Monday, December 30, 2013

The Benghazi Attack- New York Times

No Al-Qaida Link In Benghazi Attack, 'New York Times' Reports

The New York Times, after a months-long investigation, says the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, "turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault."
Instead, the newspaper says, "The attack was led ... by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam."
The Times outlines the chain of events that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012, as well as the aftermath of the attack. Here's more:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

See the post- Room at the Inn. ( Link on the left)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Paucity of Dan Walters' Commentary on School Issues

The column by Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee entitled “California’s School Wars Heat Up” in the print edition for Dec.20, and “Powerful Factions Go to War Over Direction of California Schools,” in the on line version  seriously and deliberatively misinforms .  He frames the conflict between the School Establishment ( school administrators, elected officials, CTA]  vs. the “School Reformers”.   These are indeed two of the powerful factions, but not at all the complete story.
To understand the distortion lets see who these “reformers “  See the Democracy and Education Institute
The cadre Walters’ calls reformers  are not reformers. These are a corporate financed  advocates and  some well financed opportunists. In most cases they do not work in schools, rather they work in lobbyist offices financed by the Waltons, the Gates, and others.   See here
There is at least one additional group who Walters ignores- the social justice equity oriented based school reformers who have been working in schools for decades to  improve school opportunities for low income and minority children.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Media Failure to accurately examine U.S. education

Fareed Zakari on CNN presents the neoliberal view of schools and the PISA results with Joe Klein, Wendy Kopp of Teach for America , Sal Kahn  and Thomas Friedman.

See other posts for what the PISA scores actually mean,  .
The Zakari presentation continues the promotion  of the neoliberal/corporate views of school reform.  The program would have benefitted from having some teachers who actually work in schools  on the program.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Anti Teacher Initiative Filed

Matt David, a political consultant to Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst has submitted an initiative for the California ballot to remove teacher seniority as a factor in lay-off decisions.  StudentsFirst has long advocated this position and worked with EDVoice to propose  state legislation to achieve this goal.  Matt David is a former communications director for Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 
The claim that teacher seniority protection is a major factor in school achievement has no basis in research.  It has long been a favored campaign of the Right in part because it can be used to assault teachers’ unions and because it divides teachers against each other.
Younger teachers frequently assume that their youth and energy makes them a better teacher.  These factors do indeed contribute to teaching, but there is no evidence to indicate that they balance or compensate for the skill of more experienced teachers.  This is an ideological campaign assault, not a provision based upon evidence.

See the prior posts on Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst, and their connection to corporate assaults on public education.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Get Serious About Funding Education

NEA and AASA executives call on Congress to get serious about investing in education

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - November 21, 2013 -
Today, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech released the following statement:
“The austerity policies ushered in by Congress aren’t working. They are harming our students and our economy,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “In fact, the across-the-board cuts, coupled with the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, are wreaking havoc in schools across the country and will only grow worse if allowed to continue.”
A recent NEA analysis revealed, and today’s report by AASA confirms, that the impact of the austerity approach falls unevenly, harming schools that rely more on federal funding for education, including students most in need of extra attention. One in four students in America attends school in a district where 15 to 20 percent of total revenue comes from federal sources. Sequester cuts, NEA’s analysis found, hurt these students even more.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How Wall Street Power Brokers Are Designing the Future of Public Education

 as a Money-Making Machine

by Anna Simonton.  Alternet 
Given that Arthur Rock has a net worth of $1 billion, lives in California and spends his time heaping money on tech startups (with the mantra, “Get in, get out,” as his guide), a local school board race in Atlanta, Ga. seems an unlikely candidate for his attention.
Yet there is his name, on the campaign finance disclosure reports of four candidates—two of whom were elected in November, and two who won a runoff[3] on December 3—for the board of Atlanta Public Schools. On each report, two columns over from his name, the sum of $2,500 is listed, the maximum allowable amount.
The APS race was a pivotal one for Atlanta, a city still dealing with the fallout of a cheating scandal [4] that thrust its public school system into the national limelight. Only two incumbents were re-elected to the nine-seat board.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reclaim School Reform from the Corporate Raiders

Reclaim School Reform 

The Nation
One of the greatest challenges facing American education today is a fantasy, spun by billionaire-funded “think tanks” and often repeated uncritically by
politicians and pundits, that our schools are failing, that teachers are shirking their responsibilities and that unions are
the root of the problem. Unfortunately, the peddlers of these distortions have held the microphone for so long that the word “reform” is now associated with the crudest assaults on the very infrastructure of public education.
It’s not that reform isn’t called for. Schools are beset with difficulties, mostly born of the inequalities rampant in the larger society. But, as ought to be obvious, education reform must be in the public interest—on behalf of public schools and the children who attend them—rather than private interests, furthering “the corporate agenda for public schools, which disregards our voices and attempts to impose a system of winners and losers,” to quote the mission statement of a new coalition of teachers and their unions, along with parent, student, religious and community groups. This coalition has set itself the task of nothing less than reclaiming “the promise of public education as our nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice.”
Backed by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, as well as national groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens and local organizations like the Philadelphia Student Union and the Boston Youth Organizing Project, this coalition effort—beginning with a national day of action on December 9—picks up the themes of the Chicago Teachers Union strike of 2012, which saw educators and parents unite against school closings. It highlights concerns about resources and classroom energy being diverted to standardized testing instead of kids, concerns that have become a focus of the New York State United Teachers. And it embraces the message of Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education, who argues that the right response to much of what ails public education is a comprehensive anti-poverty agenda that addresses racial and economic inequality [1] by providing healthcare, food and nutrition, and preschool programs that enable teachers to teach and students to learn.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Day of Action for Public Education

“Public education is under attack,” comes the warning from Philadelphia in a riveting new video from community and youth organizers in that city.
Their accusations are that education policies are “an attack on poor children” … policy makers “don’t care about the students” … public education “is being defunded” … and “it’s not something specific to Philadelphia.”
Indeed, Philadelphia “is an early warning sign for America,” a former science teacher wrote recently at the progressive news site PolicyMic. Chronically low per-pupil spending – “behind suburban districts” – combined with a “powerful charter school movement” intent on privatizing schools, have eroded Philly schools to the state where basic supplies like paper, pencils, and books seem like luxuries.
It’s a story that mirrors what’s happening across the country.
Americans everywhere are seeing their local schools being ground into pieces between the twin political augers of government austerity and top-down, corporate-backed “reform.”

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Day of Action for Public Education. Dec. 9

“Public education is under attack,” comes the warning from Philadelphia in a riveting new video from community and youth organizers in that city.
Their accusations are that education policies are “an attack on poor children” … policy makers “don’t care about the students” … public education “is being defunded” … and “it’s not something specific to Philadelphia.”
Indeed, Philadelphia “is an early warning sign for America,” a former science teacher wrote recently at the progressive news site PolicyMic. Chronically low per-pupil spending – “behind suburban districts” – combined with a “powerful charter school movement” intent on privatizing schools, have eroded Philly schools to the state where basic supplies like paper, pencils, and books seem like luxuries.
It’s a story that mirrors what’s happening across the country.
Americans everywhere are seeing their local schools being ground into pieces between the twin political augers of government austerity and top-down, corporate-backed “reform.”

Parents' Message to de Blasio on Testing

Friday, November 29, 2013

Papering Over Public K-12 School Reform- Michelle Rhee?

Papering Over Public K-12 School Reform  By Seth Sandronsky
 Private interests are busy paying for political favors from lawmakers at the state Capitol in California, writes Dan Morain, a columnist with The Sacramento Bee:
According to him, what we know about Sen. Ron Calderon, a pro-business Democrat representing Montebello, and snared in an FBI sting operation recently, is just the tip of the dollars-and-politics iceberg. 
The good senator has ample company, Morain continues. He mentions other actors and forces in the fetid pay-to-play of California state politics. 
Yet his column omits the donor role of a leading public K-12 school reform group under the state Capitol dome. What is going on? 
Al Jazeera America’s Oct. 31 unveiling of an FBI affidavit that alleges Sen. Calderon’s multiple alleged wrongdoings includes his brother Thomas Calderon’s meeting with star education reformer Michelle Rhee’s lobbyists. Her StudentsFirst group operates from a national headquarters in Sacramento. 
The affidavit alleges that StudentsFirst lobbyists met with Sen. Calderon’s brother on Feb. 20. On Feb. 21, Sen. Calderon introduced a teacher-reform measure, Senate Bill 441 that Rhee’s group supports: 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fast for Immigration Reform - for Thanksgiving

Pressure and Passivity on Immigration

President Obama made the case for immigration reform again on Monday, in a speech in San Francisco that seemed mostly directed to Republicans in Congress, who aren’t listening. (see
Noting the Republican resistance to passing a single comprehensive bill, he struck an oddly lighthearted note. “It’s Thanksgiving,” he said. “We can carve that bird into multiple pieces — a drumstick here, breast meat there.” This drew chuckles. By suggesting that large-scale immigration overhaul can be done incrementally, he was retreating from an argument that has guided reform advocates for a decade: fixing the broken system requires three things at once — tighter enforcement, an improved flow of new immigrants and legalization for the 11 million living here outside the law.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Public Universities Should be Free

Public education should be free. If it isn't free, it isn't public education.
Aaron Bady.  Al Jazeera.
This should not be a controversial assertion. This should be common sense. But Americans have forgotten what the "public" in "public education" actually means (or used to mean). The problem is that the word no longer has anything to refer to: This country's public universities have been radically transformed. The change has happened so slowly and so gradually — bit by bit, cut by cut over half a century — that it can be seen really only in retrospect. But with just a small amount of historical perspective, the change is dramatic: public universities that once charged themselves to open their doors to all who could benefit by attending — that were, by definition, the public property of the entire state — have become something entirely different.
What we still call public universities would be more accurately described as state-controlled private universities — corporate entities that think and behave like businesses. Whereas there once was a public mission to educate the republic's citizens, there is now the goal of satisfying the educational needs of the market, aided by PR departments that brand degrees as commodities and build consumer interest, always with an eye to the bottom line. And while public universities once sought to advance the industry of the state as a whole, with an eye to the common good, shortfalls in public funding have led to universities' treating their research capacity as a source of primary fundraising, developing new technologies and products for the private sector, explicitly to raise the money they need to operate. Conflicts of interest are now commonplace.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How Charter Schools Are Undermining Public Education

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why Good Teachers Embrace Culture

Meeting students where they are often requires knowing, celebrating, and incorporating their cultural backgrounds.

By Sophie Quinton

Arizona's attorney general called the program "propagandizing and brainwashing." An administrative law judge ruled that it "promotes racial resentment against 'Whites,' and advocates ethnic solidarity of Latinos."
With that, the Tucson Unified School District's controversial Mexican-American studies courses shut down in 2011. Yet a University of Arizona study found that the mostly Latino students who took the courses were 46 percent to 150 percent more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not. The study also determined positive effects on math and reading test scores. An independent audit of the curriculum confirmed that taking the courses helped students succeed in school.
All good teachers build a bridge between what students know and what they need to learn. Yet teaching that embraces students' cultural backgrounds has largely been left out of current debates on what makes teachers effective. The drama in Tucson helps explain why: Culturally responsive teaching often requires confronting some of the most painful divides in American life.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How our public schools became a threat.

How our Public Schools Became a 'Communist Threat'

By Paul Buchheit

Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast called the public school system a "socialist regime." Michelle Rhee cautions us against commending students for their 'participation' in sports and other activities.
Privatizers believe that any form of working together as a community is anti-American. To them, individual achievement is all that matters. They're now applying their winner-take-all profit motive to our children.

We're Sliding Backwards, Towards "Separate and Unequal"

In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education seemed to place our country on the right track. Chief Justice Earl Warren said that education "is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." Thurgood Marshall insisted on "the right of every American to an equal start in life."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Journalists get the data wrong on school improvement

by Jeff Bryant
It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry when an “All-Purpose-Pundit” atThe New York Times takes it upon him/herself to write a commentary about education.
“Thomas Friedman is infamous for his uninformed pieces on education,” Larry Ferlazzo, a retired schoolteacher and ubiquitous education commentator on the Internet recently observed. And there’s “David Brooks, who is equally off-base.”
Diane Ravitch, lamenting a recent column by Times editorialist Bill Keller, who lazily blamed widespread problems with education performance on university teacher preparation programs (without mustering a shred of evidence to support his claim), concluded, “It would be wonderful if theNew York Times elevated someone to the op-ed page as a columnist who actually knew something about education.”
Staying true to form last week was Times opinionator Nicholas Kritsof. Prompted by the latest results of the National Assessment of Education Progress, aka “the Nation’s Report Card,” Kritsof observed on Twitter, “Latest NAEP school test scores suggest that school reform helps. Big improvements in DC & Tennessee, both centers of reform.”
Since 1990, the “Main NAEP,” given every other year in grades 4 and 8 to measure national and state achievement in reading and math, has led to all sorts of overblown claims. This year’s results have been subjected to the same tendencies – despite the fact that the results were described as“stubbornly mixed” by reliable news outlets, with stagnation in 4th grade reading and math and slight gains in 8th grade reading only.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Krugman- The Mutilated Economy

RS Seminar- Economic Crisis: Krugman- The Mutilated Economy: The Mutilated Economy By  PAUL KRUGMAN Five years and eleven months have now passed since the U.S. economy entered recession. Offici...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Michelle Rhee involved in the California Calderon Scandal

National education reform advocate sought Calderon'€™s influence

Al Jazera America. 
October 31, 2013  5:41PM ET
A private meeting with lobbyists for Michelle Rhee occurred before the CA state senator sponsored education reform bill
Law & Justice
Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst and former chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools, at a discussion on education reform in September.
Danny Moloshok/UPI/Landov
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lobbyists representing the nonprofit founded by education reform activist Michelle Rhee met privately with Thomas Calderon, a political dealmaker here, the day before Calderon’s brother, state Sen. Ronald Calderon, introduced a controversial bill that would have toughened teacher performance evaluations, according to people familiar with the matter.
The meeting with lobbyists for StudentsFirst, Rhee’s nonprofit lobbying organization, occurred on Feb. 20 of this year. The next day, state and other public records show, Senator Calderon introduced the bill championed by Rhee’s group. There is no indication that Rhee attended the meeting, and she did not respond to requests for an interview.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More students, fewer teachers- it is called austerity

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mayor Johnson Shoots an Air Ball

When A Mayor Shoots An Air Ball

 By Seth Sandronsky

Seth Sandronsky ZSpace Page 
Inaccuracy reigns in U.S. politics today. 
We turn to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a two-term Democrat who rose to fame as a star guard in the NBA. Mr. Johnson is now visiting U.S. cities on a Mayors for Educational Excellence Tour with three mayors: Juli├ín Castro of San Antonio; Michael Hancock of Denver and Angel Taveras of Providence, R.I.   
In a recent Politico opinion piece “On the road to school success,” Mr. Johnson shot an air ball concerning public education in Sacramento:
He wrote: “Facing the inherent difficulty of addressing the challenges of the city’s five school districts, Sacramento saw a need to attract proven education practices to the city. The mayor’s office helped convene and recruit prominent national organizations, and within just one year, City Year, Teach for America, StudentsFirst and College Track launched sites in the city. Each organization has had an immediate impact on schools and on student learning, and the influx of talented individuals invested in student success has created a promising environment for collaboration and innovation.” 
It is inaccurate to write that “Sacramento” saw a need to change its K-12 public education system. For the record, the public did not vote on the matter as Mr. Johnson described it. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Schools and poverty

By Elaine Weiss
So much has been said about new “21st century” skills, standards, and learning requirements, that they have become virtually synonymous with “college and career readiness” (a similarly poorly defined goal). The purportedly new demand for higher-level and different skills has further increased the pressure for more tests and higher stakes attached to them.
new study showing explosive growth in student poverty suggests, though, that we have misidentified the problem. What if we have actually been teaching the right skills in U.S. schools all along – math and reading, science and civics, along with creativity, perseverance, and team-building? What if these were as important a hundred years ago for nurturing innovative farmers and developers of new automobiles as they are now for creating the next generation of tech innovators? What if these are the very characteristics of U.S. schools that have made us such a strong public education nation, and the current shift toward a narrower agenda just dilutes that strength? What if, rather than raising standards, and testing students more, the biggest change we need to address is that of our student body?
The October 2013 Southern Education Foundation study indicates clearly that poverty, which has long been the biggest obstacle to educational achievement, is more important than ever. It is our true 21st century problem. Fifty years ago, we educated mostly working-class kids and up, and we did not expect those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder to graduate. Now we educate all students, including the very poorest and otherwise disadvantaged. And we expect them all to graduate. Compounding this shift, a large and growing proportion of U.S. students students live in poverty and even concentrated poverty, have a disability, and/or are learning English as a second language. THAT is the paradigm shift, and we need a totally new set of policies to address that 21st century reality.

National Association for Multicultural Education - Conference

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Obama is not a socialist. But, we are !

75 Maiden Lane / Suite 702 / New York, NY 10038
212-727-8610 / fax 212-608-6955 /

Obama is not a socialist, but we are !
The  nation’s largest  democratic socialist organization meets in Emeryville  Oct. 25/27  to plan for :
 Socialism in the Age of Obama.   
The  DSA convention begins with a Bay Area  outreach event -- Building the Next Left -- Rebirth and Renewal,  Friday, October 25, 2013,  Humanist Hall,  390 27th Street, Oakland. The event features writer John Nichols; Catherine Tactaquin, Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Steve Williams, Co-founder of POWER ( People Organized to Win Employment Rights); and Maria Svart, National Director of Democratic Socialists of America.
Last week  right-wing politics in the Congress forced the nation precariously close to a default on the national debt that could  have produced  a second great economic crisis.  The Democratic Socialists of America view this political corruption and cynicism as an opportunity to organize a New Left -- a powerful political movement left of the Democrats working with labor, workers organizations, immigrant groups and social movements to --
Rebuild a Participatory Democracy in a Multicultural U.S.
Speakers at the convention include: John Nichols, Tom Hayden, union leaders Jose La Luz and Michael Lighty, immigrant rights activists Catherine Tactaquin and David Bacon,  Joe Schwartz, Maria Svart, Steve Williams and more.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Forum- School Closings in Sacramento

The Black Parallel School Board  & Southeast Village Neighborhood Association
Presents  A Community Forum featuring
Dr. Hernandez from the Sociology Department @ UC Davis
 “Residential Segregation and School Closures”  
Free and open to the public!!!
Thursday, October 24, 2013 from 5:30pm -8:00pm
George Sim Community Center, 6207 Logan Street, Sacramento, CA  95824
Many co-sponsors including the Democracy and Education Institute, DSA, Progressive Alliance and others.  See post below. 
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.