Thursday, February 26, 2015

Students need more funds, not more tests.

As a teacher of more than 20 years at an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, I saw the value of federal dollars sent to our local public schools through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In fact, millions of America’s poorest schoolchildren depend on the Title 1 funding that was established in the law as part of the landmark 1965 “War on Poverty” legislation. 
In Los Angeles, Title 1 funding allowed us to buy paper, pens and pencils that, while taken for granted in many communities, were a luxury for children and parents living in poverty. It also allowed us to hire instructional aides and provide programs that gave thousands of students the help they needed to succeed in school and prepare for college.
Congress must now decide whether to reauthorize the act, and whether to continue with the high-stakes testing mandates adopted as part of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Elect Eric Guerra

The Sacramento Progressive Alliance supports Eric Guerra for Sacramento City Council, District 6.
Special election.  April 7, 2015.
The Sacramento City Council has not had a Latino member for twenty years. Most of the Democratic Party clubs are supporting his opponent. Eric was a strong ally of multicultural education while he was President of ASI at Sac State.
Contract the Guerra campaign on Facebook. Campaign volunteers are needed.
The decision was made at our board meeting on Feb.21. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Violence Against Children and Teachers

by Steven Singer 
She was smiling and laughing, but her eyes were terrified.
Sitting in class among her fellow middle school students, her words were all bravado. But her gestures were wild and frightened. Tears were close.
So as the morning bell rang and the conversation continued unabated, I held myself in check. I stopped the loud rebuke forming in my teacher’s throat and just listened.
“You know that shooting at Monroeville Mall Saturday night, Mr. Singer? I was there!”
I swallowed. “My gosh, Paulette. Are you okay?”
She acts street smart and unbreakable, but I can still see the little girl in her. She’s only thirteen.
She slowed down and told us what happened; a story framed as bragging but really a desperate plea for safety and love.
She went to the mall with her mother. When they separated so she could go to the restroom, the gunfire began. She ran out and Mom was gone. She was ushered into a nearby store where the customers were kept in lockdown. She stayed there until the police cleared the mall, and it was safe to find her mother and go home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CSU hurts students by relying upon part-time lecturers

Lilian Taiz,
It’s bad enough that the California State University is using more part-time than full-time professors.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that CSU has been choosing, decade after decade, to follow a corporate model that builds its part-time workforce at the expense of recruiting and retaining permanent faculty. That model is bad for the employees, but it also has serious implications for the 447,000 students who rely on CSU for quality public higher education.

That hiring pattern is a long-term policy that the CSU has been advancing regardless of the state of the economy. Moreover, in recent years despite greater investment in the CSU at the state level (though not as much as the system needs), these hiring practices have continued.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What has NCLB wrought ?

Lily Ekelsen Garcia, President NEA
I have a pop quiz for you.
In 2001, before No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed, there were six federally-mandated tests per student. Guess how many there are now?
  • 6
  • 8
  • 10
  • 17
The answer: 17
Let that sink in for a minute...17 federally-mandated tests. And that's on TOP of all the other state and local assessments that are being administered. 
But that's not even the real issue. It's the high stakes that are tied to those tests and the lack of attention on what really matters - the opportunities we're providing our students across ALL zip codes.
That is the real heart of the problem. Join me in speaking up about it now.
Right now, Congress is reauthorizing this cornerstone piece of education legislation - the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
It's a HUGE deal that will dictate not only the amount of time students spend on testing, but also the resources like advanced courses, extracurriculars, and access to school counselors - they receive. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Schooled for Failure: California's k-12 Crisis

Bill Raden
“You can see a big difference between students who have gone to preschool and who have not,” Jones told Capital & Main in her tidily organized classroom. Aggravating the situation, she adds, is that Angeles Mesa is surrounded by charter schools that tend to siphon higher achieving students and attract more motivated parents, who are drawn as much by safety concerns as academic excellence. That has created an additional inequality within an inequality, as Angeles Mesa is left with a disproportionate population of underachievers lacking in basic social and learning skills.
“It is definitely difficult to have a child come into kindergarten who’s never been read to,” Jones explained. “And it’s not that they haven’t been read to because their parents don’t want to — it’s just when you’re a single mom and you’re working four jobs, it doesn’t always work out that way.”
If there is a lesson in evidence-based research for California policy makers, say Orfield and Gandara, it is that there are limitations to what even the most inspired teachers alone can achieve in a society plagued with inequities.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

It is Time for Civic Education for All

by Duane Campbell
The Sacramento Bee editorial board was correct in their Friday Feb.6, 2015,  piece, “Civic Education is Essential to Democracy. congratulate them on their position.
However, they missed the boat on how to get to improved civic education.
While it is accurate that we have a general problem of civic engagement of the young,  it is also true that we have a very specific problem with the rate of Latino and Asian voter participation and  civic engagement.  Together they comprise over 60% of the students in our schools.  And, the textbooks have yet to acknowledge their presence.
 Rates of voting and voter registration provide a window into civic engagement.  The proportion of state voter  registration that is Latino and Asian has remained far below the proportions of these groups in the state’s overall population. In 2010, Latinos in the state made up 37.6% of the general population while they were on 21.2 % of the registered voters. The Asian population was 13.1 % of the state but  only 8.1 % of the registered voters.

The Bee recommendations , like the earlier report, Revitalizing K-12 Civic Learning in California,
miss the single most direct and important  issue – include the children.  See

 Children and young adults need to see themselves in the curriculum.  Students, particularly students of color, have low levels of attachment to California and U.S.  civics messages in significant part because the government institution they encounter the most- the schools- ignore the students own history, cultures and experiences.

A fundamental way to engage students in civic culture is to engage them in their own schools and communities.  That is where the students most encounter civic opportunities.
The 1987 California History Social Science  Framework still in use today to guide the selection of  California textbooks   expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and a photo of Cesar Chavez.
When the 51%  % of students who are Latino , and the 9  % who are Asian do not see themselves as part of history,  for many their sense of self is marginalized.   Marginalization negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school.  It contributes to an up to  50% drop out rate for Latinos and some Asian students.  A more accurate, more complete  history  would provide some students with a  a sense of self, of direction,  of purpose, even a sense that  they should stay in school and learn more. History and social science  classes  should help young people acquire and learn to use the civics  skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.   

Add their stories to the history textbooks, add their literature to the literature textbooks. They are not migrants from some distant place. They are California's children. Include them.  
The hard work of teachers and advocates, Los Angeles and San Francisco Unified  School boards have added ethnic studies to their curriculum.  This is an important step toward the inclusion of these students in civic education.
To include more, the  1987 History Social Science Framework for California’s Schools needs revision. See here. See

And, yes, a revised civics course and appropriate support for teacher in-service preparation  is needed. The place to do that is in the History/ Social Science framework scheduled to be revised in 2015/2016.   It will require focused attention of many, including scholars, political leaders and editorial boards to overcome the inertia of the past frameworks. 
A more accurate, more complete  history  provided in Ethnic studies courses  would provide some students with a  a sense of self, of direction,  of purpose, even a sense that  they should stay in school and learn more.  And, ethnic studies would provide Anglo  students with an informed, accurate history of the political and cultural development of the state.  Ethnic studies classes should help young people acquire and learn to use the civics  skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.   

The Department of Education and the Board of Education can start by revising the California History/ Social Science Framework to include the history of the majority of students in the schools  and by  joining LA Unified in requiring Ethnic Studies Classes in high school.

The Framework determines what goes into the California  textbooks.  Having sought for decades to change this framework, I recognize how difficult it will be.  The next revision is up for consideration in 2015/2016.   If the CDE stacks the committee membership for writing a new framework, as they did last time, we can expect little change.  See

There is a network of scholars and professionals interested in writing a more complete history of our state.  This has been said before and we will keep reminding these folks.
Duane Campbell,  Democracy and Education Institute.

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Monday, February 02, 2015

Sen.Rand Paul Criticizes Common Core History Standards- duh There aren't any

However, Common Core only sets standards in english language arts/literacy and math, as ThinkProgress pointed out.
Critics of Common Core take issue with its alleged required reading list, which Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education for President Ronald Reagan, described as a "myth" in a September op-ed.
The only texts Common Core requires students to read are the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and President Lincoln's second inaugural address, according to NPR.
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