Sunday, May 22, 2016

Charter School Advocates Spend Heavily to Gain Control of County Board of Education.

BY DIANA LAMBErt, The Sacramento Bee

Charter school advocates have spent nearly $300,000 backing candidates for three seats on the board of the Sacramento County Office of Education, positions that once were considered sleepy political outposts.
Besides providing oversight for Sacramento County school districts, the education board reviews the charters of countywide charter school systems and hears appeals from charter schools whose applications have been rejected by local school districts.
In recent years, the California Charter Schools Association has emerged as a major player in supporting candidates for the board. This year, the advocacy group has focused its donations on three candidates: Joanne Ahola, who works for the association; Heather Davis, who is married to Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, an employee of the charter schools group; and Roy Grimes, a former county education board member challenging an incumbent who has voted against reauthorizing charter schools.
Carlos Marquez, senior political director for the Charter Schools Association, said it views the Sacramento County Office of Education as “a really strong safeguard, a strong backstop for (preventing) politically motivated denials (of charter schools) at the local level.”
“We are happy with the board,” he added. “It’s really important right now that we maintain continuity.”
The county Office of Education has so far chartered five schools – all part of a network operated by Margaret Fortune that focuses on closing the achievement gap between African American and other students. Fortune recently finished serving as a California State University trustee and was an adviser for former Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Teachers Are Increasingly Frustrated With Their Work

And That's Bad for Students
Jeff Bryant
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. So some folks thought it might be a swell idea to ask teachers how “appreciated” they feel. The short answer? Not so much.
Results of a wide-ranging new survey of 3,328 K-12 classroom teachers finds the nation’s frontline educators are committed to their students and generally satisfied with their schools and their colleagues but are deeply frustrated with how they’re being treated.
Most teachers believe their voices are ignored by policy makers at the district (76 percent), state (94 percent), and national (94 percent) levels.
Although most teachers say what would really help their work would be smaller class sizes and more time for planning and collaboration with colleagues, what a majority of them report is too much emphasis on testing, especially in high- and medium-poverty schools where teachers say they are way more apt to spend more than a month on test-prep activities for district and state tests.
“A majority of teachers believe they spend too much time preparing students for state-mandated tests (62 percent) and district-mandated tests (51 percent),” the survey summary states. “Very few teachers believed they spent too little time preparing students for district and/or state-mandated tests.”
In the meantime, the tests have an impact on the evaluations of most teachers, even though a majority of these teachers say these evaluations are only minimally or not at all helpful.
The discontent teachers feel in the workplace is actually the continuation of a long and alarming trend with undoubtedly negative impacts on students.
Teachers Are “Clearly Frustrated”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How the Bros Are Undermining Bernie

How the Bros Are Undermining Bernie: If the Sanders Revolution is ever to come to fruition, the Bernie Brigades will have to vote for and work for Hillary Clinton’s election in the fall.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

California to Re Write History Books -Include Chicano History

California to adopt a new guide to Mexican American (Chicano) history, (and everyone else)

Cesar Chavez and Duane Campbell 1972
"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.  You can not un-educate the person who has learned to read.. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
Cesar Chávez. November 9, 1984.

Update. the decision was made May 19. The proposed new framework passed the Quality Instructional Materials Committee. It is most likely to be adopted as is. 

History will change in May of 2016 for the students of California, and in subsequent years students throughout the nation. Teachers. Are you prepared to teach all history?

We have a unique opportunity to change the history books in California  K-12 to include Chicano/Mexican American history.
Mexican American/ Chicano history is currently substantially absent from public school textbooks and curriculum in California- and it has been since 1986.  Latino student political non participation and alienation from school is significantly caused by Latino absence from the K-12 textbooks and curriculum.

For the last two years the Mexican American Digital History Project and a broad group of allies have been working for to add Chicano history to the California History/Social Science Framework, the document that determines what goes into textbooks in California. See

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Bernie Rally in Sacramento on Monday

Progressive Alliance/Campus 4 Bernie

Bernie Sanders for President

Dear Friends -
Bernie is coming to California on Monday and Tuesday to hold two "A Future to Believe In" rallies — don't miss this chance to see him in person! Join us for a conversation about the issues that matter: making college tuition-free, getting big money out of politics, combating climate change, and much more.
With the California primary coming up, we need everyone to get involved to make these events a success. Can Bernie count on you to join him?
A Future to Believe In Sacramento Rally
Monday, May 9

Doors open at 5:00 pm
Bonney Field at Cal Expo
1600 Exposition Blvd, Sacramento CA

Friday, May 06, 2016

Sacramento Teachers Deserve a Pay Raise

Printed in  The Bee

California’s Day of the Teacher is coming up next week, but teachers in the Sacramento City Unified School District aren’t feeling appreciated.
Superintendent José Banda says the district can’t afford a 5 percent raise that I and other members of the Sacramento City Teachers Association are seeking (“To help students and teachers, district must be financially stable,” Viewpoints, May 2).

My husband and I are both teachers at Rosemont High School, and our three children attend city schools. Every day, we experience first-hand the effects of misplaced spending priorities in our district.
This school year, for example, some Rosemont students taking a Spanish-language course have been taught by a series of substitute teachers who don’t speak Spanish.
It’s no fault of the substitutes, or of the principal. Rosemont is a school where teachers want to be assigned, in part because of the quality of our administrative leadership team.
Rather it’s because our salaries are so low that the district can’t recruit and retain enough teachers to fill vacancies. The district is in the best financial position that it has been in for a long time and should provide wages comparable to our surrounding districts.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Sacramento Bee Editorial Endorsement -Sleazy or Inept?

Sleazy or inept?
The Bee editorial today endorses Hillary Clinton OK . But, it uses out of context, edited  sound bites as if they were evidence which leads to bad history. That is too bad.
Yes, Sanders said positive things about the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in their first period when they  overthrew the U.S. backed Somoza dictatorship. They then established a mixed economy (not socialist) and  U.S. citizens joined them to teach  poor children to read and to write. 
So did I.
Later the Sandinistas were defeated after a brutal war with the U.S. financed Contra rebels with arms and training acquired illegally from Iran.  They lost an election and left power.
To use the out of context phrases selected to imply a conspiracy is the  kind of phony reporting found in the Republican media machine,  or the National Enquirer, not in responsible news papers.

The Bee editorial uses a similar out of context about Sanders support for Cuba.
Here is what he actually said,

“What that was about was saying that the United States was wrong to try to invade Cuba, that the United States was wrong trying to support people to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, that the United States was wrong trying to overthrow in 1954 the democratically elected government of Guatemala," Sanders said. There is video of him speaking highly of both Castro and Daniel Ortega's Sandinista movement in Nicaragua, where Sanders traveled in 1985.
BuzzFeed News posted the video, which originally aired on Channel 17/Town Meeting Television, in June 2015. Sanders remarked that people "forgot that [Castro] educated their kids, gave their kids healthcare, totally transformed the society.”

antiracismdsa: Happy Cinco de Mayo - Support California Farmworke...

antiracismdsa: Happy Cinco de Mayo - Support California Farmworke...: Since Cesar Chavez’ March 31st birthday, nearly 10,000 farm workers took to the streets up and down key California agricultural regions to...

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Sanders Wins Indiana - and the Political Debate

Bernie Sanders Wins Indiana – and the Political Debate 
Robert Borosage
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Campaign for America's Future
Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist insurgent, won Indiana convincingly Tuesday night – 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent – over Hillary Clinton, the establishment moderate. This is a remarkable victory, a statement of the extent and scope of the Sanders surge.
Indiana is a Wonder bread state – Midwestern, centrist, largely white, religious. It gave us the blond and bland Evan Bayh, the former New Democrat governor and senator who thought Barack Obama was too liberal. Its current senators – Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Dan Coats – are centrists. Sanders has been already been counted out in the mainstream media. But young voters, liberals flooded into the polling booths and swept Sanders to victory. Picking up a net of five delegates, Sanders may not be winning his struggle against the delegate math, as the mainstream media keeps reminding us, but he is winning the political debate.
Sanders’ victory was completely overshadowed by Trump’s romp on the Republican side, which led Ted Cruz to “suspend” his campaign at the end of a sonorous, cliché-ridden, insufferably pompous concession speech. In both parties, insurgents took Indiana, and the party establishments lost. Suddenly the presumptive nominee of his party, Trump couldn’t rise to the occasion, but managed to say nice things about Cruz and his family while vowing to “go after Hillary.”

Remembering Kent State: May 4, 1970.

Remembering Kent State: May 4, 1970.: Photo by John Filo. This photo won the Pulitzer Prize of 1971. Murray Polner, It’s been 45 years since draft-deferred Ohio National...

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Some Corporate Reformers Described: but Many are Hidden

Mercedes Schneider,
Pam Vogel is the education program director of the nonprofit Media Matters. She has been with Media Matters since August 2015. Her previous experience includes four months in 2014 as an intern in the office of Vice President Joe Biden. For another six months in 2014, Vogel interned at the Clinton Foundation. Vogel graduated from Whitesboro High School (NY) in 2008; Vasser College in 2012, and Teachers College in 2014.
On April 27, 2016, Vogel published this piece for Media Matters, entitled, “Here Are The Corporations And Right-Wing Funders Backing The Education Reform Movement: A Guide To The Funders Behind A Tangled Network Of Advocacy, Research, Media, And Profiteering That’s Taking Over Public Education.”
Now, from the title, it sounds like Vogel’s piece is exhaustive — “a guide to the funders.” However, as one continues reading, one finds this summation:
Media Matters outlines the many overlapping connections in an echo chamber of education privatization advocacy groups, think tanks, and media outlets that are increasingly funded by a handful of conservative billionaires and for-profit education companies — often without proper disclosure.
Interestingly enough, Vogel’s “many overlapping connections” fails to include the Big Three corporate-reform-purchasing philanthropies: Gates, Walton, and Broad.
But she does include such notable names as the Scaife Foundations, Thomas A Roe Foundation, and Adolph Coors Foundation. (Tongue in cheek, my friends. Tongue in cheek.)
Also remarkable is that Vogel includes the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, which has received to date $2.6 million from the Gates Foundation just to remain in existence (i.e., for “general operating support”). She also includes Stand for Children (to date, $17 million from Gates). Still, Vogel omits Gates.

California Decision Protects Teachers' Rights to Due Process

Lily Eskelsen Garcia 
Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day,
On Thursday, April 14,  the California Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision, overturned the deeply-flawed lower court ruling in Vergara v. State of California issued in 2014, which held that laws governing so-called teacher “tenure” were unconstitutional.
“Today was a win for our educators, our schools and most importantly, our students,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said responding to the ruling. “Now we must return to working on real solutions to ensure all of our students succeed. Only when teachers, school boards, and administrators work together can we ensure that there is a great public school for every student.”
While the decision was good news for educators, said California Teachers Association President Eric C. Heins, it was a huge win for students.
“Today’s ruling reversing Judge Rolf Treu’s decision overwhelmingly underscores that the laws under attack have been good for public education and for kids,” said Heins. “Stripping teachers of their ability to stand up for their students and robbing school districts of the tools they need to make sound employment decisions was a wrong-headed scheme developed by people with no education expertise and the appellate court justices saw that.”

Monday, May 02, 2016

May Day and the U.S. Labor Movement

Erica Smiley May 1, 2016
The American Prospect
Some cast the labor movement as dying or even dead, but even amid attacks on collective bargaining workers are finding innovative ways to organize.

General view of the great crowds of organized and unorganized workers who took part in the May Day demonstration in Union Square, New York, May 1, 1929. , AP
On May 1, 1886, hundreds of thousands of railroad, mine, and factory workers in the United States put their livelihoods on the line and participated in a national strike to demand an eight-hour workday. They were attacked by strikebreakers and police, but their uprising led to the creation of a holiday to honor workers—May Day—now known as International Workers Memorial Day in many countries around the world.
These working men and women also achieved their immediate demand: a standard workday limited to eight hours. And while it took several more decades of struggle, the U.S. labor movement eventually won a much bigger victory: the legal right to form unions and collectively negotiate with their employers.
Today, this right is under attack in the face of some employers’ and lawmakers’ successful efforts to undercut unions through legal restrictions, retaliation, and intimidation. Indeed, only a small share of the U.S. workforce retains the right to consistently negotiate binding contracts.
Yet collective bargaining remains workers’ best weapon to fix an out-of-balance economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, the decline in unionization in the United States and many other countries over the past few decades is directly associated with an increase in the share of national income going to the top 10 percent of the population. Most CEOs are free to negotiate their own salaries and bonuses. Working people deserve the same freedom to engage in negotiations over how they will be compensated for their hard work. 
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