Friday, August 30, 2013

Senator who proposes arming teachers- shoots teacher with rubber bullet

OOPS: Senator Who Advocates Arming Teachers Accidentally Shoots Teacher with Rubber Bullet.  by Igor Volsky.

A state senator who is advocating for arming teachers in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, accidentally shot a teacher with a rubber bullet during a training course, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

Arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R) recently participated in “active shooter” training and mistakenly shot a teacher who was confronting a so-called bad guy. The experience gave Hutchinson “some pause” but failed to shake his confidence in the plan.
“The ideal would be to have a trained resource officer in every school,” Hutchinson told the paper. “The state and school districts can’t afford that.”
In July, Arkansas’ Clarksville School District announced that it would “train and arm 20 staff members who would act as security guards to defend against a gunman” and “applied for a license from the Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies to act as a private company with authority to hire private security officers.” Following a legal squabble, however, a state board is scheduled to decide next month if staff members can in fact act as security guards.
Since the Newtown shooting, schools around the country have moved to encourage or require teachers (and sometimes students) to carry firearms.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Low Wage Workers hold one day strike

Bill Barclay
In 1962 I graduated from Raleigh, NC’s, high school for white kids. (African-Americans attended a different high school, although this was eight years after Brown v. Board of Education.) Two years later I dropped out of college and found a job at the Char-Grill, one of Raleigh’s earliest fast food restaurants.   I was paid $60 for a 48-hour week, the then federal minimum wage level. After four months I was promoted to “night manager” at the princely sum of $70/week ($525 in today's dollars).  I was a “front line supervisor” as they are called in official employment statistics. And for all intents and purposes my career ladder was at an end.  I could have stayed at the Char-Grill another ten years and still remained a shift manager, perhaps moving to the day shift but no further.
I had not thought much about this experience for some time, but the rolling one-day strikes by low-wage workers, with fast food workers in the lead, brought back a lot of memories. Yes, some things have changed since I worked at the Char-Grill. White males were the only employees at the Grill, while today the “food preparation and serving” occupation is almost 2/3 female and over 30 percent African-American and Latino. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ravitch- Little evidence to support Common Core boosters

Writing at The Huffington Post, education historian Diane Ravitch questioned what reform measures like the Common Core can really accomplish given the circumstances on the ground:
Across the nation, our schools are suffering from budget cuts.
Because of budget cuts, there are larger class sizes and fewer guidance counselors, social workers, teachers’ assistants, and librarians.
Because of budget cuts, many schools have less time and resources for the arts, physical education, foreign languages, and other subjects crucial for a real education.
As more money is allocated to testing and accountability, less money is available for the essential programs and services that all schools should provide.
Our priorities are confused.

Charter networks push 2-4 years and out for teachers- that is a career.

 Motoko Rich.  NYTimes.
Studies have shown that on average, teacher turnover diminishes student achievement. Advocates who argue that teaching should become more like medicine or law say that while programs like Teach for America fill a need in the short term, educational leaders should be focused on improving training and working environments so that teachers will invest in long careers.
“To become a master plumber you have to work for five years,” said Ronald Thorpe, president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a nonprofit group that certifies accomplished teachers. “Shouldn’t we have some kind of analog to that with the people we are entrusting our children to?”
Teachers’ unions and others in the traditional education establishment argue that charter schools are driving teachers away with longer hours and school years, as well as higher workplace demands. (At YES Prep, for example, all teachers are assigned a cellphone to answer any student call for homework assistance until 9 p.m.)

Support Firefighters in California

     This is a good time to thank all of those public workers – the Firefighters ( men and women) and their support crews who are fighting the fires in the California mountains. And, we should thank the public who fund the fire fighting efforts through their tax dollars. Currently the cost is $44 million. This is how government works.
Unfortunately a minority living in the mountains tend to be anti government and anti tax.  Well- someone needs to promote a democratic society in opposition to the political project of the Tea Party and Right Wing Congressmen and elected officials like Mc Clintock.
Update: Sacramento Bee
On Sunday, President Barack Obama called Gov. Jerry Brown and committed federal resources to help the state, according to a statement form the White House.
Following that telephone call, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today it had authorized federal funds to help fund the firefight. The agency said it would reimburse the state for as much as 75 percent of eligible costs, including expenses for field camps, materials and supplies and mobilization and demobilization efforts.

Read more here:


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Social and Emotional Learning Summit

Dr. Duncan-Andrade to speak at Social and Emotional Learning summit Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, an associate professor at San Francisco State University who has lectured around the world about the elements of effective teaching in schools serving poor and working class children, is the keynote speaker for the Social Emotional Learning Summit at C.K. McClatchy High School on August 27, 2013.

Duncan-Andrade specializes in working with school staffs to help them develop classroom practices and school cultures that foster self-confidence, esteem and academic success among all students  For more info visit: .

Friday, August 23, 2013

Join the March on Washington

“You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of the slums. . . . There must be a better distribution of wealth . . . and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speech to the SCLC staff, Frogmore, S.C., November 14, 1966

    Democratic socialists Bayard Rustin, Walter Reuther and A. Philip Randolph
helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago.
They knew that ending legal segregation and winning political rights for African Americans were essential, but not sufficient, to ensure justice and freedom for all. Without access to good education, to health care and above all to decent jobs that paid living wages, the vote was not enough.
     Today, as the recent Supreme Court decision has emboldened racists and reactionaries in many state governments to roll back the electoral influence of African Americans and Latinos, we are marching again to defend the gains in voting rights of the last 50 years. These rights are essential to overturn Stand Your Ground laws and to end the mass incarceration of young people of color and the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why We March - Trayvon Martin

 In response to the Ginger Rutland’s article regarding the national call for “Justice For Trayvon Martin” vigil-- a few concerned community members did submit the following Op-Ed to the Bee. While the Sacramento Bee chose not to publish our Op-Ed letter we submitted July 29, 2013. Here’s our Op-Ed letter:

Why We March: Another View
On Saturday, July 20, 2013, hundreds of people met at the Robert Matsui Federal Court House in downtown Sacramento to protest the Zimmerman verdict. The participants reflected the diversity of the region; they were ethnically and culturally varied, young and old, and passionate about the issue bringing them together. They were also determined to keep the protest peaceful, and they succeeded.
Yet Ginger Rutland’s article of Tuesday, July 23, 2013, called for the public to stop protesting the Zimmerman verdict and channel that energy into mentoring a child. Yes, we should indeed continue mentoring and supporting our young people, and yes, we should acknowledge the myriad number of grassroots organizations and individuals in our region dedicated to working with youth. But end protests? Not yet.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We should all care about what is happening to Philadelphia schools- because it could happen here.

Jeff Bryant

Philadelphia, the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Constitution was written, and the site of the oldest residential street in the United States, has become the site where the nation’s drift away from its founding ideals is most acutely obvious.
A recent op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer described the situation of the city’s public schools as a “slow train wreck.” The district faced “a $304 million hole in the amount of money that’s needed to open safe schools.” A “rescue package” offered by the state was woefully inadequate. Recently, the city borrowed $50 million just to open the schools on time. And a big showdown between teachers and school administrators is expected later this month.
“This should be a big national story,” the op-ed writer concluded, “arguably as big as what happened in Detroit. At the end of the day, Detroit’s bankruptcy was something that happened on a piece of paper. What’s happening here is real kids and real schools.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Data Shows School 'Reformers' Are Getting it Wrong | Perspectives, What Matters Today |

New Data Shows School 'Reformers' Are Getting it Wrong | Perspectives, What Matters Today |

David Sirota.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that many “reformers’” policies have spectacularly failed, prompted massive scandals and/or offered no actual proof of success, an elite media that typically amplifies — rather than challenges — power and money loyally casts “reformers’” systematic pillaging of public education as laudable courage (the most recent example of this is Time magazine’s cover cheering on wildly unpopular Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel after he cited budget austerity to justify the largest mass school closing in American history — all while he is also proposing to spend $100 million of taxpayer dollars on a new private sports stadium).
In other words, elite media organizations (which, in many cases, have their own vested financial interest in education “reform”) go out of their way to portray the anti-public-education movement as heroic rather than what it really is: just another get-rich-quick scheme shrouded in the veneer of altruism.
That gets to the news that exposes “reformers’” schemes — and all the illusions that surround them. According to a new U.S. Department of Education study, “about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011… up from about one in eight in 2000.” This followed an earlier study from the department finding that “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding… leav(ing) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.”
Those data sets powerfully raise the question that “reformers” are so desperate to avoid: Are we really expected to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the public education and poverty crises are happening at the same time? Put another way: Are we really expected to believe that everything other than poverty is what’s causing problems in failing public schools?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stand Up for Students

Will you join youth who are standing up for civil rights? On August 14, youth from different parts of California will lead a rally in Sacramento to ask Governor Jerry Brown to meet with young people to understand why it is critical that he stand with them to fix our inequitable school discipline laws and sign legislation that will help enforce the civil rights of all students in all communities across California.

School suspensions aren’t equal. Did you know that in California: 
·         Some schools suspend 40% of students.
·         Black students are 4 times more likely to be suspended for “willful defiance” than white students.
·         Students with disabilities are 2 times more likely to be suspended for “willful defiance” than students without disabilities.
·         LGBT students are 1.4 times more likely to be suspended than their straight peers.

Whether you are a student of color, an LGBT student, a student with disabilities, a parent or a member of a school community, school discipline is an important civil rights issue.  The harm is real and long-lasting; students who are suspended are far more likely to be pushed out of school and into our juvenile justice system.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

California test scores dip -- results of budget cuts

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Releases 2013 STAR Results

Statewide scores slip slightly amid budget cuts, transition to Common Core
SACRAMENTO—Scores on the annual Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments slipped by a fraction of a percentage point this year as schools dealt with ongoing budget reductions and the transition to the Common Core State Standards, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.
Students managed to hold on to the vast majority of gains posted over the last 11 years, with a majority of students statewide continuing to achieve at the proficient or advanced level in mathematics and English-language arts. Only one student in three achieved proficiency in 2003, the year that the STAR tests became fully aligned to the former state content standards.
"As you would expect for a school system in transition, results varied from grade to grade, subject to subject, and school to school, but the big picture is one of remarkable resilience despite the challenges," Torlakson said. "While we all want to see California's progress continue, these results show that in the midst of change and uncertainty, teachers and schools kept their focus on students and learning. That's a testament to the depth of their commitment to their students and the future of our state."
Torlakson also noted that schools across the state continued to deal with the effects of years of budget cuts and financial uncertainties throughout the 2012-13 school year. Led by Governor Brown, voter approval of Proposition 30 in 2012 averted $6 billion in further cuts to education budgets.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

House of Cards Episode 2 - "Rheesons to Investigate"

See essay below: Essay on Michelle Rhee which no major paper will publish.  John Merrow.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Monday, August 05, 2013

Parents Protest over school closures - school "reform"
Amy Dean, The Nation

"As it stands now, if nothing changes, the schools are going to have to open without any adults in the large spaces where kids gather," predicted Philadelphia public schools parent Michael Mullins in late June….
As the showdown in Philadelphia indicates, the ongoing battle over education "reform" and school funding--topics often discussed in think tanks, political campaigns or Waiting for "Superman"-style media productions--is moving into the streets. 
Chicago and Seattle, too, have seen vigorous protests against austerity, privatization, high-stakes testing and union-busting. Such demonstrations together represent a forceful challenge to the corporate-financed push for "education reform" undertaken by the likes of Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellor of Washington, DC. But these movements are more than mere isolated acts of resistance; in their demands, the outlines of a coherent policy agenda can be discerned--one that looks honestly at what it will take to bring quality education to America's least privileged communities.
One thing this movement has already accomplished is exposing how the education "reform" movement provides cover to Republicans and neoliberal Democrats who are starving the public school system. In championing privately run charter schools, the (self-described) reformers paint traditional schools as failures that should be defunded--even if those traditional schools outperform charters. By bashing teachers unions, figures like Rhee have helped politicians scapegoat the unions for fiscal woes, even as many of those lawmakers advocate cutting taxes. And by claiming that those who cite poverty's impact on student achievement are merely making excuses for sub-par teaching, the "reform" camp has played down the devastating effects of ruthless budget cutting.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Essay on Michelle Rhee which no major newspaper will accept.

by John Merrow:
Michelle Rhee lobbies across the country for greater test-based accountability and changes in teacher tenure rules.  She often appears on television and in newspapers, commenting on a great range of education issues.  Easily America’s best-known education activist, she is always introduced as the former Chancellor of the public schools in Washington, DC, the woman who took on a corrupt and failing system and shook it up. The rest of the story is rarely mentioned.
The op-ed below has been rejected[1] by four newspapers, three of them national publications. One editor’s rejection note said that Michelle Rhee was not a national story.

Today, too many of America’s children are not getting the quality education they need and deserve. StudentsFirst is helping to change that with common sense reforms that help make sure all students have great schools and great teachers.(StudentsFirst press release, emphasis added)
Michelle Rhee created StudentsFirst after leaving her post as Chancellor of Washington, DC’s Public Schools in the fall of 2010. She announced her intentions on “Oprah” that December: to fix America’s schools by enrolling one million members and raising one billion dollars.[2]
Easily America’s most visible education activist, she has been crisscrossing the country lobbying for change and donating money to candidates whose policies she supports. StudentsFirst claims to have helped pass 110 ‘student-centered policies’ in 18 states.
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