Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Educational hucksters - Sacramento

Public schooling for students in California is underfunded and for many students it is  failing.  The role of privatized pre-school, charters, and for profit higher education is under examined.  Underfunding the public schools forces them into decline, assuring that working families and their children will face increasing obstacles to improving their lives.  
Melody Gutierrez, writer for the Sacramento Bee, offers a compelling description of the fraud and abuse in tutoring programs mandated by NCLB in the Sunday, July  28, edition.  The program stressed free market competition with little accountability.  What they got was fraud and exploitation.
If you want to improve the schools, you need prepared and credentialed teachers- usually not Teach for America interns.  The best teacher in a tutoring program is the child’s own teacher, not an unprepared person who has little knowledge of reading and/or learning strategies.   The best teacher is one that knows well what the student needs to succeed in his/her classes.
Why then is tutoring needed?  In day to day instruction the teacher faces a class size of 30 – 35 students.  In tutoring, he/she can face a class size of 3-5 students. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Civil Rights Leaders meet with Obama

antiracismdsa: Civil Rights Leaders meet with Obama: Plan for March on Washington. Daily Kos Some 15 civil rights leaders emerged from a 45-minute meeti...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why California textbooks ignore Chicano/ Mexican American history

 And what you can do about it.
Textbooks for  California schools are selected by the State Board of Education based upon recommendations of their Curriculum Committees and the state frameworks and standards.   The current Framework was written in 1987 – before the fall of the Soviet Union. 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 It is substantially out of date. For a more detailed description of this issue see
Unfortunately this existing, outdated, biased  document could well become the template for schools throughout the nation as a part of the Common Core Standards efforts.
Here is the problem. The  Democracy and Education Institute and the Mexican American Digital History Project  has  been working for the last  three  years to change the California History/Social Science Framework for California Public Schools to include the significant contributions of Mexicans and Chicanos to the history of the state. 
At the same time, the U.S. is moving toward Common Core standards for all schools in the nation.   The Common Core is well along its way in math and English (reading).  History, Civics and Social Studies will follow soon. The development of a common core  usually proceeds from a state’s existing standards.  The existing California standards are based upon the existing biased and insufficient  1987 History Social Science Framework.  Unless there is change, California will be advocating for a set of Common Core standards that ignore Chicano ( and Asian) history.  Other states including Texas and Arizona have similarly biased and insufficient standards.  Thus, unless there is a change in the California standards, the Common Core effort  could well lock in the 1987 standards for another decade.  An unnecessary shame.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Closing Schools, Faulting Teachers in Sacramento

July 25, 2013

Officially, a budget shortfall for the Sacramento City Unified School District caused closure of seven elementary schools. Marcos Bretón, a columnist for The Sacramento Bee, weighed in with this: “I honestly don't believe that the district was driven by racial bias in closing schools months ago”
Excellent in the column is recognition that the SCUSD schools in low-income neighborhoods are disastrously underfunded. Further, as Bretón notes, in low-income neighborhoods the police system does not work, the health system does not work, the garbage goes unpicked up, and water and sewage are problems, along with gangs. Why then, do we expect underfunded schools to work in such neighborhoods?
When it comes to education policy and race, Bretón finds fault in the plaintiffs’ bid to establish legal proof of racial bias in school closures. A federal district judge, Kimberly J. Mueller, agreed on July 22 that the case of the plaintiffs lacked merit.
When it comes to money and policy to close schools and save the district $1 million, we should put this amount in a broader context that Bretón does not. For instance, there is recent and relevant Sacramento history.
Between January 19, 2012, and June 5, 2012, the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of retail giant Wal-Mart, donated a total of $500,000 to Stand Sacramento for Sacramento Schools, the 501(c) (3) nonprofit school reform group that Mayor Kevin Johnson founded in 2009 with $500,000 from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. In the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Kevin Johnson is the Second Vice-President and Education Reform Task Force Chair.
Contacted by one of us for comment, a spokesperson for his Stand Sacramento for Sacramento Schools declined to reply as to how the group is spending the $500,000. We know one thing. Walton Family Foundation money is not bridging a budget gap to keep the closed district schools open.
Private dollars flow. Public schools close. This trend speaks volumes about local public education now.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

antiracismdsa: What Real Immigration Reform Would Look Like

antiracismdsa: What Real Immigration Reform Would Look Like: WHAT REAL IMMIGRATION REFORM WOULD LOOK LIKE Clue:  It's Not a New Guest Worker Program By David Bacon The Progressive web edition, 7/...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Willful Defiance ?

Talk It Out: A Community Conversation to Fix School Discipline (a short play based on real life stories about school discipline in Sacramento County).  
Catch WILLFUL on Cable TV! All cablecasts will be on Comcast/Surewest Channel 17 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99, Pacific Daylight/Standard Time, unless otherwise specified. If you don't have those services, it can also be viewed at, at the times listed below.

Sunday, July 28th @ 7:00pm
Monday, July 29th @ 11:00am
Tuesday, July 30th @ 3:00am

Friday, August 2nd @ 7:00pm
Saturday, August 3rd @ 11:00am
Sunday, August 4th @ 3:00am

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What do parents want from schools ?

by Jeff Bryant

A mantra recited by those who pride themselves as adherents to a movement known as “education reform” is that for too long policies governing public schools have favored “the adults” in the system at the expense of children. This rhetoric has framed any objections that classroom teachers may have to new education policies as being overly concerned about teachers’ interests and being negligent of the students.
That rhetorical positioning has been used by political lobbying groups promoting themselves as putting “students first”  (Michelle Rhee) and taking a “stand for children” in order to claim a higher moral ground. These organizations assert that teachers who object to the continued degradation of their working conditions are really being selfish and inattentive to the needs of the students in the public education system.
However, there’s always been a group of adults who’ve been imbued with the power to understand best what students in public schools really need.Parents, legend has it, occupy a sacrosanct position of having an exclusive right to determine the education destination of their offspring.
The whole idea that parents should have a “choice” over where their children attend school is deeply grounded in the notion that parents know best about the education destinations of their youngsters. And school districts have been called “government monopolies” that are opposed to the “free choice” all parents should have in a “market-based” system.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sacramento District Insists on closing public schools

The  Sacramento City school district is  closing  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."
A lawsuit filed by parents with the help of Sacramento attorney Mark Merin on the bases of the racial and class discrimination in the decisions as to which schools to close  was dismissed by the federal judge Kim Mueller.

 Jonathan Tran of Hmong Innovating Politics, the group that organized the rally, told the June 12 rally , “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.”

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Charter Schools Are Tearing Public Campuses Apart | California Progress Report

Why Charter Schools Are Tearing Public Campuses Apart | California Progress Report

The War on public school teachers

Michael D. Yates
July 22, 2013
The Bullet
If those who are prosecuting this onslaught against our public schools succeed, they will have made workers more insecure, created a compliant, alienated, and low-wage labour force, and devised new ways to make money – a massive testing industry, for-profit schools, consulting services. They will also have put another nail in the coffin of democracy.
The U.S. working-class was slow to respond to the hard times it faced during and after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Finally, however, in February, 2011, workers in Wisconsin began the famous uprising that electrified the country, revolting in large numbers against Governor Scott Walker's efforts to destroy the state's public employee labour unions.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Barack Obama, public schools, and the oligarchs

The several crises in Chicago schools have been recorded here; the teachers’ strike, the closing of schools, the crisis of low achievement.
“Most recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel oversaw the closing of 50 public schools, many of which will be replaced by charter schools. A bulk of the 550 laid-off teachers will be replaced by Teach for America contractors, many of whom teach in charter schools.”
The Joyce foundation, with direct and substantial ties to President Barack Obama has been central to “educational reform” in Chicago, and Arne Duncan style education reform in the nation.
“Joyce is a major liberal foundation. President Barack Obama sat on its board of directors from 1994 to 2002, as did Valerie Jarrett, his former senior advisor and assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement .
A look at major organizations dedicated to restructuring U.S. education turns up a slew of current and former upper-level Joyce staff and board members.
Between 1995 and 2012, the Joyce Foundation spent $135.58 million on education reform.”
A significant piece of reporting directly connects Barack Obama both the failed educational “reform” efforts, and the anti teachers’ unions efforts. Read the report here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Michelle Rhee's group takes in $28.5 million

Michelle Rhee’s group tripled its budget
By: Byron Tau
July 2, 2013 02:01 PM EDT
Former Washington, D.C., schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s advocacy group tripled its budget in the second year of existence, while spending heavily on politics across the country.
According to tax documents obtained by POLITICO, Rhee’s group StudentsFirst raised $28.5 million between August 2011 and July 2012. The group spent more than $3.6 million on political activities during the same time period.
That fundraising number — released more than year later because of lag time in Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements — smashes the $7.6 million haul the group raised during the first nine months of existence and positions Rhee and StudentsFirst as a major outside advocacy group on the issue of education. Since their launch, StudentsFirst expanded into 18 states and claims to have helped pass over 110 new policies.
Their 2011-2012 fundraising haul is far short of the group’s initial ambitions — Rhee once promised to raise $1 billion in the first year. The group has since scaled back its fundraising ambitions.
Rhee received a salary of about $300,000 for her work with the group, for which she serves as founder, CEO and director.

AERA 2013 Speech on Teacher Leadership

Friday, July 12, 2013

Taking the Caring Out of Teaching

 From In These Times.
It's not like tests themselves are inherently evil. Almost every teacher gives some kind of test or assessment. But when you place so much, so many outcomes on that edifice it's too much weight for that instrument to bear. It distorts and warps the whole teaching and learning process.
“Teaching is a caring profession–a humane profession about human beings engaging with one another,” says Brian Jones, a former New York City public-school teacher now pursuing a PhD in urban education. “Relationships between the teachers and the learners are an important part of the whole process.”
Jones and other teachers worry that the new system of teacher evaluations slated to be implemented this fall in New York's public schools will take caring out of the equation.

Monday, July 08, 2013

On closing schools

In 2010, a slate led by Karen Lewis ousted the incumbent leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, promising deeper community engagement and a more aggressive defense of teachers and public education. In 2012, with Lewis as president, CTU mounted the city’s first teachers’ strike in a quarter-century, and the most dramatic recent challenge to the bipartisan education reform consensus. For the inaugural episode of Dissent magazine’s podcast series, labor journalists Josh Eidelson and Sarah Jaffe sat down with Lewis to discuss teaching and gender discrimination, professionalism and solidarity, unions and the Democratic Party. An edited version of the transcript appears below. The full interview can be heard on the Dissent website. The interview was conducted in April, before the Board of Education voted to close fifty public schools in Chicago. —Eds.
Dissent: How does the current fight over school closures in Chicago fit into the larger aims of the union?
Karen Lewis: The school closures are one symptom of a really bad school policy that we as Chicagoans have been struggling with for over ten years. The leaders of No Child Left Behind came around and said, “Oh, if the school’s bad, we’re going to close it down because, you know, it’s bad.” As if the building makes something bad. And what’s happened is, as schools close, they destabilize other schools that are close by. So there’s this domino effect they never took into consideration.
Children don’t do better when schools close. They lose anywhere from three to six months on their learning or at least on their testing.
I kept saying, “Why are they continuing to close schools, open up charter schools that don’t do any better, and not even taking the kids that were in the schools that were closed?”
But that was never good enough for the “reformers,” so they started stepping it up. Instead of closing just one or two schools, they would close seven, eight, nine, ten. And they weren’t keeping up with the children. So when schools would close, if kids didn’t go to the school they were sent to, there was no way to find out where those kids went.
Not all of them went to private school, not all of them went to charters, and not all of them left town. So where were these kids going?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

A new civics framework ?

Posted by  on May 16, 2013
Our guest author today is Stephen Lazar, a founding teacher at Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City, where he teaches Social Studies. A National Board certified teacher, he blogs at Outside the Cave. Stephen is also one of the organizers of Insightful Social Studies, a grass roots campaign of teachers to reform the newly proposed New York State Social Studies standards.
A couple of months ago, I warned, “We cannot possibly continue to move solely in the direction of ‘college and career readiness’ in History & Social Studies education without ensuring that ‘civic’ readiness is valued equally.” While our struggle continues in New York State, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) took an extremely promising first step towards assuaging my fears with the release of The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. This document was intended for a targeted review by certain groups last month. Copies, however, are not difficult to find by searching.
Simply put, the proposed C3 Framework is brilliant. It is exactly what our nation needs to ensure civic life and participation is properly valued, and it is what the Social Studies teaching profession needs to ensure our discipline retains its unique and essential role within our education system. It is brilliant in its conception, its modesty and its usefulness as a document to inform policy and practice.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

July 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence:
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.