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 GarcĂ­a, 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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