Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Move Your Money

Adrianna Huffington.
Last week, over a pre-Christmas dinner, the two of us, along with political strategist Alexis McGill, filmmaker/author Eugene Jarecki, and Nick Penniman of the HuffPost Investigative Fund, began talking about the huge, growing chasm between the fortunes of Wall Street banks and Main Street banks, and started discussing what concrete steps individuals could take to help create a better financial system. Before long, the conversation turned practical, and with some help from friends in the world of bank analysis, a video and website were produced devoted to a simple idea: Move Your Money.
The big banks on Wall Street, propped up by taxpayer money and government guarantees, have had a record year, making record profits while returning to the highly leveraged activities that brought our economy to the brink of disaster. In a slap in the face to taxpayers, they have also cut back on the money they are lending, even though the need to get credit flowing again was one of the main points used in selling the public the bank bailout. But since April, the Big Four banks -- JP Morgan/Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo -- all of which took billions in taxpayer money, have cut lending to businesses by $100 billion.
Meanwhile, America's Main Street community banks -- the vast majority of which avoided the banquet of greed and corruption that created the toxic economic swamp we are still fighting to get ourselves out of -- are struggling. Many of them have closed down (or been taken over by the FDIC) over the last 12 months. The government policy of protecting the Too Big and Politically Connected to Fail is badly hurting the small banks, which are having a much harder time competing in the financial marketplace. As a result, a system which was already dangerously concentrated at the top has only become more so.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Crony Capitalism Unchanged

Crony Capitalism:  Robert Johnson

Standardized testing hurting U.S. education

Standardized testing hurting U.S. education 

EAST LANSING, Mich. — America’s increasing reliance on standardized testing as a yardstick for educational success is a flawed policy that threatens to undermine the nation’s strengths of creativity and innovation, according to a provocative new book from a Michigan State University scholar.
By grading student success on government-set standards in a limited number of subjects such as math, reading and science, Yong Zhao argues the United States is eager to “throw away” one of its global advantages – an education that respects individual talents and does not dictate what students learn or how teachers teach.
Zhao’s book, due out in late September and published by ASCD, is called “Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization.” He acknowledges his thesis is “diametrically opposed to the more popular view of what American education should be like in the 21st century.”
“Right now we seem to be stuck with the idea of standards as the panacea to fix all of America’s education problems,” said Zhao, University Distinguished Professor of education. “I don’t deny that the U.S. education system has problems, but I don’t feel the problems can be solved by standards and high-stakes testing. Rather, standards and high-stakes testing run the risk of ruining the advantages and great tradition of the system.”

Monday, December 28, 2009

Inside the Military-Industrial-Media Complex;

Sunday 27 December 2009
by: Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed   While most progressive media activists do not believe in some omnipotent conspiracy, an overwhelming portion of NCMR participants do believe the leadership class in the US is dominated by a neo-conservative group of some several hundred people who share a goal of asserting US military power worldwide. This Global Dominance Group (GDM) continues under both Republican and Democratic rule.  In cooperation with major military contractors, the corporate media, and conservative foundations, the GDM has become a powerful long-term force in military unilateralism and US political processes.
The Global Dominance Group and Information Control
A long thread of sociological research documents the existence of a dominant ruling class in the US, which sets policy and determines national political priorities. C. Wright Mills, in his 1956 book The Power Elite, documented how World War II solidified a trinity of power in the US that comprised corporate, military and government elites in a centralized power structure working in unison through “higher circles” of contact and agreement.[vi] This power has grown through the Cold War and, after 9/11, the Global War on Terror.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Obama sides with the Oligarchs : Moyers

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009 Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled the Obama administration's plan to address the crisis in the financial sector. The strategy he outlined calls for the largest Federal intervention in banks and finance since the Great Depression, flooding as much as $2.5 trillion into the system. Given its size and scope — the bill's lack of detail drew a widely negative response from analysts and economists.
Although he thinks the details are important, Simon Johnson, Professor of Economics at MIT, worries more that Geithner and the Obama administration won't address a big underlying problem and be tough enough on the politically powerful banking lobby.

Repeal the 2/3 Vote requirement for taxes and the budget

When teachers argue that school funding should not be cut, we are told by the  Republicans in the legislature that there is not choice, there just is no money.
Well, that is not really true.  Here is where reasonable people would get the revenue.

1.     Repeal the September 2008 and February 2009 tax cuts.  As a part of the Sept. 2008 and Feb. 2009 budget deals, the legislature created huge new corporate tax breaks.  That right.  To respond to a budget crisis, they gave new tax reductions to corporations.  These take effect in 2011 and will make the budget crisis worse.  What is to be done ? Repeal of tax credit sharing to  raise 2009-10 revenues by $80 million, over time, the permanent tax cuts will cost the state $2.0 billion to $2.5 billion.

2.      Reinstate 10 percent and 11 percent tax rates to 1991 levels, adjusted for inflation. The February tax increases disproportionately affect low- and middle-income taxpayers. Reinstatement of the top brackets would restore balance to the state’s tax system and raise $4 billion to $6 billion in additional revenues.

3.     Impose on oil severance tax. California is the only oil producing jurisdiction in the world without a severance tax. A tax of 9.9 percent, such as that proposed by the Governor, would raise upwards of $1 billion dollars.

We, the people, own this oil.  It is under California soil.  Oil companies only take it out.  They should pay to take our oil out of the ground and to sell it to us.  Even arch conservative Texas, Louisiana, and Alaska have oil severance taxes.
To achieve these goals, we need to repeal the 2/3 vote rule and allow the majority to rule. 

The Oligarchy Wins

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Murders of resistance activists in Honduras

By Joseph Shansky
Upside Down World
December 23, 2009

   "As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow
   and forever on the front lines of my people,
   all the while knowing that I may lose my life."
   - Walter Trochez, 25, murdered in Tegucigalpa
   on December 13.

The bodies of slain activists are piling up in
Honduras. While it's being kept quiet in most Honduran
and international media, the rage is building among a
dedicated network of friends spreading the word quickly
with the tragic announcement of each companero/a.

Now that the world heard from mainstream news outlets
such as the New York Times of a "clean and fair"
election on Nov. 29 (orchestrated by the US-supported
junta currently in power), the violence has increased
even faster than feared.

The specific targets of these killings have been those
perceived as the biggest threats to the coup
establishment. The bravest, and thus the most
vulnerable: Members of the Popular Resistance against
the coup. Their friends and family. People who provide
the Resistance with food and shelter. Teachers,
students, and ordinary citizens who simply recognize
the fallacy of an un-elected regime taking over their
country. All associated with the Resistance have faced
constant and growing repercussions for their courage in
protesting the coup. With the international community
given the green light by the US that democratic order
has returned via elections, it's open season for
violent forces in Honduras working to tear apart the
political unity of the Resistance Front against the

The killings are happening almost faster than they can
be recorded.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Schragg on Race to the Top

By Peter Schrag 
California Progress Report Columnist
There was a lot of scolding these last two weeks, both from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and much of the California press, about the state Assembly’s rejection of SB 5X 1, the Senate’s bi-partisan bill to conform California education policies to the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top school reform program.
This is not a tempest in a teapot. It reflects fundamental disagreements, some philosophical, some political, some mere turf fights, over the future of the state’s K-12 schools. Either the Senate bill, by Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, or the Assembly substitute by Julia Brownley of Santa Monica, also a Democrat, which the governor threatened to veto, would have been likely to produce significant changes in the state’s school standards, in its testing program, in school transfer rules and parental rights, and in the reconstitution of failing schools.
Read the entire post:

Money for California's schools

When teachers argue that school funding should not be cut, we are told by the  Republicans in the legislature that there is not choice, there just is no money.
Well, that is not really true.  Here is where reasonable people would get the revenue.

1.     Repeal the September 2008 and February 2009 tax cuts.  As a part of the Sept. 2008 and Feb. 2009 budget deals, the legislature created huge new corporate tax breaks.  That right.  To respond to a budget crisis, they gave new tax reductions to corporations.  These take effect in 2011 and will make the budget crisis worse.  What is to be done ? Repeal of tax credit sharing to  raise 2009-10 revenues by $80 million, over time, the permanent tax cuts will cost the state $2.0 billion to $2.5 billion.

2.      Reinstate 10 percent and 11 percent tax rates to 1991 levels, adjusted for inflation. The February tax increases disproportionately affect low- and middle-income taxpayers. Reinstatement of the top brackets would restore balance to the state’s tax system and raise $4 billion to $6 billion in additional revenues.

3.     Impose on oil severance tax. California is the only oil producing jurisdiction in the world without a severance tax. A tax of 9.9 percent, such as that proposed by the Governor, would raise upwards of $1 billion dollars.

We, the people, own this oil.  It is under California soil.  Oil companies only take it out.  They should pay to take our oil out of the ground and to sell it to us.  Even arch conservative Texas, Louisiana, and Alaska have oil severance taxes.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Trumka: Senate Health Care bill must change

The health care bill being considered by the U.S. Senate is inadequate and too tilted toward the insurance industry, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said today.
In recent days, as the Senate has debated health care reform, small numbers of senators have held health care hostage by threatening to block a vote. The new proposal by the Senate puts the interests of insurance companies—and senators who would rather look out for the insurance companies—ahead of real reform.
Trumka said the top priority now is to fight over the rest of the legislative process to fix the bill and make sure we can pass real health care reform:
The labor movement has been fighting for health care for nearly 100 years and we are not about to stop fighting now, when it really matters. But for this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men and women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win health care reform that is deserving of the name.

The absolute refusal of Republicans in the Senate to support health care reform and the hijacking of the bill by defenders of the insurance industry have brought us a Senate bill that is inadequate: It is too kind to the insurance industry.
Genuine health care reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance companies accountable, assure that Americans can get the health care they need and be financed fairly.

Race to more failure

Race to the Top Resisters are Right
Sent to USA Today  by Stephen Krashen

Those opposing California's participation in Race to the Top (RTTT) are not anti-progress: They are right. ("As schools struggle, California politics slow education reform," Dec 15). Education Secretary Arne Duncan has made it clear that the RTTP national standards plan will lead to national tests, promising far more testing than ever before. At a time when children are overwhelmed with tests, when No Child Left Behind has turned schools into test-prep academies and when education is facing severe budget cuts, the last thing we need is more standards and tests.

There are better ways to help California's education budget: USA Today notes that going along with RTTT will give California a one-time payment of "up to $700 million." California can save $500 million EVERY YEAR by dumping its useless high school exit exam, Studies of exit exams show that they do not lead to higher employment, higher earnings, or improved academic achievement.

Stephen Krashen

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winning the "Race to the Top" Money - How to

Over the Top

Six Tips for Winning 'Race to the Top' Money

I have been reading through the voluminous document published in the Nov. 18, 2009, Federal RegisterRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader, giving the final versions of application guidelines, selection criteria, and priorities for $4 billion in competitive grants under the Race to the Top Fund, the largest education grant program in U.S. history.
From news reports, op-ed pieces, and blog posts, I can guess that many states are working hard now to prepare their applications. My reading of the criteria leads me to suggest that the following are winning strategies and actions to include, even though they may be inconsistent with research findings or common sense.
1. Stop paying teachers and principals a salary. Instead, pay them on a per-standardized-test-point basis each day. At the end of the school day, simply give each student a standardized test. Then calculate what the teacher and principal will be paid that day based on the growth of the student, that is, on how much the student has improved over the previous day.
This is true accountability and is sure to keep teachers and principals on their toes. (It also seems to be the true intention behind this requirement: “At the time the State submits its application, the State does not have any legal, statutory, or regulatory barriers at the State level to linking data on student achievement or student growth to teachers and principals for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluation.”)
But to do it, you must not ask the question of whether this accountability will lead to better teaching. You also will need to ignore the fact that “accountability” has driven many teachers out of the schools, and to forget about attracting highly qualified talent to the teaching profession.
2. Remove all “non-core” academic activities and courses and reduce all teaching to math and reading. What the U.S. secretary of education wants is “increasing student achievement in (at a minimum) reading/language arts and mathematics, as reported by the [National Assessment of Educational Progress] and the assessments required under the [Elementary and Secondary Education Act]” and “decreasing achievement gaps between subgroups in reading/language arts and mathematics, as reported by the NAEP and the assessments required under the ESEA.” Actually, no need to teach students these subjects; just teaching them how to pass the tests may be even more effective.
But to do so, you have to forget the reasons for education in the first place, ignore all research findings about the negative consequences of high-stakes testing, and suppress any desire to care about the students’ emotional well-being, to cultivate their creativity and entrepreneurship, or to consider their interests and strengths.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why School Reform Fails

Why school reform has failed.
After over a decade of test driven accountability, schools serving poor and minority students are not improved.  Why?
The people in charge of the reform, from No child Left Behind, to state developed accountability systems, and now the Race to the Top program,  are the same people who created the present  failing system.
They will not improve the system.
Reform has been stopped by the power of those in charge- they want to keep things as they are.  They think within the narrow confines of school interventions which maintain their own positions and their own leadership advantages.  So, “professionals” with a focus and training emphasizing limited views of research and testing, derive limited interventions which emphasize testing and measurement.  The last two decades of school reform have followed this direction. The post below  by Jim Crawford on the lack of evidence to support the proposed Race to the Top interventions illustrates this failure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Arne Duncan: No evidence for RTTT strategies

by Jim Crawford.
ELL Advocates

Arne Duncan gave an extended interview to EdWeek staff a couple of weeks ago. I was disappointed that the resulting article gave no hint that critical questions were asked.

But on reviewing the transcript -- -- I find that he was asked (rather gently) a question I would have asked (more pointedly): What, if any, evidence supports the sweeping, radical agenda the Obama administration is promoting: unlimited charter schools, national standards and high-stakes tests, "data-driven" teacher evaluations and salaries, and large-scale closings of "failing schools"? And if there's no supporting evidence, why are you trying to bribe states into adopting such dubious "reforms" through the $4.3 billion Race to the Top Fund?

Arne's answer: "I think there’s a lot of scientific evidence that the status quo doesn’t work." Ergo, drastic measures are in order -- never mind that there's no evidence for their effectiveness and considerable evidence they will do harm. Characteristically, the EdWeek reporters were too polite to challenge that logic. 

What is wrong with Race to the Top ?

What is wrong with SBX5 1 ?

Both teachers unions, representing people who actually work with children, find the Brownley approach better than the Romero-Schwarzenegger approach SBx5, 1. 

The Romero bill SBX5 1, and Race to the Top, is a further extension of  No Child Left Behind, the corporate sponsored school reform effort of the last decade.
The Bush Administration  NCLB) legislation has consistently and significantly failed to meet the its own goals of improving student achievement, particularly in low income schools.
  The policy relied heavily on the use of dogmatic standards and high stakes testing to the detriment of quality teaching and learning.  Search on this blog for more on NCLB, there are dozens of posts.  California has some of the highest standards and the lowest achievement in the nation.  The gap between the most and least successful schools  and students has widened.

Romero’s legislation seeks to  change California law to make it compatible with the Obama Administration Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative an extension and an acceleration of No Child Left Behind. RTTT increases reliance on high stakes testing, and seeks  to unfairly and invalidly tie such test  results to evaluation of teachers.
 A teacher who has primarily low income English Language learners will have significantly different scores than a teacher with upper middle class college bound students.
The Brownley bill calls for Charter Schools to be evaluated as are other schools. 

California and Race to the Top

Note: The Romero bill is to implement Race to the Top. SB X5-1.  See post below.

California Council on Teacher Education
CCTE’s disappointment ( with NCLB)  has now been further heightened as the initial educational policies
of the Obama Presidency, in the form of the Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative, are leaning
ever more in directions counter to effective and constructive educational policy. RTTT
increases reliance on high stakes testing, moves to unfairly and invalidly tie such test
results to evaluation of teachers and schools, builds even further a policy structure that
rewards those who are already doing well with no attention to those schools and students
in the greatest need, and offers yet further incentives to privatize educational activities.
The primary rhetoric of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, referring to RTTT as a
“competition,” clearly reinforces the focus on rewarding those states that can show already
strong programs while ignoring those in the greatest need.
More specifically, the concerns of CCTE about RTTT stem from the fact that student
achievement, currently measured in California through the California Standards Test and
the California Achievement Test, is on its own an insufficient measure of any teacher’s
abilities, skills, or knowledge because of multiple variables among students in California
classrooms. The RTTT requirement that at least 95% of students be tested would result
in a range of scores including English learners and children with disabilities, further
confounded by the widely varying school demographics across the state. Graduates from
any single university find employment in many different schools and school districts
representing communities with widely differing resources. A teacher employed in South
Los Angeles, whose students are primarily Latino, low-SES, and English learners, will
experience very different student test outcomes than a teacher employed in nearby Pacific
Palisades, where students are mostly White, middle to upper class, and native English
speakers. To quantify the success of these teachers using their students’ test scores is statistically unfounded, personally unfair, and educationally unwise. To then seek to link that data back to the institution where the teachers were prepared is a further illogical step.

Read the full report at :

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another attack on teachers: Race to the Top

Stop Schwarzenegger’s Attack on Educators
Tell the California Senate “Vote NO on Romero’s SB X5 1”
Join CFT, CTA, CSEA and the California Labor Federation
Call Darrell Steinberg today!
916- 651-1529Senate Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg, Senator Gloria Romero have teamed up with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to push education reforms that would create chaos in local school districts, undermine local control, interfere with collective bargaining and drain money from local classrooms at a time when the state has already cut school funding by more than $17 billion
Schwarzenegger’s plan would:

Create chaos in local school districts and drain resources from local classrooms.
·         Disguised as parental choice, the Romero bill requires open enrollment between school districts without providing resources for busing or transportation. Without adequate resources only wealthy parents would be able to afford to provide transportation and change schools.
·         The Romero bill increases charter schools without any regulations to hold them accountable.
·         This Bill is an unfunded state mandate at a time when the legislature has cut more than $17 billion from public education.
·         This plan would create chaos in local school districts as districts would not be able to adequately plan for the upcoming year.

Undermine local control and state collective bargaining laws.
·         The Romero bill allows the State Board of Education to grant a blanket waiver of the Education Code for any school districts applying for specified Federal grant dollars.
·         This means a local school district could be exempt from state collective bargaining laws, all fiscal reporting requirements, criminal background checks for staff, open meeting laws, and the high school exit exam.
·         Educators and parents should be partners in any education reform. It is the only way to improve student learning. Romero’s bill doesn’t even allow hard working educators to be part of the process as President Obama has called for.

Teacher Preparation and school success

by Stephen Krashen,

Education Secretary Duncan thinks that Schools of Education do a "mediocre job" and need strict accountability ("Louisiana serves as model in teacher assessment," Dec. 12).

American Schools of Education deserve praise, not scorn. If international test scores are the criteria for judging performance, American children do very well, as long as the effect of poverty is taken into consideration. There is very good evidence that poverty must be considered.

American schools where less than 25 percent of the students are poor outscore nearly all other countries in math and science. American children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. Poverty means hunger, poor diet, toxins in the environment, and a lack of reading material. All of these seriously affect academic performance. The US has the highest level of childhood poverty of all industrialized countries, 25%, compared to Denmark's 2%. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

School reform and the Bee editorial writers

What kind of a public debate can we have on the vital issues of the day in  California?  A lot depends on the media, which determines how these issues are framed for most people.
In their editorial of Dec.13, 2009, the Bee Editorial Board complains about the Assembly’s handling of the proposed changes to California law to meet the demands of Race to the Top. here
They complain of “those in the educational establishment”.   What could be more establishment than the control of the editorial pages of the region’s only major newspaper?   The Bee editorial writers seek to substitute their own view of Race to the Top for the positions of those who work in schools.  Until reformers engage teachers in reform and provide the needed resources, schools will not improve.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some media discover there is a controversy about NCLB

From US News and World Report, December 9, 2009

At the Department of Education headquarters in Washington, officials no
longer refer to the No Child Left Behind law by name. Last June, the
quaint red schoolhouse the Bush administration built in front of the
department building as a symbol of his signature domestic policy was
torn down. While the impact NCLB has had on the nation's classroom is
still the subject of fervent debate, there's no doubt that the Obama
administration intends to strike a new path for education reform.

When President George W. Bush signed NCLB in 2002, the policy met with
bipartisan praise and looked set to become the most influential federal
reform of the nation's schools since desegregation in the 1950s. Today,
efforts to reauthorize the law—something that was scheduled to happen
in 2007—continue to languish in Congress, unable to gather enough
momentum from either party in either chamber. Its sinking trajectory
demonstrates how difficult it can be for politicians in Washington to
improve the quality of education offered in classrooms across the

Thursday, December 10, 2009

School budgets and the economic crisis

    The nation  including California is suffering a severe recession.  Twenty Six million  are unemployed and under employed. This crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street ,ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America, AIG, and others.   Finance capital produced a $ trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of America’s unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in 2008.  Fifteen million people are out of work.  You and I, and college students did not create this crisis.  Finance capital stole the future of many young people.   It is important in developing  responses  to distinguish between the financial bail out (TARP) and the stimulus plan (ARRA, 2009).  Fox News and the Republican Right like to merge these two as one.
            If we don’t find a way to stop Wall Street from controlling  our government, the standard of living of working people will continue to decline and we will continue to have economic crises.  As a minimum, we need to extend unemployment benefits for long term unemployed.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Restructuring of the CSU- budget cuts

'Restructuring' of CSU is more a requiem

By Joseph A. Palermo
Like the GI Bill that gave access to a college degree for the first time to a generation of Americans, the creation of the California State University system 50 years ago did the same for Californians. In the decades that followed there was an explosion of innovation in all fields and an era of unprecedented economic growth. These mid-20th century public investments tapped into the talent of millions of people who would otherwise be denied access to a quality education. The highly skilled labor force these investments created helped make California the nation's most vibrant state economy.
In a document titled, " 'Restructuring' the CSU or Wrecking It?: What Proposed Changes Mean and What We Can Do about Them," the California Faculty Association, the largest faculty union in the state (to which I belong), has identified the perilous path our so-called leaders, both in Sacramento and among CSU administrators, are leading us down.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Funding California education

Joint Legislative Committee on the Master Plan . Dec.7,2009.

Education basics:
Since  1990, the legislature and the state funding have failed to adequately fund k-12 education.  For evidence, see the Williams case.   The legislature and the governor have failed.
The just published paper by PPIC notes that 40% of the  California jobs will require a college education by 2020.  We are not preparing these future professionals.
Since 1990 the legislature and the governor have failed to fund higher education. The legislature failed –even before the current economic crisis.
Since the economic crisis of 2008/2009,  the economic crisis of k-12 education and higher education has accelerated.  This crisis was created by finance capital and banking, ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America, and others.   Finance capital produced a $16 trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of America’s unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in 2008.
See Capitalism: A Love Story below.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Race to the top: Consultant employment project ?

On Wed. Dec.2,2009, the California Assembly held  a hearing on Race to the Top, chaired by Julia Brownley, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.
In her testimony,  Jennifer Kuhn of the Legislative Analyst Office testified that

Because California has a severe budget crisis in k-12 education, we recommend that th RTTP funds  be used to
develop plans and strategies for RTTT.  We should not commit funds for  direct service efforts that the state can not sustain.

(Not quite a quote.  I encourage readers to look for the video on line on the California Channel. It was as I could catch it.)

In other words, the LAO  encourages   funding advisors and consultants to talk about what should be done. She argued that money  should not be allocated to program that serve children. Rather, it will be used to plan and build strategies.

This seems like a make work projects for consultants, advisors and charlatans.   One of the consistent problems of schools in the U.S. and California is that too much money is taken from the school budgets to fund other things, such as consultants , program designers and hucksters.  Consultants and some academics spend their time and public resources convincing each other of how important they are- not in using the resources to improve educational opportunities.

 The new regulations in RTT Top require that the local unions are required to sign off on their participation.  I argue that unions should not sign off unless the majority of the money go into the classroom not to consultants and planners.

Based upon the requirements of RTTT, it  is not about teaching, it is about building infrastructure and implementing policies that in theory will help teaching and learning.  We have been here before. This is “drive by school reform.”

Realistically school improvement in California has stopped given the budget crisis and the cut of $6.1 billion from school budgets.  Competing for $700 million will not change that. Meanwhile the legislature and the administration pretend that they are doing something by giving speeches about what teachers should do - but not funding the changes.

See the excellent responses to Race to The Top by Monty Neill of Fair Test.
He says it well here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

NCLB: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

This is the title of Chapter 4 of Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality, Transforming the Fire Consuming America's Schools.  By Gerald W. Bracey.  2009,
An excellent read.  Buy it as a Christmas gift for someone.

Gerald W. Bracey, one of the most erudite, prolific, and acidic critics of national education policy, died unexpectedly Oct. 20 at his home in Port Townsend, Wash. He was 69.

Are America's schools in crisis? Are they broken beyond repair? In Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality, Dr. Bracey makes a convincing argument while there is certainly room for improvement, public schools are as good as or better than they've ever been. By too easily accepting a credo of "what can be measured matters," many have accepted misconceptions about our students' progress as well as their standing among the world's children. Educators will find this book uplifting and convincing. Critics will be forced to pause and reconsider. 

U.S. Jobs planning

The Economic Policy Institute has prepared a Jobs plan for the future.

A letter from Lawrence Mishel
Dear Friends,
Each year, the holidays bring a time for reflection and resolutions. As this year draws to a close, we look back on a period of almost unprecedented pain for millions of American workers -- our family members, friends, and neighbors -- who have lost their jobs or seen their hours and wages cut. For many months it has been clear to us at EPI that this suffering will be deep and enduring unless more is done. We have made it our top priority to develop and advance a policy agenda to generate millions more jobs in 2010 and to provide relief to the unemployed and their families.
This has been my personal passion, and it has been the work that has consumed EPI's dedicated economists and staff over the past year. I am very proud to unveil the result of those efforts, EPI's American Jobs Plan, which details a five-part strategy to put America back to work.
Today, almost 16 million Americans are out of work, and one-third of them have been unemployed for more than six months -- a level of long-term unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. The official 10.2% unemployment rate does not count those who have had their wages or hours cut, or who are only working part time because they cannot find a full-time job. This widespread economic distress has left many people struggling to pay for basic expenses. Many have to choose between paying their rent, buying food, or filling prescription medications. 
Lawrence Mishel
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