Thursday, April 29, 2010

Make Wall Street Pay

Richard Trumka: Make Wall Street Pay

So now we learn that as millions of America's families were losing their homes, Goldman Sachs cheeredbecause it stood to make huge money betting on a housing market gone bad. Is that Wall Street's vision of American values? It's not mine. And it's not the values of the thousands of working Americans who are marching on Wall Street today in person with me and online.
Our message is simple: Big Banks tanked our economy and took our money when they needed a bailout. Now they're thumbing their noses at our communities but making billions in profits. It's time they pay up.
Pay up by investing in communities to create jobs for the millions of unemployed workers -- like Terry in Florida, who was laid off a week before Christmas. Being forced to return his family's Christmas gifts to the store was just the beginning of his pain. While the corporation he worked for is turning a profit, he fears his family will be homeless by summer.
Meanwhile, in 2009, 25 hedge fund managers were paid the equivalent of the salaries of 680,000 school teachers. That's in 2009, when we taxpayers spent billions of dollars bailing out the financial sector. If Goldman Sachs is cheering at the collapse of the housing market, what's the rest of Wall Street saying? Thanks, suckers?

Those may be Wall Street's values. They're not America's.

Arizona law criminalizes immigrants


Arizona has a severe state budget crisis.  They are cutting police officers, schools, medical clinics, and public services ( as is California).  What is the cause of this crisis ?  It was caused by the great bank heist of 2008, finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street , Goldman Sachs, Chase Banks, Bank of America, AIG, and others, robbed the banks.  This cost millions of jobs and the pension savings of millions.   BTW. Almost all of the bankers who stole the money were White.
The Republicans and the Tea Party in Arizona is responding by assaulting U.S. citizens of Mexican descent, immigrants, and anyone who might look like an immigrant.  Peter Wilson and the Republicans in California did the same in 1994- and won re-election.  But, that did not resolve any of the problems. 
Arizona, like  California, has a crime problem.  If you want to be responsible about this issue, we should increase significantly the number of police on the streets.  And, to avoid making the problem worse, we should significantly increase the number of teachers in the schools. 
Duane Campbell

Immigrants and Arizona law


by Darlene Sylva, Sacramento
I just got off the phone with my youngest sister, who lives in Phoenix. She is upset and nervous.
Arizona's new immigration law has her asking me, her sister, the attorney, does she have to carry a certified copy of her birth certificate? How does she prove she's a citizen?
Under the new law, set to go into effect within a few months, any law enforcement officer may, based upon a "reasonable suspicion" ask her to prove her legal status. The law makes it illegal to racial profile, but the only reason to ask my sister would be because she just looks illegal, in other words, existing while brown.
Has the heat finally taken its toll on a majority of the voters in Arizona? Are they so lost in their insecurities they don't see the harm they do to fellow Americans?
Why is it that every time there is a downturn in the economy, those of us born brown become the focus of Anglo insecurities?
This time, without even a hint of shame, Arizonans, mostly immigrants from frigid climes, support action to implement their bigotry in the name of protecting our borders.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Did Congress Authorize Race to the Top?


Published in Print: April 28, 2010. Education Week.
Commentary
By Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set aside roughly $5 billion to be used by the U.S. secretary of education to make incentive grants to states that “have made significant progress” in meeting four objectives: achieving equity in teacher distribution, improving collection and use of data, enhancing standards and assessment, and supporting struggling schools.
There is nothing in the text of the ARRA, or in the portions of the two other statutes to which it points (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the America Competes Act), that authorizes, requires, or even suggests that states competing for funds would need to adopt common state standards, create more charter schools, evaluate teachers and principals based on gains in student achievement, emphasize the preparation of students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or restructure the lowest 5 percent of their schools.
Yet the grant program the administration designed to implement the provisions of the ARRA, the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top initiative, included each of these policy priorities, and states had no chance of winning unless their applications were built around them.
The Race to the Top initiative substitutes the phrase “turning around our lowest-achieving schools” for the language of “supporting struggling schools” in the ARRA, defines low-performing schools entirely differently from how the ESEA does, and requires that applicants impose one of four newly defined intervention models on those schools, rather than one of the five options in the ESEA.
Beyond these specifics, the purpose of the Race to the Top as described by the Education Department—innovation and reform—has no basis in the ARRA. These terms do not appear in the “state incentive grants” section of the law. Rather, the reasonable reading of the language of the ARRA is that states would compete based on their prior success in raising student achievement, assuring an equitable distribution of teachers, building longitudinal databases, improving standards and assessments, and supporting struggling schools, along with the quality of their plans for continuing to make progress.
"It is a mistake in principle—and a danger in reality—to allow any U.S. secretary of education this much policy discretion when doling out large sums of money."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Keep teachers working- end the lay offs


Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced legislation, the Keep Our Educators Working Act, that would provide local communities with $23 billion to help avoid massive layoffs of teachers and other cutbacks in public education. A subcommittee of the US Senate Appropriations Committee held hearings on the prospect of new federal money intended to stave off the layoff and/or non-hiring of some 250,000 public school employees this fall. NEA produced short videos on the hearings:


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) enacted in 1965 was a piece of legislation that infused federal money into the nation’s schools, established programs like Head Start and provided educational resources for under-served communities. It was reauthorized and re-named “No Child Left Behind” in 2002 and did just that… leaving children behind focusing on high-stakes testing and underfunding the very resources that would help.

We are now faced with the Obama Administration’s ESEA plan, which still continues with more one-size-fits-all testing, blaming teachers and labeling schools as winners and losers. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

California school budget cuts- Megan Fox



Featured on Funny or Die, a viral comedy video site, the Woodland Avenue Elementary PTA’s “Hot for Teachers” video features Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox facing the devastation of budget cuts at the school. Meant as a funny exaggeration, the video lays the blame of the $17 billion in budget cuts in the hands of the governor and asks the question, “When is enough, enough?”
Visit the Say No To Cuts website to:
·        Sign a petition to Gov. Schwarzenegger
·        Contact State Assembly and State Senate Officials
·        Join the California PTA’s “9 Million Reasons to Speak Up” Campaign

The Banks that are too big to fail- should not exist

13 Bankers. The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.  (2010.) Johnson and Kwak.

The currently proposed reforms of Wall Street by the Obama Administration are too limited.   To protect our economy and our society we need to
1.     Re-establish the Glass Steagal act of 1933 which separates savings banks from commercial banks.
2.     Break up the banks that are too big to fail.
3.     Add  substantive regulation to the markets.
   This recent  work  develops the important thesis that the U.S. is being directed and exploited by an Oligarchy.  This Oligarchy protects  their profits and their privileges, they dominate the government.  And, they will continue to do so until they are stopped.  The authors argue that in the crisis of 2007/2009, which the oligarchy  created, the the rich seized billions of dollars for themselves.  They made massive profits from the economic disaster. The Great Recession cost  the homes, the jobs, and even the lives of working people.  It is devastating our schools. This is the nature of our current state.
13 Bankers has additional importance since it was published in Spring 2010 just as the Washington/ Wall Street debate on regulatory reform reached its zenith.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

March for California's Future reaches Sacramento

Over 8,000 teachers and other public workers  demonstrated in support of  the March for California’s Future  at the State Capitol in Sacramento on April 21.  Eight  marchers  walked over 300 miles in 48 days to demand that schools and public services be adequately funded.   California Federation of Teachers President Marty Hittelman said, since 1992, the top 1% of California income earners – people who average $1.6 million per year, have doubled their share of the state’s income from 13 percent to 25%.  At the same time, this group has had its income tax rates reduced.
Revenue shortages in California have led to the lay off of some 14,000 teachers, school closures, and cuts in social services.   Lost tax revenue due to loopholes for the rich and large corporations is costing the state’s general fund billions.  For example, California does not have a law to tax oil companies for taking oil from the ground, a major source of revenue for Alaska and Texas.
Unfortunately the Sacramento Bee hardly covered this.  One photo and a paragraph. Less information than given here. But the thousands were there.  It had rained earlier in the day so I guess the Bee did not want their reporters to get wet.  Instead, they sat inside the capitol and covered politicians. This was among the three major labor/education marches this Spring.
Update.  On April 23, the Bee had a second photo and two more paragraphs on page a-3.  I guess two paragraphs one day, and two paragraphs the next makes a story? Or, perhaps it shows that news coverage begins when you go inside the Capitol building, not outside.


Teach for America : Looking past the spin

Looking Past the Spin: Teach for America
By Barbara Miner

Rethinking Schools - Spring 2010
submitted to portside by the publisher

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/24_03/24_03_TFA.shtml

    Most Teach for America recruits are idealistic and
    dedicated. But who is behind the organization, and
    does its approach bolster or hinder urban education
    reform?

Great article. explains much about the recent controversy in Sac City Unified

Monday, April 19, 2010

Marching for California's Future


Sacramento schedule
April 19.  Consumnes River College.  12 noon.
April 20, CSU-Sacramento.   12 noon.
April 21. Sacramento State Capitol
           2 Pm. Assemble at South Side Park.
           3 PM.  March to the Capitol.
           4. PM.  Rally at the Capitol

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Whitman: The Candidate from Goldman Sachs










By Robert Cruickshank.
Carla Marinucci and Lance Williams have a long and in-depth article today on Meg Whitman's connections to reviled investment banking house Goldman Sachs, which has played a leading role in the European debt crisis and is accused ofbeing at the center of asset bubbles and their subsequent crashes.  (Goldman Sachs was charged with fraud on Friday in the U.S. )
The article goes into depth on both Whitman's time on the Goldman Sachs board in 2001-02, relations between eBay and Goldman Sachs, and Goldman Sachs' role in state bond issuances. An excerpt:
From 1998 to 2002, while she was CEO of eBay, Whitman helped steer millions of dollars of her company's investment banking business to Goldman, court records show." This is the candidate who Republicans think should be in charge of the California budget? 
Read more at the link above. 
From the California Progress Report. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates: Part Two


The economic crisis in the state
There are three candidates for Superintendent who have any reasonable chance to win; Gloria Romero,  Tom  Torlakson, and  Larry  Aceves.
Romero and Torlakson have similar advantages and disadvantages.  They are both termed out legislators seeking a new position, not leaders in education.  A prior post examined Romero’s role and position.
While the eduwonks and Romero  continue their efforts and California achievement scores remain stagnant, others look to the immediate economic crisis that California and 42 other states find themselves in.
The Governor and elected officials discuss the economic crisis as if  the crisis is a neutral act, or as if a natural act- like rain or snow.   But, the  California school budgets are  a disaster not because of   some natural phenomena.  The crisis was created by people and policies of the federal  government and of the financial system.

This  economic crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street particularly  Chase Banks, Bank of America, Citi Group, AIG, and others – not by teachers and not by students. Finance capital produced a $ 2 trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of US  unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in 2008.  Fifteen million people are out of work.
Dean Baker of the  Center for Economic and Policy Research says it this way,

"The reality is that we got into this mess because of an overwhelming excess of greed and stupidity on the part of the Wall Street bankers and the people deciding economic policy. We continue to face excessive rates of unemployment because of a continuing reluctance to pursue policies that can restore the economy to health.
Dean Baker

Rather than  slash school budgets and lay off  teachers,  an appropriate response would be to tax the banks  and the financial trades.  We pay a 8% sales tax in California.  There should be at least a 3% tax on sales of stocks and derivatives and financial instruments. Such a tax could fund the schools and slow down the excesses of  casino capitalism.  
 The US
The UThspends less per student than 16 other modern industrialized countries . Moreover, of these, we are the only country that does not actively promote equality of educational opportunity. In the Netherlands, for example, schools receive 25 percent more funding for each lower-income child and 90 percent more funding for each minority child than in the United States (Slavin, 1998). Clearly, schools serving working-class students and cultural minorities fail in large part because our nation refuses to invest in its children.
 Our economy needs well-educated workers. We cannot permit schools to continue to fail. When schools succeed for the middle class and fail for working-class students and students of color, schools contribute to a crippling division along economic and racial lines in our society. Schools, as public institutions, must find ways to offer all children equal educational opportunity.

Let us be clear about the reality of schools in our nation. Some middle-class schools could benefit from reform, but most middle-class schools work reasonbly well. . Many  schools in urban areas, however, are unable to provide the equal educational opportunity called for by our national ideals and by constitutional law. There will be no significant change in the quality of education without substantial new funds allocated to these schools.
            Neo liberal reformers, although they  claim to be influenced by business management theories, miss use recent developments in management theory.  They fail to recognize that  teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.  Most large city schools are highly bureaucratized and control oriented institutions-  based upon a high level of control and distrust – as is the federal legislation NCLB.   Modern management theory recognizes that in personnel-intensive workplace, control does not work well.
Having explored the conflict between the two legislators, now lets turn to the candidacy of Larry Aceves.  Aceves is a retired school superintendent with extensive experience in the classroom and in school management.  He is not campaigning for one of the eduwonk projects of instant school reform which we know do not work.  His primary supporters are school administrators up and down the state. He clearly has their respect.  On the other hand, these administrators are not teachers. Most are former teachers.  The teachers’ union endorsements of  Toralkson are more impressive. 
Aceves represents the argument that what we need currently is an education professional who can lead the state office.  He has the experience in educational administration and leadership to make this case.  And, as noted, the prior two  Superintendents were former elected officials.
The teachers and the children in 85% of the schools need a Superintendent who  is knowledgeable about public schools, can lead and provide support.  The teachers and the students in the other 15% of schools need a Superintendent  who can work with the Obama Administration to develop, fund, and guide a turn around strategy.  For most schools,  the primary issue at present is the budget and response to the economic crisis.  Nothing in Aceves’  interviews nor promotional literature responds to the urgent issue of making the public, the legislature, and the governor understand  how the financial crisis is hurting public education.
The  protracted economic decline of the Great Recession has had a devastating impact on the California budget and the budgets of our schools. Revenues have continued to plunge and legislatures have made a series of deep cuts.  The crisis of state and local budgets, and thus of school budgets, will be even more severe next year when the current economic stimulus runs out.
http://talkingunion.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif
Both Torlackson and Romero were in the legislature this year and had the opportunity to lead in responding to the budget crisis.  They did not.  They, like other politicians looked the other way and treated the calamitous economic crisis as a natural event, one not caused by specific policies and one not requiring policy responses.
Given the above,  if you prefer someone who can deal with the legislature, you should vote for Torlackson.  However, do not expect him to be able to gain significant funds for the schools. – It has not happened.
If you prefer someone who knows k-12 education well and who could guide and lead the state school bureaucracy, then vote for Aceves. The choice is not clear to me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

13 Bankers

In defense of public school teachers

Henry Giroux.  
There has been a long, though declining, tradition in the United States in which public school teaching was embraced as an important public service. It was assumed that teachers provided a crucial foundation for educating young people in the values, skills and knowledge that enabled them to be critical citizens capable of shaping and expanding democratic institutions. Since the 1980s, teachers have been under an unprecedented attack by those forces that view schools less as a public good than as a private right.  Yet, teachers are being deskilled, unceremoniously removed from the process of school governance, largely reduced to technicians or subordinated to the authority of security guards. Underlying these transformations are a number of forces eager to privatize schools, substitute vocational training for education and reduce teaching and learning to reductive modes of testing and evaluation.
Indications of the poisonous transformation of both the role of the public school and the nature of teacher work abound. The passage of laws promoting high-stakes testing for students and the use of test scores to measure teacher quality have both limited the autonomy of teacher authority and devalued the possibility of critical teaching and visionary goals for student learning. Teachers are no longer asked to think critically and be creative in the classroom. On the contrary, they are now forced to simply implement predetermined instructional procedures and standardized content, at best; and, at worst, put their imaginative powers on hold while using precious classroom time to teach students how to master the skill of test taking. Subject to what might be labeled as a form of bare or stripped-down pedagogy, teachers are removed from the processes of deliberation and reflection, reduced to implementing lock-step, time-on-task pedagogies that do great violence to students, while promoting a division of labor between conception and execution hatched by bureaucrats and "experts" from mainly conservative foundations. Questions regarding how teachers motivate students, make knowledge meaningful in order to make it critical and transformative, work with parents and the larger community or exercise the authority needed to become a constructive pedagogical force in the classroom and community are now sacrificed to the dictates of an instrumental rationality largely defined through the optic of measurable utility.

Tax day and Tea Parties

Hey. Tea Party advocates. You forgot to notice:

You probably paid more taxes than ExxonMobil this year. Seriously.
That's probably because they spent a lot more money lobbying Congress than you did. In fact, last year, they spent over $27 million in lobbying so they could take home a bigger chunk of the $284 billion they made.1
And they aren't the only corporation to dodge their tax bill through offshore accounts and shell companies. Far from it.2 
The good news is that President Obama has been trying to close loopholes that allow corporations to get away with this kind of highway robbery.3 
But there are still too many lobbyists in DC fighting against him. That's why we're launching this petition to show how fed up we are with lobbyists rigging the system and demand that they take action before next Tax Day.
See the petition at Moveon.org

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Governor Candidate from Goldman Sachs-California


By Robert Cruickshank
From: California Progress Report
Carla Marinucci and Lance Williams have a long and in-depth article today on Meg Whitman's connections to reviled investment banking house Goldman Sachs, which has played aleading role in the European debt crisis and is accused ofbeing at the center of asset bubbles and their subsequent crashes.
The article goes into depth on both Whitman's time on the Goldman Sachs board in 2001-02, relations between eBay and Goldman Sachs, and Goldman Sachs' role in state bond issuances. An excerpt:
From 1998 to 2002, while she was CEO of eBay, Whitman helped steer millions of dollars of her company's investment banking business to Goldman, court records show.
Read more at the link above. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why is Bank of America not paying taxes in California?


Why is Bank of America Not Paying Any Taxes on $4.4 Billion in Income? By Sara Flocks
 California Labor Federation
Around this time every year, Californians scramble to finish doing their taxes and pay what they owe to the government.
But not everyone is paying their fair share. Forbes Magazine recently analyzed the tax returns of the top 25 U.S. companies and found out that they’re not paying much in taxes. In fact, corporations such as Bank of America, General Electric and Citigroup will not be paying ANY taxes this year --- they’re actually getting money back from the government. Forbes explains:
How did Bank of America not pay any taxes on $4.4 billion in income? Because of deductions like $860 million in tax-exempt income, $670 million in low-income housing credits and a $600 million loss on shares of foreign subsidiaries. With a provision for credit losses of $49 billion, Bank of America probably won't be paying taxes for a long time.
After taxpayers bailed out Bank of America to the tune of $45 billion and helped boost their income to $4.4 billion, Bank of America is using every possible tax loophole to get out of paying their fair share.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gloria Romero ? For Superintendent of Public Instruction

  California Superintendent  of Public Instruction
There are three candidates for Superintendent who have any reasonable chance to win; Gloria Romero,  Tom  Torlakson, and  Larry  Aceves.
Romero and Torlakson have similar advantages and disadvantages.  They are both termed out legislators seeking a new position, not leaders in education.
In the last two years California’s  k-12 schools have received over a  $16 Billion  cut back in funding.   California presently ranks  45th  of the states in per pupil spending and last among the states in class size.   Currently the Governor proposes to reduce  k-12 spending by another  $2.4 Billion.
Since funding is a legislative issue, at first consideration it might seem that the two retiring legislators would have the greatest possibility of convincing the legislature and the governor to adequately support public schools.  However, the prior to Superintendents Jack O’Connell and Delaine Easton came directly from the legislature and presided over the schools during times of massive funding cut backs.   We just do not have evidence that being a Senator – even the Chair of the Senate Education Committee – does much good once you leave that office and become the Superintendent.

To understand the issues in this race you need to understand key issues in k-12 education.  This will also prepare you to understand the emerging debate of the re-authorization of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) currently known as No Child Left Behind.
The Obama administration has proposed a re-authorization with some positive changes and some troubling directions.
First, you need to understand that California’s k-12 schools are not all bad.  California students regularly score ( on average) at the 47th. or 48th. rank among the 50 states in reading and math.  Superintend Jack O’Connell notes that the scores are stagnant, or holding steady.  He does not note they are  stagnant at 47th. out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
These scores are cause for alarm- and they have been rather constant for over 25 years.  That is, the several waves of school reform, such as writing new standards and increasing testing, have not improved the average scores in California.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dolores Huerta to celebrate birthday with activism


 By  Duane E. Campbell
Dolores Huerta will  celebrate her 80th. birthday with activism.
         Dolores, along with Cesar Chavez, Philip Vera Cruz and others created the United Farm Workers union, the first successful union of farm workers in U.S. history.

            Each of the prior attempts to organize farm worker unions were destroyed by racism and corporate power. Huerta and Chavez chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and community organizing  and allied itself  with the churches, students,  and organized labor. 
Dolores was long the Vice President of the UFW and the chief negotiator of contracts as well as the primary advocate for farm worker rights in the legislature. The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing  in the Southwest  and contributed significantly to the growth  of Latino politics in the U.S. Dolores was recruited into DSOC ( predecessor of DSA) by Michael Harrington.
             Today Mexican, Mexican American and Puerto Rican union leadership is common  in our major cities and in several  industries. Hundreds of activists in labor, community organizing and politics  owe their skills to UFW training and experience.    Training this cadre of organizers remains a major legacy of the UFW. 
      Dolores Huerta continues her important education and organizing work  today.   She is the President of the Dolores Huerta foundation a 501(c)(3) “non-profit organization whose mission is to build active communities working for fair and equal access to health care, housing, education, jobs, civic participation and economic resources for disadvantaged communities with an emphasis on women and youth.” The foundation was started  with funds received after she was assaulted and severely injured  by police during an anti war demonstration in San Francisco.
Dolores has long been known for her political activism.  She serves on the board of People for the American Way and the Feminist Majority Foundation as well as active within the Democratic Party.   She speaks frequently at colleges, universities, and high schools  providing inspirational speaker from a Latina  activist, feminist perspective to all, particularly to young women in school and community groups.  She is a recognized leader in civil rights and immigration issues.  Shown here during a speaking engagement at Cal. State U. Sacramento.  Dolores openly acknowledges her socialism in her speeches. 
Being a socialist has some down sides.  In March of this year  the Texas Board of Education held hearings and adopted over protest new History /Social Studies guidelines moving   the textbook selection process of Texas  significantly to the right.  According to testimony by board members,  Dolores Huerta was a target of exclusion  in the Texas version of history because she is a known socialist- a member of Democratic Socialists of America.

Duane Campbell is a Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at Calif. State University-Sacramento (emeritus)  and the author of Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education.  4th. edition. (Allyn and Bacon, 2010.)






Friday, April 09, 2010

Obama ed "blueprint" will widen achievement gaps


April 8, 2010
My guests are Lisa Guisbond and Monty Neill, of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest, a non-profit organization that works to end the misuse and flaws of standardized testing.

By Lisa Guisbond and Monty Neill
At a time when the gaps between educational haves and have-nots are as stark as at any time in our nation’s history, President Obama's and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s blueprint for intervening in our most troubled schools promises to widen these gaps.
The Blueprint fueled hopes for real change by eliminating NCLB’s disastrous adequate yearly progress mechanism. It’s too bad AYP wasn’t killed while the law was being written, when it was first noticed that it would paint nearly all schools as failures. (See FairTest’s 2004 NCLB report on why.) But scrapping it now is better than never.
Duncan aims to correct AYP’s absurdly broad-brush approach by focusing on the 5%-10% of schools doing worst on state tests. This has both common sense and political appeal. Why not get off the backs of schools that are doing pretty well and focus attention on the worst of the worst?
But what are we really talking about when we talk about the worst schools?
With all the hype about schools that “beat the odds,” overcome poverty and close gaps in test scores, it’s easy to forget what research continues to confirm. As James Coleman found in his landmark 1966 education study, what test scores measure better than anything else is socioeconomic status (SES). So the bottom tier are inevitably schools serving largely poor, urban students of color.
Of course, many of those schools do need help. It would be a great thing if federal education law responded to this reality by creating a way to precisely identify the needs of the children, their families and their schools, and make long-term investments to provide them with essential resources, support and guidance. This is an approach advocated by FairTest, the Forum on Educational Accountability and others.
But here’s where common sense takes a holiday. The Blueprint’s response is to tighten the screws on these schools. If they continue to score low, they must choose from a menu of snake oil ’remedies,’ many unproven, and some well-proven failures, such as firing and replacing a school’s staff or closing and reopening a school as a charter school.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Excerpts from Why School.

Mike Rose has placed on line extended excerpts from his excellent book, Why School.
They are here.

The Death of Public Education ?



Lack of money is killing our schools
April 6, 2010 +
THE NEWS says we are watching the death of public education before our eyes. Detroit is closing more than 40 schools, Kansas City wants to close more than 40 percent of its school buildings. Other cities have been closing schools over the last decade. Boston avoided closings in its most recent budget deliberations, but still must slash custodial staff and postpone building repairs.
It is no secret that American education is at a great divide, unrivaled in most of the developed world. The United States spends $9,800 per public primary and secondary education student, which is technically high by global standards.
But meanwhile, children of the wealthy are being trained at private schools at more than triple the expenditures. In the Boston area, day school tuition rates are closing in on $35,000.
Our investment in public school teachers is paltry for the wealthiest country in the world. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the United States ranks in some measures behind England, Italy, Japan, Scotland and way behind Germany in starting teacher pay. The average expenditure on college students in the United States amounts to $24,400 per college student, two and a half times more than the $9,800 per-pupil spending in the public schools.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Poizner, Whitman are truth challenged !


Republican candidates for California governor blast each other to claim they are  tougher than the other on “illegal” immigration.
 While the state legislature and the governor have taken over $17 billion from school funding, national test data (NAEP) place California students near the bottom of the states on math and reading scores.   Thousands of teachers and police are layed off,
For 2010, the  Republican Governor proposes  further draconian cuts in Cal Works, IHSS, Medi Cal and Children’s nutrition  among others-  each of which hurts the  poor in our state.   State  budget cuts make the crisis worse. They create more unemployment.
With all this going on, the Republican candidates for governor are lambasting each other on the air waves for not being tough enough on illegal aliens.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

California hopes dim for RTTT


In the article State hopes dim for Race to the Top funds by Laurel Rosenhall in the Sacramento Bee today (p.1) , she claims that union opposition and poor student tracking system plagued the California application for RTTT.
While this is accurate, it avoids the important questions.  Why was there union opposition?  The writer notes that she contacted the relevant unions but did not receive a call back.
However, the opposition of the unions CTA and CFT was well documented in the hearings on the Romero legislation and in their own publications.  The writer had a professional obligation to publish the arguments.
The unions opposed RTTT because it blamed teachers for problems in the society of poverty and the economic crisis.   They opposed the RTTT legislation because it promoted the use of unreliable and invalid tests  and then would use these test scores to evaluate teachers.  And, they opposed RTTT process because the potential funds were not going into the classrooms where funds are desperately needed, but were to go to consultants to write more reports about what should be done.  RTTT would fund the consultant class, not classrooms.  Why should teachers participate in that?

Questions for Arne


Today  Arne Duncan will be answering your questions on education  reform. Ask a question here: http://j.mp/cTzX6i

Questions:
The Obama-Duncan education plan for public schools would appear to reserve innovation to charter schools, leaving public schools in a
morass of more heavy-handed testing that will narrow the curriculum
even further to what is easy to measure, and drive talented educators
from the field, all in the name of rigor and accountability.  Why must
innovation in curricula and assessment be reserved only for charter
schools?  
Priscilla Shannon GutiƩrrez,

Stephen Krashen.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

An exciting time for former UFW volunteers!


1. Randy Shaw started the ball rolling with his  "Beyond The Fields: Cesar Chavez, The UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century" (2008).  Randy writes: Cesar Chavez always expected the spirit of 'si se puede!' to live on in future generations. Continuing the struggle for justice in the twenty-first century is the best testament to his and the UFW's legacy."

2. Miriam Pawell rolled out: "The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement". (2009)  Miriam states that - to date - most of what has been written about Cesar Chavez is hagiography and the purpose of her book is to provide a reevaluation of Chavez's legacy, and then for the next 200 pages she trashes his leadership abilities.

3. Not to be outdone, writer Richard Rodriguez takes up Pawel's theme with an article in the Wilson Quarterly (2010) stating that Cesar Chavez is a "loser" and characterizes him as a "bully" - and that he spoke like a Mexican.

4. Rising to the occasion, Jeffrey Rubin, professor of history at Boston University, writes in the Christian Science Monitor (March 31,2010) that Cesar Chavez and Hugo Chavez "are more alike than they are different . . . and as journalist Miriam Pawel makes clear, the cause of the UFW demise was Cesar Chavez himself. The charisma and brilliance that enabled Chavez to rally supporters across the US, from students to ministers to suburban housewives, also led him to ignore the on-the-ground needs of running a union and throw out anyone who opposed his top-down authority."  (Wow!!)
  

Test and punish rather than school reform

Test-and-punish system is ineffective
Published in USA Today, April 2, 2010
Monty Neill, Interim executive director, National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) - Boston
Despite fresh evidence of No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) failure, USA TODAY and Education Secretary Arne Duncan want to keep its test-and-punish paradigm. Duncan at least acknowledges that the law is not working, but both responses call to mind Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" ("Changes to 'No Child' ease up on middle-class schools," Our view; "We're flexible but tough," Opposing view; Education standards debate, Tuesday).
Last week's National Assessment of Educational Progress report should have been the final nail in the coffin for this approach. It showed student achievement has stagnated. U.S. students made faster academic progress in the decade before NCLB became law. Achievement gaps are not narrowing significantly between white, African-American and Latino students.
USA TODAY recommends we stay the course. And Duncan, though recognizing NCLB isn't working, wants more emphasis on standardized exams. Then he wants to rate teachers based on their students' scores. This will turn more classrooms into test-prep centers.
It's promising that Duncan wants to abandon the illusion that all children will become "proficient" by 2014. Targeting federal attention on low-performing schools and replacing one-size-fits-all mandates are also good ideas. Unfortunately, the plan relies on NCLB's discredited notion that raising the testing "bar" and yelling "jump higher" will magically yield better performance.
To improve education, Congress should replace NCLB with a program to help struggling schools develop the capacity to meet children's needs. The Forum on Educational Accountability, which includes leading civil rights, education, religious, disability, parent and civic groups, has drafted such a plan. Sadly, by leaving so much of NCLB intact, Duncan would consign our children to more of the same damaging insanity.

Monte Neill , Fair Test 
 
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