Wednesday, May 31, 2017

DeVos, Charters, and Corporate Theft

by Jeff Bryan, 
Betsy DeVos wants to give your tax dollars to private schools and businesses and tell you it’s an education “transformation.”
That’s the main theme of an address she gave this week to a conference held by the organization she helped found and lead, the American Federation for Children.
Declaring “the time has expired for ‘reform,'” she called instead for a “transformation… that will open up America’s closed and antiquated education system.” Her plan also opens your wallet to new moochers of taxpayer dollars.
By the way, AFC, according to SourceWatch, is a “conservative 501(c)(4) dark money group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues.” It also grew out of a defunct PAC connected to DeVos called “All Children Matter” that ran afoul legally in Ohio and Wisconsin and still owes Ohio $5.3 million for breaking election laws.
So DeVos had a supportive crowd for her speech, but what should the rest of us think of it?
The transformation she calls for seems to rest on the premise that, “It shouldn’t matter where a student learns so long as they are actually learning.” But what does she mean by “learning”? And what should the public expect about how its funds are being spent?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Why Do Billionaires Want Charter Schools ?

Eli Broad and Edyth 

Harold Meyerson:

The billionaires, apparently, we shall always have with us — even when we decide how to run the state-funded schools where they rarely send their own kids.

In the Los Angeles school board elections earlier this month, a number of billionaires, including Eli Broad, Netflix founder Reed Hastings and two Walton family siblings, poured millions into the campaigns of two charter-school advocates. These billionaire-sponsored candidates defeated two badly outspent opponents who took a more cautionary stance on expanding charters, lest they decimate the school district’s budget. In total, pro-charter groups outspent teacher unions, $9.7 million to $5.2 million. (In the 2016 state legislative campaigns, the charterizers outspent the unions by a far larger margin, $20.5 million to $1.2 million.)

Though a number of the billionaires who’ve involved themselves in the charter cause are conservatives and Republicans, the actual election battles they join almost always pit Democrat against Democrat — in part because nearly all big cities are now overwhelmingly Democratic. In California, where Republicans’ numbers have ebbed past the point of power, the lion’s share of billionaires’ legislative campaign contributions have gone to more centrist Democrats, who not only are reliable votes on charter issues but also often oppose environmental and other measures advanced by their more progressive colleagues.
Charter billionaires have settled on a diagnosis, and a cure, that focuses on the deficiencies of the system’s victims, not the system itself.

Of all the issues billionaires could choose, why charters, and why now? One reason commonly adduced is that they’ve noticed something troubling: Public school graduates lack the skills necessary for employment. Many of those needed skills, however, are the kind that students acquire in vocational educational programs, not at charter schools.

That there are huge problems in the education of low-income students is beyond dispute — but this is hardly a recent development. The real recent development is the rising share of such students as the middle class has waned.

If the Waltons, say, decided to redirect more of their fortune to raising Wal-Mart workers’ wages, that in turn might enable hundreds of thousands of families to have more economically secure and stable lives, which could have a greater effect on student performance than charterization.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Trump /DeVos Budget for Schools

President Trump’s and Secretary of Education DeVos’ education budget was unveiled this week. It’s devastating news for public schools.

Rethinking Schools stands firmly against these unprecedented attacks on public education and we need your support to continue our fight against privatization—and to support and improve public schools. 
Public schools remain the only educational institutions that have the potential and obligation to serve all students. Yet Trump’s education budget shows how this administration puts corporate interests over the needs of students and communities.

The budget gives to charter and voucher schools—and steals from public school children:
  • Gives $500 million more for charter schools (up 50% from current funding), $250 million to expand and “study’ voucher schools, and  $1 billion more to encourage school “choice” within districts.
  • Cuts $1.2 billion for after-school programs that serve 1.6 million children, most of whom are poor, and $2.1 billion for teacher education and class-size reduction.
  • Cuts $490 million for college work-study programs. 
  • Cuts $700 million in Perkins loans for disadvantaged students.
  • Cuts funding for mental health services, anti-bullying initiatives, physical education, and science and engineering instruction.
  • Slashes $168 million for career and technical education and eliminates $96 million for adult literacy.
Fight the Trump/DeVos agenda by making a donation to Rethinking Schools so that we can expand our work and strengthen the educational justice movement.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How President Trump’s Proposed Budget Is Bad for Californians and for the Economy - California Budget & Policy Center

How President Trump’s Proposed Budget Is Bad for Californians and for the Economy - California Budget & Policy Center

Trump, DeVos Budget Proposal for Public Education

We need your help. When Betsy DeVos was nominated to be secretary of education, we sounded the alarm because of her role in Michigan and Florida as an anti-public education and pro-voucher lobbyist—what I call a “public school denier.” The public agreed with us, but the White House and GOP-led Senate ignored the outcry of millions of Americans from across the country and confirmed her appointment—using a tiebreaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence. The budget DeVos and the Trump administration issued today reaffirms our concerns—big-time. 

We feared DeVos was ill-prepared to be education secretary, and now, after seeing this budget, we know she doesn’t care. The Trump-DeVos budget is manifestly cruel to children and catastrophic to public schools, while being a windfall for those who want to profit off of children or make education a commodity.

That is why we are reaching out to everyone, regardless of your job title, where you live or your political party. We need your help in taking on the Trump-DeVos budget and its consequences.

Write to Betsy DeVos and oppose this cruel and catastrophic budget today.

Just look at what the DeVos budget proposes: 
  • While Trump and DeVos chose private schools for their children, with small class sizes, they want to eliminate the federal funding that helps America’s public schools lower class sizes.
  • While Trump and DeVos can afford whatever their children and grandchildren need or want, and while Ivanka Trump got $19 billion for her parental leave project, the budget completely zeros out all current federal programs that keep millions of poor children safe and well-fed in after-school and summer programs.
  • Trump says there is nothing more important than being a teacher, but he eliminates the loan forgiveness program that helps students pursue teaching careers, eliminates funding for teacher preparation and educator support, and guts most other programs that alleviate student debt or make college more affordable.
  • Trump says vocational education is the way of the future yet slashes career and technical education funding.
  • DeVos promised not to hurt children with special needs, but the budget cuts one-quarter of the Medicaid funding that now pays for essential school-based services like physical therapists, feeding tubes and other medical equipment, and health screenings. 
And what do they fund with all these cuts? This budget provides tax cuts for the wealthy and redirects funding for expanded charter schools and vouchers. It spends $250 million on further research for vouchers even though the most recent studies, including one on the D.C. voucher program by DeVos’ own Education Department, show that vouchers hurt kids. And it diverts $1 billion from Title I funding—including $550 million in direct Title I cuts—to fund an Arne Duncan-like Race to the Top-style program.

Tell Betsy DeVos that our children deserve better. She must stop her crusade for private, religious schools and failed voucher programs and fully fund public education.

Federal and state funding is vitally important for our public schools to help children. Just ask the people in Van Wert, Ohio, who spent a day hosting DeVos and me. DeVos saw examples of great public schools in this rural area that voted big-time for Donald Trump. She saw the importance of early childhood education, observed hands-on learning in robotics classes, and learned about after-school programs, including a senior project that helps provide backpacks filled with food for the weekend to kids who receive free and reduced-price lunch. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

38,000 ATT Workers Go on Strike!

The Strike is over for now. The CWA workers have gone back to work.  Watch for future announcements. 

CWA union members have been working closely with DSA on organizing efforts across the country. 38,000 CWA folks at AT ;T have been working without a contract. This has gone on far too long. Now AT;T workers in 36 states and Washington, DC are on strike.
DSA's national Steering Committee endorses this strike. DSA local groups and individual members are joining striking workers at picket lines across the country. Click here to RSVP for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Downloadable DSA solidarity signs are available here and here.
Members who can't join a picket line are encouraged to email AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and tell him to settle now.
UPDATE: DirecTV employees are joining the potential strike as well. Now 40,000 workers are ready to stand up for their livelihoods — and their dignity.

Join the CWA picket lines at the locations below and support our comrades fighting for better wages and better livelihoods!
  • 1743 ARDEN WAY
    SACRAMENTO, CA 95815
    SACRAMENTO, CA 95825
  • 3591 TRUXEL ROAD
    SACRAMENTO, CA 95834
  • 5550 SUNRISE BLVD STE 100

Read DSA National's statement here.

To find other/additional picket lines, click here.

Trump’s Education Budget Feeds School Privatization At The Expense of Students

Trump’s Education Budget Feeds School Privatization At The Expense of Students

Thursday, May 18, 2017

More on LA School Board Take Over by Corporate Billionaires

A Big Win for Corporate Advocates of Charters.
Mike McPhate
School board campaigns are often sleepy affairs, not the sort of electoral battle that generates widespread attention and outside donations. But this week’s election for the Los Angeles Unified school board was something of an epic proxy fight. Some saw it as a battle over the influence of the teachers’ union. Others cast it as a fight against the education agenda of President Trump and Betsy DeVos and the expansion of charter schools. 
After Tuesday’s results, the seven-member school board that governs the nation’s second largest public school system will be dominated by supporters of charter schools who may move to increase the number of publicly funded but privately run schools across the city. 
The election drew in some $14 million — making it among the most expensive school board races in the country’s history — and a host of high-profile endorsements. In the end, the candidates who portrayed themselves as supporters of dramatic changes won out, leaving the teachers’ union and its supporters angered and worried about the future. Steve Zimmer, the school board president who lost to the challenger Nick Melvoin, was so angered by the defeat that he refused to make the customary congratulatory call. Mr. Zimmer called the results “devastating” and said he would never run for office again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Billionaires with Agenda to Privatize Public Schools Buy LAUSD School Board Election for $10 Million - California Teachers Association

Billionaires with Agenda to Privatize Public Schools Buy LAUSD School Board Election for $10 Million - California Teachers Association

In his first interview after declaring victory in the LA Unified school board election, Nick Melvoin vowed to protect parents’ choices in education and to move the district beyond the charter school versus traditional school narrative.
“I would like the first thing we try to tackle to be moving beyond this what we call the school, who governs the school and respect parents’ choices and respect educators’ choices,” he said soon after his acceptance speech Tuesday night as he paused from greeting supporters to talk to LA School Report.
Melvoin delivered an upset victory in Tuesday’s election, unseating a school board president, something that hasn’t happened in at least two decades. Together with Kelly Gonez who won in District 6, they will be part of the strongest reform majority that the board has seen. Melvoin defeated Steve Zimmer in the District 4 race with about 57 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
Other top priorities include a unified enrollment system and transparency in the district’s finances and facilities. He said he would work to reform the co-location process in which charter schools share campus space with traditional schools. He also wants to push for more autonomies for district schools like those granted to charter schools.
Melvoin’s brief acceptance speech didn’t include charters, but in the interview afterward he professed his support for independent charter schools, which are publicly funded and run by nonprofit organizations. LA has more charter schools than any other district in the nation, with about 16 percent of LA schoolchildren enrolled in independent charters.
Melvoin had the backing of deep-pocketed philanthropists who have supported charter school growth, including Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, Eli Broad, and former LA Mayor Richard Riordan.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bernie, the Billionaires, and the School Board

Bernie, the Billionaires, and the School Board: The pro-charter candidates in Tuesday’s Los Angeles election are backed by the Walton family, Michael Bloomberg, and Eli Broad. Their opponents are backed by Bernie Sanders, in the priciest school board race in U.S. history.

Who Are the Out-Of-Town Billionaires Wading into a City School Board Race? @alternet

Who Are the Out-Of-Town Billionaires Wading into a City School Board Race? @alternet: The LA school board race may be the most expensive in the country with out-of-town billionaires – including the Walton family – trying to defeat progressive Steve Zimmer. Some of America’s most powerful corporate plutocrats want to take over the Los Angeles school system but Steve Zimmer, a former teacher and feisty school board member, is in their way. So they’ve hired Nick Melvoin to get rid of him. No, he’s not a hired assassin like the kind on “The Sopranos.” He’s a lawyer who the billionaires picked to defeat Zimmer.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Schools to receive funding in 2017/2018

May Revise. 
Proposal:  LCFF continues to be funded

SACRAMENTO - As the state's economic recovery stretches into an eighth year - two years short of the longest on record - and with increasing uncertainty from Washington, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today released a revised state budget that continues to plan for tougher times ahead, while maintaining spending on core programs such as education and child care. 

"Over the past four years, we have increased spending by billions of dollars for education, health care, child care and other anti-poverty programs. In the coming year, I don't think even more spending will be possible," said Governor Brown. "We have ongoing pressures from Washington and an economic recovery that won't last forever."

Under the May Revision, the $5.8 billion revenue shortfall forecast in January is now a $3.3 billion shortfall - based primarily on higher capital gains. Even so, the budget is considerably more constrained than in any year since 2012.

Some cuts from the January Budget remain, but the modestly improved fiscal outlook allows the May Revision to advance several key priorities, including:

Increasing Funding for Schools
The May Revision includes $1.4 billion in 2017-18 to continue implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula to 97 percent complete. The formula focuses most new funding to districts with low-income students, English learners and students in foster care. The increased funding also eliminates the deferral of funding that was included in the January Budget. For K-12 schools, funding levels will increase by about $4,058 per student in 2017-18 over 2011-12 levels.

For higher education, the May Revision continues to provide each university system and the community colleges with annual General Fund growth. In response to the State Auditor's review of the University of California (UC) Office of the President, the May Revision sequesters $50 million in UC funding until such time that the Auditor's recommendations and other UC commitments are implemented.

Keeping Child Care Funding On Track
The Governor's January budget proposal called for a one-year delay in providing rate increases to child care providers that were reflected in the 2016 Budget Act. The May Revision proposes to restore this funding and maintain the $500 million child care package from the 2016 Budget.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Artist: Rini Templeton - Sin Fronteras

An exhibition of over 100 prints, sculptures and artifacts
Curator: David Bischoff

For 30 years, a brilliant artist-activist, RINI TEMPLETON illustrated the struggles of the people in the United States, Mexico, Central America and Cuba. Before her early death in 1986, Rini made thousands of unsigned drawings to be reproduced and used freely for popular movements.

On May 13th the Latino Center of Art and Culture presents SIN FRONTERAS/IMAGES OF HOPE: RINI TEMPLETON PRESENTE! an exhibition of over 100 prints, publications and original sculptures. They present Rini’s legacy of art --- of and for the people. The exhibition includes a multi-media biography, “Rini Templeton, A Life of Struggle and Creation,“ created by Mexico City’s Punto Critico magazine collective.

The work is on loan from Mexican and US collections.

WHAT:                                                SIN FRONTERAS/IMAGES OF HOPE: RINI TEMPLETON PRESENTE!
May 13-July 17, 2017
Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 12PM – 6PM

OPENING RECEPTION:                        Saturday, May 13
(speakers, music, refreshments)       5PM – 9PM

WHERE:                                              Latino Center of Art and Culture
                                                            2700 Front St.
                                                            Sacramento, CA 95818


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Know Your Rights - Front Door (English)

The Sacramento Immigration committee has established a hot line to report ICE activity in the neighborhoods, at schools, parks, and other areas. 
If you see ICE activity, please report it.  When you report the activity, volunteers and legal observers will go to the location. 
They will document the arrests to be certain that the rights of the accused are respected.  They will also assist with contacting family members and being certain that children are cared for

Todos tienen derechos constitucionales

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Sacramento Legal Services to Defend the Undocumented

by Anita Chabria.  The Sacramento Bee
Undocumented immigrants in Sacramento will have city-funded legal services as soon as next month to fight deportation and “prepare for the worst” as their fears grow about federal immigration enforcement.
Sacramento City Council members voted unanimously late Thursday to set aside up to $300,000 for a network of legal, educational and faith-based nonprofit groups that will help residents with immediate immigration problems and advise them how to protect children and assets if parents are deported.
The network also would educate them on their rights.
“The reality is there is a lot of fear,” said Councilman Eric Guerra. “We can alleviate that fear.”
Washington Elementary School Principal Gema Godina testified she has been asked multiple times by frightened undocumented families to take their children if parents are detained. She said she was unprepared for the requests but has agreed to be the legal guardian for five of her students.
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