Sunday, June 30, 2013

Michelle Rhee Flunks Bill Maher's Test

Video located by the new website. BadAss teacher.

Wal-Mart gives big money to Mayor Kevin Johnson

Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation, named for the family that created the company, have been the largest donors, contributing nearly $800,000 combined to nonprofits on behalf of Johnson and other council members since 2009, according to disclosure documents filed with the city clerk's office.
Those payments include $505,000 since last year to Johnson's education reform initiatives and other groups backed by the mayor. Johnson received another $210,000 from Wal-Mart between 2009 and 2011 – most of which was not reported by the mayor until December 2012. The Walmart Foundation also gave $50,000 last year to a neighborhood nonprofit organization founded by Schenirer, documents show.

Note. Mayor Johnson travels to many cities and speaks at events usually organized by a network of African American churches. He was on Obama's Mayor's Committee on Education.  He promotes the education agenda advocated by his wife Michelle Rhee and by the Walton family.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

California School Budgets

Budget Agreement Maintains the Minimum Funding Level for Schools and Community Colleges in the May Revision
Approved by voters in 1988, Proposition 98 constitutionally guarantees a minimum level of funding for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the state preschool program. The 2013-14 budget agreement assumes a Proposition 98 funding level of $56.5 billion for K-14 education programs in 2012-13 and $55.3 billion in 2013-14. These are approximately the same levels included in the Governor’s May Revision, but significantly above the $47.2 billion Proposition 98 funding level in 2011-12. Specifically, the budget agreement:
·       ·  Provides $4.3 billion over two years to partially restore previously deferred payments to schools and community colleges. In 2011-12, $10.4 billion in annual Proposition 98 payments to K-14 schools (21 percent of the total Proposition 98 funding level) were delayed until 2012-13. Of these deferred payments, the budget agreement repays schools and community colleges $4.0 billion in 2012-13 and $272 million in 2013-14. Outstanding payment deferrals at the end of 2013-14 – that is, the amount the state still owes schools and community colleges – will be $6.2 billion under the budget agreement.
·       ·  Provides $2.1 billion in 2013-14 Proposition 98 funds to begin implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The LCFF restructures the state’s education finance system by providing all school districts with a base grant per student, adjusted to reflect the number of students at various grade levels, as well as additional resources to reflect the higher costs of educating English learners, students from low-income families, and foster youth.
·       ·  Provides $1.25 billion in one-time funding to support implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), $250 million more than was included in the Governor’s May Revision. In August 2010, the State Board of Education adopted CCSS for California’s K-12 schools. The budget agreement provides school districts and county offices of education (COEs) with CCSS implementation funding of $1.0 billion in 2012- 13 Proposition 98 dollars and $250 million in 2013-14 Proposition 98 dollars. These funds are provided on a per pupil basis and may be used at any time during 2013-14 or 2014-15. The budget agreement requires school districts and COEs to:
o UseCCSSimplementationdollarsforspecificpurposes,includinginstructionalmaterialsandprofessional development for teachers, administrators, and other staff involved in the direct instruction of students;
o AdoptaplandelineatinghowCCSSimplementationdollarswillbespent;and o ReportbyJuly1,2015howCCSSimplementationdollarswerespent.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

While teachers are tested, evaluated, and tested....

Top School Administrators Haven't Been Subject to Formal Evaluations

Top administrators at the city's Department of Education haven't been subject to formal evaluations during the Bloomberg administration, a break from past practice and an unusual occurrence among school districts across the U.S.
The disclosure follows the culmination of a yearslong battle by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to implement tougher teacher and principal evaluations in the district.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has been on the job since April 2011, said formal job reviews weren't necessary because he informally evaluated his staff daily, and he was evaluated daily by the mayor. Teachers, he said, were in a different position.
Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal
Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spoke during a conference at the Department of Education's offices earlier this month.
"They're in front of the classroom and teaching our children, and we need to have a sense of how well they're doing," he said. "With us, we're not teaching children directly, we're setting policy. And I don't think it's hypocritical at all."
The Wall Street Journal filed a public records request in February 2012 seeking the senior-staff evaluations after the department successfully fought to release scores for individual teachers' performances based on students' test scores.
In a response dated June 11, the department's public-records officer said no evaluations had been created since at least 2001 for the following positions: chancellor, chief of staff, chief academic officer, senior deputy chancellor, chief schools officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, deputy chancellor and general counsel. Mr. Bloomberg has appointed three permanent chancellors.
Bloomberg spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua said the mayor held his team accountable, unlike the system under the defunct Board of Education, whose members were appointed, "when no one was held accountable for results."
"This is the entire point of mayoral control," she said in a statement. "Public accountability is one of the key drivers of the transformation of our schools, with graduation rates up 40%, dropout rates cut in half and more students meeting the toughest standards in city history."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

California Schools: New State, Federal Strategies Flawed, Familiar | California Progress Report

California Schools: New State, Federal Strategies Flawed, Familiar | California Progress Report

Chicago Mayor Emanuel closes schools, war on teachers

By David Bacon
Equal Times, 6/25/13

CHICAGO, IL  -- On June 14, the Chicago Public Schools sent layoff notices to 850 school employees, including 550 teachers.  The layoffs will hit hardest at those teachers working in African American and Latino communities.  These are the communities that were targeted in the system's recent decision to close 49 schools - the largest single school closure in U.S. history.

Many view the layoffs and closures as payback by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel for a bitter but successful 9-day strike by the Chicago Teachers Union last September.  But it is also a blow, not just to the public school system, but to the city's schoolchildren themselves.

The reality of budget cuts

The district is implementing massive budget cuts rather than look for the funding schools and children need.  The union has proposed "redirecting tax increment financing (TIF) surpluses back to public schools, ending tax loopholes or raising a new tax levy for pensions that would stabilize the CPS budget." 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Education to rebuild the U.S.

An Education Declaration to Rebuild America
Americans have long looked to our public schools to provide opportunities for individual advancement, promote social mobility and share democratic values. We have built great universities, helped bring children out of factories and into classrooms, held open the college door for returning veterans, fought racial segregation and struggled to support and empower students with special needs. We believe good schools are essential to democracy and prosperity — and that it is our collective responsibility to educate all children, not just a fortunate few.
Over the past three decades, however, we have witnessed a betrayal of those ideals. Following the 1983 report A Nation at Risk, policymakers on all sides have pursued an education agenda that imposes top-down standards and punitive high-stakes testing while ignoring the supports students need to thrive and achieve. This approach – along with years of drastic financial cutbacks — are turning public schools into uncreative, joyless institutions. Educators are being stripped of their dignity and autonomy, leading many to leave the profession. Neighborhood schools are being closed for arbitrary reasons. Parent and community voices are being shut out of the debate. And children, most importantly, are being systemically deprived of opportunities to learn.
As a nation we have failed to rectify glaring inequities in access to educational opportunities and resources. By focusing solely on the achievement gap, we have neglected the opportunity gap that creates it, and have allowed the resegregation of our schools and communities by class and race. The inevitable result, highlighted in the Federal Equity and Excellence Commission’s recent report, For Each and Every Child, is an inequitable system that hits disadvantaged students, families, and communities the hardest.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ALEC on school choice and privatization

See at least the first 30 minutes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Problems with Common Core Standards

By the editors of Rethinking Schools
It isn’t easy to find common ground on the Common Core. Already hailed as the “next big thing” in education reform, the Common Core State Standards are being rushed into classrooms in nearly every district in the country. Although these “world-class” standards raise substantive questions about curriculum choices and instructional practices, such educational concerns are likely to prove less significant than the role the Common Core is playing in the larger landscape of our polarized education reform politics.
We know there have been many positive claims made for the Common Core:
  • That it represents a tighter set of smarter standards focused on developing critical learning skills instead of mastering fragmented bits of knowledge.
  • That it requires more progressive, student-centered teaching with strong elements of collaborative and reflective learning.
  • That it equalizes the playing field by raising expectations for all children, especially those suffering the worst effects of the “drill and kill” test prep norms of the recent past.
We also know that many creative, heroic teachers are seeking ways to use this latest reform wave to serve their students well. Especially in the current interim between the roll-out of the standards and the arrival of the tests, some teachers have embraced the Common Core as an alternative to the scripted commercial formulas of recent experience, and are trying to use the space opened up by the Common Core transition to do positive things in their classrooms.
We’d like to believe these claims and efforts can trump the more political uses of the Common Core project. But we can’t.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sacramento closes schools serving the working poor

Sacramento District Ignores Report Suggesting Closing Schools for Affluent White Kids, Instead Shutters Seven Schools Filled with Poor and Minority Kids

Steven Hsieh,
A Sacramento city school district is poised to close seven elementary schools, disproportionately hurting students in low-income and predominantly minority neighborhoods.
In response, twelve students and their parents filed a civil rights lawsuit, asking a federal court to block the closures. The suit claims that the Sacramento City Unified District’s decision “was motivated by an intent to discriminate against the minority populations” and will result in “a disastrous discriminatory effect on the poor, disadvantaged population which is served by these neighborhood schools slated for closure."
The complaint also notes that in choosing the schools it did for closure, Unified District ignored a report by a closure committee recommending the shuttering of four different schools in “older, affluent neighborhoods,” each with a 'white' student body in excess of 40 percent of the enrolled students.”
CBS Sacramento reports that dozens of parents and students rallied outside the courthouse Tuesday. Jonathan Tran of Hmong Innovating Politics, the group that organized the rally, told the station, “The district applied an arbitrary and illegitimate standard to target schools that are predominantly high in low-income and minority populations … At the end of the day, that is unacceptable.”

Sunday, June 02, 2013

In defense of public schools

by Duane Campbell
 There are few institutions more directly connected  to our state and national prosperity and our democracy than public schools.  Now, a few states, primarily in the South, are dismantling public funding in order to create for profit options for private schools.

   The truth is that most charter schools  are public, that is they are funded by public funds.  Usually they are managed privately, at times for profit. The teachers in these schools usually lack union protections.
Charters have become popular in communities of poor people because the urban public schools are often failing. Parents want an alternative for their children.  Often in these communities the health system, the police, the nutrition and fire systems and employment opportunities  are usually failing.  
Smart and adept politicians, usually Republicans, use the failure of poorly funded urban schools as a hammer to batter public education.   
It is not surprising that this rejection of  public education as a route to  prosperity for all comes from the South and states dominated by Republican legislatures.   Arizona, Indiana,  Texas, and Alabama and the other states promoting charters  can go ahead and decline if they so choose, however we need to set up some borders and tariffs, and perhaps trade agreements to prevent their move to “free market” choices from imposing vast new costs on the states which continue to want democracy and prosperity.  Remember, free market ideology is what brought us the economic crisis since 2007.
Public schools have  significantly contributed to U.S.  prosperity for the last 100 years  and they have fostered  our national unity.  It is accurate that some public schools are failing- particularly those serving low income and minority children.  But, there is no evidence that privatizing will improve these schools.
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