a feature film on the farmworker leader, was previewed in Berkeley on
March 5 prior to its March 28 national release. Based on the audience
response, the film will help inspire a new generation of young activists
to push for social justice, and will particularly resonate with
Dreamers and others pushing for immigration reform.
was electric in Berkeley’s California Theater as a full house waited in
anticipation for Diego Luna’s new film, Cesar Chavez. A block long line
of people were turned away, reflecting an interest in the movie that
Luna hoped would return when the film is released in three weeks.
Having spent years researching and thinking about Cesar Chavez for my book, Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century,
I was intrigued by how a feature film would handle the long and complex
story of the farmworkers movement. And I think it covered the story of
Cesar Chavez himself remarkably well for the years covered in the movie.
Chavez’s Remarkable Life
Chavez’s rise from a young boy carrying cantaloupes in the fields to
one of the nation’s leading labor and social change leaders is a story
that almost defies belief. Among the film’s great strengths is its focus
on how Chavez overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to build
California’s farmworker movement.
"It would be very scary to me, if this lawsuit succeeds, to think that I might not have a job next year, not for anything I'd done in the classroom, but because my principal didn't like me, or my clothing, or something I'd said." —Laura Lacar, Gahr High School, ABC Unified School District
The lawsuit ignores the real problems of public education
Education Code rules to protect teacher rights from administrative mismanagement are not "unfair" to either students or new teachers. What harms students? Economic inequality, poverty, their parents' joblessness, and underfunding are unfair to students. But this lawsuit ignores these barriers to educational success. The premise of "Vergara" is that public schools are failing, and bad teachers are the reason why. Get rid of the “bad teachers,” and the schools will succeed. This simplistic idea is wrong in a number of ways. Most public schools are successes, by most reasonable measures; and while the role of the teacher is always an important in-school factor, external factors like poverty and underfunding have the greatest impact.
Funding of California’s
k-12 public education system is changing fundamentally as a result of Assembly
bill 97. Its centerpiece is the
Local Control Funding Formula, designed to send additional funds to districts
where Gov. Brown believes “the need and the challenge is greatest.” The law requires that parents, students, teachers, and other
community members be involved in the process of deciding how new funds are
spent. Ed Source has an excellent guide to these changes. http://edsource.org/wp-content/publications/10-questions.pdf
The Governor’s proposed 2014-15
budget includes Proposition 98 spending per K-12 student of nearly $9,200, an
increase of almost $1,800 – or nearly one-quarter (24.2 percent) – from
2011-12, after adjusting for inflation. With this significant increase,
spending per student would nearly return to where it was before the recession.
( See the California Budget Project below )
Districts now have more money, and a new process for deciding how and
where to spend the money.
A goal of the Local Control
Funding Formula is to give local school districts more authority to decide how
to spend education dollars, and hold them accountable for getting results. Districts are now deciding on how to
spend these increased dollars. And, districts are required to get parental and
community sign off on the plans.At a talk last week at Sac State I made
the point that this is a time to insert yourself into the discussion. Find out what is happening in your
district and attend the meetings.
“Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish-American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.
Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.
Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. In my own high school social studies classes, I begin with Sinead O’Connor’s haunting rendition of “Skibbereen,” which includes the verse:
… Oh it’s well I do remember, that bleak
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive
Us all away
They set my roof on fire, with their cursed
And that’s another reason why I left old
An Irish girl guarding her family’s last few possessions
after eviction for nonpayment of rent, during the potato famine. A wood
engraving from The Illustrated London News, April 1886.
CreditPrint Collector/Getty Images
IN advance of St. Patrick’s Day, I went time
traveling, back to the 1840s and Ireland’s great famine. On one side of the
Irish Sea was Victorian England, flush with the pomp and prosperity of the
world’s mightiest empire. On the other side were skeletal people, dying en
masse, the hollow-bellied children scrounging for nettles and blackberries.
A great debate raged in London: Would it be wrong to
feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting up a “culture of
dependency”? Certainly England’s man in charge of easing the famine, Sir
Charles Trevelyan, thought so. “Dependence on charity,” he declared, “is not to
be made an agreeable mode of life.”
And there I ran into Paul Ryan. His
great-great-grandfather had fled to America. But the Republican congressman was
very much in evidence, wagging his finger at the famished. His oft-stated
“culture of dependency” is a safety net that becomes a lazy-day hammock. But it
was also England’s excuse for lethal negligence.
There is no comparison, of course, between the de
facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of
modern American poverty programs.
Say Goodbye to Public Schools: Diane Ravitch Warns Salon Some Cities Will Soon Have None
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Once a George H.W. Bush education official and an advocate for greater testing-based accountability, Diane Ravitch has in recent years become the nation’s highest-profile opponent of Michelle Rhee’s style of charter-based education reform (one also espoused by Barack Obama).
In a wide-ranging conversation last week, Ravitch spoke with Salon about new data touted by charter school supporters, progressive divisions over Common Core, and Chris Christie’s ed agenda. “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now,” Ravitch warned. A condensed version of our conversation follows. The conference of your Network for Public Education closed with a call for congressional hearings on high-stakes standardized testing. What would those hearings look like and what do you think they’d uncover?
I think they would ask, for example, about costs. There are many states that are cutting the budget for public schools at the same time that they’re paying a lot out for testing… Texas, for example, a couple of years ago… cut $5.3 billion out of the public schools, and at the same time gave Pearson a contract for almost $500 million… They said that there would be 15 end-of-course exams in order to graduate high school and caused a parent rebellion: There were so many angry moms, they organized a group called TAMSA – Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment — better known as Moms Against Drunk Testing…
There are school districts where a very significant part of the school year is spent preparing to take the tests… Testing companies are selling what they call “interim assessments”… So kids are getting test prep for test prep. And the more time that is devoted to testing and preparing for tests, the less time is devoted to actual instruction…
The 2012 Chicago Teachers Union strike would have never come to be without the patient building of a radical formation within the union, the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators. [image: ctu rally photo-1 (2)_0]
SENATOR LARA ANNOUNCES BILL
SUPPORTING MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION
Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach/Huntington Park) announced legislation
today that would enable California’s public schools to provide multilingual
instruction, granting more students access to valuable 21st Century language
skills and giving parents more choice over their children’s education.
passed, SB 1174, the Multilingual Education for a 21st Century Economy Act,
would place an initiative before voters on the November 2016 ballot to repeal
prohibitions to multilingual instruction passed through Proposition 227.
increasingly interconnected global economy, we have to prepare our students for
a future in which their success depends not only on an ability to understand
diverse perspectives and cultures, but also on an ability to communicate in
different languages,” said Senator Ricardo Lara.
“Employers seek multilingual employees and all students – English and
non-English learners alike – deserve access to this invaluable skill.”