Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rhee strikes again - in California

This morning's Sacramento  Bee has a full page ad directed at the California Senate Education Committee.  It claims to be in favor of improving teacher quality.  The ad is signed by a group SupportCAteachers.com
Well, if you follow the link, you end up at Rhee's own Student First an advocacy organization recently criticized in national media for their interventions. I guess that Students First, and Michelle Rhee who receive massive donations from the Waltons ( WalMart, Broad, etc)  don't want to be too public about their positions this week.  You can follow the the trail of who funds Rhee below.  Similar to their advocacy in other states, supporting anti immigrant groups and anti Gay legislators, Rhee's campaigns are duplicitous - at best.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Michelle Rhee's group endorses anti-gay legislator

Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst is putting together quite the record as far as legislators it selects as "reformer of the year." Last year, StudentsFirst came under fire from immigrant groups angry that Georgia state Sen. Chip Rogers, author of several harshly anti-immigrant bills, including one that would have kept DREAMers out of public schools, had been dubbed reformer of the year. Rogers hasappropriate company as StudentsFirst reformer of the year in Tennessee state Rep. John Ragan, who is an author of legislation as anti-gay as Rogers's legislation was anti-immigrant.
From Daily Kos.  Labor. 

Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends | Economic Policy Institute

Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends | Economic Policy Institute

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Big Education Ape: NYC Public School Parents: Bloomberg's education l...

Big Education Ape: NYC Public School Parents: Bloomberg's education l...: NYC Public School Parents: Bloomberg's education legacy in The Nation : Bloomberg's education legacy in The Nation by  Leonie Hai...

Should you go to college ? Yes. Where ?

 I watched the NBC news on April 24, and they offered another news story on the high cost of higher education.  And then their discussion was about the cost of elite or tier one universities.   What they did not talk about, and what is seldom discussed is where should you go to college?  What is the evidence that elite or top tier universities provide a better education? 
Members of the U.S. power elite have long sent their children to elite universities in an effort to prepare them for professions and well paying positions.  And even faculty at the lower level universities (regional universities, community colleges) try to get their children into the tier one and elite universities.
There is clear evidence that graduating from college is important for economic success in our rapidly changing economy. It is less clear that attending elite universities offers more economic success than graduating from   your local public university.
 Young people, high school and college students want to choose where to go to college, but there are significant cost considerations that parents ( if they are going to pay) should consider.  And, if the student is going to pay, the parents should do some serious counseling on debt.
Top private universities can cost  $40,000 to $50,000 per year.  Or, you could go to a U.C. for about $14,000 per year as an undergraduate.  Many graduate programs are more. Premium ( first tier) U.C.’s cost somewhat more.   U.C. Berkeley, U.C.L.A., etc.
Or, you could go to a CSU for $6,800 per year.   Or, you could go to a community college for the first two years of college at a cost in California of about. $1,400 per year.
 There is some interesting evidence reviewed here. Revisiting the Value of Elite Colleges.  David Leonhardt.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Fight Against Teachers Unions

by Leo Casey

Michelle Rhee and others, on teacher unions.
How does that compare to the resources and spending of the leading education reform actors? In a matter of days after she publicly announced the formation of StudentsFirst, an explicitly anti-union political lobbying organization, Michelle Rhee had raised pledges of more than $100 million, with a goal of raising $2 billion over five years. Rhee’s donors list includes many high profile corporate leaders and foundations with an anti-union bent, including Murdoch (NewsCorp), Walton Family (Wal-Mart), Fisher (The Gap), Langone (Home Depot), Tepper (Appaloosa), Arnold (Enron), New York City Mayor Bloomberg (Bloomberg Inc.), Fournier (Pennant), Loeb (Third Point), Tudor Jones (Tudor Investment) and Broad (SunAmerica-AIG). [8]
And StudentsFirst is only one of many such organizations. Wealthy individuals and foundations are literally pouring billions of dollars into various anti-union, privatization and corporate “education reform” efforts on a scale that teacher unions could never hope to match. [9]…

As one examines the issues, the struggles over the future of public education and teachers unions in America comes to resemble the classic populist conflict of wealth and money on the one side and masses of ordinary people on the other. One cannot understand the real power and role of teacher unions, nor the balance of political power between unions and their corporate-funded opponents, without coming to grips with this central premise. And, in truth, when attacks on pubic education and teacher unions are cast as a concerted campaign by the rich and powerful against ordinary working teachers, they lose a considerable portion of their potency. [16]
By Leo Casey.  The Shanker Institute.
Read the entire essay. http://shankerblog.org/?p=8177

Market based school reform fail

Market-Oriented Reforms' Rhetoric  Trumps Reality

Top-down pressure from federal education policies such as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, bolstered by organized advocacy efforts, is making a popular set of market-oriented education “reforms” look more like the new status quo than real reform. Reformers assert that test-based teacher evaluation, increased access to charter schools, and the closure of “failing” and under-enrolled schools will boost at-risk students’ achievement and narrow longstanding race- and income-based achievement gaps. This new report from the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education examines these assertions by comparing the impacts of these reforms in three large urban school districts – Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago – with student and school outcomes over the same period in other large, high-poverty urban districts. The report finds that the reforms deliver few benefits, often harm the students they purport to help, and divert attention from a set of other, less visible policies with more promise to weaken the link between poverty and low educational attainment.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

U.S. kids in more poverty than Europe/West

By Caitlin Dewey and Max Fisher
April 18, 2013
Washington Post
The report, which compares kids in 29 Western countries, measures well-being across five metrics: material well-being, health and safety, behaviors and risks, housing and environment, as well as education. It ranks the United States in the bottom third on all five measures of well-being and particularly low on education and poverty. The

American children are on average worse off than children in Western Europe and barely better off than their counterparts in the Baltic states and the former Yugoslavia, according to a recent report from United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the welfare of children in developed countries.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ca. Democratic Party criticizes Rhee, Romero, Students First, and dubious school reform

Much of the fiery rhetoric during Sunday's general session was focused on StudentsFirst, the education policy advocacy group founded by Michelle Rhee, and Democrats for Education Reform, which has backing from former Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero.
"They sound like good names, but let's be perfectly clear. These organizations are backed by moneyed interests, Republican operatives and out-of-state Wall Street billionaires dedicated to school privatization and trampling on teacher and worker rights," California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel told delegates Sunday. "And we're not going to stand for that."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson criticized the same groups by name, saying they do not "lift a finger to prevent the cuts to education."
"In my book, you're not a reformer, you're not helping education and you're sure not much of a Democrat," he said.
StudentsFirst and the CTA have clashed in the Capitol and on the campaign trail in the last year. The nonprofit poured $2 million into an independent expenditure committee last year that was used to back several state legislative candidates, including a Democrat and former charter school executive who lost to another Democrat backed by the CTA in a very costly Southern California Assembly race.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hoy Marchamos. Mañana Votamos

Challenging the Criminalization of
Immigrants in the Comprehensive
Immigration Reform Proposals:
A Human Rights Perspective.

Tues. April 16, 2013
11:00 Am. – 2 PM.
Redwood Room. University Union
Sponsored by the Serna Center, DSA, The Progressive Alliance, LACLAA, Union Civica Primero de Mayo, Chican@Latin@ Faculty and Staff,  and others.

I do not know why this announcement has been showing up as blocked.
Information.  http://progressiveforum07.blogspot.com

This is a story the Sacramento Bee did not cover Thursday.  - The local connection.
Tens of thousands of immigrants and their allies marched Wednesday in a coordinated series of protest demanding that Congress approve new, comprehensive immigration reform for the 11 million immigrants currently living in the U.S.
Support rallies were held in cities and towns across the nation- including Sacramento.  In Sacramento Yvonne Walker, head of the California SEIU (see photo) , and Bill Camp of the Sacramento Central Labor Council , Phil Serna Sacramento County Supervisor  and local leaders held a rally at the Federal Building to insist on political action from Congress.
Note: the Bee does not cover items because they have laid off many of their reporters.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

California High School Graduation Rates Rise

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Continued
Improvement in State's High School Graduation Rate

SACRAMENTO—Graduation rates among California's public school students are climbing and dropout rates are falling, with the biggest gains being made among African-American and Hispanic students, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.
Overall, nearly eight out of 10 students, or 78.5 percent, who started high school in 2008-09 graduated with their class in 2012. That is up 1.4 percentage points from the year before (Table 1). Among African-American students, 65.7 percent graduated with their class in 2012, up 2.9 percentage points from the year before. Among Hispanic students, 73.2 percent graduated with their class, up 1.8 percentage points from the year before (Tables 2 and 3).
"There are great things happening in California's schools every day, and the upward climb of our graduation rate bears that out," Torlakson said. "While I am glad to announce that we are moving in the right direction, the fact remains that we must keep moving to ensure that every California student graduates ready to succeed in the world they will find outside our classrooms."
Along with the rise in the graduation rate, there is a dip in the dropout rate. Of the students who started high school in 2008-09, 13.2 percent dropped out. That's down 1.5 percentage points from the 2011 dropout rate (Table 1). Among African-American students, 22.2 percent dropped out, down 3.1 percentage points from the year before. Among Hispanic students, 16.2 dropped out, down 2.1 percentage points from the year before (Tables 2 and 3).

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Educators Occupy the Dept. of Education

Washington Post. The Answer Sheet.  Valerie Strauss.

By Amy Rothschild
From today through Sunday, education activists, including Diane Ravitch, will “occupy” the Department of Education.
Ravitch, of course, has occupied the Department of Education before, but in a different sense: From 1991 to 1993, she served as Assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush. She is standing outside the building gates as part of “Occupy 2.0, a Battle for the Public Schools.”
In 1991, her years of scholarship on school reform made her an attractive choice for the role of Assistant Secretary for Education Research and Improvement. Fast-forward two decades. She is leading the fight against corporate-based reform after the evidence persuaded her that it didn’t work. And now, the person serving in an analogous role at the department has experience not in the classroom or in public school leadership or in scholarship on school transformation, but, rather, from McKinsey & Company, and as founder of a for-profit school management company.

Monday, April 01, 2013

If tax dollars go to private schools, what happens to public schools?

by Duane Campbell
 There are few institutions more directly connected  to our state and national prosperity and our democracy than public schools.  Now, a few states, primarily in the South, are dismantling public funding in order to create for profit options for private schools. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/education/states-shifting-aid-for-schools-to-the-families.html.
It is not surprising that this rejection of  public education as a route to  prosperity for all comes from the South and states dominated by Republican legislatures.  In my opinion, Arizona, Indiana,  Texas, and Alabama can go ahead and decline if they so choose, however we need to set up some borders and tariffs, and perhaps trade agreements to prevent their move to “free market” choices from imposing vast new costs on the states which continue to want democracy and prosperity.  Remember, free market ideology is what brought us the economic crisis since 2007.
Public schools have  significantly contributed to U.S.  prosperity for the last 100 years  and they have fostered  our national unity.  It is accurate that some public schools are failing- particularly those serving low income and minority children.  But, there is no evidence that privatizing will improve these schools.

Lessons from the Atlanta testing scandal

Public Education: This is what democracy looks like: Lessons from the Atlanta testing scandal: Friday’s indictment of 35 Atlanta educators for a massive testing scandal should give pause to all people who care about the futu...

Education Activists Opt Out

Education activists  Op Out. 
Valerie Strauss 
Education activists opposed to corporate-based school reform are converging on Washington D.C. next week for the second annual United Opt Out National event on the grounds of the U.S. Education Department. Among those who will be speaking at the event are education historian Diane Ravitch, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, veteran educator Deborah Meier, and early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige.
The four-day event — to be attended by teachers, students, parents and others — will start on April 4th and include a march to the White House in an effort to get the attention of President Obama, who has been a big disappointment to people who thought he would push progressive school reform policies. Instead, his Education Department has pushed a corporate-based reform agenda that includes an accountability system based on standardized tests — against the advice of assessment experts — and initiatives that have fueled the privatization of public education and attacks on teachers.
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