Monday, April 28, 2014

Sacramento : end of the imposed Core Waiver

Don't believe what the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board says, 
SCTA, along with many community groups, has been consistently opposed to the NCLB waiver as submitted by our former Superintendent and the California Office to Reform Education with no true input from stakeholders.  While the waiver did bring some flexibility in how the district could spend supplemental education service funds, the cost of the waiver and some of the requirements established within the application were detrimental to our schools and the students they serve. The way the application process was handled by those involved was unacceptable to our members and the community, which is one of the reasons why we have steadfastly opposed the waiver and those behind it. We would like to thank the Black Parallel School Board, Hmong Innovating Politics, the Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education, SEIU 1021 and the countless parents, community members and student advocates who have helped bring the waiver to light.  We believe that in working collaboratively with the district and the community, we can make many of the more positive initiatives contained within the application a reality without the loss of local control to the unelected California Office to Reform Education.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Illusion of Public Higher Education

 Horatio Alger
The Illusion of Public Higher Education
Rodolfo F. Acuña

The United States is the land of illusions. Like Disneyland, it is more fiction than reality. The American Dream is part of surreal world, constructed as a form of social control that distorts the memory Americans blinding to the injustices, inequalities and imperfections of American society. Like old Shirley Temple movies, Americans are princes and princesses who pass through bad times believing that they will be saved because they are Americans.

These illusions are built around myths such as that of Horatio Alger that has persisted for over 150 years. For Americans Horatio Alger is as real as Superman.

Horatio Alger Jr in 1867 published the first of over 120 books that told the tale of rags to riches  to young working class boys. The moral of the stories was that if the boys led exemplary lives, struggled against poverty and adversity that they could make it. Someday they would be rich and heirs to the American Dream.

The stairway to the American Dream was meritocracy and education. America was the land of opportunity, every American if he worked hard enough could get an education; it was free and more accessible in the United States than any place in world. Opportunity was knocking, and it was your fault if you did not take advantage of it.

The Horatio Alger Myth resembles fantasy tales such as Superman, Captain America, Spiderman and Batman.  The truth be told, Horatio Alger just like education has never been equal or free in America.

Even during the Post-World War II era when the illusion was more plausible, accessibility depended on the hue of one’s skin and his or her social class. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Something Else- Not School Reform

When politicians and the corporate advocates (lobbyists) choose one set of policies over another, they make important decisions. When they select accountability ( testing, common core, PACT assessments) and market-based privatization they are selecting policies that enrich their benefactors, not policies selected to improve the school lives of children. They avoid policies based upon evidence based practices. Kevin Weiner, in Kappan says, “In doing so, politicians seem willfully ignorant of the direct connection between opportunity and achievement. Our national opportunity gaps lead inexorably to our achievement gaps. Yet the test-based accountability policies still advocated by politicians dis- regard the opportunity side of the equation. Capacity building and supports are relegated to a small footnote within a long diatribe about mandated performance.” Inequality in funding and resources have an effect on students’ experience of school: the ratio of students to teachers; the number of experienced teachers, the number and quality of books, and instructional materials; the condition of the physical plant. Most schools in low-income are in bad shape, the students are suffering, and the politicians and the corporate lobbyists are looking to make money off of “reforms efforts. “ See the video below- Protecting Public Education.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

For democratic participation in critical public school decisions

Funding of California’s k-12 public education system is changing fundamentally.  Some schools will get much more money to educate kids - others will not.   It is critical that teachers, parents, and educational advocates get involved now. The centerpiece of the change  is the Local Control Funding Formula, designed to send additional funds to districts where  “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.

The ACLU of California and Public Advocates have prepared materials in English and Spanish to assist community members to understand the Local Control Funding.

Sacramento City Unified’s plan for Local Control Funding is here.
·      LCAP Timeline and Process- Within a PowerPoint presentation, which the district provides on its website, SCUSD outlines its LCAP development process, Community Planning Process,  timeline, and lists potential community partners to engage with in LCFF implementation.
S    School boards in most districts are adopting plans and budgets for LCFF in April- June.

It tells you how you can get involved.
See the post below with Diane Ravitch on the challenge to democracy in public education. 
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