Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Budget crisis in Sacramento schools

The Bee writes today  as if the  budget crisis  of Sacramento City Unified, and 17 other local school districts is a problem of teachers being unwilling to take pay cuts. (They already receive are paid less than teachers in the surrounding districts.)
This  economic crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street particularly  Chase Banks, Bank of America, Citi Group, AIG, and others – not by teachers and not by students. Finance capital produced a $ 2 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.

Rather than blame the teachers,  an appropriate response would be to tax the banks  and the financial trades.  We pay a 8% sales tax in California.  There should be at least a 3% tax on sales of stocks and derivatives and financial instruments. Such a tax could fund the schools and slow down the excesses of  casino capitalism.  
Duane Campbell

Testing and education stupidity

This is an issue which media pundits- and politicians-  ignore or do not understand.
From Diane Ravitch.

The assault on public education and the teaching profession is now in full swing, as states scramble to qualify for the billions of federal funds in President Obama's Race to the Top program. The latest outrage just occurred in Florida, where state legislators passed an extraordinarily stupid piece of legislation. This law abolishes teacher tenure and ties teacher pay to student test scores. In addition, the state will no longer consider either education or experience as factors in teachers' compensation. What teachers earn will depend on their students' test scores.
The economists who floated this bad idea, perhaps as a theoretical exercise, should step up to the plate and take responsibility for what they have wrought. This path devalues education, devalues whatever cannot be measured, and undermines teachers' morale. It may be that high school students, with a few weeks' training, can produce even higher test scores in basic skills than teachers with National Board Certification. If so, we should turn the schools over to anyone with a pulse and forget about professionalism. We may be the first nation in the world with a federal program intended to dumb down our schools and destroy the teaching profession.
You know how easily the test scores may be corrupted when high stakes are attached to them. For those who don't know, may I recommend that they read chapter eight of my new book, which demonstrates how high-stakes accountability has promoted cheating by teachers, principals, districts, and states. The polite term for cheating is "gaming the system." For those who want to learn more, read Richard Rothstein's Grading Education and Daniel Koretz's Measuring Up. And if you want to see the latest research on how pointless it is to evaluate teachers by test scores, even by "value-added assessment," read chapter nine of my new book.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Race to the Top Winners ?

Race to the Top awards go to Delaware, Tennessee
By Nick Anderson and Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 29, 2010; 4:27 PM

Delaware and Tennessee won the first shares of President Obama's $4 billion fund for education innovation and reform while the District of Columbia came in last among 16 finalists, federal officials announced Monday.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan picked the winners after a team of judges in the Race to the Topcompetition gave tiny Delaware the highest ranking, with Tennessee close behind. Delaware won as much as $107 million and Tennessee could be awarded $502 million.
The grants are the most significant move yet by the Obama administration to transform education in the United States, an issue that has moved nearer to the top of his domestic agenda with the passage of health-care reform.
Duncan acknowledged that the tiny winner's circle was designed as an incentive for other states to continue revamping their education policies. It also deflects suggestions that the administration would seek to spread the money around as quickly and widely as possible to help Obama win favor in key political states.
---- from the L.a. Times

California finished 27th among 41 applicants, a middling performance even among the group that failed to become finalists. California's application lost points in part because only 56% of school districts agreed to participate and because teacher union involvement was lower still.

Callison of CPR continues his narrow view of Cesar Chavez and the UFW

Jeffery Callison, of the local talk show Insight, once again promoted the book by Miriam Pawell on Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.  This is the celebration of the Cesar Chavez holiday.  I responded to this book in Jan.
Photo: myself and Cesar Chavez. 1972.
 Here it is.

Why David Sometimes Wins: Ganz

Posted this review is in part a response to the responses below by Miriam Pawel about her book. After attending her presentation and listening to her, I remain concerned about the narrative she presents.  We need more informed discussion. She notes some Chicano scholars who wrote testimonials for her book jacket.  I hope that they were well informed on the UFW.  Marshall Ganz certainly is.
Particularly disturbing were her selective use of quotes, her claim that the ALRB is a great law, and other out of context statements.

Why David Sometimes Wins; Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement.  Marshall Ganz.  2009.  Oxford University Press.

To most people, even to union activists, the struggle to create the United Farm Workers Union (now part of the Change to Win Federation) is a tale from long ago and far away. Even to those of us who participated in these events, the memories of the great battles of the 60’s and 70’s are passing in importance. Now, along comes the just published book, Why David Sometimes Wins, to offer new insights into some of the complex history of building this particular social movement.

Budget crisis in Sacramento school districts

In the Bee of March 29, there is an article, Union Divided over giving ground, by Melody Gutierrz on the current budget conflict in Sacramento City U. Here is my response.
The Bee writes as if the  budget crisis  of Sacramento City Unified, and 17 other local school districts is a problem of teachers being unwilling to take pay cuts. (They already receive are paid less than teachers in the surrounding districts.)
This  economic crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street particularly  Chase Banks, Bank of America, Citi Group, AIG, and others – not by teachers and not by students. Finance capital produced a $ 2 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.

Rather than blame the teachers,  an appropriate response would be to tax the banks  and the financial trades.  We pay a 8% sales tax in California.  There should be at least a 3% tax on sales of stocks and derivatives and financial instruments. Such a tax could fund the schools and slow down the excesses of  casino capitalism.  
Duane Campbell

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Speak out on NCLB

ESEA/No Child Left Behind Reauthorization: Tell Congress To Do What Is Right For Kids

Reauthorization of ESEA has kicked into high gear.  The Obama Administration has released a blueprint for reauthorization that NEA believes has significant problems and raises serious concerns. 
Of particular concern are:
  • Continued emphasis on standardized testing and failure to allow for multiple measures of student learning
  • Teacher evaluations tied to student test scores
  • Limited and federally-mandated non-research-based turnaround models for struggling schools
  • Funding streams that favor some states and districts over others
  • No mention of parent or family engagement
  • Insufficient efforts to address inequity and gaps in opportunity, tools, and resources 
CONTACT CONGRESS TODAY! Tell Congress what students really need.  Share your views – you are the expert!  Take NEA’s survey and tell us your priorities for ESEA reauthorization. 
Monty Neill, Ed.D.
Interim Executive Director
15 Court Sq., Ste. 820
Boston, MA 02108
857-350-8207 x 101
fax 857-350-8209

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Florida votes to end teacher tenure

From the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Wednesday, March 24, 2010. See http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-teacher-tenure-bill-032310-20100322,0,3262837.story  --  
Florida Senate kills teacher tenure pay system; raises tied to student success

By Josh Hafenbrack
TALLAHASSEE - In a major shift, the salaries of Florida's 167,000 teachers could soon be tied to student test scores, rather than seniority and education level.

The state Senate on Wednesday approved a controversial bill by a 21-17 vote to dismantle teacher tenure, a decades-old system in which educators' pay is based on years of experience and whether they earn upper-level degrees.

New teachers hired after July 1 would work on one-year contracts and face dismissal if their students did not show learning gains on end-of-year exams for two years in any five-year period. For them, job security would be based soley on two factors: standardized scores and job reviews by principals. Existing teachers would have future pay raises tied to student scores and reviews but would keep their current job security.

"It takes a sledgehammer to the teaching profession," Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, said Wednesday.

Bill sponsor Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said the bill means teachers who earn high marks will get higher salaries and it "will help put a good teacher in every single classroom."

Despite President Obama pushing merit pay on the federal level, Florida Senate Democrats were unified against the proposal -- and joined by four Republicans in opposition. Still, Republicans, who have a 26-14 majority in the state Senate, had a comfortable margin to push the bill through, which now must be considered by the Republican-controlled House.

Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, indicated he likely would sign the bill into law if it passes the Legislature, as expected.

"Generally, I support that," he said Tuesday. "That's how it is for most of us -- you do well, you keep your job. It seems to me that wouldn't be a bad idea in the area of education, too."

Well, as described, this is not really tenure. It is the pay system.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

California NAEP test scores stagnant

Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Comments
on Latest NAEP Reading Results

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today commented on the release of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading results for participating fourth and eighth graders.
The 2009 NAEP results for California show no significant change in overall scores from the 2007 assessment, which was the last time NAEP tested students in the fourth and eighth grades in reading. Nationally, the results are similar, with overall scores holding steady at the fourth grade level and a slight improvement in the eighth grade.
Overall average scores for students at both the state and the national level remain at the NAEP "basic" achievement level, which denotes partial mastery of fundamental skills at each grade. While reading scores for both fourth and eighth grade students remains flat overall, the average reading score for California's grade eight African American students improved slightly, moving the subgroup from "below basic" to the NAEP "basic" achievement level. Unfortunately, the NAEP reading results reveal no narrowing of the achievement gap between students who are white or Asian students and their peers who are African American or Latino.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Viva La Causa: Wed

Click on image to enlarge

Capitol Protest by 8000 Today

California’s growing student led protests.
By Duane Campbell
Over 8000 students and their supporters rallied outside the California State Capitol  In Sacramento on March 22 to demand adequate funding for education.    Students brought buses of demonstrators from community colleges throughout  central and northern California.  This march ,organized primarily by community college groups and their allies, was the latest in a series of  demonstrations responding to proposals to dramatically cut funding for education in California. 
The March 22 rally followed a March 4 rally when  2000 faculty, students and their supporters rallied at the State Capitol while thousands rallied at campuses and cities around the state.    There were  more than 40 events across the state asking people to stand up for education. Faculty and students came to Sacramento  from UC Davis, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley, as well as CSU Sacramento, Chico, and community colleges. Rallies and protests also occurred on other CSU, UC and community colleges across the state.
Photos are here:

Capitol Monday. CDA signs and stickers were everywhere. We got lots of visibility and signatures.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stimulus (ARRA) saved 329,000 jobs

Report Calculates Stimulus Saved 329,000 School Jobs Last Fall

Calif., Fla., N.Y. Account for One-Third of the Positions Spared

In the last three months of 2009, the education portion of the federal economic-stimulus program paid for 329,551 school-related jobs, such as teachers, librarians, and counselors, according to the latest reports that states and school districts filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

So far, about $69 billion of the nearly $100 billion in education aid contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been awarded by the department to states. The primary goal of the stimulus package, particularly the $48.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, was to prevent layoffs, create jobs, and otherwise spur the languishing economy.

Not surprisingly, the most education jobs were created or saved in the most-populous states: California, Florida, and New York, which accounted for one-third of the total number of jobs.

The latest reports, covering October through December, mirrored the first stimulus reports that came out earlier last year, when 325,000 education-related jobs were reported to have been saved or created.

It's difficult to compare the two jobs numbers, however, because federal officials changed how states and local grant recipients calculate the number of jobs saved and created.

The initial reporting requirement involved a complicated formula that required recipients to distinguish between a job saved and one created, and not necessarily to count jobs paid for by stimulus money that would have existed even without the new aid. The new formula asks recipients simply to calculate the number of jobs, based on hours worked, that were paid for with stimulus money.
As an additional note. I did some research  (recovery.gov). Texas, which claims not to have a budget crisis, was the second largest recipient of ARRA money.  But, they did not use it for teachers. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Education March Monday March 22.

March In March - March to State Capitol & Rally (West Steps)

Mon, Mar 22, 2010
7:00 AM - 12:30 PM
March In March - No More Cuts, Save Our Schools.  Student march on Sacramento!  Join us, any and all who support education are welcome and encouraged to attend!
Come join C4D organizers at this important event. We will be wearing gold hats and carrying signs for the California Democracy Act. WE NEED YOU to help us gather signatures with our petitons and march with us at this event. **SCHEDULE: (7-9am) Buses meet-up at Raley Field in West Sacramento; (9-11am) March from Raley Field to the West Steps of the Capitol Building (11-12:15pm) Rally on West Steps of the Capitol. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

73% Support Majority Vote for Revenue and Budget- Poll

POLL: 73% of CA Voters Support Majority Vote For Revenue & Budget

A remarkable seventy-three percent of California likely voters support majority rule in the legislature for both revenue and budget, a new poll by David Binder of DB-Research shows. The poll was conducted March 6 -11, 2010 on behalf of Californians for Democracy. This is overwhelming support for the California Democracy Act, a November 2010 ballot initiative that states, "All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote." The California Democracy Act would change two words in the California Constitution, from "two-thirds" to "a majority" in two places, eliminating the controversial "two-thirds" rules.

"The overwhelming majority of California voters want a voice in how California is governed," said UC Professor George Lakoff, author of the measure. "Most voters are frustrated that they have had no influence in the legislature." The two-thirds rules presently allow a minority of little more than one-third of the legislators to control how the state is run by blocking the raising of necessary revenue and the passage of a budget.

When asked, "In a democracy, a majority of legislators should be able to pass everyday legislation," a 71 percent majority said yes. When asked, "In a democracy, a minority of legislators should be able to block everyday legislation," a 68 percent majority said no.

At present, a 63 percent majority in the legislature is being blocked by a 37 percent minority on everyday legislation. The two-thirds rules permit this because just about every piece of everyday legislation requires revenue and must be part of the budget.

Another striking poll result concerned taxes. When asked, "Do you support or oppose solving the budget crisis by closing tax loopholes on corporations and charging oil companies an extraction fee without raising taxes on the lower and middle income Californians," a 62 percent majority said they supported the proposal.

For more information on this initiative go to www.CaliforniansForDemocracy.com.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thousands of California teachers scheduled for layoffs.

State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell and Members
of Education Coalition Announce Number
of Pink Slips Issued to Education Personnel

O'Connell Urges Passage of Parcel Tax Measure to Help Schools
SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today joined with members of the California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California State PTA, California Association of School Administrators, and California County Superintendents Educational Services Association to announce nearly 22,000 teachers have received notices of potential layoffs.
"Effective teachers are the most essential element to student success," O'Connell said. "Our state budget crisis has forced districts to lay off thousands of teachers over the past few years. The Governor has proposed cutting another $2.4 billion from public education. While the education community opposes these cuts, our schools are forced to prepare for this potential outcome by issuing a massive wave of potential layoff notices. To date, 21,905 pink slips have been issued to teachers and other staff around the state this year. While I understand the Governor and the Legislature have tough decisions to make, these budget cuts are devastating our schools and impacting our ability to do the most important job in our society, that is, to teach our children."

Monday, March 15, 2010

California education budget is a shell game: Schrag

Yes, it is. He has it right.

Nonetheless, there was a lot of gubernatorial crowing when the governor signed the last of the legislation which, in the words of a Schwarzenegger press handout in January made “California highly competitive for $700 million in federal education funds.”  
But California’s real problem isn’t in charter caps or in barriers to the use of student test scores in evaluating teachers, stupid as those barriers seem. . Even where test scores can legally be used, there’s no certainty that they can be used wisely. Nor are charters any magic bullet: Some are excellent; many are no better than comparable public schools in their student outcomes, and often worse; some are rip-offs.
What’s currently tripping up California in Washington is that the state has been caught in a shell game. While the state acknowledges that the state is spending less per student this year than last (and will probably be spending still less next year), the governor claims that it’s spending an equal portion of its general fund on schools as in the past and thus is not failing in maintenance of effort.
But he can do that only through an accounting gimmick in his proposed budget. In a letter to state officials the federal Department of Education cites letters from California education and civil rights groups pointing out how the proposed budget “seeks to eliminate a State sales tax on gasoline and substitute…an excise tax on gasoline in order to remove revenues from the state’s general fund and effectively render the Proposition 98 [minimum school funding] guarantee inapplicable to those funds.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sac City Superintendent gives pink slips to 700, chooses Teach for America

My name is Lori Jablonski and I am a SCTA site rep at C.K. McClatchy High School .  This email is to inform you about action at Thursday’s school board meeting that is being organized by a group of elementary, middle and high school site reps in response to both the issuance of 700 pink slips this week (affecting approx. 1/4 of the school district teaching corps.) and the related move to bring Teach for America interns to the school district.   This effort to organize a strong, united response to the assault on our jobs, our schools and the integrity of our professional careers is not intended to subvert the SCTA union leadership.   Instead, we hope to convince the leadership that rank and file teachers demand a more assertive, more communicative and more active effort on behalf of our membership before the school board and district administration.  Even more, we intend to clearly show the school board that we are ready to hold them fully accountable for decisions and actions taken by Superintendent Raymond that will seriously undermine education in this district.

We believe that when school opens tomorrow, there will still be a fairly significant number of teachers who will not be aware of the total number of pink slips that have been issued and the depth and breadth of the lay-offs.   Nor will they have a real sense of what the Teach for America program is about or the significance.  We are strongly suggesting that you (or ask your site rep) to call an emergency site union meeting on Monday or Tuesday at the latest. 

At McClatchy, for example, we will be calling for a meeting tomorrow during lunch in the staff lounge, a time that is most convenient for the teachers on our campus.  Please choose the time and place where you believe you can get maximum attendance.   (You might also consider taking notes, copying them and distributing by hand to those teachers unable to attend your meeting). 

At the meeting, we are suggesting you briefly explain these major points:

  1. Over 700 pink slips have been issued, including pink slips for those who teach Math, Science and Special Ed.  These “hard to place” categories are important to emphasize because the Superintendent has said several times this week that lay-offs would not take place in these categories.

  1. As he issues 700 pink slips, the Superintendent is working to bring the Teach for America (TFA) program to Sacramento.   The plan is to pay the private non-profit TFA corporation $2.7 million (the money will be raised by the district from the private sector) to recruit and train 30 TFA teaching interns to teach in Sac City schools. Their salaries and benefits will be absorbed in the general fund.  TFA recruits recent college grads to sign up for two-year teaching stints in under-performing schools and school districts. The Superintendent claims that the TFA interns will not replace Sac City teachers, but will instead supplement our current teaching staff in hard to staff areas, specifically Math, Science and Special Ed. An additional 30 TFA interns will be added to the district staff roster each year for at least the next three years.  In the event of future lay-offs due to ongoing budget woes, TFA interns would be skipped and would not receive pink slips.  The presence of TFA will cost younger, less senior teachers their jobs.

Tales of Texas

  In March  the Texas Board of Education held hearings and adopted over protest new History /Social Studies guidelines moving   the textbook selection process of Texas  significantly to the right.  Dolores Huerta, retired Vice President of the Unite Farm Workers  was excluded from inclusion in Texas’ version of history because she is a known socialist- a member of DSA.  She was replaced in the list by Hellen Keller- also a known socialist.
One Commissioner voting for the tilt to the right says,
"When you are in a position, to make a contribution to the well being of the learner, Do It!,but I can tell you that ALL Children deserve quality education, even it it means uping the standards for ALL teachers. How will Texas fare, TEXAS will be FIRST IN MATH and FIRST in SCIECNE,because TEACHERS in Texas  make a difference."
Commissioner Quintanilla
The Commissioner believes Texas will be first in Math and first in Science, but she fails  spelling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The National Standards Scam

The National Standards Scam
Panel Proposes Single Standard for All Schools
By SAM DILLON, NY Times. March 10,2010.

“A panel of educators convened by the nation’s governors and state school superintendents proposed a uniform set of academic standards on Wednesday, laying out their vision for what all the nation’s public school children should learn in math and English, year by year, from kindergarten to high school graduation.
The new proposals could transform American education, replacing the patchwork of standards ranging from mediocre to world-class that have been written by local educators in every state.”
 So, the professional edu wonks ( not teachers) have again found the solution.  How nice. The effort will have little effect in California.  California has some of the nation’s highest standards, and lowest test scores in reading and math ( about 47 out of the 50 states depending upon the  year).
This is the politicians ( and their consultants) approach to school improvement and it will not teach a single child in California  to read or do math.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Robert Reich: Bail out the schools

Any day now, the Obama administration will announce $4.35 billion in extra federal funds for under-performing public schools. That's fine, but relative to the financial squeeze all the nation's public schools now face it's a cruel joke.
The recession has ravaged state and local budgets, most of which aren't allowed to run deficits. That's meant major cuts in public schools and universities, and a giant future deficit in the education of our people.
Across America, schools are laying off thousands of teachers. Classrooms that had contained 20 to 25 students are now crammed with 30 or more. School years have been shortened. Some school districts are moving to four-day school weeks. After-school programs have been cancelled; music and art classes, terminated. Even history is being chucked.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Education Activists need a strategy beyond marches

By Randy Shaw
Mass protests last week against school funding cuts and tuition hikes spoke powerfully about California’s misplaced priorities. As occurred with campus protests last fall, the media gave overwhelmingly sympathetic coverage (other than to the self-indulgent group who blocked an Oakland freeway, diverting television coverage away from legitimate protests). But activists’ strategy for achieving their goals is far from clear.
There is no measure on the November 2010 ballot that raises significant new money for education. Activists can use mass action to pressure legislators and the Governor to redirect excessive spending on prisons and other wasteful programs to education, but there is no chance this year of getting enough Republicans to win the necessary 2/3 legislative votes. It appears activists need a three-part strategy; pass a November ballot measure ending the 2/3 vote requirement, continue building a movement to force a new Governor and Legislature to hike the vehicular license fee in 2011, and at the same time prepare a game-changing ballot measure for 2012 that ensures adequate education funding once and for all.
The students, teachers, school employees, labor unions and parents who organized the tremendously successful March 4 statewide education protests achieved what they set out to do: bring the education crisis to newspaper front pages, and the lead stories on television, radio and online news. I cannot recall ever previously seeing such a broad one-day event around education in California, as event organizers brought together an extraordinarily diverse coalition.
Now this budding movement must go from highlighting the problem to solving it. And with California’s economy still in the dumps and the 2/3 vote requirement still in effect, this will not be easy.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Kansas City may close 50% of schools

The economic crisis in the states.


Send e mail to qualify initiative for democracy

Please take ten minutes to join me in an effort that I think can save the State of California from some of its worst problems.  The California Democracy Act is fourteen words long, probably the shortest initiative petition in state history:

All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be made by a majority vote. 

This simple initiative would end the 2/3 rule that has left the state in the hands of a small group of conservatives determined to prevent the government from protecting and empowering residents—a tyranny of the minority.

Here’s what you can do to help:
OPEN THE ATTACHMENT AND PRINT IT (DO NOT SHRINK OR ENLARGE IT; PRINT IT ONLY AT 100%, SINGLE SIDED, ON WHITE, 8.5" X 11" PAPER ONLY)  If you have trouble opening the attachment, you can also access the petition at www.californiansfordemocracy.com



If you have questions about why this initiative is so important, I will add a few comments below.   For more information you can visit the websites,www.californiansfordemocracy.com and www.ca4democracy.com, or listen to a speech by George Lakoff at http://vimeo.com/9643324, or email me directly.

I have been working very hard to get this initiative on the ballot because the 2/3 rule is largely responsible for the deterioration of California—K-12 education, the state colleges and universities, the state parks, the social service net, the transportation infrastructure—the list goes on of essential services that are not getting adequate funding.  California could raise money by taxing oil extraction (as they do in Texas and Alaska ), taxing the super-rich (the state has more than its share) and other measures that would not burden most of us.  But as few as 14 people in the State Senate can stop any of these progressive actions—and they do, over and over again.

The initiative process was intended to enable people to participate directly in government, but was commandeered by big business.  The California Democracy Act is a volunteer, grassroots effort with no special interest funding.  Can we prevail against the odds?  You can help make history!  Please sign the petition!

Time is of the essence.  After April 5, it will be too late to get on the November ballot and we will need to start all over again.

For more information see www.cd4d.org.
The link on the left

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Lets Fire the Teachers

An interesting post from Diane Ravitch.  Years ago she was an ardent advocate of NCLB. One additional issue.  President Barack Obama should find out more of the facts before he makes comments about the teachers who were fired in Rhode Island. It was a cheap- political shot.

Historian, NYU professor
Posted: March 2, 2010

First, Let's Fire All the Teachers!

Imagine that you are a teacher in a high school in a high-poverty district.
Many of your students don't speak English. Some don't attend school regularly
because they have to earn money or babysit with their siblings while their
parents are looking for work. Some come to school unprepared because they
didn't do their homework.

But you are idealistic and dedicated, you work with each of the students, you
do your best to teach them reading, writing, science, math, history, whatever
your subject. But despite your best efforts, many of your students can't read
very well (they are struggling to learn English), and many of them don't
graduate. If your school eliminated all its standards, you could easily push
up the graduation rate.

About 45 minutes away is another high school in a much better neighborhood.
Its statistics are far better than yours. The children are almost all born in
the U.S., and their parents are almost all college graduates with good jobs.
Their kids don't go to school hungry, they have their own room and their own
computer, and they have stellar test scores to boot. Their graduation rate is
very impressive, and most of their graduates go to college.

What is to be done about the first school? President George W. Bush signed a
law called "No Child Left Behind," which required constant improvement. The
Obama administration wants to rename the law but they too reject any excuses
for low performance and low graduation rates.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thousands march on Sacramento

Over  2000  union faculty, students and their supporters rallied at the California State Capitol in Sacramento today in support of adequate funding for public education , both k-12 and higher education.  the rally was one of more than 40 events across the state asking people to Stand up for Education.  Faculty and students came from U.C. Davis, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley, as well as CSU Sacramento, Chico, and local community colleges.
George Lakoff,  well known  for his works on framing issues argued for signing petitions for the  California Democracy Act which would reduce the requirement to pass a state budget from the current 2/3 vote to a simple majority.
Lakoff asserted that the  demonstrations will mean little unless the California Democracy Act gets on the ballot by April 12 and passes in the November election. That is the only way that revenue can be raised to fund California's needs, including education. Lakoff criticized leaders of the California Democratic Party for not getting enthusiastically behind the initiative.
The California Democracy Act is simple. It changes just two words in the Constitution: "two-thirds" becomes "a majority" in two places. That's all. The initiative is one sentence long: "All legislative action on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote." It's simple democracy. And because it is a ballot initiative, a simple majority can bring democracy by eliminating the two-thirds vote requirements. The initiative has until April 12 to gather over 600,000 signatures of registered voters.  At present the campaign is far behind.   Lakoff argued that an on-line campaign which would  ‘go viral” was needed to push the initiative over the required signatures.

Students, faculty, workers and public education supporters protested  deep cuts to education funding on March 4, 2010.   The California Faculty Association (NEA)  is one of the organizations that participated in  mobilization. CFA represents the faculty on the 23 campuses of the California State University. Public education and public services need adequate funding to meet the urgent needs of people in California and the U.S.
The  2008-2020  economic crisis has forced the cutting of higher education, of k-12 education, and of social welfare systems. What caused this crisis ? It was caused by the greed and avarice of the financial class and aided by y the politicians of both major political parties.
 In 2007- 2008  major banks and corporations looted the economy creating an international meltdown.  Now, they have been rewarded with bail out money.  The crisis was not caused by students, teachers, public employees  nor recipients of social security.   Now we have cuts in parks,  in universities, in nurses, libraries and police protection.   School children did not create this crisis.  Foster care children did not create this crisis.
The  protracted economic decline has had a devastating impact on the California budget- and the budgets of 42 other states.   Revenues have continued to plunge and  legislatures  have been forced to make a series of deep cuts to virtually all of the state's programs, including the university systems.
The Sacramento Local of DSA was an active participant in developing these demonstrations through their work with the Sacramento Progressive Alliance .  We have been working with unions and faculty groups since October.  We provided training, workshops, tabled on campus, and circulated the California Democracy Initiative on campuses. 

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

California's Higher Education Worth Fighting For- And We Will

Sometimes I think there are two Californias out there. One of them is the California of small things and small thinking. It's the California that is obsessed with petty anti-tax politics. The one that wants to gut social programs and dismantle our public higher education system. It thrives on driving wedges between us and promoting divisiveness.
It's the California of Proposition 187 (cutting services to illegal immigrants), Nixon, Reagan and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It includes a lot of people who hate government but are the first to complain when the garbage isn't picked up.
The other California is the California of bold ideas and dreams of a better future. It's theCalifornia that wants to conserve and protect its unique and beautiful state parks and wilderness, wishes to invest in its people and seeks common ground amid diversity.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Stand up for education. March 4

  March 4, 2010.
   Rally  for       Education


Students  and  Faculty, will march to demand a decent  budget for California’s schools and universities. Protests will occur around the state, at universities and work sites at the Capitol in Sacramento.  Please join us.

The campaign for majority rule has a new web site.


In the last two years California’s  k-12 schools have received over a  $16 Billion  cut back.  California presently ranks  45th  of the states in per pupil spending and last among the states in class size.  Now, the Governor proposes to reduce  k-12 spending by another  $2.4 Billion. The U.C’s and the CSU campuses have suffered over a  $2 billion cut while tuition and fees were increased over 30%.  Classes have been cut, graduation delayed, and faculty dismissed.  They must not be cut more.  We must work together to save public education.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Barack Obama supports dismissing teachers!

   Perhaps you have heard of the school district in Rhode Island that dismissed all of its faculty last  week.  They had a school with persistently low scores, and the board decided the way to deal with it was to dismiss all faculty.  Other school districts have used this approach. President Obama accepted the misstatement of the issues and supported the dismissals today. Here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/us/02obama.html
   Firing teachers  will not work.  If you have a troubled school, the community ,the parents and the teaches need to work together to improve the school. To improve a school you need a positive learning environment.  Building a positive learning environment requires Parents and teachers working together. Media critics contribute nothing to improving a school environment.
   Many politicians and media writers have learned about high expectations.  And, high expectations are one of the keys to quality schools.  But, high expectations alone will not change a school. – nor will firing all the teachers.  To improve a school parents and teachers together need to teach young people about respect, cooperation, orderliness.
   Particularly at a high school, kids need to learn to accept some responsibility for their own actions, to come to school, to do their work  – a positive culture of learning.
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