Monday, July 30, 2012

Certifying Teachers

Re: the article on Certifying Teachers, More by How the Teach in the New York Times today   by Al Baker, on page 1. 
It is accurate that this assessment is better than paper and pencil tests. And, it is accurate that "teaching is action work."   That is why the proposed new assessment system is not nearly as useful, helpful, nor valid as the present practice of student teacher practice and assessment by professionals.  
In this article, Ray Pechone and Linda Darling- Hammond continue their long practice of only telling the positive. And, the writer Al Baker makes the classic error noted in the prior post on media coverage of "reform".

 " Why then in schools do we allow politicians, lobbyists, and other “experts” who are not teachers and have not worked in classrooms for over ten years, and who have not taught children, to make the basic decisions about schooling.  As a starting point, clearly those establishing our policies do not understand testing and its limits.  (See Bracey, 2009).

School Reform ?

Peter Schrag has a piece on the California Progress Report on School Reform: Why it’s  so hard?’s-so-hard  I have read Schrag for over 30 years.  I once used an early book by him in a class I taught to future teachers.  I usually agree with him- but this time I disagree.  Here is my response.  It is from the summary of Chapter 13 Democratic School Reform: How do we get from Here to There ? of my book, Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education.  ( 2010).
Note; what is the educational task of the California legislature and the governor?  Answer- to adequately fund our schools.  They have failed repeatedly in the last decade.  So, how are they experts on school reform?  
Duane Campbell
This  is time for a change for  our society and  in our schools.  This generation must  renew our democratic society.  As described in my book Choosing Democracy, we face  marked crises in government, politics, families, communities and in the schools. Public schools have a particular responsibility to reverse these crises and to renew our democratic society.  The first mission of pubic schooling is to equip all students for the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship – and  many of the schools in low income areas  are presently not fulfilling this mission. If we do not solve the problems of low performing schools our democracy suffers.  For  our  democracy to survive we  need to create schools  that value  all of our children and encourages  each of their educational achievement.

 All children need a good education to participate in our democracy and prepare for  life in the rapidly changing economy. Making schooling valuable and useful is vital to prosperity for all.   Lack of education is a ticket to economic hardship.  The more years of school that a student completes, the more money they are likely to earn as adults  and the better  their chance to get and keep a good job. Unemployment is highest among school dropouts as is incarceration for crimes.  When we fail to educate all of our children, the high costs of this failure come back to hurt us in unemployment, drugs, crime, incarceration, violence and social conflict.

We need to invest in urban schools, provide equal educational opportunities in these schools, and recruit a well prepared  teaching force that begins to reflect the student populations in these schools. We must insist on equal opportunity to learn, without  compromise.  When we do these things, we will begin to protect the freedom to learn for our children and our grandchildren, and to build a more just and  democratic society.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Super rich hiding up to $32 trillion offshore - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Super rich hiding up to $32 trillion offshore - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Texas GOP continues war on thinking

Commentary: Texas GOP wages war on thinking

By Leonard Pitts Jr. | McClatchy Newspapers
Some recent headlines from the alternate universe of modern conservatism:
Rush Limbaugh claims the bad guy in the new Batman movie was named Bane to remind voters of Mitt Romney's controversial tenure at Bain Capital.
Michelle Bachmann, citing zero credible evidence, accuses a Muslim-American aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio's crack investigators announce that President Obama's long-form birth certificate is a fake.
In other words, it's just an average week down there in Crazy Town. And that lends a certain context to a tidbit brought to national attention last week by Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." Meaning a plank from the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas which, astonishingly enough, reads as follows: "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."
Holy wow. That is, without a doubt, the most frightening sentence this side of a Stephen King novel.
The Texas GOP has set itself explicitly against teaching children to be critical thinkers. Never mind the creeping stupidization of this country, the growing dumbification of our children, our mounting rejection of, even contempt for, objective fact. Never mind educators who lament the inability of American children to think, to weigh conflicting paradigms, analyze competing arguments, to reason, ruminate, question and reach a thoughtful conclusion. Never mind that this promises the loss of our ability to compete in an ever more complex and technology-driven world.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Save Our Schools

Save Our Schools returns

by Stan Karp
Last summer, the Save Our Schools march brought thousands of teachers, parents, and supporters of public education to Washington, D.C. The march and rally were hopeful signs of pushback against corporate ed reform.A school year that began with the media blitz around the pro-charter propaganda film Waiting for Supermanended with the voices of grassroots resistance in the nation’s capital.
From August 3 to 5, Save Our Schools supporters will gather again in D.C., this time for a “peoples convention” focused on giving more shape and substance to the SOS effort.
Rethinking Schools will be there, joining longtime friends and advocates for educational justice like Jonathan Kozol, Deborah Meier, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, and many others. We hope you will join us. More info here.
Rethinking Schools editor and parent activist Helen Gym and I will host a workshop session Saturday morning on education activism. We’ll share some lessons from Rethinking Schools’ 25-year history as a voice for social justice inside classrooms and communities. We’ll also share our experience with efforts to create local, state, and national coalitions to defend and improve public education, and we’ll invite discussion about how SOS might move that effort forward amidst the strongest corporate counterattack on public schooling we have seen in our lifetimes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Financial crisis hurts schools, was not caused by pensions

Fiscal Crisis in States Will Last Beyond Slump, Report Warns  N.Y. Times.
WASHINGTON — The fiscal crisis for states will persist long after the economy rebounds as states confront financial problems that include rising health care costs, underfunded pensions, ignored infrastructure needs, eroding revenues and expected federal budget cuts, according to a report issued here Tuesday by a task force of respected budget experts.
The severity of the long-term problems facing states is often masked by lax state budget laws and opaque accounting practices, according to the report, an independent analysis of six states released by a group calling itself the State Budget Crisis Task Force. The report said that the financial collapse of 2008, which caused the most serious fiscal crisis for states since the Great Depression, exposed a number of deep-set financial challenges that will grow worse if no action is taken by national policy makers.
“The ability of the states to meet their obligations to public employees, to creditors and most critically to the education and well-being of their citizens is threatened,” warned the two chairmen of the task force, Richard Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor of New York, and Paul A. Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Editors insert. (Duane Campbell)
 The  looting produced our current economic crisis, crashed the world economy, and caused the massive cutbacks we presently suffer in schools, in public pensions, in employment of police, fire, the bankrupting of cities and the cuts to health care and the social safety net.
Did police, fire fighters, nurses, teachers cause this crisis.  No.
Did pensioners cause this crisis ? No. Government should get the money from those who caused the crisis-  the bankers and finance capital through a financial transaction tax.  We should use such a tax rather than giving the banks bail outs.  And, stop scape goating pensioners.
What happened to pensions ? Why is the San Jose pension system in crisis? They have built a system based upon a projected  7.5% investment growth.
They are achieving a 1.5% growth. Why?  Because of the economic crisis.  (STRS, etc.)  It was the economic crisis, the looting of the economy.  It was not the workers.  

Take A Stand - Yes On Prop 30

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Bankers Rob the Banks Again- you and I will be forced to pay

 In 2008- 2009 we suffered the looting of the U.S. economy by major banks and finance capital.  The  looting produced our current economic crisis, crashed the world economy, and caused the massive cutbacks we presently suffer in schools, in public pensions, in employment of police, fire, the bankrupting of cities and the cuts to health care and the social safety net.
Now- we learn- it has all happened again.  It is called the Libor scandal and it is just breaking in London.  Barkley’s Bank has admitted a form of fraud of fixing the Libor rate which will also involve major U.S. banks including Citi Group, J.P. Morgan and others.  These banks have bought the U.S. Congress to prevent effective regulation of their practices.
See Sheila Bair ( a Republican) on Bill Moyers and Company.  Here.

Also see William K. Black.  Here

There is no substitute for organizing

Bill Fletcher

Organizing is incredibly hard work. And it’s messy work. And the liberal elite, including most union leaders, are constantly investing in everything but deep organizing. The real reason we lost in Wisconsin is the same reason that progressives have been on a four decade decline in the US: it’s because of a deep and long-term turn away from organizing and education and towards something that more resembles mobilizing. Organizing expands our base by keeping our energy and resources focused on the undecideds, and on developing the organic leaders in our workplaces and communities so that they become part of an expanding pool of unpaid organizers. Mobilizing focuses on the people who are already with us and replaces organic leadership development with paid staff. That and the split between “labor” and “social movements” account for the failure of progressive politics, the loss in Wisconsin, the ever shrinking public sphere, and the unabashed rule of the worst kinds of corporate greed.
The work we are describing isn’t an election 2012 program, it’s not a 12 month program; it must happen every day, every month and every year. It’s ongoing. Workers are every bit courageous enough and smart enough, but they experience a lifetime of being told they are not worthy, not smart, and not deserving. In other words, sit down, shut up and listen. Unions have to challenge this paradigm, not reinforce it.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Save our Schools tax initiative.

   The  Sacramento Bee in both its editorial position on Sunday, July 8,  and its news reporting name  the fall initiative tax measure  to preserve  funding for  our schools  Governor Brown's Tax proposal.   This naming, this framing, is selected to defeat the proposal.  It is not Governor Brown's proposal- it is a proposal from all of us who worked on the Millionaires Tax, from teachers, union members,  the majority in the California legislature and all of those who wish to save our schools from further devastation.
 The legal  title  is  the  Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.  It will be Proposition 30.  We should insist that the press use the proper title for this tax initiative.   If passed it would prevent  $4.8 billion in cuts from our  k-12 schools and $1.3 billion in cuts from our colleges and universities. 
 California voters  are faced with a choice.  Shall we raise taxes and fund the schools, or shall we continue the current practice of cut, cut, cut ?  In the fall election we will be faced with at least three choices.  Continue the present austerity program  or choose between two tax proposals.  If the anti tax forces have their way and we do not pass new taxes the effects on the schools will be devastating – as will be effects on public safety, health clinics and local services.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

More on Texas Republicans seek to ban critical thinking

Criminalizing Thinking: Dumb, Ignorant, Mean or Greedy ?
by Rodolfo F. Acuña

I am having trouble getting into this essay on the war on critical thinking. I cannot figure out whether it is dumb or ignorant.  My mother would say that the people conducting the war are malditos, mean.  The reality is that the criminalization of rational thought goes beyond being dumb, ignorant or just plain mean.   

Because the consequences are so calculated and far reaching, it is important to break it down so everyone can understand it and where we are headed.

Fascism did not start on February 27, 1933 with the burning of the Reichstag building in Berlin; it did not begin with the building of concentration camps after the fire. It was all planned and a strategy of division, doubt, and fear simply bore fruit at this point.

Hitler summed up his strategy; he sowed the seeds of “mental confusion, contradiction of feelings, indecision, [and] panic.”

Were the German people dumb, ignorant or just plain malditos?  Some were all of the above.

Monday, July 02, 2012

80% of California Trigger cuts come from K-12 education

The California  Budget Agreement Assumes Voters Approve the Governor’s Ballot Measure in November
Additional “Trigger” Cuts Will Be Made if Voters Reject the Governor’s Ballot Measure in November
The budget agreement would automatically trigger an additional $6.0 billion in midyear spending cuts if voters reject the Governor’s November ballot initiative. These reductions would take effect on January 1, 2013 and would primarily affect public schools, colleges, and universities. If voters do not approve the Governor’s measure, the following cuts would be triggered:
·       ·  $4.8 billion from public schools, with schools authorized to reduce the school year from the current minimum of 175 days of instruction to 160 days of instruction in each of 2012-13 and 2013-14 ;
·       ·  $550.0 million from the California Community Colleges (CCC), with the CCC chancellor authorized to reduce college enrollment proportionately;
·       ·  $250.0 million from the University of California;
·       ·  $250.0 million from the California State University;
·       ·  $50.0 million from the Department of Developmental Services;
·       ·  $20.0 million in reduced funding for a new grant program for city police departments;
·       ·  $10.0 million from the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection;
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.