks. This has to be mandatory, even for the banks that still like to think of themselves as solvent.

(2) Fire the existing top management and boards, without golden or even leaden parachutes, except those hired/appointed since September 2007.

(3) Don’t issue any more guarantees on or insurance for existing assets - regardless of whether they are toxic, dodgy or merely doubtful. Issue guarantees/insurance only on new lending, new securities issues etc. A simple rule: guarantee the new flows, not the old stocks. This will reduce the exposure of the government to credit risk without affecting the incentives for new lending.

(4) Transfer all toxic assets and dodgy assets from the balance sheets of the now state-owned banks (or from wherever they may have been parked by these banks) to a new ‘bad bank’. If possible, pay nothing for these toxic and dodgy assets. Since the state owns both the high-street banks (I won’t call them ‘good’ banks) and the bad bank, the valuation does not matter.

Back in the States, watching Tim Geithner’s confirmation hearing today, Kevin Drum seizes on this remark by the soon-to-be Treasury Secretary:

The tragic history of financial crises is a history of failures by governments to act with the speed and force commensurate with the severity of the crisis. If our policy response is tentative and incrementalist … then we risk greater damage to living standards, to the economy’s productive potential, and to the fabric of our financial system … In a crisis of this magnitude, the most prudent course is the most forceful course.

Drum’s conclusion?

Nationalization fans should rejoice at hearing this. More and more, that includes me, by the way. The news out of Britain is beyond grim right now, and [throughout] this financial crisis the U.S. has never been more than a couple of months behind the UK. If that stays the case, nationalization of at least a couple of big banks will hardly even be a debatable option a few weeks from now.

Obama's Message

Words Made Flesh
By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, January 21, 2009; A11

In the end, the history eclipsed everything.

Had yesterday's ceremony been merely an inauguration in a time of national crisis, one in which the president signaled fundamental departures in the nation's conduct of domestic and foreign affairs, those departures would have been the big news. They are big news; they are huge. But they were not the main story. Not today.

For the line in Barack Obama's inaugural address that rocked the nation back on its heels, the line that brought the shock of recognition to the moment, was the president's assertion that by America's living up to our founding creed, "a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

That was the history, and everybody knew it. That is what brought the tears.

The speech itself had something of a "last shall be first" air. More than any inaugural address I can think of, it encapsulated the story of America's working class. Obama celebrated "men and women obscure in their labor" who "toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth."

Such invocations served several distinct but overlapping purposes. They were, first, part of a broader tableau of inclusivity that Obama painted, a nation whose religious census includes "Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers."

Second, they were an affirmation of the value of work, which, in turn, provided the moral basis for the redistributive economics that was one of the two fundamental departures from past policies that Obama championed in his speech. "The market can spin out of control," he told us, referring not merely to the current meltdown but also to the ways in which an uncontrolled market can and has damaged the great middle class. "The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous," he said. "The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity but because it is the surest route to our common good."

We measure the merit of government, he added, not by how wide a berth it gives the market but by "whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified."

With those words, the age of Reagan was ceremoniously but unambiguously interred. For 30 years, the widely shared prosperity created and then enjoyed by the Greatest Generation has been eroding. Obama's speech was the first presidential inaugural to address the narrowing of American prosperity and to announce the intention to broaden it again.

The age of Bush was also ended, more abruptly, in the very first sentence that concerned foreign and defense policy. "As for our common defense," Obama said, "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals." Moments later, he added, "Power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please."

With that, the neoconservative perversion of American ideals -- and American security -- was flushed to its reward, and a new doctrine, at once more idealistic and realistic than neoconservatism ever was, was articulated by our articulate new president.

Yet for all that the nation is in crisis, and for all that these two reversals of course are of great immediate and historic significance, they are not what brought the tears, the intake of breath, the headshaking disbelief at what was unfolding on the steps of the Capitol.

America's defining challenge has always been to take seriously the assertion of human equality in our founding document, though many of our Founders were themselves unable to broaden their definition of humanity to include the people whose unpaid work was the basis of their own well-being. The battle to conform American realities to American ideals has been the central narrative of American history. Yesterday, everyone recognized that the story was advancing by chapters, or maybe volumes, before our eyes.

Obama used the moment to affirm his belief that "the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself."

Good words, but what made yesterday so astounding was that the words, by the decision of the American people in voting booths assembled, were made flesh.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The new president, the new reality

There will be times when we need to oppose this administration and its policies. I have already opposed them on education and economic appointments.
At the same time we should recognize that with the inauguration , a positive change has been created in the racial paradigm of this country. Race and racism have long been among the obstacles to building a progressive movement.
It is also clear that a dedicated group of activists can change the direction of this country.
Can you imagine where we would be on the economy if John Mc Cain had won?
Duane Campbell

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why We Have to Look Back: John Conyers

Why We Have to Look Back

By John Conyers Jr.
Friday, January 16

This week, I released "Reining in the Imperial
Presidency," a 486-page report detailing the abuses and
excesses of the Bush administration and recommending
steps to address them. Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
popularized the term "imperial presidency" in the 1970s
to describe an executive who had assumed more power
than the Constitution allows and circumvented the
checks and balances fundamental to our three-branch
system of government. Until recently, the Nixon
administration seemed to represent a singular
embodiment of the idea. Unfortunately, it is clear that
the threat of the imperial presidency lives on and,
indeed, reached new heights under George W. Bush.

As this report documents, there was the
administration's contrived drive to a needless war of
aggression with Iraq, based on manipulated intelligence
and facts that were "fixed around the policy." There
was its politicization of the Justice Department;
unconscionable and possibly illegal policies on
detention, interrogation and extraordinary rendition;
warrantless wiretaps of American citizens; the ravaging
of our regulatory system and the use of signing
statements to override the laws of the land; and the
intimidation and silencing of critics and whistle-
blowers who dared to tell fellow citizens what was
being done in their name. And all of this was hidden
behind an unprecedented veil of secrecy and outlandish
claims of privilege.

I understand that many feel we should just move on.
They worry that addressing these actions by the Bush
administration will divert precious energy from the
serious challenges facing our nation. I understand the
power of that impulse. Indeed, I want to move on as
well -- there are so many things that I would rather
work on than further review of Bush's presidency. But
in my view it would not be responsible to start our
journey forward without first knowing exactly where we

Some day, there is bound to be another national
security crisis in America. A future president will
face the same fear and uncertainty that we did after
Sept. 11, 2001, and will feel the same temptation to
believe that the ends justify the means -- temptation
that drew our nation over to the "dark side" under the
leadership of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
If those temptations are to be resisted -- if we are to
face new threats in a manner that keeps faith with our
values and strengthens rather than diminishes our
authority around the world -- we must fully learn the
lessons of our recent past.
Read the entire piece by clicking on the title.


The writer, a Democrat, represents Michigan's 14th
District in the U.S. House and is chairman of the
Judiciary Committee.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Schools and the Stimulus Plan

Published Online: January 16, 2009
Complete Coverage
Schools Would Get Big Boost in Stimulus Plan
By Alyson Klein

Cash-strapped school districts could see an unprecedented $100 billion infusion of federal aid under a massive economic-stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats this week.
The overall measure, put forth Jan. 15 by the House Appropriations Committee, is aimed at providing a $825 billion jolt to the stumbling U.S. economy, and to help avert what could be draconian cuts in state and local programs, including education.
The more than $100 billion in federal spending for education in the stimulus bill would be nearly double the entire $59.2 billion discretionary budget for the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal 2008.
The K-12 education funding would come from various components of the stimulus package. The legislation includes a $79 billion fund to help states to prevent cuts in services, the bulk of which is slated for education. On top of that, the measure outlines specific aid for school construction, support for early-childhood education, and substantial spending boosts for major Education Department programs, including Title I grants for educating disadvantaged students and aid for special education.
“We really have turned a corner here. This is a new era for education funding,” assuming the plan is enacted, said Edward R. Kealy, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, an advocacy coalition in Washington.
Mr. Kealy, who has been lobbying for increased federal education spending for more than two decades, said he had never seen dollar amounts for schools like those in the proposed House stimulus plan.
“This makes a very strong statement that providing adequate funding for education and modernizing schools is a key part of the solution to this economic crisis,” he said. “We hope this means that we can sustain that in future years. I know that’s going to be a challenge.”
Before taking office, members of President-elect Barack Obama's staff were on Capitol Hill this month, working with lawmakers to craft the measure. The House appropriations panel is slated to consider the bill Jan. 21, and the Senate was expected to release a similar plan.
Read the entire piece at EDWEEK.

Education and economic recovery

December 19, 2008 | EPI Policy Memorandum #137

Education Accountability Policy in the New Administration

By Pedro Noguera and Richard Rothstein


Federal education accountability policy is fundamentally flawed because it creates incentives for educators and other policy makers to:

• Ignore some critical curricular elements in favor of focusing all effort on raising the test scores of disadvantaged students in basic math and reading skills alone. This myopic focus widens the “achievement gap” in critical thinking, citizenship development, and other essential areas of education

• Ignore the need to strengthen early childhood education, families, and after-school programs by failing to include these supports in accountability calculations.

These two flaws conflict with President-elect Obama’s stated goals of broadening the curriculum and of investing in early childhood, family support, and after-school programs.
A lthough we should re-commit to a strenuous accountability policy in education, it is not clear how to correct the flaws in No Child Left Behind (NCLB ). As a consequence, we recommend a research and development effort to design a new accountability policy and avoid perpetuating the distortions created by NCLB.

Read full text of this memorandum in PDF format at the site

Governor's Education Proposals: F

Governor’s Proposed Budget is “Disaster” for Schools

By Marty Hittelman
California Federation of Teachers

The budget proposed by the governor is a disaster for the students of California. It fails to provide adequate school funding. It also undermines vital health and human services that students need to achieve their best. The budget proposal cuts education funding by more than $7 billion. It will harm student achievement at all levels, from preschool to higher education. This budget will erase progress made in the past decade towards our current high standards of achievement.

Long-term solutions to our state's revenue shortfall are missing, due to Republicans’ allegiance to a blind and inflexible antitax philosophy. Instead of addressing the short and long term needs of California, this budget proposal ignores the need for stable school funding. Our polling has shown that Californians are willing to support our schools, including a willingness to pay additional taxes for that purpose.

The governor has proposed that schools shorten the school year to reduce costs. This clearly will set students back. There are better alternatives.

Here are some of the options available for providing additional revenues to support public education:

• Federal economic stimulus funds for schools should be fully directed to schools

• Restore income tax rates to 10% for Californians earning over $250,000 and 11% for over $500,000 ($7 billion in non-recessionary years)

• Institute an oil severance tax of 9.9% as is present in all other oil-producing states ($1.7 billion with oil at $100 per barrell)

Our public schools have already experienced more than $500 million in unexpected budget cuts this year—forcing many schools to lay off teachers and education support professionals as well as eliminating art, music, and vocational education programs that help students learn and succeed.

These proposed cuts will require laying off a broad range of educational employees and drive qualified teachers to other states where education is adequately funded. Class sizes will increase, individual instruction will decrease, learning conditions will be compromised and hundreds of thousands of students will be left without nurses, counselors or instructional aides.

These cuts come at a time when California already ranks 47th in per-pupil spending, and dead last in the number of counselors, librarians and school nurses per student. Schools are being asked to absorb more than our fair share of cuts – more than any other sector of government. That’s putting education last, not first.

For a clear idea of the scale of the governor’s proposed more than $7 billion cuts to education, here are a few of the possible ways these cuts could be accomplished:

• 50% increase in class sizes

• Laying off 160,000 classroom teachers

• Cutting more than $31,500 from every classroom

The vote this week by the Los Angeles Unified School District to lay off up to 2,300 classroom teachers is just the beginning of the deluge of teacher layoffs that will occur under the governor’s proposed budget.

The simple fact is California’s schools need additional revenues to provide our students with the education they deserve.

Californians need an approach that would permanently raise the revenue necessary to ensure California's future success.

Marty Hittelman, a community college math professor from Los Angeles, is the President of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) which is a member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The CFT represents faculty and other school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education in California.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

California school budgets

The CTA position.

State budget debacle is failing students and schools

January 13, 2009

BURLINGAME – The news that California has slipped to 47th in per-pupil funding is another strong indication that the state is going in the wrong direction when it comes to financing public schools, and the state Legislature must take steps to address the problem, according to David A. Sanchez, president of the 340,000-member California Teachers Association.
“California schools have some of the highest academic standards in the country. With all the demands placed on our students, it is shameful that we should let our state fall even further behind in per-pupil spending. Quality schools demand a commitment to adequately fund education. It is time for the governor and state Legislature to pass a budget that not only restores funding to our schools, but gives our students a real chance for success.”
“With the dismal budgets passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in recent years, we are not surprised to learn that new figures released by Education Week in its annual Quality Counts report reveal that California’s ranking has dropped another spot to 47th in the nation and lags the national average by nearly $2,400,” Sanchez said.
Quality Counts 2009 is the 13th edition of Education Week’s series of annual report cards tracking state education policies and outcomes. The report offers a comprehensive state-by-state analysis of key indicators of student success and is one of the most thoroughly researched reports on the health of the nation’s schools.
Quality Counts has given California a grade of F in funding public education.
“It’s appalling that the state with the eighth-largest economy in the world would allow this to happen. It’s time for our governor and legislators to provide our schools and students the resources they need to be successful,” Sanchez said.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

California drops to 47th. in School spending

Cal drops to 47th in public school spending
Education Week magazine, in its annual state-by-state survey of public education, gives California an overall "C" grade, but the California Teachers Association is jumping on the state's "F" in school spending, which has dropped to 47th in the nation on a per-pupil basis.

"With the dismal budgets passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in recent years, we are not surprised to learn that new figures released by Education Week...reveal that California's ranking has dropped another spot to 47th in the nation and lags the national average by nearly $2,400," CTA president David Sanchez said. He called it "appalling that the state with the eighth largest economy in the world would allow this to happen."

The Education Week data were released as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators wrestle with a budget deficit estimated at $40 billion over the next 18 months with schools the largest single item in the budget and the most contentious spending issue. Although Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders have agreed that school spending must be cut, they disagree on the extent and form of the reductions.

Although California received an "F" in school spending, its overall grade on education finance was a "C" due to its "A-minus" rating for equity of finances. The only other area in which it scored in the top ranks was in setting and enforcing academic standards, another "A-minus."

The full California summary is available here.
Or by clicking on title of this post.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hearings on Secretary of Education: Duncan


Associated Press -- January 13, 2008
By Libby Quaid

Barack Obama's choice for education secretary, Arne Duncan, said Tuesday he wants to improve the No Child Left Behind law and lure more people into teaching.

And the nation's school children should be on notice: Duncan would like longer school days, Saturday school and summer school.

Duncan, the Chicago schools chief, got a friendly reception from Republicans and Democrats alike at his Senate confirmation hearing, a sign that his nomination will be approved swiftly.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who served as education secretary under President George H.W. Bush, declared Duncan to be "the best" of Obama's nominees.

The education community is watching closely to see how Obama will proceed on President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, which passed with bipartisan support in 2001 but is deeply unpopular today. Obama has pledged to overhaul it but has been vague about how far he would go.

Duncan told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee the law should not punish schools where only a handful of kids are struggling.

He praised the law for shining a spotlight on children who need the most help. No Child Left Behind holds schools accountable for progress among each group of kids, including those who have disabilities or are learning English.

But right now, a school is labeled as failing if only one group of kids is struggling, even when the rest of the kids are making gains. Give individual kids more tutoring and other support, Duncan said.

"Let's not take too blunt an instrument to an entire school," Duncan said. "Those teachers are doing a Herculean job, and we need to recognize that. We need to reward that."

Along the same lines, Duncan suggested he's open to letting more special ed kids take a modified version of the annual tests required by No Child Left Behind. He was responding to Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

"You want to have assessments that actually assess a student's ability," Duncan said. "If you give any child an assessment they can't read or pick up a pen, what benefit is that to the child? What are we as adults learning from that?"

No Child Left Behind prods schools to improve test scores each year, so that every student can read and do math on grade level by the year 2014. It was due for a rewrite in 2007, but the effort stalled. Lawmakers hope to try again within the next couple of years.

School reform advocates who want to keep the law have been heartened by the selection of Duncan, a big-city schools chief they view as a kindred spirit. Duncan has run Chicago public schools for the past seven years.

Yet it was hard to pin down exactly where Duncan stands on No Child Left Behind and other controversial issues.

"I have seen the law's power and its limitations," Duncan said in his testimony. "I agree with the president-elect that we should neither bury NCLB nor praise it without reservation."

At the same time, Duncan praised an idea unions have resisted, the idea of teacher pay raises tied to student performance. Duncan started a performance-pay program in Chicago with federal dollars from the Education Department.

"That's something that I want to look at, to not just support but also potentially increase," Duncan said. "We can't do enough to reward and recognize ... excellence."

Duncan said he intends to travel the country recruiting new teachers and to take steps to keep teachers on the job.

"Given the tough economic times, that actually helps our chances of recruiting great talent," Duncan said.

Duncan also said kids should spend even more time in the classroom. Kids in 200 schools came to class on Saturdays last year, Duncan said, and he brought 15,000 freshmen back to school a month early on a voluntary basis.

"I think our school day is too short, our week is too short, our year is too short," he said.

Duncan, 44, introduced his wife and children to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, saying his interest in schools is obviously more than professional.

Duncan worked in Chicago schools under former schools chief Paul Vallas after heading an education nonprofit. Before that, he played professional basketball in Australia, where he worked with underprivileged kids as a social worker. He grew up working in his mother's tutoring program on Chicago's South Side.

In Chicago, Duncan managed to raise test scores and graduation rates, and he improved the quality of teaching.

His critics, however, say he shouldn't get credit for better test scores because they improved before he took over and state tests became easier during his tenure. Parents who opposed his aggressive school closings say they were disruptive to kids.

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U.S. Banks claim they need more money

Please read articles below on how the major U.S. banks took the bail out money and spent it on themselves and to buy other banks.

Now, they claim they need more money.

New York Times:
January 14, 2009
Banks Are in Need of Even More Bailout Money

WASHINGTON — Even before word came on Tuesday that Citigroup might split into pieces to shore up its finances, an unpleasant message was moving through Congress and President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team: the banks need more taxpayer money.

In all likelihood, a lot more money.

Mr. Obama seems to know it; a week before his swearing-in, he is lobbying Congress to release the other half of the financial industry bailout fund. Democratic leaders in Congress seem to know it, too; they are urging their rank and file to act quickly to release the rescue money. And Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, certainly knows it.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bernanke publicly made the case that one of the most unpopular and most scorned programs in Washington — the $700 billion bailout program — needs to pour hundreds of billions more into the very banks and financial institutions that already received federal money and caused much of the credit crisis in the first place.

The most glaring example that the banking system needs even more help is Citigroup. Though it already has received $45 billion from the Treasury, it is in such dire straits that it is breaking itself into parts.

Like many banks, Citi is finding that its finances keep deteriorating as the economy continues to weaken.

Even some of the bailout program’s harshest critics acknowledge that things most likely would be even worse without it, and that the bailout had accomplished its most important goal, which was to prevent a complete collapse of the financial system.

Since last September, no major banks have failed and the credit markets have thawed somewhat.

But analysts said the problems are still acute, if less apparent on the surface. Banks have received $200 billion in fresh capital from the Treasury since last fall and have borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars more from the Fed. But in the meantime, the economy fell into a severe downturn last fall that is likely to continue until at least this summer.

KIPP Charter School teachers organize: NYC

January 13, 2009
KIPP Teachers Organize

Filed under: Charter School by Leo Casey @ 1:43 pm | Edit This

In a ground-breaking development, the teachers of KIPP AMP Charter
School in Brooklyn today informed their co-principals that they were
organizing themselves into a union and seeking official recognition
from the state Public Employees Relations Board.

A super-majority of the KIPP AMP teaching faculty has signed
authorization cards with the United Federation of Teachers, well in
excess of the threshold needed for official recognition under state
labor law for public employees.

In a letter delivered to co-principals Jeff Li and Melissa Perry this
morning, the teachers said that they had decided to unionize in order
to secure teacher voice and respect for the work of teachers in their
school. We want "to ensure that the [KIPP] motto of `team and family'
is realized in the form of mutual respect and validation for the work
that is done [by teachers] each day," they wrote.

The letter stressed that the decision to organize was directly
connected to the teachers' commitment to their students. "[A] strong
and committed staff," the teachers wrote, "is the first step to
student achievement." Unionization, the teachers believe, will help
create the conditions for recruiting and retaining such a staff.

"We organized to make sure teachers had a voice, and could speak their
minds on educational matters without fearing for their job," says KIPP
AMP teacher Luisa Bonifacio.

"For us," KIPP AMP teacher Emily Fernandez explains, "unionization is
ultimately all about student achievement, and the ability of teachers
to best serve students at this crucial middle school time in their

KIPP AMP teachers believe that the high staff turnover at the school
has harmed their efforts to build a positive and consistent school
culture for their students. "There is a need to make the teacher
position more sustainable," says Bonifacio, "so that teachers don't
burn out, but are able to make a long-term commitment to the students
and the school."

KIPP AMP teacher Leila Chakravarty makes a powerful case that
organizing a union is necessary to "build a sustainable community in
our school" and address the problem of teacher turnover. "Because as
KIPP teachers we are so invested in our kids and form such close bonds
with them, because we are always available to our students by
telephone and email and spend ten hours every day with them, it is so
vital and important that they feel they can count on us, and we will
continue to be there. When they become close to a teacher who is gone
in three months because she has burnt out, it undermines the trust we
are working so hard to build."

The teachers at KIPP AMP have received strong support for their
organizing efforts from the parents and families at the school.

At the same time as the KIPP AMP teachers informed their principal of
their decision to organize, UFT President Randi Weingarten reached out
to KIPP co-founder and New York City Superintendent Dave Levin,
informing him of the developments at the school and of the UFT's
intention to enter into collective bargaining at another New York City
KIPP school, KIPP Infinity Charter School, where the teaching staff
are members of the UFT.

Weingarten told Levin that the KIPP teachers and the UFT want to work
cooperatively with KIPP to ensure that its New York City schools
provide the very best education for their students and families. She
asked KIPP to recognize the unionization of the KIPP AMP teachers
immediately so that this work could begin without delay.

"KIPP teachers want what all good teachers want — the respect, the
support and the tools necessary to do the best possible job of
educating their students," Weingarten said. "Organizing into a union
of educational professionals will give them the collective voice and
support to make that happen."

"We know that teacher turnover is a major concern across the charter
school movement," Weingarten noted. "The unionization of KIPP's New
York City schools provides a unique opportunity to create a model of
sustainable teacher recruitment, development and retention."

Since the original KIPP Academy Charter School is a conversion charter
school with UFT representation, educators at three of the four KIPP
schools in New York City will now be members of the UFT.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama: Urgent need for economic recovery

Education appointments

If we are to have key leaders in the Department of Education who will support the principles in the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB, you must act now.

I have heard from several sources in whom I have confidence that when confirmed, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will appoint to key positions in the Education Department several people whose views and stances are contrary to the Joint Statement, and who therefore may well oppose needed changes to the federal law.

Among the names are:
- Andrew Rotherham of Education Sector, a major supporter of NCLB's test-and-punish approach and of high-stakes testing.
- Russlyn Ali of Education Trust West, to head the Office of Civil Rights in the Education Department; Education Trust is a major supporter of NCLB and believes in high stakes testing of individuals, even though minority youth are disproportionately denied diplomas based on these tests.
- Wendy Kopp, Teach for America.

There are additional concerns about these possible nominees. There also may be others named who share their approach to not changing NCLB. Nominees to key positions such as Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education should be the sort of people who would support the Joint Statement.

If they are nominated, it will be very hard to block them.

Therefore, the best approach is to try to dissuade Duncan and President-elect Obama from even nominating them.

We do not have a direct line to either Mr. Obama or Mr. Duncan.

Therefore, we suggest developing pressure against these potential nominees by calling the offices of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL and Assistant Majority Leader), key members of the Senate HELP Committee (which will have to confirm nominations to Deputy and Assistant Secretary positions), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Calls are far more valuable than emails, so CALL NOW.

Sen. Dick Durbin - (202) 224-2152
Sen. Harry Reid - (202) 224-3542

HELP Committee:
Sen. Ted Kennedy - (202) 224-4543
Sen. Tom Harkin - (202) 224-3254
Sen. Chris Dodd - (202) 224-2823

When you call, acknowledge this is what you have heard and it makes you very concerned, but even if it is not these specific people, it is important that key people in the department support the Joint Statement.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Great Recession

The Great Recession
by Matthew Rothschild

January 2009 Issue

The economists were the second to last ones to figure out we're in a
recession. The last one was George Bush himself, but he doesn't care.
He's been phoning in his job for months now anyway.

But people who were losing their jobs, people who were losing their
homes, and all those who've seen their retirement accounts lose 40
percent of their value—they all know we've been in a recession for
some time.

And it's not just any recession.

This one's a whopper. It's likely to be the roughest recession in
forty years, at least. And it's going to last a lot longer than its

This is what happens when the idolatry of the free market prevails
over common sense, when greed skims over the lessons of 1929.

We wouldn't be in the Great Recession today if Bill Clinton and Robert
Rubin hadn't deregulated the financial industry.

We wouldn't be in the Great Recession today if Alan Greenspan and Ben
Bernanke and Henry Paulson hadn't let the housing bubble expand to the
popping point.

We wouldn't be in the Great Recession today if the Bush Administration
had bailed out homeowners instead of just bankers.
But here we are, right smack in the middle of the Great Recession, and
now it's on Barack Obama's plate.

At least he's talking some sense. Since winning the Presidency, Obama
has been upfront with the American people about the need to engage in
massive deficit spending in 2009 and 2010 to rescue the economy. This
is a basic Keynesian prescription, although for many it is a hard
medicine to swallow, especially after the debt Bush has run up in
Iraq. But swallow we must.

Obama may have to spend between $500 billion and $1 trillion to
forestall double-digit unemployment. What he spends that money on is
almost as vital as the aggregate amount. Fortunately, he is wisely
talking about repairing our infrastructure, sharing money with state
governments, and initiating a green jobs program. These expenditures
will give us the most bang for the buck, and they will lay the
foundation for long-term growth that is not so ruinous to our

Unfortunately, his economic appointments leave a lot to be desired. He
could have picked someone like Joseph Stiglitz or James Galbraith or
Dean Baker to head the Treasury and the National Economic Council. All
have been critics of corporate globalization. All are strong
proponents of reregulating financial institutions and reflating the

Instead, he chose Lawrence Summers to head the council and Timothy
Geithner to be Treasury Secretary. Both are experienced at ramming
free market policies down the throats of other nations. Both were
disciples of Robert Rubin when he began to deregulate the financial
industry as Clinton's Treasury Secretary in the late 1990s.

Summers served as chief economist at the World Bank from 1991 to 1993,
when it was foisting structural adjustment policies on developing
nations. And when he moved over to Treasury, he got Stiglitz fired
from the World Bank after the Nobel Prize-winner criticized such

"Spread the truth—the laws of economics are like the laws of
engineering," he said while at the World Bank. "One set of laws works
You can find this quote
in Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a
must-read. She points out how Summers ran roughshod over Russia's
parliament to impose economic shock therapy there in 1993, when he had
moved over to Treasury.

"The momentum for Russian reform must be reinvigorated and
intensified," Summers said, after the parliament had refused to go
along. Shortly after that comment, the International Monetary Fund
threatened to withhold a $1.5 billion loan. So Boris Yeltsin dissolved
and attacked parliament, abolished the constitution, and bowed to the
IMF's and Summers's demands. Summers kept the heat on, demanding that
"privatization, stabilization, and liberalization" must all be
completed post-haste, Klein reports.
The results were catastrophic. "Russia's 'economic reforms' can claim
credit for the impoverishment of seventy-two million people in only
eight years," Klein writes.

Summers also helped knock down Glass-Steagall, the wall erected in the
New Deal to keep commercial banks and investment houses separate.

Then as Treasury Secretary, Summers approved the deregulation of the
financial industry even further. He and Clinton signed off on the
Commodity Futures Modernization Act that removed oversight from the
credit default swaps and derivatives trading that have so imperiled
our economy.

Summers was Rubin's disciple. And Timothy Geithner is Summers's disciple.

Geithner got his start working for Kissinger and Associates, which
should be a disqualification in and of itself. So, too, should be
working for the IMF for Bush Jr., which Geithner did from 2001 to

In between, Geithner worked in the Treasury Department under Bush I
and Clinton, focusing on international economic affairs. In the late
1990s, he was responsible for overseeing the Asian crisis.

As Klein notes, the Treasury Department "was in no rush to stop the
pain." In fact, it used the crisis in Indonesia, South Korea, and
Thailand to force them to abandon policies aimed at self-sufficiency
and to impose policies that would open those economies to U.S.
corporations and banks. Never mind that the dictates of the Treasury
Department and IMF inflicted enormous pain. "In South Korea, 300,000
workers were fired every month," Klein writes. "In 1996, 63.7 percent
of South Koreans identified as middle class; by 1999 that number was
down to 38.4 percent."

Since 2003, Geithner has been president of the Federal Reserve Bank of
New York. He testified to Congress in March that he couldn't explain
what precipitated the financial instability we're in right now.

"What produced this is a very complicated mix of factors," he said. "I
don't think anybody understands it yet."

That's either a cop-out or a confession. Maybe he should have just
taken the Fifth. Because he's also been intimately involved with the
criminally negligent bank bailouts.

"His easy terms protected shareholders and executives but demanded
almost nothing from the failing banks for the public," William Greider
noted in The Nation. "Worst of all, the deals did not work. They have
failed to stabilize much of anything and are still putting Wall Street
preservation ahead of the national interest. Where is the evidence
that we can expect a different approach if Geithner is in charge? Or
even that he understands the true dimensions of this crisis?"

Another disturbing appointment by Obama was Peter Orszag to head up
the Office of Management and Budget. When he was on the campaign
trail, Obama accused John McCain of planning to cut Social Security
Well, Orszag wants to do that, too.

In 2005, he co-wrote a paper called "Saving Social Security: The
Diamond-Orszag Plan." It calls for "a reduction in benefits, which
would apply to all workers age 59 and younger." The younger you are,
the more you'll get hurt.

"The reduction in benefits for a forty five-year-old average earner is
less than 1 percent," his plan says. "For a thirty-five-year-old, less
than 5 percent; and for a twenty-five-year-old, less than 9 percent."

Social Security is not in crisis. And there's no reason to be hacking
away at the safety net—especially if you're a Democrat.

Now is the time for a new New Deal, not for ripping up the old one.

At some level, Obama appears to understand that. But his economic
team—that's another story.

—Matthew Rothschild

Friday, January 09, 2009

Obama stimulus and Republican Earmarks

The Obama Stimulus
We first need to recognize that this is a Bush/Republican recession. And, it is the worst recession since 1945 when everything slowed down at the end of W.W.II. That’s quite a record.
In response, the Obama administration proposes a massive stimulus. This is the correct remedy. It is basic Keynesianism.
Now the Republican Senators ( who significantly caused this mess along with Larry Summers and others), want more money spent on tax breaks for the wealthy. Does that sound familiar?
After preaching about No ear marks, they are demanding the biggest ear mark of all; a major tax break for big business. There is every reason to be skeptical. Recall that we gave the finance industry 350 Billion to unfreeze the credit market and instead they spent it on themselves.
The perils of using tax breaks as a stimulus, or as a major part of the stimulus, are explained well by Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center here:

See this by Paul Krugman:

So, the Republicans, after creating this mess, see tax cuts for the rich as the way out of this mess. Time for some street politics. See the articles below.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

How Wall Street stole your investments and pensions

Long, but well worth reading.

California budget failure

Since 1978 – Proposition 13- the California public schools have been under funded. Since the mid 1980’s California has had a dysfunctional prison and parole system with a constantly increasing budget.
The current legislature and the prior legislature can not pass a budget significantly as a consequence of the 2/3 rule. And, the Governor’s office issues press releases but provides no leadership.
Each side guards its territory and vilifies the other side. But, the state is not being governed.
Special interests pass laws but the public interest is being ignored. Over time an un governed state declines economically- as California is declining.
The public disapproval ratings of the legislature and the governor reveal that the voters recognize this incompetence.
The political stalemate in Sacramento makes the national recession worse. More workers will loose their jobs, more school budgets will be cut.

"Without an immediate fix to the state's estimated $40 billion budget deficit, California could run out of cash next month. State finance officials warn that the state would have to give IOUs to state vendors and elected officials, as well as delay refunds for taxpayers."
Perhaps we should respond in kind. Perhaps all of the taxpayers in the state should send in IOU's rather than their tax payments.
We would hope that soon some adults begin to provide leadership in Sacramento.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why Legislative School Reform does not work

We spend less per student than 16 other modern industrialized countries (Slavin, 1998). And, California spends less than 26 other states. Moreover, of these, we are the only country that does not actively promote equality of educational opportunity. In the Netherlands, for example, schools receive 25 percent more funding for each lower-income child and 90 percent more funding for each minority child than in the United States (Slavin, 1998). Clearly, schools serving working-class students and cultural minorities fail in large part because our nation refuses to invest in its children. Our economy needs well-educated workers. We cannot permit schools to continue to fail. When schools succeed for the middle class and fail for working-class students and students of color, schools contribute to a crippling division along economic and racial lines in our society. Schools, as public institutions, must find ways to offer all children equal educational opportunity. Yet reformed schools are more exceptions than the common pattern, particularly in our urban areas.
Let us be clear about the reality of schools in our nation. Some middle-class schools could benefit from reform, but most middle-class schools work. Most schools in urban areas, however, are unable to provide the equal educational opportunity called for by our national ideals and by constitutional law. There will be no significant change in the quality of urban education without substantial new funds allocated to these schools. As the NEA’s Chase has noted, children in these schools need and deserve the same quality of buildings, teachers, materials, and resources as do students from affluent neighborhoods.

Neo liberal reformers, although they claim to be influenced by business management theories, miss use recent developments in management theory. They fail to recognize that teacher working conditions are student learning conditions. Most large city schools are highly bureaucratized and control oriented institutions- based upon a high level of control and distrust – as is the federal legislation NCLB. Modern management theory recognizes that in personell-intensive workplace, control does not work well. Each year schools place the most inexperienced teachers with students who need the help the most. We staff urban schools with large number of teachers who failed to find a position in their preferred suburban district, and then we wonder why over 50% leave within 3 years.
Attempts to break the domination of the bureaucracy, such as in Washington D.C. under Chancellor Michelle Rhee, often focus on bringing in superintendents with little background in administration and public schools, the firing of administrators and some teachers for failing to reform failing schools. It is the corporate world of individualism, competition, and consumption opposed to the public sphere of learning civic cooperation and a pluralist democratic ethos. To date this strategy has produced a high teacher and administrator turn over, but it has not improved academic achievement.
Rather than incorporate teaches into their planning, these school administrators
repeatedly imposed neo-liberal policies including closing schools and attacking teach-
ers unions. They admire what they believe to be corporate culture (not including the
revelations of the actual culture of 2008/2009 economic recession) and are arbitrary in
management systems with limited input from teachers or parents. Teachers have not
been respected nor consulted. Little thought has been given to how these policies, havebeen destructive to the children and their futures.
Neo liberal reformers blamed the teachers unions for their own failure to improve public schools. In one sense they are correct. Unions have organized and used political power to limit the expansion of corporate control over schooling. Unions have defended the traditions of Thomas Jefferson, John Dewey and others that public schooling should prepare young people for democratic life.

Monday, January 05, 2009

California History/Social Science Framework

Happy New Year to readers.
Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
Cesar Chavez. Nov.9, 1984.

In 2009, the California Board of Education will adopt a new History Social Science Framework for California’s public schools. The present Framework was adopted in 1987 and only marginally changed since then.
The Framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. The current Framework, written in 1987, has virtually no inclusion of Chicano/Mexican/Latino history and little inclusion of Asian American history.
It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation. The current Framework reflects the historiography of the 1950’s. It is substantially out of date. There was a major struggle over this framework in 1987 and progressive forces lost.

Quality schools are an issue of civil rights. Our public schools should provide all students with a high-quality education. At present, they often do not (Kozol, 2005, Moses and Cobb, 2001). Receiving a quality education is necessary for economic opportunity, economic survival, and the development of a democratic community.
Multicultural education is part of a movement of school reform whose aim is to provide quality education for all and to make schools more democratically inclusive. Its intellectual roots lie in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the ethnic studies movements of the 1970s, and the struggles for bilingual education (Banks, 2008).
Someone makes the decisions to plan the curriculum. A committee selects goals, objectives, materials, learning strategies, and the processes for student evaluation. Then the teacher in the classroom makes decisions on how the curriculum is delivered.
A curriculum is developed based upon the writers values and views of goals for the society. It is adopted based upon the decisions of state or district decision makers. It is taught based upon the values and views of the teachers and relevant learning theories. Even today, in the period of standards and testing, the teacher in the classroom makes significant curriculum decisions each day.
The curriculum has often been the battleground for U.S. education. Advocacy groups, business groups, religious reformers, teachers and their unions and elected officials have sought to use the curriculum to define and to direct schooling. Multicultural education enters into the conflict over the curriculum because a multicultural social justice perspective most often reveals a conflict between the promises of education for a democracy and the view of the society taught as accurate and complete in the existing courses taught in the schools.
Curriculum change or improvement can be pursued as a means of trying to move a school from one level of achievement to another. In the decades since 1990, testing has become an increased component of schooling. The testing emphasis drove many schools in low-income areas to eliminate the arts, science and social studies in an effort to focus on improving reading and math scores. Since 2001 school districts, usually in a drive to respond to demands of the NCLB act and those of state education departments, have increasingly decided to adopt packaged curriculum and materials from commercial publishers who promise to raise test scores in reading and math . The alternative would be for districts to engage their own teachers in development of materials for the students in local schools.
Curriculum change involves choices. A major emphasis of the 1980s and 1990s was to upgrade the high school curriculum for college preparation. A result of this emphasis was the sharp reduction—almost elimination—of vocational education programs in some states such as California. Yet fully 80 percent of all high school students will not graduate from college. It was an ideological choice to decide that we should design the high school curriculum as if all students were going to college.

The development of multicultural education calls for a re-analysis of curriculum basics and a revision of the textbooks and curriculum experiences where appropriate. We need to recognize that many curriculum decisions are based on ideological choices. . From a critical theory point of view, knowledge is not neutral. Knowledge is power. Those who control the access to knowledge , including publishers, bureaucracies, teachers and the curriculum, control a source of power in our society.
A part of the effort of multicultural education is to rewrite the curriculum and textbooks so that all students—members of the United States’s diverse communities—recognize their own role in building our society and economy. Multicultural advocates choose to rewrite the curriculum so that all students experience a school that serves as an engine of democracy and opportunity.
Curriculum content, usually expressed in textbooks, is very important. These materials often direct and shape what students read and often outline the teaching strategies to be employed. Among other things curriculum decisions determine Whose knowledge is of most worth?
James Banks described the new multicultural curriculum efforts emerging as a transformative curriculum of empowerment. He argued that in addition to the above goals a curriculum should:
1. Empower the students, especially the victimized and marginalized.
2. Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to critically examine the current political and economic structure.
3. Teach critical thinking skills and decision making skills including the analysis of the way in which knowledge is constructed. (Banks, Multiethnic Education, 4rd. edit. 2008)
James Banks, a lifetime leader in multicultural education and a former president of both the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Educational Research Association, describes the balancing forces in An Introduction to Multicultural Education. ( 4th. Edition, 2008)
“Citizenship education must be transformed in the 21st.century because of the deepening racial, ethnic, cultural, language and religious diversity in nation-states around the world. Citizens in a diverse democratic society should b e able to maintain attachments to their cultural communities as well as participate effectively in the shared national culture. Unity without diversity results in cultural repression and hegemony. Diversity without unity leads to Balkanization and the fracturing of the nation-state. Diversity and unity should coexist in a delicate balance in democratic multicultural nation-states.” (Banks, 2008)

I applied to get on the framework committee for this revision but I was not successful. Even though I have a doctorate in the field and 35 years of experience, the State Board selected others. Of course you can not tell only from the names, but it looks as if 1 of the 18 people may be Mexican or Latino. I had strong letters of support etc.
This post begins a series on how and why the California State Framework should be changed.
I encourage all readers and policy advocates interested in justice to participate. The first meeting of the History/Social Science Revision Committee will be on Feb.4.

Duane Campbell

Friday, January 02, 2009

Education Policy and a Secretary of Education:

William Ayers. ON the Huffington Report.
Of course I would have loved to have seen Linda Darling-Hammond become Secretary of Education in an Obama administration. She's smart, honest, compassionate and courageous, and perhaps most striking, she actually knows schools and classrooms, curriculum and teaching, kids and child development. These have never counted for much as qualifications for the post, of course, and yet they offer a neat contrast with the four failed urban school superintendents--Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Paul Valas, and Arne Duncan -- who were for weeks rumored to be her chief competition.

These four, like George W. Bush's Secretary of Education, Rod Paige of the fraudulent Texas-miracle, have little to show in terms of school improvement beyond a deeply dishonest public relations narrative. Teacher accountability, relentless standardized testing, school closings, and privatization -- this is what the dogmatists and true-believers of the right call "reform." Michelle Rhee of Washington D.C., the most ideologically-driven of the bunch, warranted a cover story in Time in early December called "How to Fix America's Schools" in which she was praised for making more changes in a year and a half on the job than other school leaders, "even reform-minded ones," make in five: closing 21 schools (15% of the total), firing 100 central office personnel, 270 teachers, and 36 principals. These are all policy moves that are held on faith to stand for improvement; not a word on kids' learning or engagement with schools, not even a nod at evidence that might connect these moves with student progress. But of course evidence is always the enemy of dogma, and this is faith-based, fact-free school policy at its purest.

So I would have picked Darling-Hammond, but then again I would have picked Noam Chomsky for state, Naomi Klein for defense, Bernardine Dohrn for Attorney General, Bill Fletcher for commerce, James Thindwa for labor, Barbara Ransby for human services, Paul Krugman for treasury, and Amy Goodman for press secretary. So what do I know?

Darling-Hammond would not have been a smart pick for Obama. She was steadily demonized in a concerted campaign to undermine her effectiveness, and she would surely have had great difficulty getting any traction whatsoever for progressive policy change in this environment. Arne Duncan was the smart choice, the unity choice--the least driven by ideology, the most open to working with teachers and unions, the smartest by a mile-- and let's wish him well.

But there's a deeper point: since the Obama victory, many people seem to be suffering a kind of post-partum depression: unable to find any polls to obsess over, we read the tea-leaves and try to penetrate the president-elect's mind. What do his moves portend? What magic or disaster awaits us? With due respect, this is a matter of looking entirely in the wrong direction.

Obama is not a monarch -- Arne Duncan is not education czar -- and we are not his subjects. If we want a foreign policy based on justice, for example, we ought to get busy organizing a robust anti-imperialist peace movement; if we want to end the death penalty we better get smart about changing the dominant narrative concerning crime and punishment. We are not allowed to sit quietly in a democracy awaiting salvation from above. We are all equal, and we all need to speak up and speak out right now.

During Arne Duncan's tenure in Chicago, a group of hunger-striking mothers organized city-wide support and won the construction of a new high school in a community that had been underserved and denied for years. Another group of parents, teachers, and students mobilized to push military recruiters out of their high school; Duncan didn't support them and he certainly didn't lead the charge, but they won anyway. If they'd waited for Duncan to act they'd likely be waiting still. Teachers at another school refused to give one of the endless standardized tests, arguing that this was one test too many, and they organized deep support for their protest; Duncan didn't support them either, but they won anyway. If they'd waited for Duncan, they'd be waiting still. Why would anyone sit around waiting for Arne now? Stop whining; get busy.

In the realm of education, there is nothing preventing any of us from pressing to change the dominant discourse that has controlled the discussion for many years. It's reasonable to assume that education in a democracy is distinct from education under a dictatorship or a monarchy, but how? Surely school leaders in fascist Germany or communist Albania or medieval Saudi Arabia all agreed, for example, that students should behave well, stay away from drugs and crime, do their homework, study hard, and master the subject matters, so those things don't differentiate a democratic education from any other.

What makes education in a democracy distinct is a commitment to a particularly precious and fragile ideal, and that is a belief that the fullest development of all is the necessary condition for the full development of each; conversely, the fullest development of each is necessary for the full development of all.

Democracy, after all, is geared toward participation and engagement, and it's based on a common faith: every human being is of infinite and incalculable value, each a unique intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, and creative force. Every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights, each is endowed with reason and conscience, and deserves, then, a sense of solidarity, brotherhood and sisterhood, recognition and respect.

We want our students to be able to think for themselves, to make judgments based on evidence and argument, to develop minds of their own. We want them to ask fundamental questions---Who in the world am I? How did I get here and where am I going? What in the world are my choices? How in the world shall I proceed? --- and to pursue answers wherever they might take them. Democratic educators focus their efforts, not on the production of things so much as on the production of fully developed human beings who are capable of controlling and transforming their own lives, citizens who can participate fully in civic life.

Democratic teaching encourages students to develop initiative and imagination, the capacity to name the world, to identify the obstacles to their full humanity, and the courage to act upon whatever the known demands. Education in a democracy should be characteristically eye-popping and mind-blowing--always about opening doors and opening minds as students forge their own pathways into a wider world.

How do our schools here and now measure up to the democratic ideal?

Much of what we call schooling forecloses or shuts down or walls off meaningful choice-making. Much of it is based on obedience and conformity, the hallmarks of every authoritarian regime. Much of it banishes the unpopular, squirms in the presence of the unorthodox, hides the unpleasant. There's no space for skepticism, irreverence, or even doubt. While many of us long for teaching as something transcendent and powerful, we find ourselves too-often locked in situations that reduce teaching to a kind of glorified clerking, passing along a curriculum of received wisdom and predigested and often false bits of information. This is a recipe for disaster in the long run.

Educators, students, and citizens must press now for an education worthy of a democracy, including an end to sorting people into winners and losers through expensive standardized tests which act as pseudo-scientific forms of surveillance; an end to starving schools of needed resources and then blaming teachers and their unions for dismal outcomes; and an end to the rapidly accumulating "educational debt," the resources due to communities historically segregated, under-funded and under-served. All children and youth in a democracy, regardless of economic circumstance, deserve full access to richly-resourced classrooms led by caring, qualified and generously compensated teachers. So let's push for that, and let's make it happen before Arne Duncan or anyone else grants us permission.
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