Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NAME Calls for Ethnic Studies in Schools

From:  National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)

Re:       Statement of Support for Ethnic Studies in the Los Angeles Unified School District

 The National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) supports the campaign (http://www.EthnicStudiesNow.com) to make Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Since its founding almost a quarter century ago NAME has advocated for equity and justice, particularly for groups most underserved in our public school systems.  We believe that education can rise to the highest levels of quality and equity when it is centered on multicultural curriculum and instruction.  That is, education can offer a strong foundation for building communities that reflect core American values of democracy and ideals of educational success for all children when it (a) reflects and values the many ways that we are similar to and different from one another, (b) prepares all children to flourish in their personal and professional lives amidst this diversity, and (c) refuses to ignore the inequities that often accompany differences along lines of race, ethnicity, nation, social class, gender, sexuality, language, religion, disability, and other dimensions.  Such ideals manifest in the core goals and principles of Ethnic Studies, and as such, we support the proposal for LAUSD to make Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement.

Ethnic Studies programs contribute to the educational enterprise significantly in a number of ways.  For ethnic groups that have historically been marginalized in schools and society, Ethnic Studies fosters a more positive sense of self, which in turn affects engagement and improves academic performance and social engagement.  For all ethnic groups, Ethnic Studies fills deep gaps in traditional curriculum, offering to all students, regardless of ethnic identity, an opportunity to learn about more diverse experiences and perspectives, ask different kinds of questions, and grapple with more contradictions and complexities.  Ethnic Studies is essential for any student to flourish as well as to develop critical thinking skills that can address the increasingly complex problems in our diverse society.

Colorado Students Protest Censorship in Curriculum

by Joseph A. Palermo 
AP Photo/Brenan Linsley 
When high school students in Jefferson County, Colorado walked out in protest against the right-wingers on the school board who purged their history curriculum of content they deemed “unpatriotic” they probably learned more in a week of direct action than they could learn in a year of going to class.

Monday, September 29, 2014

California Enacts First-in-the-Nation Law to Eliminate Student Suspensions for Minor Misbehavior

 AB 420 signing caps landmark year for school discipline reform in the state

Roger Dickinson 
SACRAMENTO, CA  – Today California becomes the first state in the nation to eliminate suspensions for its youngest children, and all expulsions for all students for minor misbehavior such as talking back, failing to have school materials and dress code violations. Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing today of AB 420 caps a landmark year for the movement away from harsh discipline policies and toward positive discipline and accountability approaches that keep children in school.

AB 420 places limits on the use of school discipline for the catch-all category known as “willful defiance,” which also includes minor school disruption. Willful defiance accounts for 43% of suspensions issued to California students, and is the suspension offense category with the most significant racial disparities.  For the next 3.5 years, the law eliminates in-school and out-of-school suspensions for children in grades K-3 for disruptive behavior currently captured in Education Code section 48900(k) and bans all expulsions for this reason. The bill was co-sponsored by Public Counsel, Children Now, Fight Crime Invest in Kids, and the ACLU of California and supported by a statewide coalition of organizations.

“In just a few short years, school discipline reform has become an important education policy priority in California because the stakes are very high – research has shown that even one suspension can make it five times more likely that a child will drop out of school and significantly increase the odds they will get in trouble and head into our juvenile delinquency system,” said Assm. Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), author of AB 420 and a longtime champion of positive school discipline in California. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tuck hedges on Proposition 30 school funding extension

from the Sacramento Bee.  By Alexei Koseff

Published: Thursday, Sep. 25, 2014 - 10:50 pm
Mark Tuck
State schools chief challenger Marshall Tuck would be open to extending Proposition 30, the temporary school funding tax hike passed by California voters in 2012, but only if it’s tied to other changes to the state’s public education system.
“If you just do the money piece, it’s actually not a great use of taxpayer money,” he said following a speech to the Sacramento Press Club on Thursday.

Tom Torlakson
The initiative has generated billions for education funding by imposing a quarter-cent sales tax increase through 2016 and raising the income tax rate for California’s highest earners through 2018. Tuck said that money was essential for schools coming out of the tremendous budget cuts of the recession, but would not be enough to improve the low national rankings of the state’s public schools.
“We need more funding,” he told the press club, but “we’ve got to prove that we can use that money well” before the state asks the public for more.
Incumbent Tom Torlakson has already called for an  extension of the tax hikes and considers passage of the measure one of the signature accomplishments of his first term.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ego, Money and False Promises: Michelle Rhee’s Big Secret and the Collapse of Education “Reform”

Jeff Bryant

Maybe it’s time to stick a fork in education reform, and get set for what the new ed-tech industrialists are going to bring us.
When Michelle Rhee left the center stage of the movement known as “education reform,” inquiring minds wanted to know why.
Was it because “she didn’t play well in the sandbox.” Was it to solidify her and her husband’s image as “the next Bill and Hillary Clinton?”
But here’s one theory that no one seemed to consider: It was a good business decision.
Regardless of how you feel about Michelle Rhee, you have to admit she has been an adroit business person – tapping into a growing market demand, using a clever publicity campaign to reach celebrity recognition, outmaneuver her competitors (such as teachers unions), and amassing significant amounts of capital to roll out a formidable new “product,” her organization StudentsFirst.
So it’s not beyond reasonable to wonder if Rhee got out of the business of “education reform” while the gettin’ was good and left StudentsFirst at a time when it has likely peaked in influence and may even be in decline.
If that’s indeed the case, is Rhee’s exit the first sign of a larger exodus from the reform movement soon to follow? Is the whole enterprise known as education reform starting to go south? And if so, where is all the big money behind it going to go to next?
Becoming the Bickersons
Perhaps Rhee realized, just in time, the reform venture was turning into a money pit, as forces and personalities dragged the effort down with inefficiency, contention and lack of productivity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Providing teachers that reflect the students

The Sacramento Bee published a good story on Saturday  by Lorett Kalb and Phillip Reese  on a group of teachers at McClatchy High working together in a colectivo to recruit students to get a college education and return to McClatchy as teachers.  Here. http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/20/6712601/mcclatchy-high-wants-students.html

However, the story misses  an important issue. 
Mc Clatchy used to get many minority teachers, both Asian and Latino from the Bilingual Multicultural Education Department at Sac state, before that program  was eliminated in 2012.  The major minority teacher recruitment program in Northern California was quietly shut down.  I was the first Chair of that department.
By 2007, BMED was recruiting and placing minority teachers in the region such that between 30 and 36 % of all new teachers at Sac State were Latino. We did this for over 18 years.  We trained over 600 teachers, most of them minority and most of them local.
Now that has been re- organized out of existence under the disguise of low enrollment.  Current enrollment in teacher preparation at Sac State is about 6-8 % Latino.  This data is available in publicly available sources. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Call Governor Brown- Support English Learners

What's the issue?
SB 1174 (Lara) repeals current law requiring English Only placement for English Learners while still maintaining English language development, access to all content areas and providing program opportunities for all students to become multiliterate.
Urge Governor Brown to sign this bill, so all students will be given access to a critical 21st Century skill; the ability to speak, read and write more than one language proficiently, including English!
Why is SB 1174 (Lara) important?
SB 1174 (Lara) removes a barrier created by Proposition 227 preventing English learners from participating in the most effective programs by repealing the English Only placement requirement.
SB 1174 (Lara) supports preparation for students to effectively participate in our state's diverse and global economy by encouraging school districts to provide programs that promote multiliteracy for all students.
What do you need to do ?
Take action by contacting Governor Brown
1.)   By phone:  Call the Office of Governor Brown at 916-445-2841
         between 9 a.m. and 5p.m. weekdays. Ask to speak to the
         Legislative Representative assigned to SB 1174 (Lara) and state: 

     " Hello, my name is _____ and I am a (parent/educator) and I support
       SB 1174 (Lara) English Language Education. I urge Governor Brown to sign
       SB 1174 (Lara) because it will provide all of our children/students with a 
       critical 21 Century skill, that of speaking, reading and writing proficiency 
       in one or more languages in addition to English. The knowledge of languages
       will empower our children/students to effectively participate in our diverse 
       state and global economy. "

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Four Flimflams of the Common Core Movement

Award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York was once a supporter of the Common Core but came to be a critic after her state began to implement the initiative. (You can read some of her work on the botched implementation  in New York here,  here, here and here.)  Burris was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010,  tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. In this post she looks at what she calls the “Four Flimflams of the Common Core.”
By Carol Burris
The cheerleaders for the Common Core are on a “happy tour.” Anthony Cody explains here how the Gates Foundation is now financing a public relations offensive in response to the growing opposition to national standards. Recently, a professionally produced YouTube video depicted Common Core critics as misinformed Archie Bunkers who have no rational reason for their critique. The video was abruptly taken down when criticism appeared on Twitter, but you can see a screen shot of it here. Expect to see more affronts to the sincerity and intelligence of Core critics in the coming months.
The public relations campaign started because a majority of Americans  (60 percent in one poll) now oppose the Common Core. Although conservatives lead the way, in the bluest of states, California and New York, more people now disapprove than approve of the standards. Perhaps most telling of all, in one year national teacher support for the Common Core has dropped 30 points. The Common Core has shifted from theory to practice, and like the lemon it is, it is breaking down on the highway of implementation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

California Children Living Below the Poverty line

New Census Data Show That More Than One in Seven Californians -- One-Third of Them Children -- Lived in Poverty in 2013

SACRAMENTO -- Census Bureau data released today show that the share of all Californians with incomes below the federal poverty line in 2013 remained significantly higher than in 2006, the year before the Great Recession began. More than 5.6 million Californians -- over one in seven -- had incomes below the poverty line in 2013. California's overall poverty rate of 14.9 percent in 2013 is down significantly from 16.9 percent in 2011, but is still much higher than the pre-recession level of 12.2 percent in 2006.

Nearly 2 million California children were living in poverty in 2013, accounting for one in five children in the state (20.3 percent). Although this child poverty rate is down significantly from that in 2011 (24.3 percent), children still account for an outsize share of Californians living in poverty. Californians under age 18 were less than one-quarter of the total state population (23.9 percent) in 2013, but they accounted for nearly one-third of those living in poverty (32.5 percent). 

"The new Census poverty figures highlight the fact that many Californians are being left behind by our economy, even several years after the Great Recession ended," said Alissa Anderson, senior policy analyst with the CBP. "The child poverty rate is especially troubling, since children who grow up in poverty are more likely to remain in poverty as adults."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Story on SCUSD Superintendent that the Bee will not tell you.

Thank you Cosmo Garvin for writing what the Bee will not report on.
Cosmo Garvin. Sacramento News and Review. 9/11/2014. Page 15.
The Bee is clearly still sore about the loss of the previous superintendent, Jonathan Raymond. Raymond seemed to enjoy sticking it to teachers (and the occasional principal) and generally followed the playbook for corporate-ed reform.
He left quite suddenly during the last school year. The public reason was that he wanted his kids to be closer to their grandparents back in Boston. Surely a tough decision, to leave what he described as his “dream job.” But family comes first.
This summer, Raymond took a job as president of an education nonprofit called the Stuart Foundation—in San Francisco.
The Stuart Foundation is a major funder of something called the California Office to Reform Education. You may recall that Raymond committed Sac City schools to participate in the CORE, to help fund it, and to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores as part of the deal.
This was intensely controversial—and done without public input or any vote of the Sac City school board. The board only reversed Raymond’s decision after he had bailed, and after protests from teachers, parents and community groups.
It’s not so surprising that a plum job for Raymond was waiting on the other side of the revolving door. But what about the family thing?
Carol Ting, the Stuart Foundation’s chief operating officer, told Bites, “That was his plan. But then the recruiter came along and offered him his dream job.”
Dream job, huh? Anyway, Raymond slipped out the back door in a hurry, to take a dreamier job, or to escape whatever nightmares had cropped up here in Sacramento. Either way, even in his absence he was an important presence at the school-board-candidates forum held in Oak Park last Sunday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

U.S. Teachers Work Really Hard

American teachers work hard. Like, really hard.
Rebecca Klein
This year's education report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development outlines the state of education in the world's most developed countries. It finds that American elementary school teachers spend more hours actually teaching students than peers in any other surveyed country.
The graph below details how much time elementary school teachers spend in front of the classroom:

American middle school and high school teachers spend more time educating students than peers in every OECD country except Chile, according to the report. In addition to classroom time, U.S. teachers are required to be at school for more hours than most of their international peers.
Despite the long hours, American teachers aren't well compensated, Andreas Schleicher, OECD director of education and skills, explained in a call with reporters Monday. While U.S. raw teacher salaries are high compared with the rest of the world, the pay lags behind that of similarly educated American workers.
“Teacher pay relative to other countries, in absolute terms, is quite competitive in the United States," said Schleicher. "But when you look at this relative to the earnings of other people with college degrees, actually the United States is pretty much at the end of the scale."
The OECD graphic below shows how teachers' salaries compare with other college-educated workers in each country. The report found that teachers are paid more than comparably educated workers in only seven countries.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

November elections: high stakes for teachers and students

  • November elections: High stakes for students, parents, education voters
A vital election between Tom Torlakson, Superintendent of Public Instruction-  a teacher himself who has opposed the Vergara decision.  And, Marshall Tuck, a Wall Street banker who has been hired as CEO of a charter school company.  He took no position on Proposition 30 which has now restored funding to California schools. 
    In the nation. 
    by Amanda Litvinov and Colleen Flaherty/image courtesy of Stu Spivack
    A relatively small group of elected officials at the local, state and federal levels determines what educators are expected to accomplish in the classroom each year and the resources they’ll have to pull it off. This November, most of those offices are up for election, including the seats of 36 governors, 6,048 state legislators, 31 state attorneys general, and 468 members of the U.S. Congress.
    Education voters got low marks in the 2010 midterm elections. Our presence at the polls was dismal, which opened the door to scores of candidates who put the desires of wealthy corporations and CEOs before the needs of the 80 million students who attend America’s public schools and universities. The results proved devastating.
    It’s not just who we elect for president — local elections like school board seats and state elections have the most direct effect on education funding, says Beary Clark, a high school custodial worker from Erie, Penn.
    “Governor [Tom] Corbett cut a whole lot from our budget since he came into office in 2011, which left us short on resources as basic as the books we need, and it directly affects kids,” Clark says. “Our district alone closed two elementary schools to make up for an $8.8 million deficit and a lot of people lost their jobs — all because voters weren’t paying attention to who was getting into office.”
    Similar scenarios played out across the country after the 2010 elections.
    Since then, billions of dollars have been cut from state education budgets; federal education funding is lower than it was three years ago, despite the fact that public schools now serve a million more students; and educators’ ability to advocate for their students through bargaining has been severely diminished in some states and is under constant threat in others.
    Education voters are getting ready for one of the high stakes tests of their voting-eligible lives. If you’re not convinced that elections matter—or you need to convince those around you that they do—borrow our notes to review how the roles of elected officials determine what happens in your district, school, and classroom.

    Saturday, September 06, 2014

    Corporate educational "reformers"

    Corporate “ Reformers” Andrew Ross Sorkin. NYTimes.  
    Beginning with the Carnegies and the Rockefellers, billionaires have long seen the nation’s education as a willing cause for their philanthropy — and, with it, their own ideas about how students should learn. The latest crop of billionaires, however, has tended to take the line that fixing our broken educational system is the key to unlocking our stagnant economy. Whether it’s hedge-fund managers like Paul Tudor Jones (who has given tens of millions to support charter schools) or industrialists like Eli Broad (who has backed “blended learning” programs that feature enhanced technology), these philanthropists have generally espoused the idea that education should operate more like a business. (The Walton Foundation, backed by the family that founded Walmart, has taken this idea to new heights: It has spent more than $1 billion supporting various charter schools and voucher programs that seek to establish alternatives to the current public-school system.) Often these patrons want to restructure the system to make it more efficient, utilizing the latest technology and management philosophies to turn out a new generation of employable students.

    Tuesday, September 02, 2014

    Teacher Unions appeal Vergara decision on teacher tenure

    Contrary to the advocacy of the Sacramento Bee:
    Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris file to appeal  court decision.

    LOS ANGELES — The final decision rendered by Los Angeles Superior Court judge Rolf Treu today in the Vergara v. California case offered no new reasoning or information as to how stripping teachers of their workplace professional rights will help students gain a better education.  In rolling back the protections that allow teachers to educate their students and advocate for them without fear of arbitrary and capricious retaliation, the judge has set back a century of well-reasoned law.
    “This decision fails to recognize the benefits to students and society provided by the challenged statutes, including the ability to recruit and retain educators and promoting teaching as a life-long career,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “These statues provide educators with basic due process rights that allow teachers to speak up on behalf of their students and provide transparency in district employment and layoff decisions.”
    Evidence during the trial showed no link between the statutes and the retention of ineffective teachers or in the assignment of teachers to particular schools. On the contrary, the evidence showed that school districts have tremendous latitude in hiring, in assignment and in dismissal. In fact, according to testimony by several districts, underperforming teachers are remediated or removed from their positions frequently using the existing statutes.

    Monday, September 01, 2014

    Bee Editorial Board throws more bricks at Banda

    The Bee Editorial Board on Sunday continued its impolite, nasty, commentary on the new Superintendent of  Schools in Sacramento- Jose Banda. http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/31/6665241/editorial-banda-needs-to-hit-ground.html
    First, they continue with their whining that when asked why he was returning to California he mentioned the pension advantages.  He said much more, but the Bee editors are fixated on this.  They can’t keep themselves from throwing stones.
    Then we learn that the Bee’s editorial board “ sat down with Banda last week to give him an opportunity to disabuse us of the notion.” Well, isn’t that nice . The royalty offered the commoner a chance to talk.
    Next they offer their own suggestions.
    1.     “Meet with the mayor right away.”  They go on to discuss Johnson’s role and that of his wife- Michelle Rhee from the perspective of the Editorial Board – none of whom work in schools.
    Why should he start here?  Banda has met with the Bee, one of the Johnson’s chief cheerleaders.
    It is far more important that he meet with teachers, students and administrators, which he is doing.

    Yes, he needs a strong start. 
    And the Bee editorial board keeps throwing bricks.  I wonder what their motives are?
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