Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vote for Torlakson - Important to vote on Tues.

From the LA Times.
In the June 3  contest to lead the state's public schools, the two front-runners represent opposing forces within education over how best to improve student achievement.
Tom Torlakson, the Democratic incumbent, champions teachers and their unions, which dislike the nation's growing reliance on standardized tests, call for more funding and fight against eroding job protections.
Marshall Tuck, the favorite of a core of philanthropists and activists, wants more limited job security for instructors as a way to weed out weak performers and improve the teaching corps. Also a Democrat, he talks of shaking up a system that has settled for gradual improvement in test scores and graduation rates. Before raising new revenue, he said, he would spend existing dollars more effectively.

"I try to channel my energy on things that can make a big difference. I'm focused on the big picture," says state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
The nonpartisan race for the state superintendent of public instruction has become a window into differing, and influential, visions for public schools.
"These fights are very much playing out in the states, between the union wing and the education-reform wing," said Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.
"This is probably the highest-profile referendum that we're going to see this year," said Hess, who generally sides with the union critics he regards as reformers. See video ad below. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Illusion of Public Higher Education

 Horatio Alger
The Illusion of Public Higher Education
Rodolfo F. Acuña

The United States is the land of illusions. Like Disneyland, it is more fiction than reality. The American Dream is part of surreal world, constructed as a form of social control that distorts the memory Americans blinding to the injustices, inequalities and imperfections of American society. Like old Shirley Temple movies, Americans are princes and princesses who pass through bad times believing that they will be saved because they are Americans.

These illusions are built around myths such as that of Horatio Alger that has persisted for over 150 years. For Americans Horatio Alger is as real as Superman.

Horatio Alger Jr in 1867 published the first of over 120 books that told the tale of rags to riches  to young working class boys. The moral of the stories was that if the boys led exemplary lives, struggled against poverty and adversity that they could make it. Someday they would be rich and heirs to the American Dream.

The stairway to the American Dream was meritocracy and education. America was the land of opportunity, every American if he worked hard enough could get an education; it was free and more accessible in the United States than any place in world. Opportunity was knocking, and it was your fault if you did not take advantage of it.

The Horatio Alger Myth resembles fantasy tales such as Superman, Captain America, Spiderman and Batman.  The truth be told, Horatio Alger just like education has never been equal or free in America.

Even during the Post-World War II era when the illusion was more plausible, accessibility depended on the hue of one’s skin and his or her social class. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Education Year of Action Revs Up

by Jeff Bryant
When President Barak Obama, in his State of the Union address, called for a “year of action,” he probably didn’t have this in mind.
An extensive and diverse coalition of forces opposed to the education policies pushed by his administration, and many state governors, is organizing on an unprecedented scale to spur a variety of protest actions, including street rallies, sit-ins, walk-outs, strikes, boycotts, and disruptive legislative actions and lawsuits.
It’s clear, last year’s emerging Education Spring that revealed a nationwide movement of diverse factions opposed to unpopular education policies has now developed substantial new organizational capacity and a more powerful voice.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Education Bill of Rights - James Meredith

James Meredith.
by Valerie Straus. The Answer Sheet.  Washington Post
Calling modern school reform “catastrophically misguided and ineffective,” civil rights icon James Meredith is launching what he calls the American Child’s Education Bill of Rights, a 12-point declaration of obligations that he says the nation owes every public school child.
The 80-year-old Meredith was the first black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. placed Meredith first on his own list of heroes in his 1963 Letter From a Birmingham Jail:
“Some day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose facing jeering and hostile mobs and the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.”

In 1966 Meredith was  shot while leading a march that helped open the gates of voter registration to thousands of black citizens in the South. He later earned a law degree at Columbia University. In 2013, he was awarded the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the school’s highest honor, and he is the recipient of the 2014 winner of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Day of Action for Public Education. Dec. 9

“Public education is under attack,” comes the warning from Philadelphia in a riveting new video from community and youth organizers in that city.
Their accusations are that education policies are “an attack on poor children” … policy makers “don’t care about the students” … public education “is being defunded” … and “it’s not something specific to Philadelphia.”
Indeed, Philadelphia “is an early warning sign for America,” a former science teacher wrote recently at the progressive news site PolicyMic. Chronically low per-pupil spending – “behind suburban districts” – combined with a “powerful charter school movement” intent on privatizing schools, have eroded Philly schools to the state where basic supplies like paper, pencils, and books seem like luxuries.
It’s a story that mirrors what’s happening across the country.
Americans everywhere are seeing their local schools being ground into pieces between the twin political augers of government austerity and top-down, corporate-backed “reform.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Education to rebuild the U.S.

An Education Declaration to Rebuild America
Americans have long looked to our public schools to provide opportunities for individual advancement, promote social mobility and share democratic values. We have built great universities, helped bring children out of factories and into classrooms, held open the college door for returning veterans, fought racial segregation and struggled to support and empower students with special needs. We believe good schools are essential to democracy and prosperity — and that it is our collective responsibility to educate all children, not just a fortunate few.
Over the past three decades, however, we have witnessed a betrayal of those ideals. Following the 1983 report A Nation at Risk, policymakers on all sides have pursued an education agenda that imposes top-down standards and punitive high-stakes testing while ignoring the supports students need to thrive and achieve. This approach – along with years of drastic financial cutbacks — are turning public schools into uncreative, joyless institutions. Educators are being stripped of their dignity and autonomy, leading many to leave the profession. Neighborhood schools are being closed for arbitrary reasons. Parent and community voices are being shut out of the debate. And children, most importantly, are being systemically deprived of opportunities to learn.
As a nation we have failed to rectify glaring inequities in access to educational opportunities and resources. By focusing solely on the achievement gap, we have neglected the opportunity gap that creates it, and have allowed the resegregation of our schools and communities by class and race. The inevitable result, highlighted in the Federal Equity and Excellence Commission’s recent report, For Each and Every Child, is an inequitable system that hits disadvantaged students, families, and communities the hardest.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Cancel the Sequester

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supports the bill advanced by John Conyers (D-MI), HR 900, to simply cancel the $85 billion in “sequestration” cuts. These cuts will harm millions of low-income Americans, while weakening an already anemic, jobless recovery. According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the cuts are fully carried out, they will cause a 0.6% drop in GDP and a loss of over 700,000 jobs. The layoffs of 700,000 public employees since 2008 have already contributed to unconscionable levels of unemployment.
   The sequester will cut 10,000 teaching jobs, 70,000 spots for preschoolers in Head Start, $43 million for food programs for seniors, $35 million for local fire departments, and access to nutrition assistance for over half a million women and their families.

   And the reason congressional Republicans let these cuts go into effect is because they simply wouldn't support closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires -- for things like yachts and corporate jets
We do not have a deficit crisis in this country; we have a jobs crisis. Sequestering will increase the deficit--not decrease it--by slowing the economic recovery and by keeping more people out of work and not paying taxes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gov. Brown's view on school improvement

State of the State. Governor Brown. Jan. 24, 2013.

Constantly expanding the coercive power of government by adding each year so many minute prescriptions to our already detailed and turgid legal system overshadows other aspects of public service. Individual creativity and direct leadership must also play a part. We do this, not by commanding thou shalt or thou shalt not through a new law but by tapping into the persuasive power that can inspire and organize people. Lay the Ten Commandments next to the California Education code and you will see how far we have diverged in approach and in content from that which forms the basis of our legal system.


In the right order of things, education—the early fashioning of character and the formation of conscience—comes before legislation. Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children. If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.

In California’s public schools, there are six million students, 300,000 teachers—all subject to tens of thousands of laws and regulations. In addition to the teacher in the classroom, we have a principal in every school, a superintendent and governing board for each school district. Then we have the State Superintendent and the State Board of Education, which makes rules and approves endless waivers—often of laws which you just passed. Then there is the Congress which passes laws like “No Child Left Behind,” and finally the Federal Department of Education, whose rules, audits and fines reach into every classroom in America, where sixty million children study, not six million.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why does race, ethnicity matter in public schools ?

Start at about 24 minutes into the recording.
Diversity Forum:  Why Race and Culture Still Matter
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Tyrone Howard

December 5, 2012
California State University, Fullerton

Access the Full Video:

Thursday, December 06, 2012

California budget spends less on education

by Laura Rosenhall

Education may be the largest single segment of California's budget, but the state proportionately spends less of its money on elementary and high schools and colleges than the national average, according to a new Census Bureau report.
The statistic is gleaned from the bureau's annual report on state government finances, the latest of which covers 2011.
The report tallies California's "general expenditures" last year at just under $225 billion -- spending from both the state's own taxes and other resources as well as $64.5 billion in federal funds. Education is almost $75 billion of that, according to the report -- or exactly one-third, somewhat below the national average of 35.8 percent.
California's level of education spending in 2011 was fractionally lower than in 2010. Other states ranged from a high of 46.6 percent in Georgia to a low of 24.9 percent in Alaska.

Read more here:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

WE need collaboration to improve schools

by Amy B. Dean
"We are striking to improve the conditions in the schools. Right now the children are getting a raw deal."
That statement came from a striking member of the Chicago Teachers' Union... in 1969. It still resonates in September 2012, when the CTU's members have again walked a picket line. Although it has often been obscured in the news headlines and in the rhetoric of city officials, the real message of the strike of the past two weeks is simple: We're for good schools; we're for kids; and, yes, we're for teachers too.
There's no shame in teachers standing up for their self-interest. When one is devoted to working for the common good over the long haul, taking care of oneself is a necessary part of being a good steward. People who go into the teaching profession don't do it to get rich. They do it with the goal of inspiring and educating the next generation.

By framing the strike as being about greedy teachers threatening the public well-being, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his lieutenants have not only done long-term damage to the cause of repairing our schools; they have engaged in a practice that, sadly, is all too common in our nation's politics. They attempted to blame a complex problem on a single group. It's called scapegoating. And scapegoating should never be a substitute for leadership.
The takeaway from the Chicago strike is that true leadership in education requires partnership -- an approach that supports what is working in our schools and creates a collaborative effort among teachers, school officials, and policymakers to make sure we build on that success.
Education as Engine of Urban Economies

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Think Tanks and education. Part 2.

How do interest groups and “think tanks” operate ? Part 2.
“ Interest groups supported by the Kochs spew out a steady stream of position papers, congressional testimony , and public pronouncements about public policies that are detrimental to the middle class.  They back unrestricted free trade and oppose even the slightest government action that might be interpreted as protectionist, a position that helped to destroy millions of domestic manufacturing jobs. “
Bartlett and Steele. The Betrayal of the Middle Class. 2012.
And, in public education ?
Good for Business; Kids Not So Much
While most education reform advocates cloak their goals in the rhetoric of "putting children first," the conceit was less evident at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, earlier this year.
Standing at the lectern of Arizona State University's SkySong conference center in April, investment banker Michael Moe exuded confidence as he kicked off his second annual confab of education startup companies and venture capitalists. A press packet cited reports that rapid changes in education could unlock "immense potential for entrepreneurs." "This education issue," Moe declared, "there's not a bigger problem or bigger opportunity in my estimation."
Moe has worked for almost fifteen years at converting the K-12 education system into a cash cow for Wall Street. A veteran of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, he now leads an investment group that specializes in raising money for businesses looking to tap into more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent annually on primary education. His consortium of wealth management and consulting firms, called Global Silicon Valley Partners, helped K12 Inc. go public and has advised a number of other education companies in finding capital.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

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.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

March 5- Education Rally in Sacramento

On March 5th, to top off a week of action around student debt, tens of thousands of students and allies will march on the capitals of California and New York, demanding relief from the shackles imposed by being thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt. Can you join students in Sacramento or Albany to show solidarity for higher education and demand relief for those struggling with student debt?

Higher education has historically been a vital component of the American Dream, and yet, for more and more Americans, going to college is out of reach.Student debt has officially topped credit card debt in the US, and total loans outstanding will hit $1 trillion for the first time in history during the next few months.2 This year, campuses in states around the country will face even more cuts -- in Pennsylvania, for example, the Governor has proposed 20% more in cuts to public universities. In California, the cost of attending a University of California has nearly tripled in the last decade.3

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Governor Brown promotes race to the bottom

Governor Makes Deep Cuts to the Safety Net
On Thursday, January 5, Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed 2012-13 spending plan, addressing a $9.2 billion projected shortfall for the remainder of 2011-12 and the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal years. The Governor proposes $10.3 billion in “solutions” to close the identified gap and provide a $1.1 billion budget reserve. The gap stems from a $4.1 billion shortfall in 2011-12 and a $5.1 billion projected shortfall in 2012-13.
 The Governor continues his poorly informed, misguided austerity program which proposes  to reduce the budgets through cut backs in services, cuts to public employment, and reduction in public pensions.
Budget cutting to balance the budget will not get us out of this hole.  Look at Ireland, Greece, or Spain. Do we  really want to follow the lead of Michigan, Wisconsin, or Mississippi (each of these economies is smaller than California)?   Budget cuts only start a downward spiral of pain. We can not simply cut our way out of the crisis, budget cuts and lay offs make the recession worse. Budget cuts and lay offs lead only to more budget cuts and lay offs.
The current budget crisis was caused by the real estate crisis, the sub prime loan crisis, and the  national economic crisis.  This crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street ,ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America,  Washington Mutual,  Country Wide, AIG, and others.   Finance capital produced a $ 2 trillion bailout. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Obama Admin Waives some provisions of NCLB

President Obama Waives Key NCLB Provisions

At a White House event in which he declared that because "Congress hasn't been able to do it. So I will," President Obama announced the long-awaited details of his administration's plan to waive certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in exchange for specific reform commitments from states. There are 10 NCLB provisions(DOC) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will consider waiving, among them the 2013–14 100 percent proficiency deadline, the sanctions for low-performing schools, the 20 percent set-aside for school choice and tutoring, and highly qualified teacher improvement plans.
As expected, states must submit an application for the waivers (note: they must request all 10 whether they will use them all or not) outlining how they will
  • establish higher standards,
  • differentiate accountability (by implementing student growth models and prioritizing the lowest-performing schools for improvement),
  • promote teacher effectiveness, and
  • reduce paperwork burdens.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Cuts to K-12 education

Wisconsin has the dubious distinction of reducing state aid per student this school year the most of 24 states studied by an independent, Washington-based think tank, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
According to a preliminary study released Sept. 1 by the  nonprofit research organization, the dollar change in spending from the last fiscal year to this year dropped $635 per student under Gov. Scott Walker's budget that took effect July 1. New York was in second place, cutting state school aid $585 per student. California was third at $484.
The study only reports on the 24 states where current-year data is available. Those states educate about two-thirds of the nation's K-12 students.

Read more:
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