Friday, June 27, 2014

Fight Back to protect public education

EduShyster interviews Barbara Madeloni, the recently elected president of the 110,000 member Massachusetts Teachers Association, and she warns that we either fight for public education or we will lose it.
A former high school teacher, Madeloni was teaching teachers at the University of Massachusetts-Amerst, and she and her students refused to participate in edTPA. As she puts it, “The students with whom I was working didn’t want to submit videos of themselves teaching to Pearson. They didn’t want their work as student teachers to be reduced to a number on a rubric by people who didn’t know them, and 67 of 68 students ultimately refused to send their work.” Madeloni told the story to Michael Winerip of the New York Times; ten days after his story appeared, she was fired. (Winerip, a superb education writer, was later reassigned to cover “Boomers,” and the Times eliminated its weekly education column. Winerip rattled cages every Monday.)
Edushyster asks Madeloni what we can do to fight back against the reformers attacking teachers and public education.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Local Control Funding and Sac City Unified Board

Sacramento City Unified Board meeting tonight.  6 PM. Serna Center.

At the June 5 meeting, the Community Priorities Coalition presented the board with alternatives.
Funding of California’s k-12 public education system is changing fundamentally.  Some schools will get much more money to educate kids. The centerpiece of the change is the Local Control Funding Formula, designed to send additional funds to districts where  “the need and the challenge is greatest.”  The law requires that  parents, students, teachers, and other community members be involved in the process of deciding how new funds are spent. Ed Source has an excellent guide to these changes.

    Sacramento City Unified’s plan for Local Control Funding is here.
   LCAP Timeline and Process- Within a PowerPoint presentation, which the district provides on its website, SCUSD outlines its LCAP development process, Community Planning Process, timeline, and lists potential community partners to engage with in LCFF implementation. A new budget will be submitted tonight and should be on the web site this PM. 
            The following was submitted to the Board on June 5. 
 We, the undersigned organizations, write to respectfully request your support for the consideration of these community needs into the district’s draft LCAP. These issue areas represent the concerns of our community members as found in our conversation with them through community town halls and our own surveys.
1)   Class size adjustments on select high-need schools – beginning with grades K-3 with gradual progress up the grade scale base on three years LCAP implementation
2)   Culturally competent professional training that would enhance school climate on diverse schools and create effective restorative justice and disciplinary policies for students
3)   Afterschool programs that are design to improve class performance and further classroom lessons

The passage of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) provides SCUSD with a unique opportunity to be innovative in the way it addresses the concerns of its high-need students and schools. We believe that this first year of the LCAP is critical and will set strong precedence for the designs of LCAP in the coming years.
Organizations:  Black Parallel School Board, Hmong Innovating Politics, Hmong Mein Lao Community Action Network, La Familia Counseling Center, Making Cents work, People Reaching Out, Area Congregations Together, Democracy and Education Institute, and more.

    SCUSD did not incorporate the suggestions of the Community Priority Coalition to focus on class size reduction, changes in discipline, and faculty in service.  Instead, they propose to use the extra funds to finance the programs they already support.  In this the SCUSD board relies on the district staff.  That is, they plan to continue what they have been doing and to call it community participation.
   There will be conflicts over this since doing things the same way is not the purpose of the LCFF.  The district is moving itself into problems of accountability under the LCAP laws.   Other districts, notably San Francisco and Fresno have developed plans in cooperation with the parents in their districts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Separate and Unequal continues

Sixty Years after Brown v. Board, Segregation Ensures That Schools Are not only Separate, but Sharply Unequal

“Though we made significant progress closing race-based gaps during the 1970s and 1980s, we have since reversed those gains, and students are segregated by both race and income as early as kindergarten,” said Garcia. “The segregation that so many of our children experience at school entry and, assuming it continues similarly, throughout their education, impedes their odds of success, and appears to pose particular disadvantages for black and Hispanic children.”
Minority students are not only much more likely than their white counterparts to be in heavily minority schools, but also to be surrounded by peers from low-income families. Three-fifths (60.5 percent) of white kindergartners are in classrooms in which only about 12 percent of their classmates are poor. Among black and Hispanic students, nearly as great a share (56.5 percent and 55.2 percent, respectively) are in classrooms in which nearly half of their peers are poor, while less than 5 percent of white children are in such heavily poor classrooms.
While the family characteristics of white children vary relatively little depending on the type of classroom they are in (unless that classroom is very heavily minority), family characteristics of black and Hispanic children vary substantially by their type of school. In extremely heavily minority schools, mothers of all racial groups are less educated than their average counterparts. Hispanic mothers are only half as likely to have at least a bachelor’s degree than the average Hispanic mother (2.5 percent versus 5.6 percent). Even in these schools, mothers of white children are no less likely to have bachelor’s degree, although these white moms are slightly more likely than average white moms to have no more than a high school diploma. These numbers reflect added disadvantage for minority students in two respects. First, the large proportion who attend heavily minority schools are disproportionately poor and their moms less educated. Second, the very few minority children in heavily white schools have a constellation of socioeconomic advantages that are extremely rare among their families.
Academic performance varies greatly, depending on the school’s level of segregation; the more heavily minority the school makeup, the less prepared students are on average in the fall, and the smaller their relative gains by spring. White, black, and Asian kindergarten students with better-than-average performance in the fall assessment are all clustered in schools with proportions of minority students between 10 and 50 percent. In contrast, the white students with the weakest school readiness skills attend the most heavily minority schools. Among Hispanic kindergartners, too, the highest-performing are in schools with a very low proportion of minority students, while Hispanic students in schools with 50 percent minority students or more start off less prepared than the average Hispanic student.
Finally, the authors’ findings appear to support more sophisticated analyses’ suggestions that income segregation underlies many apparent negative consequences of racial segregation. They recommend further research to determine whether this segregation persists through children’s later years and, more critical, the degree to which the patterns they find regarding the interactions among race, social class, and peer and school characteristics have independent impacts on children’s development.
“Instead of addressing ongoing school segregation, current policies not only dismiss segregation’s impacts but in some cases perpetuate and compound them,” said Weiss. “Factors such as families’ backgrounds and resources, peer effects, and school resources must all be considered when ensuring that future education policies are better aligned and more comprehensive.”
Published by the Economic Policy Institute. 

Note: a prior post chronicled how California schools were the most segregated and unequal for Latino Students.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

We Won't Give Up- Attacks on Teachers

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel is angry at people who would treat our children as commodities in order to yield profits, attack educators and create conflict rather than actually work to improve public education for all our students. Watch and hear what he has to say.

Tenure important for teachers

Due Process Prevents Capricious Firings: Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch, a historian of education, is the author of several books, including "The Great School Wars," a history of the New York City public schools.
A century ago, teaching was one of the few white-collar jobs open to women. Classes were large, salaries were low, and working conditions were poor. Supervisors and school boards, male-dominated, made many rules governing teachers' lives. In some cities, for example, school boards fired teachers if they married, or if they were allowed to marry, they were fired if they became pregnant.
In the early days of the formation of teachers' unions, teachers cared most about two issues: tenure and pensions. Teachers wanted some guarantee that they would not retire to a life of poverty. And they wanted assurance that they could not be fired for arbitrary and capricious reasons. They wanted to be sure that they could not be fired by a school board that wanted to hire a colleague's daughter or sister, or fired by a principal who didn't like their looks or their religion.
The Vergara decision in California strikes at one of the issues that matters most to teachers today. Unlike tenure in higher education, public school tenure is not a guarantee of a lifetime job. In elementary and secondary education, tenure is a guarantee that a teacher can be fired only for just cause, with due process.

Frankenstein Fears His Monster: The Gates Foundation Wants You To Boycott High-Stakes Tests | Common Dreams

Frankenstein Fears His Monster: The Gates Foundation Wants You To Boycott High-Stakes Tests | Common Dreams

Interesting. And Common Core Assessments in California ?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vergara v. State of California Decision |

Vergara v. State of California is a meritless lawsuit brought by Students Matter, an organization created by Silicon Valley multimillionaire David Welch and a private public relations firm for the sole purpose of filing this suit. Students Matter is supported by Michelle Rhee and Students First, Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin, Billionaire and school privatizer Eli Broad, former lawmaker Gloria Romero, and other corporate education reformers with an interest in privatizing public education and attacking teachers’ unions. The suit challenges California statutes governing due process in teacher dismissals, using experience as a criteria during school layoffs, and the two-year probationary period for teachers. The suit wrongly alleges those laws are unconstitutional and hurt students. The defendant in the suit is the State of California. CTA and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) intervened in the case to ensure all stakeholders have input in educational policy decisions and to protect the rights of educators. 
Simply put, this lawsuit highlights the wrong problems, proposes the wrong solutions, and follows the wrong process. This is yet another attempt by the usual corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their agenda on California public schools and students. Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their due process rights will not improve student learning, will make it harder to attract and retain quality teachers in our classrooms, and ignores all the research that shows experience is a key factor in effective teaching. This is a blatant effort to legislate from the bench, keeping parents and educators out of education policy decisions.  

What the media avoids about the Vergara decision

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A victory for the corporate "reformers" in the Vergara v California case

California judge Rolf Treu ruled Tuesday  in the Vergara  v.California case that California teacher tenure laws deprive students of their right to an education that is guaranteed  under the state Constitution and violates their civil rights. The decision is a major defeat for teachers’ unions and will presumably lead to challenges of tenure laws in other states.  The ruling overturned five state statutes giving California teachers firing protections and rights to tenure and seniority.
The implementation of the ruling has been stayed while under appeal.
The Sacramento Bee editorial board and Bee columnists Marcos Breton and Dan Walters, along with their candidate Marc Tucker each applaud the court ruling. Note what they say in their columns. They applaud this defeat of the teachers unions, they do not deal with the critical issue of adequate school funding.
What do the  sides  agree upon?
It is clear that many students in California receive a substandard education and that failing schools are concentrated in poor and minority neighborhoods.   The judge cites the long history of  successful law suites Serrano V. Priest I, II. III, and more that mandated changes in state funding to provide equal funding.  There is also general agreement that teacher quality is a significant factor in improving education.
The problem is that the remedy of the corporate “reformers”  and of  the court does not resolve the basic issues.  It deals with teacher placement, tenure, and freedom of speech, not the adequate funding of schools.   It may at most respond to the 1-3 % of  poor teachers in the classrooms.
California is one of a number of states that require  in their state constitution  that the state provide  adequate public education.  This has been reaffirmed numerous times in Serrano v. Priest 1,2,, 3 and cited again in this court ruling.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Corporate Democrats win first round against teachers in California

Jennifer Medina
June 10, 2014
The New York Times
The decision, which was enthusiastically endorsed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, brings a close to the first chapter of the case, Vergara v. California, in which a group of student plaintiffs backed by a Silicon Valley millionaire argued that state tenure laws had deprived them of a decent education by leaving bad teachers in place.

Julia Macias, at a news conference Tuesday, was one of nine students who claimed tenure laws left bad teachers in place.,Monica Almeida/The New York Times ,

“It's surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children." Randi Weingarten. President. American Federation of Teachers.
LOS ANGELES — A California judge ruled Tuesday that teacher tenure laws deprive students of their right to an education under the state Constitution and violate their civil rights. The decision hands teachers’ unions a major defeat in a landmark case, one that could radically alter how California teachers are hired and fired and prompt challenges to tenure laws in other states.
“Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students,” Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court wrote in the ruling. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”
The decision, which was enthusiastically endorsed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, brings a close to the first chapter of the case, Vergara v. California, in which a group of student plaintiffs backed by a Silicon Valley millionaire argued that state tenure laws had deprived them of a decent education by leaving bad teachers in place.Observers on both sides expect the case to generate more like it in cities and states around the country. David Welch, a Silicon Valley technology magnate, spent several million dollars to create the organization that brought the Vergara case to court — Students Matter — and paid for a team of high profile attorneys, including Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., who helped win a Supreme Court decision striking down California’s same-sex marriage ban. While the next move is still unclear, the group is considering filing lawsuits New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, Idaho and Kansas and other states with powerful unions where legislatures have defeated attempts to change teacher tenure laws.

Local Control FF and Parent Engagement in LAUSD

The video shows parent engagement in the Local Control Budget Funding in Los Angeles. In Sacramento a community coalition has formed and conducted similar forums.  Feedback from the forums became a proposal by the Community Coalition on the LCAP budget  to the Sacramento City Unified School Board on June 5.  A final budget, including LCFF funds, will be passed at the regular board meeting on June 19.  The Education and Democracy Institute is a member of the Community Coalition.  See prior posts on Local Control Funding 

Monday, June 09, 2014

Did Bill Gates fund an "educational coup?"

Valerie Straus,   The Answer Sheet.
 The Washington Post.
Education historian and activist Diane Ravitch, in a post on her blog about Layton’s story, called the Gates involvement an “educational coup.”
This is the closest thing to an educational coup in the history of the United States. Our education system is made up of about 14,000 local school districts; most education policy is set at the state level. But Bill Gates was able to underwrite a swift revolution. It happened so quickly that there was very little debate or discussion. Almost every consequential education group was funded by the Gates Foundation to study or promote the Common Core standards. Whereas most businesses would conduct pilot testing of a major new product, there was no pilot testing of the Common Core. These national standards were written with minimal public awareness or participation, and at least one state — Kentucky — adopted them before the final draft was finished.
Read the entire column. Fascinating.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

antiracismdsa: Latino Lawmakers Unveil Legislation to Repeal Un-...

 Latino Lawmakers Unveil Legislation to Repeal Un-...: SACRAMENTO – Announcing a campaign to erase the stain of Proposition 187, the most mean-spirited proposition in California’s history, to...

Sunday, June 01, 2014


SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: June 3 Voter Guide: Sacramento Progressive Alliance Voter Guide SAC PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE ENDORSEMENTS: June 2014 Superintendent of Public Instruction...
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