Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Legislative meddling and teacher preparation

Senator

California State Senate

Dear Senator X,

We are faculty in teacher preparation in State Universities in California with over 40 years of experience between us. In our professional work we have focused on issues of democracy, race and class, and we have worked to prepare language minority students and students of color for careers in teaching.
In the last three years we have seen our credential programs deteriorate as we responded to the mandates of Senate Bill 2042 which require all teacher credential candidates to engage in teacher performance assessments (TPA) that claim to assess whether teachers have in fact achieved state designed and mandated teacher performance expectations (TPE s). Few teacher educators believe that the TPA process in any of its various forms will actually improve the quality of teachers and contribute to closing the achievement gap, but most teacher educators are too overwhelmed with adjusting their curriculum and program to conform to the state demands to resist.
The 1998 legislation SB 2042 became an opportunity for persons working with the State Commission on Teacher Credentialing , including Alan Bersin and Margaret Fortune, to advance an accountability model of reform (SB2042, 2000). These two opinion shapers did not write the legislation. They were advocates and leaders in parallel parts of the conservative “school reform” movement. They have never been teachers and have never completed a teacher preparation program, yet they have vigorously asserted an business/corporate model of teacher preparation and they both advocate “alternative” routes to teacher credentialing. Like many advocates of the corporate/testing model these two opinion shapers had not, in fact, worked in corporations. Their prior work was government sponsored positions where they talked about corporate decision making.
.
In 2006 an omnibus Education bill SB 1209 was passed by the legislature with a long list of provisions, two of which are very troubling. SB 1209 includes a the mandate for Colleges of Education in the state to move forward with performance assessment of future teachers without additional funding to perform this required assessment. The focus in the hearing on SB 1209 was a number of other provisions designed to increase the number of teachers in California. The Governor’s office was a central player in bringing this bill together.
SB 1209 mandates the implementation of one part of SB 2042 (2000). The Legislative mandates of SB 2042 Standards for Program Quality Effectiveness in teacher preparation became an opportunity for persons working with the State Commission on Teacher Credentialing to reform credential programs in California without funding. As part of the recent SB 1209 mandates, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing has required that all teacher education programs implement Teacher Performance Assessments for credentialing candidates (TPA) by July, 2008.
The Teaching Performance Assessments (TPAs) of SB 2042 and SB 1209 are based on reductive, corporate-driven teacher performance expectations (TPEs). They are even more simplistic and rigid than prior expectations. TPEs requires that teacher preparation become the development of lower-level teaching skills needed to teach the scripted curriculum promoted by the high stakes tests required under No Child Left Behind. I have a longer paper on this problem if you are interested.
With the TPA system of CTC, teacher education programs and teacher educators are going through contortions trying to fit a square peg into a round hole to comply with an ill-conceived and misguided state law.
There are a number of ideologically conservative groups who mis use education research to promote their own ideologies, charter schools and usually keep their taxes low. They have gained a major step forward in the unfunded mandates of SB 1209. This provision of SB 1209 was presented to the legislature as a way to increase the number of teachers in California. It will, in fact, decrease the number. And, it is driving many professors out of teacher preparation.
This process of manipulated legislative mandates has been well documented in California described in Cornbleth and Waugh, “The Great Speckled Bird: Multicultural Politics and Education Policymaking. “ (1995) and in Taylor, “Beginning to Read and the Spin Doctors of Science; The Political Campaign to Change America’s Mind about How Children Learn to Read. (1998) as well as my own book, Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education (2004).

I would like to talk with you about these problems. As an intermediate process,we should repeal provisions 5 & 12 of SB 1209 which imposed an unfunded mandate on teacher preparation in California.
Cordially,
( Your name and address)

Duane Campbell

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bush regime incompetence in education

3
THE 99 AND 44/100ths PURE CRAP AWARD:
SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
MARGARET SPELLINGS

In “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell wrote, “When one watches some
tired hack on the platform repeating the familiar phrases...one often has a curious feeling
that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy....” George Orwell
was lucky. He never had to listen to Margaret Spellings. Our Lady of the Busted
Metaphor can bring you down in a hurry with the inanities of what she says but even
more in the realization that those inanities, emitted in mangled English, reflect how her
brain works (“speaker sometimes deviates from text” it says at the beginning of some
speeches). Herewith an annotated sampling.

“I talk about No Child Left Behind like Ivory Soap: It’s 99.9 percent pure. There’s not
much needed in the way of change.” Teacher/author Debra Craig decided that Spellings
was “99.9% delusional” while Education Week founder, Ron Wolk called the statement
“99.9% bunk.” They’re both right.

If Spellings had said nothing else during the entire year, this comment and her trouncing
on Celebrity Jeopardy would have secured her place in infamy (“I was shocked to
discover that US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is a moron,” wrote DC
gossip blogger, Wonkette. What took you so long? Wonkette’s post elicited many very
funny comments. My favorite: “She attempted to defend herself by explaining that she
simply doesn’t test well. The value of providing ‘exact answers’ rather than
‘approximate possibilities in a conceptually acceptable range’ is highly overrated. She
had still hoped to be socially promoted to co-champion”).

Alas, there is more, much more. Speaking at the NCLB “Summit” in Philadelphia,
Spellings declared, “This law is helping us learn about what works in our schools. And
clearly high standards and accountability are working. Over the last 5 years, our 9-year-
olds have made more progress in reading than in the previous 28 combined.”

Except that those “last 5 years” are from NAEP trend data collected in 1999 and 2004,
not in the Bush years of 2001 and 2006. So for three of those five years NCLB didn’t
even exist. Maybe Bill Clinton deserves all the credit. Many state plans had not been
approved by fall of the 2002-2003 so NCLB would have had only a few months in the
2003-2004 school year to work its wonders. I don’t think so.

“With this law,” Spellings said in the same speech, “we set a historic goal for our
country: every child learning on grade level by 2014.” Nope. No matter how many times
Spellings mutters “grade level” the law says “proficient.” The only meaningful, existing
4
definition of “grade level” is the score of the average child at a given grade. If the scores
are distributed normally, and the tests from which the concept of grade was developed
insured that they would be, then, by definition, at any given time, nationally, 50% of all
students are below grade level. Some small, affluent districts might attain Lake
Wobegon status, but nationally, half of all students are always below grade level. By
definition.

There are other conceivable ways of defining grade level, but none of them would claim
that all students could be there or better (unless grade level were defined by a number
three standard deviations below the average (median)).

At the end of this speech—it was a doozy—Spellings described a visit she made with
Bush to a middle school and reported that in science “The class was full of students
asking “what if” questions. They had high expectations” (manifested by what?) and a lot
of confidence and they knew they could make a difference” (as sixth graders???).

She wound up with this: “There are certain things you can’t teach in a classroom that our
students already have—qualities like creativity, diversity, and entrepreneurship. Our job
is to give them the knowledge and skills to compete.” This might likely be the first and
only time that “diversity” has been described as a personal quality.

But if Spellings asserts that you can’t teach creativity or entrepreneurship, what does that
say about how Spellings defines teaching? And how on earth did the kids “already have”
these qualities? Is it something in the water?

In a June speech, Spellings said “I had a meeting with Thomas Friedman from the New
York Times last week. And he told me the number one skill our children will need to
survive in the flat world is learning to learn.” So the question is, Does she disregard what
Friedman told her or does she actually think that NCLB will contribute to kids’ learning
to learn? How dumb can you get?

Under Spellings, the U. S. Department of Education announced a proposed program to
send students to private schools with publicly funded vouchers four days after her
department released a study showing that private schools have an advantage on public
schools only because of how they select students—more rich kids, fewer poor kids, fewer
minorities, fewer special education kids, and fewer English Language Learners.
Similarly attempts to shore up charters were undercut by another department study
indicating that public schools outperform them. New regulations favoring single-sex
schools appeared not long after her department issued a huge report saying there was no
evidence that single sex schools improve anything.

It is depressing to think that the stewardship of the federal department of education is in
the hands of an idiot.

Read the entire Rotten Apples in Education Awards, 2006. By researcher Gerald W. Bracey. Here
http://www.america-tomorrow.com/bracey/EDDRA/rottenapples2006-final.pdf

State of Delusion

State Of Delusion

Robert L. Borosage

January 24, 2007

Robert L. Borosage is co-director of the Campaign For America's Future .

Last night’s State of the Union address revealed that the state of this president is still delusional. He can’t level with the American people because he can’t or won’t recognize the reality that we face.

The best part of the speech wasn’t anything the president said. It was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting over his shoulder, signaling the change that Americans voted for. The president also got a lift from the “ordinary heroes” that he recognized at the end of the speech. But when it came to substance, the president seemed bored with his own words as he trotted out his pledge for more of the same.

For this president, the economy is great and we need to stay the course. The Democratic response by freshman Virginia Sen. Jim Webb offered a glimpse of the reality that the president doesn’t get—that this economy isn’t working for most Americans. No wonder fewer than a third of Americans think the president has any clue about the problems they face.

For this president, we have a strategy for moving forward in Iraq, and we’re garnering global support for our foreign policies. Maybe he's back on the sauce; he certainly isn’t reading his briefing papers or listening to his own generals. The president called for bipartisanship, apparently not aware that senators from both parties are already coming together—in opposition to the president’s escalation of the war in Iraq. Again, Webb offered a dose of reality in his response, stating flatly that it was time to bring the president’s war to an end, and that if he couldn’t understand that, “we will be showing him the way.”

Even where it has dawned on the president that there is a problem to be addressed, his proposals are gestures, if not mockeries. The health care system is broken. The president’s reforms, by his own exaggerated numbers, might provide health insurance for maybe 3 million of the 47 million that now go without, while taking a whack at workers who have decent plans (read unions) and public hospitals (read Hillary Clinton’s New York, which takes 40 percent of the hit).

Catastrophic climate change and our dependence on foreign oil are a clear and present threat to our security. The president recycles his ethanol enthusiasms (substituting “woodchips” for last year’s “switch grass” as a potential source). But his plans won’t even cover the projected increase in U.S. oil demand over the next decades. He still defaults on the imperative for a dramatic national drive for energy independence—like that called for by the Apollo Alliance , which can generate jobs even as it helps address global warming.

Our education system is not providing the basics—children with the nutrition and access to health care to be ready to learn, universal pre-school, smaller classes in the early grades, skilled teachers, affordable college and advanced training. The president offers only to continue the No Child Left Behind reforms that he has failed to fund.

Immigration reform is a vital necessity. The president calls for comprehensive reform, in the face of growing right-wing opposition. But he insists on a guest worker program, simply a subsidy for exploitative employers, insuring them a pool of second-class workers.

The president’s speech was more striking for what it omitted than for what it contained. No mention of our unsustainable trade deficits, the loss of 17 percent of our manufacturing jobs, the growing indebtedness to foreign creditors, particularly the Chinese and Japanese central bankers. No talk of the worst corporate crime wave in modern history, with executives cooking the books and plundering their own companies. Not a word about the worst inequality since the Gilded Age or the rise of families in poverty. Obscenely, the president said not a word about the beleaguered survivors of Katrina, who, having weathered that hurricane’s winds now must struggle to survive the administration’s broken promises.

Speaker Pelosi’s presence and Sen. Webb’s response offered the only solace for Americans watching last night. This president remains in his bubble, divorced from a reality he can’t see, committed to a course at home and abroad that won’t work. But it matters less and less. Americans have already tuned him out, and the Congress no longer dances to his fancies. From now on, it is the new leadership in Congress that “will be showing him the way.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

They haven't talked to any children lately award

THE HAVEN’T TALKED TO ANY CHILDREN,
VISITED ANY SCHOOLS LATELY AWARD:
MARC TUCKER
AND THE NEW COMMISSION ON THE SKILLS OF
THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE.


Commenting on this commission’s recommendations, Washington Post reporter and
columnist, Jay Mathews observed that the commission included “some of the giants of
American education,” but “like hundreds of powerful and brilliant people who have
participated in well-intentioned commissions before them, they let themselves be talked
into wandering through dreamland, rather than the real world.”

Dreamland, indeed. Perhaps the goofiest, most Orwellian double-speak statement in the
report occurs in the description of Step 1 of a 10-Step program. It describes a set of
“Board Exams” that most students would encounter at age 16. Performance on these
exams would determine what kind of educational experiences were open to them later.
“Students could challenge these Board Exams as soon as they were ready, and they could
keep challenging them all their lives, if necessary. No one would fail. If they did not
succeed, they would just try again.” Yeah, right. Try substituting “High School Exit
Exam” for Board Exams. Doesn’t change the meaning, does it?
Gerald W. Bracey
Read the entire Rotten Apples in Education Awards, 2006. By researcher Gerald W. Bracey. Here
http://www.america-tomorrow.com/bracey/EDDRA/rottenapples2006-final.pdf

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Business model fails schools

Forcing a Risky Business Model on Us
By Robert Brower

Shortly after the U.S. Department of Education awarded its first grants last fall in a new $94 million program to fund teacher-incentive pay, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution described the plan as “revolutionary,” saying it would “promote student learning to the fullest.”
In his op-ed commentary in The Wall Street Journal, Terry Moe claimed the disconnect between pay and performance had an effect on the quality and motivation of everyone in teaching. To Moe and others in government, business and academia, the private sector is the answer to improving the nation’s public schools. Certainly there’s a growing movement afoot to force public schools into a market-driven system of choice, vouchers, competition, charters and other capitalistic business models.

By applying an untested business model to educational reform, political and business leaders are openly promulgating forced competition among schools. They are demanding change for change’s sake, coveting any new idea that comes along to demonstrate anecdotal improvement and using flawed statistics to foist unproven changes on our schools. This strong push is more about political dogma than about raising the performance of public school students.

As educational leaders, we must make our collective voice heard loudly and clearly before it is too late. We are being driven down a tangential road by those with influence in high places who lack even basic expertise in educational research and whose desire for good political sound bites is more important than the future of our children.

Not only is the business model of reform misguided, there is not a shred of statistically significant research that supports the notion that competition will solve whatever ails K-12 education. If we succumb to this experiment of political thought, the consequences may be devastating to our economic and social future.

Market Rules
Prominent conservative thinkers such as Herbert Walbert, Joseph Bast, Gary S. Becker, John Chubb and the late Milton Friedman advocate a market-driven, business model of reform for public education, yet none offers any compelling, scientifically conducted evidence to support these experimental notions. These and well-meaning professionals in other fields offer only subjective supposition and wishful thinking as their research. Simply put, this movement is nothing more than a snake-oil remedy promoted by people who have no expertise in the educational arena.

Unfortunately, many educators do not recognize the hidden agenda — the dismantling of public education. During recent national elections it was common to hear politicians calling for schools to be operated more like retail franchises, competing for customers in a crowded marketplace. “Why,” these proponents ask, “should public schools be protected from competition?” But I ask, "Where is the research that supports such experimentation?"

While many think tanks, politicians and corporate executives believe the rules of business, with its bottom-line mentality, should apply to public education, if the public health field were managed similarly, without scientific rationale, patients would fall prey to quackery. We can’t afford political, social and economic experiments to be performed on children through wishful thinking.

Consider the comments by Marion Brady, a retired public school administrator, in the December 2004 issue of Phi Delta Kappan: “Today’s major education-related debates — about vouchers, choice, competition, merit pay, rewards, school shaming, discipline-based standards, high-stakes tests, accountability, privatization — do not even hint at the problem. … [B]ringing market forces to bear will not improve education. Indeed, present federally mandated ‘reforms’ will do just the opposite.”

Speculative Politics
As a public school educator for the last 33 years, I believe forcing business-like competition onto schools would lead to many undesired outcomes, while paying little attention to cooperative endeavors that could benefit students and school programs. For instance, the competitive business world does not encourage the sharing of successful strategies, but in education cooperation is a necessity.

Rather than shaming schools into improving, we should be supporting low-achieving schools partnering with successful schools. The “produce or die” operating model of the corporate arena and academia may work with manufacturing cogs and college professors, but this business approach to education has no proven track record of success for students and schools.

Those advocating a business model are ignoring what scientific studies demonstrate regularly: Charters, vouchers, choice, privatization and competition do nothing to improve student learning. The reality of this debacle is that speculative politics, rather than scientific research, is driving this movement.

Continuing to advocate a politically motivated, market-driven system of education will only delay the real work that needs to be done to help our public schools grow. We should not be at odds with one another but rather respectful of our separate areas of expertise.
From: The School Administrator.
http://www.aasa.org/publications/saarticledetailtest.cfm?ItemNumber=7945

Robert Brower is superintendent of the North Montgomery Community School Corporation, 480 W. 580 North, Crawfordsville, IN 47933. E-mail: rbrower@nm.k12.in.us

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Netroots vis a vis the left

An interesting exchange about the political net roots efforts and a left analysis.
Start here.

http://tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2007/jan/15/my_left_fanny

Duane Campbell

Friday, January 19, 2007

NCLB: Beyond repair

'No Child' law is called 'beyond repair'
On fifth anniversary of 'fundamentally flawed' plan, ex-Bush education official does about-face
By Nicole Stricker
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:01/09/2007 01:50:38 AM MST
A former Bush administration education official has fueled the No Child Left Behind debate by withdrawing his support of the controversial education reform law.
Michael Petrilli was a U.S. Department of Education associate assistant deputy secretary who helped promote the education reform law. But as Bush officials were hailing the law on its fifth anniversary Monday, blogs buzzed about an article Petrilli released Friday.
"I've gradually and reluctantly come to the conclusion that NCLB as enacted is fundamentally flawed and probably beyond repair," Petrilli, the current vice president at the education reform-minded Fordham Foundation, wrote for the foundation's The Education Gadfly news site. "NCLB has 'changed the conversation' in education . . . But let's face it: It doesn't help the dedicated principal who is pulling her hair out because of the law's nonsensical provisions."
Petrilli's criticism was a sea change. He characterized himself as a "true believer" in the law, which can withhold federal funding from schools if too many students flub standardized math or reading tests.
Although Petrilli spent five years promoting it, he said he had doubts about aspects of the law from the beginning. Among them: requiring districts to hire only "highly qualified teachers" who had degrees in their subject areas, and allowing states to define "proficiency" as they saw fit. "Other flaws," Petrilli wrote, "took me longer to appreciate."
He still agrees with the spirit and goals of the law, but realized the federal government can't force states and school districts to do things they don't want to do and "it's impossible to force them to do those things well."
"Using sticks and carrots to tug and prod states and districts in desired directions has proven unworkable," Petrilli wrote. "Instead of this muddle, the feds should adopt a simple, radical principle: Do it yourself or don't do it at all."
Petrilli wasn't the only one critiquing the law on its birthday. Several groups used the occasion to promote or pan the law, which is due for congressional review this year.
A Harris poll in December found that 57 percent of Americans would support renewing the act. Of the 2,300 participating adults, 61 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of Independents voiced support.
Bush has characterized the act's renewal as a chance to forge common ground with Democrats. During a Monday morning speech to education and business leaders, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings highlighted the law's successes and called reauthorization "one of the President's top priorities."
Similarly, Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat and the incoming chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has called renewing the law "a very, very high priority."
Yet in a Fordham poll of Washington "education insiders," 11 of the 12 respondents were betting reauthorization would stall until after the 2008 presidential election. The insiders also didn't expect major changes, saying tweaks to the law would likely formalize pilot programs already under way.
Those forecasts haven't slowed NCLB opponents, who began calling for an overhaul before Democrats took over Congress. In November, Utah's state schools superintendent, Patti Harrington, urged Utah's congressional delegation to demand revisions.
Such calls increased as Monday's anniversary approached, most notably with last week's statement from the Forum on Educational Accountability. The group, which calls for major changes in the law, comprises 100 national advocacy groups, including the National Council of Churches, the National Urban League, the NAACP and several national education associations.
The consortium outlined 14 changes it wants to see. Among them: replacing "over-reliance on standardized tests" with "multiple achievement measures," replacing "arbitrary proficiency targets" with goals based on success rates in the most effective public schools, and increasing funding to cover "a substantial percentage" of costs incurred by states and districts.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, which joined the forum last year, worries funding for other worthy programs gets squeezed out because of the federal Education Department's obsession with NCLB.
"There are many other factors that go into creating an excellent educational environment," said Brent Wilkes, the league's executive director. "There needs to be a more holistic approach and it can't just be all about the test."
---
* NICOLE STRICKER can be contacted at 801-257-8999 or nstricker@sltrib.com.


The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 became law on Jan. 8, 2002, and is key to President Bush's education policy. Its complex provisions place a number of restrictions on schools aimed at guaranteeing progress for even the lowest achieving students. But in essence, the law requires that individual schools demonstrate progress toward meeting specific achievement goals in order for those schools to continue to receive federal education funds set aside to help disadvantaged children.
www.edexcellence.net/foundation/gadfly/

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Freedom to learn

W.E. B. Du Bois offered some valuable counsel to these young people when he wrote:
Of all the civil rights for which the world has
struggled and fought for 5,000 years, the right to
learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental.... The
freedom to learn... has been bought by bitter
sacrifice. And whatever we may think of the
curtailment of other civil rights, we should fight
to the last ditch to keep open the right to learn,
the right to have examined in our schools not only
what we believe, but what we do not believe; not
only what our leaders say, but what the leaders of
other groups and nations, and the leaders of other
centuries have said. We must insist upon this to
give our children the fairness of a start which
will equip them with such an array of facts and
such an attitude toward truth that they can have a
real chance to judge what the world is and what its
greater minds have thought it might be.

--W.E.B. Du Bois, "The Freedom to Learn"
([1949] 1970b, pp. 230-231)

Congressman George Miller

Congressman George Miller (Democrat-California) is the new Chair of the House Education Committee.
This committee will take up the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind bill.
His views on educational change are included in this interview by the Edutopia.

http://www.edutopia.org/php/print.php?id=Art_1764&template=printinterview.php

Duane Campbell

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Out of Iraq bill

JONATHAN TASINI
Progressives Introduce End The War Legislation
READ MORE: Iraq, Jonathan Tasini, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters
At 2 p.m. Eastern today, Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee (co-chairs of Progressive caucus, which has roughly 64 members) and Maxine Waters (chair of Out of Iraq Caucus, roughly 74 members) are introducing comprehensive End the War legislation, answering Bush's challenge that Democrats provide alternative proposals. It's called The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.


While I haven't seen an exact copy of the proposed legislation, I can tell you the basic details of what it will say. It's important for everyone who believes in bringing this war to an end that we get out and blog on the bill--and force the MSM to give this alternative broad coverage.
I understand that initially the co-sponsors will be joined by thirteen others (including Barney Frank, John Conyers, Jim McGovern, Dennis Kucinich, Diane Watson, Maurice Hinchey, Jerry Nadler and Raul Grijalva). Here are the details:
1. The bill fully funds a 6-month withdrawal of US forces and military contractors (from the date of enactment of the bill) from Iraq.
2. It repeals the authorization for the use of force. This is key, in my humble opinion, because it takes away any remaining authority to wage war in Iraq and, hopefully, reestablishes the Congress' power to wage war.
3. It prohibits the building of any permanent military bases in Iraq, which has clearly been the Pentagon's plan.
4. It provides economic and political aid to the Iraqi people and their government. When ever I've written and spoken about this issue, I've been clear that, while the U.S. cannot play any military role in Iraq, we are morally obligated to help rebuild a country out government destroyed.
5. The bill fully funds the VA Health Care system for all military veterans.
6. As I understand it, the bill draws on language from other bills aimed at an exit from war to peace and puts it into a package they hope to rally lawmakers and grassroots behind.

Let's spread the word.
From: The Huffington Post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-tasini/progressives-introduce-en_b_38881.html

Class and Schools

“If as a society we choose to preserve big social class differences, we must necessarily also accept substantial gaps between the achievement of lower-class and middle class children. Closing the gap requires not only better schools, although those are certainly needed, but also reform in the social and economic institutions that presently prepare children to learn in radically different ways. It will not be cheap.”
(Rothstein, 2004) Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. Teachers College Press.

Currently, our schools work for some students and do not work for others. As Berliner and Biddle well demonstrated in The Manufactured Crisis, (1995) schools for middle class Black, Latino and European American children fundamentally fulfill their purposes. But the schools for poor African American, Latino and European American children fail. And while this failure effects all children, it disproportionately impacts the children of African Americans and Latinos. Fully half of all their children are in failing schools.
In 2005 on the NAEP assessment, nationally over 58% of Black and 54% Latino children score below basic in Reading levels in 4th. Grade. (Reading Report Card of the National Center for Educational Statistics.(2005) Differences in math scores are similarly stark.
That is to say, we do not have a general education crisis in the nation, we have a crisis for Black, Latino, Asian and poor white kids. We are not providing these children of the new majorities with what W.E. B. du Boise called ," a fairness of a start which will equip them with such an array of facts and such an attitude toward truth that they can a real chance to judge what the world is and what its greater minds have thought it might be."

Duane Campbell

Sunday, January 14, 2007

NCLB: Time to change

Hon. George Miller,
Committee on Education Jan.11, 2007
U.S. Congress

Dear Congressman Miller,

On behalf of the Sacramento Progressive Alliance I encourage you to work for major amendments to the re authorization of the No Child Left behind law (PL 107-110). This law is not working as it was intended. It is driving good people out of teaching. It is particularly assaulting teachers in low income schools and districts.
Many people supported NCLB in its original draft because of its promises of school achievement. However, like the Bush Administrations failures in New Orleans and Iraq, this law and its administration fails our children. The focus on testing in the law is based upon the flawed notion that schooling can be reduced to a score on a few tests. Frankly the advocates of NCLB are cooking the books and miss representing the evidence.
I am a faculty member in teacher preparation at CSU-Sacramento with over 35 years of experience working in the schools. I and my colleagues have been engaged in urban school reform.
We know only too well that students in our low performing schools have the least prepared teachers and the most out-of field teachers. Unfortunately the current NCLB act has seriously disrupted existing programs and has provided no real evidence of improving our schools.
The current No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all students be proficient by 2014. But this goal is inappropriate. A new paper by Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder of the Economic Policy Institute concludes that there is no date by which all (or even nearly all) students in any subgroup can achieve the NCLB requirement of proficiency on "challenging" standards, because no goal can simultaneously be challenging to and achievable by all students across the entire achievement distribution.
The data of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicate school achievement has –at best-been stagnant for the last twenty five years. The achievement gap between mostly middle class and white students and the growing working class Latino and Black student populations, whether measured by test scores, drop out rates, or college attendance narrowed slightly in the early 1980’s, and has begun to widen to pre ESEA levels. No child left behind has not improved the schools.
Under the regimen of standardized testing that has come in the wake of NCLB, our schools have increasingly lost the proper balance between teaching and learning, on the one hand, and the assessment of what students have learned, on the other hand. Education has been more and more crowded out of school days turned over to test preparation, and the curriculum has narrowed significantly with less and less attention paid to the civic functions of public education system.
In Many Children Left Behind, (2004) researcher Linda Darling-Hammond says, "The biggest problem with the NCLB Act is that it mistakes measuring schools for fixing them." She illustrates ways that NCLB has forced many states to lower their standards and how it has perversely encouraged some schools to improve performance by making sure low performing students leave school ( ie.Texas). Rather than lifting the performance of low achieving students, in California NCLB increased the number of dropouts and pushouts.
There are many studies of the problems associated with this legislation. If you want more information please let me know.
We request to be informed of any hearings on the bill to re-authorize NCLB. In particular we request hearings in a format where they can be observed on the web, on CSPAN, and where working professionals can testify on-line. We urge you to oppose re-authorization unless there are significant modifications to the NCLB.
Our department at CSU-Sacramento conducts a free conference for teachers each year. This year the conference is on March 17. The title is “Empowering Socially Responsible Educators”. We would be pleased to provide a forum for you or members of your staff to bring us up to date on efforts to reform NCLB. Or members of your staff may want to attend the conference to learn from teachers their real life experiences with NCLB.
The single most important reform of the legislation would be insist upon consultation with teachers rather than taking the advice of the numerous professional “foundations” and advocacy groups which do not work with teachers. Several of these groups, notably Heritage, the Fordham Foundation, and others exist to proclaim a crisis in public schooling and to promote a private approach to schooling. Their goal has been an ideological gain for privatization, not the improvement of the schools.
We look forward to your response to our request.

Dr. Duane E. Campbell, on behalf of
Sacramento Progressive Alliance

Congressman George Miller is Chair of the Education Committee

Friday, January 12, 2007

NCLB needs change

This is a draft letter for Congress members.
Jan.11, 2007
U.S. Congress

Dear Congresswoman Matsui,

I encourage you to work for major amendments to the re authorization of the No Child Left behind law. This law is not working as it was intended. It is driving good people out of teaching.
I am a faculty member in teacher preparation at CSU-Sacramento with over 35 years of experience working in the schools. I and my colleagues have been engaged in urban school reform.
We know that students in our low performing schools have the least prepared teachers and the most out-of field teachers. Unfortunately the current NCLB act has seriously disrupted existing programs and has provided no real evidence of improving our schools. Frankly the advocates of NCLB are cooking the books and miss representing the evidence.
The current No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all students be proficient by 2014. But this goal can be achievable if only schools had more time to improve. A new paper by Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder of the Economic Policy Institute concludes that there is no date by which all (or even nearly all) students in any subgroup can achieve the NCLB requirement of proficiency on "challenging" standards, because no goal can simultaneously be challenging to and achievable by all students across the entire achievement distribution.
The data of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicate school achievement has –at best-been stagnant for the last twenty five years. The achievement gap between mostly middle class and white students and the growing working class Latino and Black student populations, whether measured by test scores, drop out rates, or college attendance narrowed slightly in the early 1980’s, and has begun to widen to pre ESEA levels. No child left behind has not improved the schools.
Many people supported NCLB in its original draft because of its promises of school achievement. However, like the Bush Administrations failures in New Orleans and Iraq, this law and its administration fails our children. The focus on testing in the law is based upon the flawed notion that schooling can be reduced to a score on a few test.
Under the regimen of standardized testing that has come in the wake of NCLB, our schools have increasingly lost the proper balance between teaching and learning, on the one hand, and the assessment of what students have learned, on the other hand. Education has been more and more crowded out of school days turned over to test preparation, and the curriculum has narrowed significantly with less and less attention paid to the civic functions of public education system.
In Many Children Left Behind, (2004) researcher Linda Darling-Hammond says, "The biggest problem with the NCLB Act is that it mistakes measuring schools for fixing them." She illustrates ways that NCLB has forced many states to lower their standards and how it has perversely encouraged some schools to improve performance by making sure low performing students leave ( ie.Texas). Rather than lifting the performance of low achieving students, in California NCLB increased the number of dropouts and pushouts.
There are many studies of the problems associated with this legislation. If you want more information please let me know.
I request to be informed of any hearings on the bill to re-authorize NCLB. I urge you to oppose re-authorization unless there are significant modifications to the program. The single most important reform would be insist upon consultation with teachers rather than taking the advice of the numerous professional “foundations” and advocacy groups which do not work with teachers.

Dr. Duane E. Campbell

Sacrmamento, Calif.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

News alert: Schwarzenegger does something right on schools

Voc-ed prudence
Press Enterprise
Boosting vocational education is not a big, splashy initiative like reforming health care or cutting global warming. Yet Gov. Schwarzenegger's plans to bolster technical education in California deserve a high profile, too, because better vocational programs are vital to providing the state with workers trained for the future.
The governor's 2007-08 budget would send $52 million to the state's vocational ed programs. The money would expand the number of technical training courses available to students, boost partnerships between schools and industry, and improve coordination of vocational training between high schools and community colleges.
California needs skilled carpenters, electricians, auto mechanics and other technicians. But the state's schools often shortchange technical training, thanks to the unrealistic expectation that every grade-school student is college bound.
In fact, only 39 percent of Californians ages 18 to 25 -- the traditional age for college attendance -- were college students in 2005, according to an October report by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy at Cal State Sacramento. The Inland figure was 33 percent. Fewer than one-third of all Californians, and just 19 percent of Inland residents, had a bachelor's degree in 2005.
In a budget that proposes $103 billion in general fund spending, $52 million may seem inconsequential. But the money shows that Schwarzenegger understands schools' duty to help non-college students prepare for careers.
Yes, a college education opens career doors and can boost a worker's earnings. But California education policy should not mistake idealism for reality: The college track is not for everyone.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/opinion/editorials/stories/PE_OpEd_Opinion_S_op_11_ed_teched2.36201ef.html

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

NCLB - goals are impossible

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all students be proficient by 2014. But some policy makers think that this goal can be achievable if only schools had more time to improve. This new paper by Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder concludes that there is no date by which all (or even nearly all) students in any subgroup can achieve the NCLB requirement of proficiency on "challenging" standards, because no goal can simultaneously be challenging to and achievable by all students across the entire achievement distribution. The authors show that even the highest scoring countries in the world cannot meet this standard, nor could they meet a standard that required only basic skills of all students. The paper concludes by showing how policy makers could formulate expectations of realistic improvement across the entire distribution of student ability. Read the paper at the Economic Policy Institute site.

From: Forum on Education and Democracy.
This is an example of what happens when politicians write the rules.
Recommended reading; Many Children Left Behind: How the NCLB Act is damaging our children and our schools.
Deborah Meier and George Wood. eds.

Schwarzenegger proposes inadequate health care plan

TESTIMONY: Here’s the truth --coming from the testimony of millions of Americans

“The insurance companies are the biggest barrier to healthcare in the United States.”

We’ve had over 100 hearings and we are heading for 1,000 more such hearings as we continue to encourage the movement for a national single payer healthcare system.

State by state by state we are seeing the big headlines every week or so announcing that this state or that state has finally resolved the healthcare crisis. Every time, as it turns out, each new state declaring progress on universal coverage has found a way to channel more money into the profits of the insurance and drug companies.

The corporate-sponsored media is jubilant, and plays it up big – every time!

Today it was Arnold Schwarzenneger’s “California Plan for Healthcare Would Cover All” headline as he revealed another such healthcare plan, and the national newspapers made it front page headlines. However, this new California plan does not provide for a 21st Century solution to the healthcare crisis such as those in the 37 or more countries in the world who have better healthcare than we do.

His plan is yet another small variation on the plans controlled by the same elements that have caused the healthcare crisis in the first place.

Listen to Roseann DeMoro, President of the California Nurses Association,

“In the market category fall most of the alternatives being swooned over today by the insurance companies and others invested in pure market-based solutions, the politicians who cater to them and those pundits who counsel us to lower our expectations. Among these proposals are laws to force individuals to purchase their own insurance; starting health savings accounts; and expanded mandates that employers provide benefits for their employees or pay into a pool for coverage for those without insurance.

Their common theme is a reliance on commercial mechanisms that created the present crisis by sacrificing quality and affordability and providing access for private profit. And all these solutions are doomed to repeat that cycle.”

After 15 years or more of struggling, it is back to the drawing board for the California single payer plan, in the face of the governator’s massive media blitz and his veto of real healthcare for all. They’ll be trying again to get this moving in the Assembly and also supporting us in the national single payer effort.

Opines Tom Garvey of The Center for Healthcare Policy, “the worst place to develop reform is on a statewide level… All that rhetoric about how “innovative” states are in healthcare financing is simply a smoke screen by politicians, insurers, and lobbyists. If states are so innovative and creative then why didn’t they solve another societal injustice: SLAVERY.” If we had left it to the states, we would still have slavery.

But we have a response to Mr Schwarzennegger and all of the other governors and politicians who are owned by the market forces who will benefit from this new infusion of the people’s tax money. Our solution is a national single payer or non-market system, a campaign to win the kind of national quality system for people in the U.S. that is enjoyed by the people of all other advanced nations . It is a battle that is similar to the civil rights struggle in that it must be won by a movement. The benefits of national healthcare for all will not come down like manna from on high.

Our Congressional Bill, H.R. 676, is not yet up for official hearings in the new Congress. The truth is, it is going to take a lot of work on our part to make Congress hold hearings for national healthcare. But you are the people in your community who can make it happen.

Your work is clear. Please plan one or more Healthcare Truth Hearings in your community. Bring the people together to testify about their experiences of the healthcare system and help them understand that there is an answer.

Get your member of Congress to sign onto H.R 676 immediately. Call, fax, write and go where he or she is appearing during their visits home. Be in touch with the Congressional leadership: in the House of Representatives – your own rep and also your two Senators. Ask them to sign on and to support hearings on our bill H.R. 676, national single payer healthcare for all. Remind them very clearly that this healthcare plan for all will be fiscally responsible. In fact, it will save the country a lot of money and we will come out with healthcare for all people – even the uninsured. No denials for pre-existing conditions or uncovered costs, no co-pays or deductibles, no supplemental insurance payments. Sliding scale funding so that 95 % of us will be paying less – through a payroll premium contribution. Only the richest of the rich will be paying a 10% premium, but not more than they can afford. Everybody will be covered for everything – no cheap cut-rate insurance policies for anyone. All children, all adults, all people of all religions, races, states of employment and age.

Our problem is not just a problem of the “uninsured.” Mr. Schwarzennegger and the other spendthrift Republican governors think that, by covering the uninsured, with increased taxpayer funding, they will have solved the problem. But most of us are virtually uninsured. We need a comprehensive single payer system for all. One of the Steelworker leaders said last week that he believes there are 100 million people who are either totally or partially uninsured and facing sudden disaster…and growing. Many of us who think we are fully insured find out quickly when we get sick or lose our job that we are basically uncovered. But you can change this picture!

1. Get Active. Become a part of the 1,000 Healthcare Truth Hearings being organized in your communities nationwide.

2. Get ready to hold serious discussions in your churches and other faith communities during the MLK, Jr. National Healthcare Month of April when we will be commemorating Dr. King and his message of peace and healthcare for all. We will have posters with Dr. King’s photo and his famous healthcare statement, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." We will also have organizing materials for you to use in your congregation and in your community.

3. Help organize rallies and marches and other street heat in April to call attention to the fact that the insurance companies are the greatest barrier to healthcare for all in this country on the 6th and 7th of each month and during April.

. If you are an organizer or a community person who would like to get healthcare for all in this country, be in touch with us right away.

1-800-453-1305. info@healthcare-now.org. www.Healthcare-now.org..

5.Join us. If you’ve been meaning to join Healthcare-NOW, go to the website above, click on Donate NOW and join us. https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=2264.

We can’t do it without you, and it may be the most important dollar you ever spent for your health and the health of our nation. This movement is growing rapidly and you can be a part of it. Welcome aboard.

Marilyn Clement, National Coordinator

Healthcare-NOW, www.healthcare-now.org 1-800-453-1305

Sunday, January 07, 2007

For America's Sake: Bill Moyers

For America's Sake

by BILL MOYERS

[from the January 22, 2007 issue]

The following is an adaptation of remarks made by Bill Moyers to a December 12 gathering in New York sponsored by The Nation, Demos, the Brennan Center for Justice and the New Democracy Project. --The Editors

You could not have chosen a better time to gather. Voters have provided a respite from a right-wing radicalism predicated on the philosophy that extremism in the pursuit of virtue is no vice. It seems only yesterday that the Trojan horse of conservatism was hauled into Washington to disgorge Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and their hearty band of ravenous predators masquerading as a political party of small government, fiscal restraint and moral piety and promising "to restore accountability to Congress...[and] make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves."

Well, the long night of the junta is over, and Democrats are ebullient as they prepare to take charge of the multitrillion-dollar influence racket that we used to call the US Congress. Let them rejoice while they can, as long as they remember that while they ran some good campaigns, they have arrived at this moment mainly because George W. Bush lost a war most people have come to believe should never have been fought in the first place. Let them remember, too, in this interim of sweet anticipation, that although they are reveling in the ruins of a Republican reign brought down by stupendous scandals, their own closet is stocked with skeletons from an era when they were routed from office following Abscam bribes and savings and loan swindles that plucked the pockets and purses of hard-working, tax-paying Americans.

As they rejoice, Democrats would be wise to be mindful of Shakespeare's counsel, "'Tis more by fortune...than by merit." For they were delivered from the wilderness not by their own goodness and purity but by the grace of K Street corruption, DeLay Inc.'s duplicity, the pitiless exploitation of Terri Schiavo, the disgrace of Mark Foley and a shameful partisan cover-up, the shamelessness of Jack Abramoff and a partisan conspiracy, and neocon arrogance and amorality (yes, amoral: Apparently there is no end to the number of bodies Bill Kristol and Richard Perle are prepared to watch pile up on behalf of illusions that can't stand the test of reality even one Beltway block from the think tanks where they are hatched). The Democrats couldn't have been more favored by the gods if they had actually believed in one!

But whatever one might say about the election, the real story is one that our political and media elites are loath to acknowledge or address. I am not speaking of the lengthy list of priorities that progressives and liberals of every stripe are eager to put on the table now that Democrats hold the cards in Congress. Just the other day a message popped up on my computer from a progressive advocate whose work I greatly admire. Committed to movement-building from the ground up, he has results to show for his labors. His request was simple: "With changes in Congress and at our state capitol, we want your input on what top issues our lawmakers should tackle. Click here to submit your top priority."

I clicked. Sure enough, up came a list of thirty-four issues--an impressive list that began with "African-American" and ran alphabetically through "energy" and "higher education" to "guns," "transportation," "women's issues" and "workers' rights." It wasn't a list to be dismissed, by any means, for it came from an unrequited thirst for action after a long season of malignant opposition to every item on the agenda. I understand the mindset. Here's a fellow who values allies and appreciates what it takes to build coalitions; who knows that although our interests as citizens vary, each one is an artery to the heart that pumps life through the body politic, and each is important to the health of democracy. This is an activist who knows political success is the sum of many parts.

But America needs something more right now than a "must-do" list from liberals and progressives. America needs a different story. The very morning I read the message from the progressive activist, the New York Times reported on Carol Ann Reyes. Carol Ann Reyes is 63. She lives in Los Angeles, suffers from dementia and is homeless. Somehow she made her way to a hospital with serious, untreated needs. No details were provided as to what happened to her there, except that the hospital--which is part of Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO in the country--called a cab and sent her back to skid row. True, they phoned ahead to workers at a rescue shelter to let them know she was coming. But some hours later a surveillance camera picked her up "wandering around the streets in a hospital gown and slippers." Dumped in America.

Here is the real political story, the one most politicians won't even acknowledge: the reality of the anonymous, disquieting daily struggle of ordinary people, including the most marginalized and vulnerable Americans but also young workers and elders and parents, families and communities, searching for dignity and fairness against long odds in a cruel market world.

Everywhere you turn you'll find people who believe they have been written out of the story. Everywhere you turn there's a sense of insecurity grounded in a gnawing fear that freedom in America has come to mean the freedom of the rich to get richer even as millions of Americans are dumped from the Dream. So let me say what I think up front: The leaders and thinkers and activists who honestly tell that story and speak passionately of the moral and religious values it puts in play will be the first political generation since the New Deal to win power back for the people.
To read the full article click on the title above.

Media and democracy

Marching on Memphis: Revitalizing the Media Movement
By Danny Schechter

submitted to portside by the author

New York, New York: 'The conservative era is over,'
proclaimed a well-known progressive activist on the day
that the Democrats triumphantly took charge in
Congress. There has been lots of smiling and back-
slapping since the midterm meltdown election in which
the hard right stumbled and took a well deserved fall.

The Democrats of course are a fractionated party with
as many wings as there are Congressional committees.
Progressives have been taking cover for so many years
that it remains to be seen how open and forthright they
will be as the likely Bush counter-offensive is
orchestrated to 'surge' more troops into Iraq and keep
the edifice of the national security state and its
repressive legislation intact.

Remember, the Senate's future turns on the health of
one man, and the Supreme Court has been taken over by
smooth talking neanderthals who have tremendous power
to overturn the popular will. The Democratic victory
was less a victory for new ideas than a rejection of
corruption, frustration with a war that many Americans
still see as legitimate if unwinnable, disgust with the
incompetence we saw in New Orleans in the aftermath of
Katrina and a reaction agains demagogues with nothing
to say but unlimited time to say it.

THE MEDIA PROBLEM

But even more importantly, please recognize, as many on
left and right still do not, that the conservatism of
our society is embedded not just in one party but in
our culture with its media fostered consumption
orientation and celebrity fixation. Although it may
appear radical to say it, the most conservative
institution and one of the most powerful in our society
is not in Washington at all, not even in the political
zone. It is the media apparatus.

It is the media that sets the agenda and limits it.
It's the media that frames our issues, narrows our
choices, deifies our icons and institutions, and pumps
out the distractions that focus our attention and keeps
us uninformed. If we are to revitalize our democracy,
we need to make the media an issue and a target.

We need to fight for a different type of news and a
different story. As Bill Moyers said recently, it's
more about narrative than negativity. 'Everywhere you
turn you'll find people who believe they have been
written out of the story,' he says, 'the reality of the
anonymous, disquieting daily struggle of ordinary
people, including the most marginalized and vulnerable
Americans but also young workers and elders and
parents, families and communities, searching for
dignity and fairness against long odds in a cruel
market world.'

I saw this up close and personal while making my recent
film IN DEBT WE TRUST on the credit crunch that is
strangling the lives and hopes of so many Americans
across the partisan and every other divide. Americans
are hurting and our media system is not educating them
about why its happening and what we can do about it.

TIME FOR A BROADER FIGHT

Media activists have to recognize, embrace and even
lead this broader fight-beyond partisanship and
centrist politics -- if we are to help roll back the
conservatism that is choking our culture and
desperately needed changes in our society.

Next week, 2500 Media activists will be assembling in
Memphis for the third National Media Reform Conference
(following in the footsteps of the two Media and
Democracy Congresses of the 90's).

The challenge there will be to redefine the media
problem as an issue of culture and democracy, not just
media rules or government regulation. We need a new
vision and a new agenda to build the fight for better
media, more public access for all, a public media
system that serves the public, not just the
professionals it employs. We seek accountability,
transparency, and responsibility by a media system that
makes billions off the people without serving the
public interest or the needs of our anemic democracy.

In years past, these events have been great arenas for
inspiration and interchange. They have brought
activists, advocates, media-makers and media critics
together in dialogue, sometimes in diatribe. As is
often the case, for every ten participants, there are
twenty opinions and the ever-present festering
cleavages of race, gender, and age.

Our system does a great job of angering so many of
us-legitimately. But righteousness and resentment are
easier to express than building effective unity and a
strategy for follow-up and ongoing action. We don't all
agree on everything, but we know we need each other to
make the kinds of changes that are needed. We don't
need to do more than ventilate. We need build a plan
for victory,

MAKING MEDIA MATTER

I will be there representing Mediachannel.org and
premiering a new personal film, 'A WORK IN PROGRESS:
Putting the ME back in Media' chronicling my own media
experiences over all these decades, as a dissector,
producer, network media maker and indie trouble maker.
Yes it has all the รข€˜thrills of victory' and the bitters
agonies of defeat. I made it in hopes that some of its
lessons and our achievements will inspire or at least
inform a new generation of the media active. (I show it
next Saturday at 11 AM, and then hopefully later on at
colleges and universities nationwide. Join me.)

Our time is now. The mainstream media system is
crumbling in front of us and not for just the lack of a
'revenue model.' The public is sick of its dishonesty,
cynical commercialization and obvious defense of the
status quo. Can we do better? You bet! We already are,
on the web, with so many vital indie media projects,
radio shows, films, books and blogs.

So now, it's back to the South where the civil rights
movement gained strength in the early days of my own
immersion in politics. Back to Memphis-where Dr King
moved the movement onto the economic terrain (and paid
for his courage with his life.)

Memphis the a mecca of our music, the home of soul, the
land of Otis and Elvis, and yes, also, Sam & Dave,
Rufus & Carla Thomas, Booker T & the MGs, not to
mention many who used their talent to wake up America
including the Staple Singers, Luther Ingram, Wilson
Pickett, Albert King, Jesse Jackson, Bill Cosby,
Richard Pryor, Al Green, and I can't forget Moms
Mabley. (Yes, we need a sense of humor, not just
hubris. John Stewart has shown us that.)

Let the Democrats have the pretense of Washington.
Let's make Memphis our symbolic citadel, for a weekend
at least, for a rebirth of the media and democracy
movement.
___

News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel.org.
His new film is IN DEBT WE TRUST (Indebtwetrust.com)
Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

____________________________

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Schools and unions: Peter Schrag carries on

Schrag carries on.
Writer Peter Schrag has an interesting commentary in the Sacramento Bee of Jan.3. Mr. Schrag, for those who do not know, has a long history of writing on schools and education. He is a recognized contributor to the Nation. He has written a number of books on California politics. He is a recognized liberal, favoring some progressive issues and opposing affirmative action and bilingual education among others.
This essay is well worth reading. He claims unusual expertise on the activities of CTA. A couple of pieces require translation.
Shrag says, “Because of Nunez’s board votes against some liberal attempts to water down the state’s academic standards,”
Translation…. The proposition was to provide text books and teachers manuals which the students could comprehend. The current law requires a uniform curriculum even for the students who do not yet speak English. Schrag, Schwarzenegger , and the Board majority believe that saying a sentence in English and repeating it is a strategy for English learning.
Next year perhaps they will continue with this theory. If the student does not understand the teacher then the teacher should say it louder.
Schrag praises CTA for supporting a new funding system which allows money to allocated to low performing schools. You do not need Schrag’s long attempt to tie this to a change in CTA. It is just a good idea. Most teachers – most CTA members- will support this. The remainder of the essay about union intransigence is mostly political pretense.
See: Collective Bargaining in Education 
Negotiating Change in Today's Schools, Edited by Jane Hannaway and Andrew J. Rotherham
Harvard U. Press.
Duane Campbell

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Low Pay is threat to federal courts- and schools

How poignant. “Pay for federal judges is so inadequate that it threatens to undermine the judiciary’s independence.” Says Chief Justice John Roberts. (Sac Bee, January 1,2007)
Lets see, judges are paid $165,000, 175,000 and $203,000 each.
A new teacher in California starts at around $37,000 and average teacher earns about $45,000 per year.
Which is most valuable to you? Is it a judge who you might encounter once or twice in your life? Or, is it a teacher who will be caring for your child every day for 185 days per year, for about 12 years?
Yes, judges deserve better pay, right after teachers get a pay increase to about $100,000 per year.
And the pay of California legislators- well that’s another story.

Duane Campbell
 
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