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: Julián 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. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rhee's Failures- Promotion, PR, not Evidence

Jeff Bryant
Without doubt the poster person for the reform movement has been ex-chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public school system Michelle Rhee, who rocketed to the limelight of American consciousness with her grandiose portrayals in the popular press and the major documentary film “Waiting for Superman.”
Rhee is known as none other than “America’s most famous school reformer.”
But it is Rhee’s spectacular rise and fall that in many ways symbolizes the fallen arc of the education reform movement. This month, that trajectory sank even lower.
Despite a generation of pledges to advance American prosperity, the economic conditions of typical Americans continue to deteriorate: more widespread poverty among children, persistently high uninsured rates among the elderly, more people who lack the savings to cover basic expenses for three months if they lose their job, more wage earners in low-pay jobs barely able to cover basic needs, and explosive growth in income inequality.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Black Parallel School Board 
Southeast Village Neighborhood Association
A Community Forum featuring
Dr. Jesus Hernandez, sociology professor at 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
Our Co-Sponsors: (partial list): Stephanie Francis, Parent, African Research Institute, Alpha Academy Program , Suzanne Brooks , Concerned African American Parents of Elk Grove, Democracy and Education Institute ,  Mexican American Digital History Project, Sacramento Progressive Alliance, DSA (Sacramento), Sac Cultural Hub, Sacramento Area Black Caucus, Order Of Olufunmi , Friends of Sabeel -- Sacramento Region, Chicano Consortium of Sacramento and Sacramento City Teachers Association, Avondale Glen Elders Neighborhood Association (AGENA), Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP), Bernard A. Goldberg, Capital Region Organizing Project (CROP), Sacramento ACLU Chapter of Northern California,  Master Barber & Beauty Shop and The Talking Drums News.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Opinion: On the road to school success - Michael Hancock and Kevin Johnson and Angel Taveras and Julián Castro -

Opinion: On the road to school success - Michael Hancock and Kevin Johnson and Angel Taveras and Julián Castro -

Interesting.  Kevin Johnson as an educational leader. The success he lists have not produced progress in Sacramento area schools IMHO.
This is how educational policy is shaped - by people with little real working contact with the schools.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sacramento Unified Superintendent Resigns. Why this direction of school reform did not work.

Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jonathon Raymond has resigned.  He will leave the district in December. Raymond was one of a number of national superintendents trained by the Broad Superintendents Academy- a project of the Broad Foundation.   Michelle Rhee serves on the advisory committee for the “Academy”. This is a significant part of Broad and corporate guided  strategy for school “reform”.  See prior articles by Randy Shaw and Joanne  Barkan, among others,    on the limits of this reform movement.
The district hired Raymond, and received Broad Foundation support, in an attempt to raise the achievement scores of public schools.  However, Raymond served during the last 4 years of economic crisis while state imposed budget cuts prevented many improvements.
Particularly divisive has been the decision to close seven low income elementary campuses.  This strategy of closing schools in minority districts has been used by Broad Foundation alumni in cities around the nation, including Chicago, Philadelphia and others.  The Foundation has a guidebook for how to select and to close these schools.
No Superintendent, no leader, can be individually faulted for failure to significantly improve scores in low income schools in a period when the per pupil expenditures were reduced by over $1,000 per student.
Increasing student poverty, as documented by economist Joseph Stiglitz, and Robert Reich, among others, explains a significant part of why U.S. in falling further behind other countries school achievement.   “When you break down the various test scores, you find that high income kids are high achievers and they are holding their own and more.” According to Micheal Rebell  the executive director of the campaign for Educational Equity at Columbia University.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Government is Open. Now Fight for Just Gover...

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: The Government is Open. Now Fight for Just Gover...: The Government is Open: Now fight for Just Government Policies By Joseph M. Schwartz  Progressives  welcome the defeat of R...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What if we default on our debt?

“Sitting on the Pavement, Thinking About the Government” –
What if we default on our debt?  (Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”)
 Bill Barclay.
The debt ceiling, the dollar and hegemonic currencies

Let’s begin by clearing up a possible lingering misconception about debt and defaults.  If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling and we default, does that mean the U.S. is broke?  No.  The U.S., like any country that 1) controls the creation of its own currency and 2) issues its debt in its own currency, cannot go broke.  However, political calculations can impose deadbeat status on such a country. 

What about other countries, why don’t they have this problem?  The answer is equally simple.  With the exception of Denmark, no other wealthy industrial society has a debt ceiling – and Denmark’s is set at over twice their actual level of government debt – and it is not a political football.  So yes, the U.S. is, as our national meme says, exceptional.  The debt ceiling – and any associated problems – are our own creation. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Clear Cutting of Our Schools - and Sacramento

by Editorial Board. Rethinking Schools
No single policy reflects the bankruptcy of current education reform politics more than the mass closings of public schools. From Chicago to Washington, D.C., to New Orleans, Detroit, and Philadelphia, these mass closings lay waste to communities, negatively impact children's lives, and help to dismantle not just public education but also the broader public sector, weakening organized labor and opening up the public space to commercial penetration and profit.
Ed. Note:  And Sacramento- See event below. 
City by city, any number of excuses have been employed to justify these attacks. Private foundations, including Broad, Dell, and Walton, wield their enormous wealth and influence. Broad's School Closure Guide has made its rounds through the education reform movement with cities like Chicago lifting its recommendations almost wholesale. Along with budget cuts, testing, and charters, school closings are part of the corporate reform playbook assaulting our schools.
Once school closings start, they simply do not stop. New York City has closed more than 140 public schools since 2002. Chicago capped almost a decade of closing more than 100 schools with its 49-school closure this year. After closing 23 schools, Washington, D.C., is closing 15 more. Pittsburgh has had four rounds of school closures in the past decade, amounting to a total decrease of 41 percent.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

California continues to underfund its schools

Valuable new report from California Budget Project.

Rising to the Challenge: Why Greater Investment in K-12 Education Matters for California's Students

A new CBP School Finance Facts compares California student demographics, education spending, and school staffing to that in the rest of the US, and finds that the state's investment in K-12 schools lags the nation even as California faces unique challenges in educating its 6.2 million public school students.Rising to the Challenge: Why Greater Investment in K-12 Education Matters for California's Students shows that:
  • California invests less in K-12 education than other states, despite having greater financial resources. California's per capita income ($47,115) was higher than for the rest of the US ($43,905) in 2012-13. This same year, the rest of the nation invested 4.04 percent of total personal income in K-12 education, a level more than one-fourth (27 percent) higher than the 3.18 percent in California.
  • California's 1.3 million English learners (ELs) nearly equal the combined number of ELs in the next four most populous states -- Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois -- even though these four states together have roughly twice as many students as California.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Charter School Mistake

The Charter School Mistake

Diane Ravitch
Date of Source: 
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles has more charter schools than any other school district in the nation, and it's a very bad idea.
Billionaires like privately managed schools. Parents are lured with glittering promises of getting their kids a sure ticket to college. Politicians want to appear to be champions of "school reform" with charters.
But charters will not end the poverty at the root of low academic performance or transform our nation's schools into a high-performing system. The world's top-performing systems - Finland and Korea, for example - do not have charter schools. They have strong public school programs with well-prepared, experienced teachers and administrators. Charters and that other faux reform, vouchers, transform schooling into a consumer good, in which choice is the highest value.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Test Obsession is Killing Education

by Jeff Bryant.

Scores on the SAT – “the nation’s most widely used” college entrance exam – made news headlines recently, and the averages are either a “call to action,” a sign of progress, or “meaningless.”
Confused? You should be. Because reports of testing data, whether they’re the SAT, the ACT, the NAEP, or some other alphabet car wreck, rarely reveal the grand aha moment claimed and are more so indicators of just how far off base the nation has gone in understanding what matters most for school children.
[Ed. note; In California this includes the test for teachers known as PACT]
National Debate Is Out Of Whack
At every corner and level, the national debate about education policy is dangerously mired in squabbling about what “the data” reveal about the quality of American schooling, while in the meantime, teachers go begging for the very pencils students need to fill out the oh-so-critically-important tests.
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