Sunday, May 27, 2012

The long march for equal opportunity in education

 The long march through the institutions has ended for the Bilingual /Multicultural faculty and students at CSU Sacramento.  On Sat, May 19, the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department at CSU-Sacramento graduated its final class.  A movement that began in the  Mexican American Education Project of 1969-1974 came to a close.  See history here:
 I retired in 2008 and had little role to play in the decision to abandon this  civil rights project.  In the 15 year history of the department we graduated thousands of new bilingual teachers and educational leaders who, under the prior hegemonic system, would have been sorted out.  These graduates have gone into teaching and schools and influenced thousands of students.   Under the new system, they will again often be discarded. The drop out rate for Chicano students remains near 50%.
The students are still there.  The students of California still need bilingual and multicultural teachers.   Students who are descendents of Mexican and Chicano families now make up almost 48% of public school students.
There were budget cuts, but a united faculty could have retained the department if they so chose.  Instead, a new generation of faculty chose to abandon this institutional base that had been created by their predecessors.
An injury to one is an injury to all.
This post dedicated to the memory of Hugo Chacon and Dr. Tom Carter. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

DSA voter recommendations

 Sacramento Progressive Alliance.  May, 2012- Adopted
Note; the ballot is complex.  Please read it in advance.

U.S. President

U.S. Senate
Dianne Feinstein
U.S. Congress  District 7
Ami Bera
                            District 3
John Garamendi
                            District  10
Jose Hernandez
Ballot Initi Prop 28

Proposition 29

Assembly district 8
Ken Cooley
Assembly district 9
Richard Pan
Sacramento City council  6
Kevin McCarty
Sacto City council   8
Bonnie Pannel

Sacto City Council  2
Rob Kerth

Sacramento County Supervisor
Gary Blenner
Jeff Kravitz    District 3
Twin Rivers School Board
Area 3
Walter Kawamoto
Sacramento Board of Education
Area 3.  Edith Crawford
Area  7   Harold Fong

Area 4 Estelle Lemieux

Sacramento Democratic Central Committee
District 5
Michael A PiƱa
Placer County
Democratic Central C.
Phil Kim
Yolo County Supervisor
Arturo Pimentel

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Glen Ford: Corporate Assault on Public Education

In the space of less than 20 years, the public school privatization movement has emerged from the narrow, right wing fringes to dominate both major political parties. From vouchers to school choice to charter schools, the issue has divided even Black Americans, who were once public education's most fervent supporters. Glen Ford explains how this came about by wealthy individuals buying black politicians and promoting their careers, particularly Corey Booker.
Glen Ford is a veteran of more than 40 years in broadcast, print and Internet journalism. A former Washington Bureau Chief and White House, Capitol Hill, and State Department correspondent, he is currently Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report (, a weekly magazine of news, commentary and analysis from the Black Left. Along with co-host Nellie Hester Bailey, Ford hosts and produces the weekly, one-hour Black Agenda Radio program on the Progressive Radio Network.
Sponsored by LifeLines and Peace and Justice Task Force of All Souls Church. Event May 9, 2012 Camera, sound Joe Friendly

Monday, May 21, 2012

Billionaire donors drive anti-teacher, pro-testing education reform agenda

Billionaire donors drive anti-teacher, pro-testing education reform agenda

188 California School districts in financial trouble

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Reports Record
Number of School Districts in Financial Jeopardy

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson warned today that 2.6 million California children now attend schools in districts that are in financial jeopardy—the highest number of financially troubled districts in state history.
"This is the kind of record no one wants to set. Across California, parents, teachers, and administrators are increasingly wondering how to keep their schools' lights on, their bills paid, and their doors open," Torlakson said. "The deep cuts this budget crisis has forced—and the uncertainties about what lies ahead—are taking an unprecedented and unacceptable toll on our schools."
The state's Second Interim Status Report for 2011-12 also shows a record-high 188 local educational agencies (LEAs) are either in negative or qualified financial status. That's up 61 LEAs from the First Interim Status Report for 2011-12 issued in February, and up 45 from the Second Interim Report for 2010-11 issued a year ago.
The Sacramento Bee, on the other hand, thinks that the problem is teacher quality. There is little evidence to support the Bee's position.

Wall St. and Congress: Who Regulates Who?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bee editorial - New Pressure for Teacher Quality

The Sacramento Bee editors on May 20, issued another of their pronouncements on schools in an essay titled, "New Pressure for Teacher Quality,"
That the Bee editorial writers and Pia Lopez endorse the lobbying group that calls itself students first is not a surprise. They have long been in this camp which ignores the reality of classrooms. You can choose to follow the lead of the politicians, the Bee Editorial Board, and even "Democrats for School Reform," or you can choose to seek to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The Politicians, including our Democratic Leaders, argue about laws such as those listed. At the same time, these politicians vote to cut the funds of schools by $1,000 per student.  That is some $32,000 per classroom. Politicians and fake school reformers argue that their laws will make a difference. Yet, the cuts in school funding make more of a negative difference.  The politicians, and the Bee Editorial Board has abandoned the schools in favor of a gimmick and a headline. Where are the leaders of our state? See reports on who funds these "leaders" at the Democracy and Education Institute site.

As noted below:
Common core standards is what the politicians talk about while cutting school budgets.  Such standards do not teach a single student. Similarly "teacher quality" is what the funded advocates talk about. They don't work in schools and they don't improve schools. 
Two interesting essays there on the funding of school "reform" advocates. 

Read more here:

The Creativity Conundrum in Education Leadership

Rsolyn Tam.
Many of the men and women who shaped the world over the course of history, from Mozart to Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, have done so by thinking well outside the sphere of traditional education. Famously, each of these men had some issues with authority, and it’s hard to imagine any of them sitting placidly in a classroom and copying facts and figures from a chalkboard. In the end, their genius was not simply in their ability to understand complex systems, although that was certainly an important part of it. What set them apart was their creativity—that is, their ability to use previously held knowledge to produce something that no one had ever thought to make before; whether a symphony, a scientific theory or a personal computer.
The passing of Steve Jobs in 2011 rekindled an age-old discussion about the relationship of creativity and innovation to traditional notions of intelligence. (Jobs often credited the creative classes he audited after dropping out of college with influencing some of his later decisions at Apple.)  Not everything about this relationship is completely understood, but most people involved in education and public policy agree: creativity will be a crucial characteristic possessed by anyone hoping to succeed in the twenty-first-century economy. And yet, the education system in its current state is not set up to foster this sort of out-of-the-box thinking. One solution currently gaining momentum is the use of community-driven non-profit organizations known as local education funds (LEFs) and public education funds (PEFs), which are committed to improving access to quality education for all members of society. While not the complete answer, these reform-minded organizations might be the key to injecting creativity back into public schools.
Fostering Creative Intelligence in the American Classroom
It is ten years after the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which was enacted in order to help American schools compete with their foreign counterparts, and their foreign counterparts are still outscoring them in just about every subject. This might be partially due to NCLB’s use of standardized testing to measure school performance. As many teachers will attest to, this emphasis on test scores leave schools little room to focus on anything besides “teaching to the test.” The United States has gone backwards, then, to a so-called “drill-and-kill” system of rote learning and memorization, while many of the rest of the world’s schools, especially those in Europe and Asia, have evolved to place emphasis on big picture concepts, problem solving, and encouraging innovation.
According to a 2010 study by The College of William & Mary education professor Kyung-Hee Kim, creativity has been on the decline among American students since 1990. Using the results of the Torrance Test measuring creative thinking, she analyzed decades’ worth of data and found that, while traditional IQ scores have actually gone up steadily each decade, creativity is on the decline. She also used the results to identify three types of students: those with high intelligence and high creativity, those with high intelligence and low creativity, and those with low intelligence and high creativity. What does this tell us? One theory is that creativity and intelligence, while related, are not exactly the same thing, and placing too much stress on more traditional standards of intelligence might result in stifling creativity in those who possess that quality. As Kim notes, “If we neglect creative students in school because of the structure and the testing movement—creative students cannot breathe, they are suffocated in school—then they become underachievers.” While there are several factors that might be resulting in this “creativity crisis,” Kim puts at least some of the blame for lower Torrance test scores on the culture of standardized testing encouraged by NCLB.
This decline in creativity does not bode well for the future of the country. According to John M. Eger, professor of communications and public policy and director of the Creative Economy Initiative at San Diego State University, creativity is essential to building an economy to compete with the rest of the world in coming decades. In a Huffington Post article from 2011, Eger points out that, while the word “creative” is often associated with the arts, the concept of creativity is just as important for the STEM subjects that have received so much attention from education leaders and government officials in recent years. In fact, a recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs around the world identified creativity as the top quality needed for future success in the global economy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Common Core Standards- David Coleman

Backer of Common Core School Curriculum Is Chosen to Lead College Board
By Tamar Lewin : New York Times
David Coleman, an architect of the common core curriculum standards that are being adopted in nearly all 50 states, will become the president of the College Board, starting in October.
Editors note: Common core standards is what the politicians talk about while cutting school budgets.  Such standards do not teach a single student.
“There’s no reason on earth for common core standards and these tests that we’re wasting billions of dollars on,” said Stephen Krashen, an emeritus education professor at the University of Southern California. “The problem is poverty, poverty, poverty. Middle-class children who go to well-funded schools do very well, but even the best tests, the most inspiring teachers, won’t mean anything if the kids don’t have enough to eat.”

Robert Reich: Public vs. Private Morality

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CDE says NCLB not working in California

California Seeks State-Defined Waiver to Provide Relief
From Unworkable Mandates of 'No Child Left Behind'

SACRAMENTO—The State Board of Education (SBE) today voted to seek a state-defined waiver (DOC) of selected provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which would allow the state to use its accountability system to focus improvement efforts on the lowest performing schools and provide schools greater flexibility over the use of federal funds.
On behalf of all California school districts, SBE President Michael Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will ask the U.S. Department of Education to set aside select requirements of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which inaccurately labels too many schools as failing. The request would allow California to use its own accountability system to ensure that all schools are held accountable for improving learning outcomes for all students.
California's request differs from those filed by other states in response to an invitation extended by the U.S. Department of Education to each state to request flexibility from certain provisions of ESEA in exchange for specified policies to improve student learning and increase the quality of instruction. State officials thoroughly considered the federal waiver proposal, but opted to craft a state-defined waiver request because California's budget challenges and mandate reimbursement laws make it impossible to comply with the wide-ranging new requirements of the federal waiver package.
"It's time to leave behind No Child Left Behind," Torlakson said. "This request capitalizes on our strengths—our well-established accountability system. It also provides school districts an opportunity to get the relief they deserve now, and the flexibility they need to direct limited funds where they will do the most good."

Monday, May 14, 2012

California budget takes from schools to pay for corporate tax evasion

 Budget May Revise.
The proposed California  budget for next year says that income will be  $15.7  billion less than expected. 
California does not have enough money to continue the funding of schools, universities, fire and safety, and social services at their present levels.   The Republican Party has consistently refused to raise taxes.  So, the Republican legislative blocking  has forced the following cuts:
MediCal, child care, Cal Works, Nursing homes, In Home Supportive Services, Cal Grants ( college tuition), and a forced employee pay cuts (5%) – such as a 4 day work week.  These cuts are from the current budget. The May Revision provides level funding for k-12 schools.
 If the tax proposals are not passed in November, there will be an additional $5.6 billion dollars  cut from  K-12 schools.  These are called trigger cuts.  They will be automatic if the initiative is not passed.
These draconian cuts are imposed because the state will not- or can not – deal with corporate tax evasions.  We know of $10 billion in tax evasions from Apple, and there probably is a similar tax evasion by Google, Yahoo, and other internet companies. 
California is  Not Broke , but corporate tax subsidies are destroying our schools.
We suffer from two problems: a huge concentration of income at the very top of the income distribution and a tax system that fails to tax  that concentration.  Our tax system asks those with less to pay more and those with more to pay less.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What you need to know about ALEC

by Diane Ravitch

Since the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of many states, there has been an explosion of legislation advancing privatization of public schools and stripping teachers of job protections and collective bargaining rights. Even some Democratic governors, seeing the strong rightward drift of our politics, have jumped on the right-wing bandwagon, seeking to remove any protection for academic freedom from public school teachers.
This outburst of anti-public school, anti-teacher legislation is no accident. It is the work of a shadowy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own "reform" ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the "reform" agenda for education.
ALEC operated largely in the dark for years, but gained notoriety because of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. It turns out that ALEC crafted the "Stand Your Ground" legislation that empowered George Zimmerman to kill an unarmed teenager with the defense that he (the shooter) felt threatened. When the bright light of publicity was shone on ALEC, a number of corporate sponsors dropped out, including McDonald's, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars, Wendy's, Intuit, Kaplan, and PepsiCo. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said that it would not halt its current grant to ALEC, but pledged not to provide new funding. ALEC has some 300 corporate sponsors, including Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and AT&T, so there's still quite a lot of corporate support for its free-market policies. ALEC claimed that it is the victim of a campaign of intimidation.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Teacher Performance Testing - PACT

There is a New York Times article today about Resistance to Outsourcing Teacher Licensing.  Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest
... Student teachers at the University of Massachusetts are protesting a new national licensure procedure being developed by the education ...
May 6, 2012 - By MICHAEL WINERIP - Education - Article - Print Headline: "Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest"
A group of faculty and students at UMASS Amherst are resisting the assessment system developed and used in California, known as PACT. In the article Prof. Raymond Pecheone of Stanford and others claim there is no organized resistance to this testing.
To the contrary.  A group of faculty and students in the CSU have consistently resisted this testing as invalid and not reliable.  Here is a record of some of this resistance.
Duane Campbell.  Democracy and Education Institute. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Faces of Hunger- State Capitol

faces of hunger

photographs of hunger in alameda county
by david bacon
california state capitol
hallway in front of the governor's office
sacramento, ca

starting may 8, 2012
reception 10am, may 8, in the governor's council room

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Plutocracy, Paralysis, and the Great Depression

“Specifically, money buys power, and the increasing wealth of a tiny minority has effectively bought the allegiance of one of our two major political parties , in the process destroying any prospect for cooperation.
And the takeover of half our political spectrum by the 0.01 percent is, I’d argue, also responsible for the degradation of our economic discourse, which has made any sensible discussion of what we should be doing impossible.
All the evidence points, however, points to a simple lack of demand, which could be and should be cured very quickly through a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus.
No, the real structural problem is in the political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority.  And the key to economic recovery lies in finding a way to get past that minority’s malign influence. “  Paul Krugman. May 4,2012.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Here come more cuts

      California fell almost $2 billion below estimates in personal income taxes paid in April.  The Legislative Analyst Office says that the state is some $3.5 billion behind the state forecasts for this year which are the basis for the current budget.    Thus, the legislature will again face cuts.  More cuts to schools, more cuts to social services, health care,  child support, police and fire protection.
            This approach to economics is called austerity.  It doesn’t work.  Austerity is being tried in Greece, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, and Ireland, among others.  It does not work.  Austerity makes the economy worse – and thus further reductions of tax receipts and further cuts.
The economic crisis of 2007 to the present made matters worse.  The state took in some $30 billion less in taxes and thus had less to send to the schools.  School budgets have been cut by some $10 billion.  K-12 education receives about 40% of the California budget.  Thus any decline in the state budget leads directly to cuts in school services.
            The question for the corporate agenda, promoted by  the Chamber of Commerce among others  is can the economy prosper with a poorly educated work force.  California grew and prospered from 1970- 1994 based upon a well educated work force.  Then, in the 1994-2008 period over $10 billion of tax cuts were passed – making the current crisis much worse. This week we learned that Apple, and other corporations, are avoiding over $10 billion in taxes by moving one small office to Nevada.   California suffers from a decade of  corporate tax cuts and public disinvestment.  Today,  instead of following the education  approach,  conservative anti tax forces have imposed an Mississippi approach on California.
California public schools are in crisis- and they are getting worse. This is a direct result of massive budget cuts imposed by the legislature and the governor in the last four years.  Total per pupil expenditure is down by over $1,000 per student. The result- massive class size increases.  Students are in often classes too large for learning.  Supplementary services such as tutoring and art classes have been eliminated.  Over 14,000 teachers have been dismissed, and thousands more face lay offs this fall. This is not the fault of teachers. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Faculty Union at CSU authorizes state wide strike

Faculty Union in California votes to authorize a strike. Would be the first system wide strike in state history.
California State University faculty voted to  approved a measure to give their union leaders the power to authorize a strike next fall that could delay the beginning of school for thousands of students across the 23-campus university system.  The CSU is the 23 campus system of California.  The University of California does not have a faculty union with collective bargaining recognition although some of its staff and employees belong to unions.
A powerful 95% of the  faculty voters agreed that the CSU’s instructional faculty, should initiate rolling walkouts if the CSU administration continues to demand concessions.
Equally as impressive was the turnout, with 70% of CFA members voting to send an unmistakable message to Chancellor Charles B. Reed – state austerity is killing higher education in California.

Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, said, “Today, the faculty has spoken loud and clear – we have had enough of the way in which they are being treated by the CSU administration.”
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