Thursday, December 31, 2015

Washington Post Fires Harold Meyerson

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Washington Post Fires Harold Meyerson: Peter Dreier  Fred Hiatt, the  Washington Post's  editorial page editor, has fired columnist Harold Meyerson, one of the nation&#3...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Anti Teacher Union Case Before Court in January

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Freidrichs case in January
What you need to know about who’s behind this anti-union lawsuit
THE SUPREME COURT is scheduled to hear arguments in Friedrichs v. CTA on January 11. Reflecting the high stakes for all unions, the AFT and more than 70 labor organizations led briefs with the court opposing this right-wing attack on union membership and bargaining power.
The court is considering whether to overrule its 1977 decision allowing states to require public employees to join a union or pay a fee to cover collective bargaining costs. These fees cover the worker’s share of the re- sources the union spends on negotiating contracts, representing workers in grievance procedures, and other services that benefit the entire workforce.
Depending on how a particular union operates, the cost of representation for each agency fee payer may range from a small fraction of the membership cost to almost as much as membership. The right of unions to collect fair share fees was settled by the court’s unanimous 1977 decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Chicano History in California Textbooks- Community...

antiracismdsa: Chicano History in California Textbooks- Community...: By Duane Campbell The Mexican American Digital History Project and a broad group of allies have been working for over a year to ...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

California Faces Shortage of Latino Teachers

The state as a whole is experiencing a shortage of teachers, but Latino teachers are in particularly short supply. One major obstacle to boosting their numbers is starkly visible in these figures from Sonoma State University’s School of Education, the biggest local source of teachers. 
Last year, 15 Latino students completed the teacher credential program, out of 191 students.
In the previous year, 2013-2014, there were 10 Latino students out of 237 credential candidates who completed the program.
Also, because of a lack of applicants, the last students to go through the school’s bilingual credential program graduated in 2009.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Shooting Teachers and Students at Sandy Hook

On December 14, 2012, twenty innocent children and six heroic teachers and staff members were murdered in their classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That’s 20 children who didn’t have birthday parties this year. 20 children who didn’t get to put a tooth out for the tooth fairy. 20 children who won’t be singing in a holiday pageant this year.

The number of victims is far more than 20. I meet mamas and daddies, sisters and grandmas who have lost children and grandchildren to gun violence – communities of people whose days will forever be marked by loss. I meet them, and I promise we will not forget.

After the massacre at Sandy Hook, it finally felt like we had reached a moment that we could agree to put aside our differences and move toward better gun safety.

The bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill proposed in the wake of Sandy Hook would have closed the background check loophole for gun shows and Internet sales. It seemed like the very least we could do, really. I had only been in office a few months, but I was optimistic that we had the votes to make it happen.

Then on April 17, 2013, the NRA shut it down. Manchin-Toomey failed.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sac City Unified to Reduce Class Sizes k-3

By Duane Campbell
The Sac City Unified district has decided to reduce class sizes in k-3 classes down to a maximum of 24 students for the fall of 2016,  a good decision and a long overdue decision according to an article by Loretta Kalb in the Tuesday Sacramento Bee .
Community groups such as the Communities Priorities Coalition, parents groups, and the teachers union (SCTA) have been pressuring the district to make this decision for over two years.
The district has received over $67 million in additional funding since 2013 as a result of the economy recovering from the Great Recession  and Prop. 30 ballot measure.   The district  receives some $237 million in revenues from the change in state policy known as the Local Control Funding ( LCFF) that requires that this revenue be spent on specific populations,  low income, English Learners, foster children, and Special Education.    This year the  funds have already been allocated to purposes other than class size reduction by the administration and the School Board  in spite of the community demands  to spend the funds on class size reduction.

Watching the Board, it is often difficult to tell who or what body is making decisions on this significant new  LCFF funding .
Class sizes in Sacramento grew significantly during the Great Recession and teachers were dismissed while  new teachers not hired. 
The welcome  decision to reduce k-12 class size back toward the national average  will require the hiring of some 100 new teachers.  SCUSD and other local districts will have difficulty recruiting credentialed teachers as the number of students studying to become teachers has fallen during the economic crisis.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Donald Trump is Dangerous to Democracy

Donald J. Trump called on Monday for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on” after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., an extraordinary escalation of rhetoric aimed at voters’ fears about members of the Islamic faith.

A ban on Muslims – an unprecedented proposal by a leading American presidential candidate, and an idea more typically associated with hate groups – reflects a progression of mistrust that is rooted in ideology as much as politics.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Modest Step Forward -ESSA

Jeff Bryant
On Wednesday afternoon, the House overwhelmingly passed the proposed Every Student Succeeds Act by 359 to 64. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this month, and the White House has signaled President Obama’s willingness to sign it.
As is true with any time there is an all-too-rare example of bipartisan legislation, expect, in the coming weeks, a lot of ballyhoo about this being an example of where “Washington comes together” when it comes to matters that are “all about kids.”
For sure, there are things to like and dislike about the bill, but while lawmakers and policy wonks are back-slapping and glad-handing each other, this is also an opportune time to reflect on where we are in the evolution of education policy compared to where we should be.
‘A Modest Step Forward’
When you have a piece of legislation that is disliked by the super-conservative Heritage Action Fund, on the one hand, and left-leaning civil rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP, on the other, the knee-jerk tendency is to conclude, “Hooray, we’ve ‘met in the middle’ and satisfied all but the outliers.”
However, education policy has been deeply harmed by this sort of shallow bipartisanship, as lawmakers and policy types have tended to regard the easy way forward as an assurance everyone involved in crafting a bill has performed the necessary due diligence. After all, bipartisan blinders gave us the flawed No Child Left Behind enacted under the administration of George W. Bush in the first place (not to mention the Iraq War).
So, what about this bill?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

NEA president supports the Every Student Succeeds Act

New education bill would create greater opportunity for every student to succeed

WASHINGTON - November 30, 2015 - 
Today, the U.S. Senate and House conference committee released to the public legislative language of a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time in years. The bill is now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. The House of Representatives is planning to take up ESSA this week. The Senate is expected to follow next week.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement:
“NEA is supportive of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
“Students have suffered long enough under the broken system of test and punish created by the No Child Left Behind Act. We are encouraged that this new bill will help to create greater opportunity for every student to succeed, regardless of their ZIP code.
“In particular, the bill includes student and school supports in state accountability plans to create an opportunity ‘dashboard’; reduces the amount of standardized testing in schools and decouples high-stakes decision making and statewide standardized tests; and ensures that educators’ voices are part of decision making at the federal, state and local levels.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Amend and Re Authorize NCLB; Now ESEA (again)

This week, the House of Representatives will take up the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Senate is scheduled to follow suit as soon the House is finished.
The new version of ESEA, called the Every Student Succeeds Act—if passed in Congress and signed by the president—is a paradigm shift. In eliminating the adequate yearly progress requirement and shifting the focus away from testing as the be all and end all, ESSA would provide a fresh start for states to re-envision public schooling, better aligning it to what students need to succeed. And it should be a wake-up call to any state that wants to double down on what will now be the discarded test-and-punish system that has dominated in recent years.
We wouldn’t be here without you. Our members, activists and leaders worked hard to make sure our message—as parents, as educators, as community members and as people who want to make a difference in the lives of children—was heard. More than 130,000 of you took action online, made phone calls, submitted comments on the bill and met with your members of Congress, and it made a difference.
The bill is not perfect, and with so much authority being turned over to the states, we will have our work cut out for us. But ESSA brings us closer to letting states, local districts and educators focus on students and their success, and to ending the harmful test fixation that has become the predominant schooling strategy. It sends a clear signal to states that the policies of No Child Left Behind, waivers and Race to the Top should be abandoned, not replicated. By maintaining funding for the students who need it most; not including support for private school vouchers, portability or other divisive policies; and including more transparency and accountability for charters, the bill also signals to states that these are unproven policies that should not be pursued.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Teacher and Her Refugee Students


Every morning when I get to school, I see students from many countries in the hall. They are dropped off early so they can have a hot breakfast before class. The students speak Farsi, Arabic, Pashto, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog and many more languages. They have fled violence and war, and their most compelling desire is to learn English and begin new lives here.
One student has been with me for three years, but this is the first year I have had him in an English class. He was injured in the Iraq War when he was young and he still bears the scars and the trauma. Other students are new to me, but they all share the struggle of learning not only a new language, but a new culture.

The students work from textbooks designed for English as a second language students. They also work on independent reading – books that every kid their age reads – and two supplemental reading websites. During the second half of class, the nine boys work on 12 donated Chromebooks while the girls read, and then they switch. They hand each other the computers carefully, and there is no arguing or play, even though some of these students are only in sixth grade.

Friday, November 20, 2015

What Policy Makers Can Learn From Real Schools and Teachers

Jeff Bryant, 
“How can someone make a decision about a school they’ve never even walked into?”
That question is at the heart of Kristina Rizga’s terrific new book Mission HighOne school, how experts tried to fail it, and the students and teachers who made it triumph.
Rizga uses her considerable journalistic skills—honed as the education writer for Mother Jones—to involve readers in the lives of students and educators at Mission High, a San Francisco public school with a proud history but a “failing school” label.
The school, where Rizga spent four years as an embedded reporter, serves a student body of mostly low-income kids, many from households where the first language isn’t English, and which ranks among the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the country. Only 30 percent of the school’s students score at proficient or above on the state standardized tests in English, and only 40 percent score proficient in math.
But in looking more closely at the school, Rizga discovered that other data—college acceptance and teacher retention—didn’t align with the school’s “failing” label.
When Mission High principal Eric Guthertz welcomed Rizga into his school, she observed something that frustrates students, parents, and educators across the country: As these schools do everything in their power to serve their students, they continue to be judged as failures by a process that seems completely remote and disconnected from the school.

Monday, November 16, 2015


SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: DSA Advances Sanders Campaign: 120 members come from around U.S., support Sanders  Nov. 14,2015. Share     By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette An Ort...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dan Walters Argues for More Testing - Again and Again

Dan Walters continues to use his position as a major editorial writer in the Bee in support of corporate style school control in support of the fake school reform industry and consultants.  (Sac Bee, Nov. 15, page A3) He does this by regularly describing neoliberal charter advocates such as Gloria Romero and Michelle Rhee  and others as advocates of “school reform”.

In reality they are advocates of more testing and test driven change.

High-stakes standardized tests, and the new curriculum they have spawned, require  teachers to avoid thinking deeply about the information  we’re sending to students.  The aim of testing is to provide demonstrable, measurable evidence that work is being produced — that teachers and students are not thinking creatively  when they should be lecturing, memorizing, studying. The idea is that a teacher’s job is to get information into the heads of students, and a student’s job is to write it out, unchanged, on a test.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Trump Proposes an Inhumane Immigration Plan - Wash...

antiracismdsa: Trump Proposes an Inhumane Immigration Plan - Wash...: Ed. note. To its credit, the Washington Post recognized the Trump deportation plan for what it is.  Washington Post By Editorial B...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Education Fight in the Democratic Party

Jeff Bryant, Education Opportunity Network.
The “big economic fight” in the Democratic Party that news outlets are reporting isn’t confined to economics.
The link above takes you to a story in the Washington Post explaining how a “populist wing” in the Democratic Party is rebelling against the conventional wisdom of “centrist” Democrats who have dominated the party since the 1990s.
“Right now the populist story is winning,” the article concludes.
My colleague Richard Eskow pounced on the article and writes for the Huffington Post, “The corporate-friendly policies of the party’s more conservative wing have fared poorly, both as policy and as politics, and as a result the party has moved to the left.”
Eskow points to “the insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders” and other recent events as signs of “a major setback for the so-called ‘New Democrats’ who have dominated the party since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. Nearly 25 years after they rose to power, the ideas of the ‘New Democrats’ don’t seem so new.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ehrenreich, Hightower, Cohen Speak at DSA Bernie Rally.

by Kurt Stand,
Over 100 people attended Metro DC DSA’s “We Need Bernie” rally on Thursday, Oct. 24 in support of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president.   Held at Busboys and Poets’ 5th and K Street location, the event provided an example of the depth of support for Sanders and for a genuinely progressive agenda rooted in civic activism. The rally also highlighted the relevance of democratic socialism to building a political alternative for our country.
The first speaker, Andy Shallal – owner of Busboys and Poets, peace activist and former DC mayoral candidate – raised the need to do more than just build support for Sanders, arguing that we ought to use his campaign to build a movement of direct action and public engagement that challenges the injustices everywhere visible in our society. Shallal also noted the need to address and overcome one of the critical weaknesses of Sanders’s campaign: the fact that it still has not developed sufficient support in communities of color, a fact emphasized by the overwhelmingly white composition of the crowd (which stood in contrast to most of the progressive forums held at Busboys).  He stressed that this should not serve as an excuse to withdraw from supporting Sanders, but rather should serve as a reminder to incorporate the message of Black Lives Matter in all work on behalf of his campaign, to address the issue of racism in its specificity – that (as he put it during the Q & A) is, understanding black and white as political categories.  By beginning the program in this fashion, Shallal underlined the seriousness of the rally, this event being more than a cheering session for Sanders (though indeed it was that too) but also a discussion of what is to be done, how to continue the organizing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Housing, Wages, and the Sacramento City Council

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Housing, Wages, and the Sacramento City Council: Sacramento City Council chambers High rent and low wages are squeezing poor and low-income families across California, including tho...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Top Ten Enemies of Public Education

The Top-10 Most Unwanted List—the Enemies of Public Education
From author, educator and education blogger Lloyd Lofthouse.  His writing can be found at:
The Top-10 Most Unwanted List—the Enemies of Public Education
This list reveals the most dangerous enemies of public education and how they earned their spot in infamy. To discover why they landed on this list, click the links included with each name below the brick wall. This list is subject to change at any time.

Spending billions to destroy Public Schools
with testing agenda to rank & fire teachers
The #Waltons
Why are #Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School Reform
Who is #EliBroad and why is he trying to destroy public education?
cherry-picks Constitution
Rewriting History
To brainwash children with libertarian ideas

Saturday, October 24, 2015

BATs Responds to Administration Call to Limit Testing

Today the  Obama Administration released a statement calling for  "a cap on assessment so that no child would spend more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time taking tests. It called on Congress to 'reduce over-testing' as it reauthorizes the federal legislation governing the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools.” 

  The Badass Teachers Association, an education activist organization with over 70,000 supporters nationwide, are reluctantly pleased with this announcement. Our vision statement has always been to refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning. Our goals have always been to reduce or eliminate the use of high stakes testing, increase teacher autonomy in the classroom, and include teacher and family voices in legislative decision-making processes that affect students.

Since No Child Left Behind and Race to The Top we have seen our children and communities of color bear the brunt of  the test obsession that has come in with the wave of Corporate Education Reform. When resources should have been used for funding and programming, politicians and policy makers were focusing on making children take more tests in hopes that equity in education would occur. It didn’t work, and it will not work. We know as educators you cannot test your way out of the education and opportunity gap. The blame and punish test agenda has not closed either the education or opportunity gap . We are reluctantly pleased that the President and his administration are finally taking a stand, but sadly the devastation has already been done.  We are confident that if the President and his administration make a commitment to work with educators, parents, and students we can fix it and make it right. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Democratic Socialism in the Media

Socialism, democratic socialism, totalitarian communism, social democracy . . . these terms are being thrown around a lot right now. People are asking what they really mean.

Can you help me sustain interest in this topic? How do we keep people talking about democratic socialism at their dinner tables and in break rooms in a way that is not immediately and inherently negative?MariaOnCSPAN.jpg

I was on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” this week
 taking calls from around the country about democratic socialism. Here’s a short example of what we discussed:

Caller: “It comes down to the philosophical basis of your theory. Socialism requires that you take from some and give to the others. What is your philosophical basis for being able to do that?”

My response: “I would just say that that’s what’s happening right now under capitalism, from the bank bailouts to Walmart. Anybody that works really hard for a boss who pays them very little and takes a lot of money in, knows that that’s taking from some to give to others.”

One reason Bernie appeals to so many people is his ability to speak about democratic socialism in a language people understand. I tried to do the same.

The clip is almost a full hour, but I encourage you to watch it and also share it with your friends!
 Post on Facebook, tweet from Twitter, email or even just gather family around your computer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Charter Schools Fuel Inequality and Hinder School Reform

by Jimmy  Franco Sr.
Charter school interests led by the Broad Foundation have recently unveiled an expansion plan called “The Great Public Schools Now”. This plan is proposing a huge increase of privately operated schools within the Los Angeles School District with the creation of 260 new charters during the next eight years at a cost of 490 million-dollars. The approval and implementation of such a plan would eventually double the number of LAUSD students attending privately operated charter schools and this would comprise almost half of the LAUSD’s students. According to this plan such a massive expansion of charters would also require the services of about 5000 teachers to staff these new schools, however, the
Real estate billionaire Eli Broad and his charter foundation want to privatize half of the public schools within the LAUSD.
Real estate billionaire Eli Broad and his charter foundation want to privatize half of the public schools within the LAUSD.
proposal makes no mention of recruiting any teachers presently employed by LA Unified who are unionized and generally more experienced. Instead, this Broad Foundation plan proposes to hire recent college graduates as its instructors who will be trained by ‘Teach for America’and other private groups. These young college graduates and prospective charter teachers are generally inexperienced, paid less and non-union, all of which keep business costs down for the privately operated charters. If the Broad plan is approved and implemented, this loss of tens of thousands of students to these new charter schools could possibly result in the elimination of  thousands of jobs for LA District’s teachers, administrators and non-teaching employees. The reaction of the present school board to this proposal has been mixed. Charters are businesses that privately operate public schools and use public school sites and tax monies to fund their for-profit operations. The first privately operated LAUSD charters were created and approved during the 1990’s by the school board which was under heavy pressure to reform the District’s schools. The Board’s rationale for this action was that the charters could provide a choice for parents and students to attend a school with a better educational program or a safer campus instead of their traditional home school. Rather than comprehensively reform and fix the regular schools at that time, this critical Board decision to approve charters would create an escape valve for academically motivated students to eventually leave their traditional campuses and open the door to a steady increase over the years in the privatization of the District’s public schools. In addition to the charter schools, the LAUSD had already created magnet schools during the 1970’s as a result of an earlier anti-segregation lawsuit filed against the District called “Crawford vs Board of Education, Los Angeles”. This successful lawsuit compelled the District to integrate its students and subsequently magnet schools for voluntary integration were created as a means to do so. These special magnet integration programs offered programs in science, math or other specialties in order to entice white parents to enroll their children into these integrated schools and thus bring the LAUSD into compliance with the Crawford court order. After almost four decades, these specialized magnet schools many of which are for gifted students, still exist even though their original intent of integrating large numbers of students is no longer feasible as white flight and a change in demographics have left the LAUSD student population at over 85 percent minority. Both tiers of Magnets and charters also have the benefit of being able to carefully select the students that they admit.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tea Party Patriots : and Republican Bigots

Why Today’s GOP Crackup Is the Final Unraveling of Nixon’s ‘Southern Strategy’

William Greider   October 12, 2015
The Nation

Tea Party rebels are exposing the deep rifts between country-club elites and social-issue hard-liners.

John Boehner, AP Photo / Evan Vucci,

Fresh chatter among Washington insiders is not about whether the Republican Party will win in 2016 but whether it will survive. Donald Trump—the fear that he might actually become the GOP nominee—is the ultimate nightmare. Some gleeful Democrats are rooting (sotto voce) for the Donald, though many expect he will self-destruct.

Nevertheless, Republicans face a larger problem. The GOP finds itself trapped in a marriage that has not only gone bad but is coming apart in full public view. After five decades of shrewd strategy, the Republican coalition Richard Nixon put together in 1968—welcoming the segregationist white South into the Party of Lincoln—is now devouring itself in ugly, spiteful recriminations.

The abrupt resignation of House Speaker John Boehner was his capitulation to this new reality. His downfall was loudly cheered by many of his own troops—the angry right-wingers in the House who have turned upon the party establishment. Chaos followed. The discontented accuse party leaders of weakness and betraying their promises to the loyal rank and file.

At the heart of this intramural conflict is the fact that society has changed dramatically in recent decades, but the GOP has refused to change with it. Americans are rapidly shifting toward more tolerant understandings of personal behavior and social values, but the Republican Party sticks with retrograde social taboos and hard-edged prejudices about race, gender, sexual freedom, immigration, and religion. Plus, it wants to do away with big government (or so it claims).

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Ugly Charter School Scandal Arne Duncan Is Leaving Behind @alternet

The Ugly Charter School Scandal Arne Duncan Is Leaving Behind @alternet

What the Oppressive Climate in Many Schools is Doing to Kids

What the increasingly oppressive climate in many schools is doing to kids

By Valerie Strauss October 12

Leslie Gaar is a former teacher who works in public schools training and coaching teachers. She is also  the mother of three and a blogger whose work has been featured on Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents and Mamalode. She blogs at Find her on Facebook and Twitter. In this post, she wrote about something that she says disturbs her every time she sets foot into an elementary school these days: what she calls an “increasingly oppressive, harsh environment” in which many young students are educated.
By Leslie Gaar
The speaker used a firm tone of voice that left little room for discussion.
 In 30 seconds, everyone should be in line.
Time is up.
Everyone stand up, hands behind your back, walk back to the room.
This conversation was one I recently overheard not in a prison or detention center, not in a courthouse or police station, but in an elementary school — a typical, run-of-the mill elementary school in the suburbs. It happened between a kindergarten teacher and her students. They weren’t in trouble or anything; this was just a routine bathroom break, like the ones that happen a few times each school day.
I work in public schools and can be found navigating their halls on a regular basis. I wish I could say the conversation above was an isolated incident, not representative of other schools I have been in, but that is just not the case. I’ve seen and heard exchanges like this hundreds, maybe even thousands of times, in all sorts of schools — even the “good” ones. As a teacher, I myself participated in these types of interactions daily, but it wasn’t until recently that I began seeing them in a whole new light.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Few Words About democratic socialism

The Democratic Socialists of America is the largest such group in the United States (formed in 1982 by a merger of the New American Movement—a group I was in—and the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, a remnant of the old Socialist Party of America. Today the stated view of DSA (which has formally endorsed Sanders) is this:
Democratic socialists do not want to create an all-powerful government bureaucracy. But we do not want big corporate bureaucracies to control our society either. Rather, we believe that social and economic decisions should be made by those whom they most affect.
Today, corporate executives who answer only to themselves and a few wealthy stockholders make basic economic decisions affecting millions of people. Resources are used to make money for capitalists rather than to meet human needs. We believe that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them.
Social ownership could take many forms, such as worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as possible. While the large concentrations of capital in industries such as energy and steel may necessitate some form of state ownership, many consumer-goods industries might be best run as cooperatives.
Democratic socialists have long rejected the belief that the whole economy should be centrally planned. While we believe that democratic planning can shape major social investments like mass transit, housing, and energy, market mechanisms are needed to determine the demand for many consumer goods.
Obviously, not every democratic socialist is a member of DSA, including Sanders himself. And other democratic socialists take a different view on some matters. But the approach laid out above is clearly not the authoritarian socialism that some would like to make of it.
[Full disclosure, I was a member of New American Movement from 1971 until it merged with DSOC in 1982 to become DSA, a group I have been associated with since then.]


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How Arne Duncan Transformed Education

And What Unions Intend to Do About It
Libby Nelson, Vox, Education 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed states into adopting Common Core standards, oversaw a massive expansion of charter schools, and urged states to tie teacher pay to performance. The next presidential administration — Republican or Democrat — could roll back that legacy.
Duncan announced October 2 that he'd step down at the end of the year. And whether Duncan's influence will endure depends on the next presidential administration. Some expert observers argue that a Clinton administration could undo Duncan's work — and teachers unions are hoping she will.
"I think she's going to be different," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said of Clinton when the union endorsed her this spring. The National Education Association did so last week. "She’ll follow the evidence, and she’ll talk to people and give people their due, instead of thinking about things ideologically, as you’ve seen in the last 10 years."

As education secretary, Duncan used a combination of carrots and sticks — federal grants and waivers from penalties under No Child Left Behind — to get states to change their approach to education. He encouraged states to allow more charter schools, to sign on to the shared Common Core standards, and to tie teachers' professional evaluations to their students' test scores.
Under Duncan's tenure, 43 states have launched the Common Core. Thirty-five states now require test scores to be a "significant" factor in how teachers' performance is judged. States have changed their laws to be more open to charter schools.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Trump’s Racially Divisive Politics Must Be Exposed...

antiracismdsa: Trump’s Racially Divisive Politics Must Be Exposed...: By Duane Campbell The intolerant agitation promoted by Republican Donald Trump and support of its substance by most Republican can...

Monday, October 05, 2015

Bernie Sanders : Seizing the Moment to Build

 By Kurt Stand
  “I did not say anything.  I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain.  We had heard them … and had read them … now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. … Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the number of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.” Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929, Shocken edition 1969 p. 185)
As Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign continues to gather support, he comes under ever sharper scrutiny – not only by Republican and Democratic Party opponents, but by others who are themselves working to address the social inequities that abound in our society.  Some such criticism is itself destructive; the tendency to view every insufficient step forward as a form of betrayal is a charge that every alternative candidate from Eugene Debs to Jesse Jackson has faced.  Yet criticism and debate is a healthy and necessary part of the process of building a social justice movement that is rooted in the diverse and unequal experiences of our society.  The idea that unity can be created solely by seeking to overcome economic inequality — as a goal shared by all working people — while putting all other concerns on the backburner is false; all such attempts have come to grief on the realities of how people understand the world they inhabit.  As the history of organized labor has repeatedly shown, division is not caused by those who have challenged racism or sexism, those who have challenged discrimination in any form – rather division is caused by the reality of such discrimination and perpetuated by those who wish to close their eyes to truths others know to be true through experience.
The importance of incorporating that experience in the Sanders campaign was expressed in an article by Bill Fletcher Jr. “The suggestion that race can be resolved through an appeal to class and economic justice alone suggests that economic justice will equally resolve the racial differential,” Fletcher wrote.
 “It is not simply a matter of ‘a rising tide raises all boats’. The reality is that all boats may rise, but who finds one’s self in which portion of each boat? Or, to use the metaphor of the Titanic, who is in steerage and who is closer to the main deck?
“When movements like #BlackLivesMatter and many in the immigrant rights movement point to this matter of racial injustice, they are not suggesting attention for a ‘special interest.’ Rather, they are pointing out that there can actually be no economic justice in the absence of racial justice. There can be no unity without a commitment to the fight for equality and justice. These struggles are interlinked.  The sort of ‘political revolution’ that the Sanders Campaign proclaims has been a long time coming. Yet it will never arrive if there is not a full recognition that the class struggle overlaps that of racial justice. The ruling elites, for several centuries, have appreciated that race is the trip wire of U.S. politics and social movements. When will progressives arrive at the same conclusion?”

Saturday, October 03, 2015

NEA Endorses Clinton

From: Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Saturday. 
The union’s campaign arm had indicated that it was recommending the endorsement earlier this week, as Politico first reported. Members of the 3-million-strong union who support Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have already protested the move, just as Sanders supporters from the American Federation of Teachers did when Clinton secured that union's endorsement in July.
"Clinton is a strong leader who will do what is best for America’s students. For more than four decades, Clinton has fought to make sure all children have a fair opportunity to succeed regardless of their ZIP code," said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the NEA, in a statement. "Clinton will continue to advocate on behalf of students, educators and working families because she understands the road to a stronger U.S. economy starts in America’s public schools.”
“As a lifelong fighter for children and families, I am deeply honored to have earned the endorsement of the National Education Association and their nearly 3 million members," Clinton stated.
The NEA’s campaign arm had said that it believed Clinton was the candidate best positioned to win in the general election next year. But both Clinton and Sanders had received “A” ratings on the group’s congressional legislative scorecard.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Arne Duncan Resigns

A major leader in the fake school reform crowd.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan came to Washington to reform K-12 schooling. But as he announced Friday that he plans to leave office in December, it appeared more likely that his legacy would be defined by the unprecedented distress among millions of Americans struggling to pay back student loans.
The Debt Collective, a pro-borrower group, said it hoped that the next secretary "has the wherewithal to clean up the department's mess and do what's right."
Duncan will be replaced by John B. King Jr., a senior adviser who has been doing the job of deputy secretary since January even as President Barack Obama has declined to nominate him for the post. Multiple news outlets reported Friday that Obama would not formally nominate King to be secretary either, avoiding a Senate battle. Like Duncan, King has spent most of his career so far focused on K-12 issues.
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