"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, October 21, 2019

Warren Releases Solid New Education Plan

Spoiler Alert: Unlike in 2016, DFER is not happy!  We shall see what the Dem platform eventually looks like, but if Warren is the candidate, it will look nothing like 2016.
I am going to do several posts on Warren's new education plan, which kicks in the ass anything released so far by the other candidates.  
The first thing I checked out in the new plan was the charter school section.  Among the best news is the promise to eliminate the half-billion federal dollars a year being handed out to corporate charter operators under the Charter Schools Program (CSP).
From The Intercept:
Warren’s new education plan sends a strong signal of how her administration would think about not only charter schools but also other forms of school privatization. 
Her plan calls to end the diversion of tax dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers and voucher-like tax credits. A campaign spokesperson clarified that this means both working to stop the expansion of voucher programs and working towards ending existing ones. 
Biden and Sanders’s plans do not mention vouchers or tuition tax credits, though Sanders told The Washington Post that he would not support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education, which he has a long record of opposing. Biden did not answer the same question when he was asked. 
In her plan, Warren frames her opposition to the 2016 charter school ballot initiative as an example of “fight[ing] back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools.” 
She pledges to “go further” and now calls for eliminating a federal grant program used to promote new charter schools. She pledges to see if there are any other federal programs that subsidize new charters and would “seek to limit the use of those programs for that purpose.”
Warren pledges to fight to ban for-profit charter schools, which represent around 15% of the sector. But she also goes after nonprofit ones, promising to end a federal program that provides funding for new schools and opposing provisions that allow them to sometimes evade the same level of transparency and accountability as traditional public schools. The plan seeks to ban nonprofit charters that employ or outsource operations to for-profit service providers and calls for the IRS to investigate these schools’ nonprofit tax status.

From the Warren Plan:
To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools. Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color. Further, inadequate funding and a growing education technology industry have opened the door to the privatization and corruption of our traditional public schools. More than half of the states allow public schools to be run by for-profit companies, and corporations are leveraging their market power and schools’ desire to keep pace with rapidly changing technology to extract profits at the expense of vulnerable students. 
This is wrong. We have a responsibility to provide great neighborhood schools for every student. We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits - which are vouchers by another name. We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools. I did that when I opposed a ballot question in Massachusetts to raise the cap on the number of charter schools, even as dark money groups spent millions in support of the measure. And as president, I will go further: 
  • Ensure existing charter schools are subject to at least the same level of transparency and accountability as traditional public schools: Many existing charter schools aren’t subject to the same transparency and accountability requirements as traditional public schools. That’s wrong. That’s why I support the NAACP’s recommendations to only allow school districts to serve as charter authorizers, and to empower school districts to reject applications that do not meet transparency and accountability standards, consider the fiscal impact and strain on district resources, and establish policies for aggressive oversight of charter schools. Certain states are already starting to take action along these lines to address the diversion of public funds from traditional public schools. My administration will oppose the authorization of new charter schools that do not meet these standards. My administration also will crack down on union-busting and discriminatory enrollmentsuspension, and expulsion practices in charter schools, and require boards to be made up of parents and members of the public, not just founders, family members, or profit-seeking service providers.
  • End federal funding for the expansion of charter schools: The Federal Charter School Program (CSP), a series of federal grants established to promote new charter schools, has been an abject failure. A recent reportshowed that the federal government has wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools that never even opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons. The Department of Education’s own watchdog has even criticized the Department’s oversight of the CSP. As President, I would eliminate this charter school program and end federal funding for the expansion of charter schools. I would also examine whether other federal programs or tax credits subsidize the creation of new charter schools and seek to limit the use of those programs for that purpose. 
  • Ban for-profit charter schools: Our public schools should benefit students, not the financial or ideological interests of wealthy patrons like the DeVos and Walton families. I will fight to ban for-profit charter schools and charter schools that outsource their operations to for-profit companies.
  • Direct the IRS to investigate so-called nonprofit schools that are violating the statutory requirements for nonprofits: Many so-called nonprofit schools – including charter schools – operate alongside closely held, for-profit service providers. Others are run by for-profit companies that siphon off profits from students and taxpayers. The IRS should investigate the nonprofit status of these schools and refer cases to the Tax Fraud Division of the Department of Justice when appropriate. I would also apply my plan’s ban on for-profit charter schools to any of these so-called “nonprofit” schools that actually serve for-profit interests. And my plan would ban self-dealing in nonprofit schools to prevent founders and administrators from funneling resources to service providers owned or managed by their family members. 
  • Expand enforcement of whistleblower actions against schools that commit fraud against taxpayers: Our federal laws allow whistleblowers to bring actions to expose fraud and retrieve stolen federal money. The Department of Justice should expand its enforcement of these whistleblower actions to address fraud that appears all too common in certain charter schools, including online charter schools that falsify or inflate their enrollment numbers.

The Naked Truth about the National Reading Panel Reading Panel Report

From 2012 Schools Matter: The Naked Truth about the National Reading Panel R...: Stephen Krashen's letter to Ed Week in the previous post has motivated me to post the following review here for all those young teachers who are reading the deceptive, revisionist crap by those who want to impose another generation of the mind-scrubbing literacy tactics based on ideology rather than pragmatic practice grounded within good research and sound principles. ...

Sunday, October 20, 2019

When Artificial Intelligence Equals Real Stupidity

Algorithms grading student essays?  What could go wrong?
“The algorithms are prone to a couple of flaws. One is that they can be fooled by any kind of nonsense gibberish sophisticated words. It looks good from afar but it doesn’t actually mean anything. And the other problem is that some of the algorithms have been proven by the testing vendors themselves to be biased against people from certain language backgrounds.”

Friday, October 18, 2019

Chicago Teachers Strike!

In support of all the teachers, parents, and kids in Chicago who are marching, striking, and honking their horns for public schools.  And in special memory of George Schmidt, who gave me this shirt when I was in Chicago in 2013 promoting my first book.

Carry on!


Monday, October 07, 2019

Judge Astounded by Betsy DeVos

DeVos is the perfect Secretary of ED for Traitor Trump--she's incompetent, corrupt, and contemptuous of the law:
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos faces potential sanctions or a finding she’s in contempt of court for continuing to collect on the debt of former students at bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc., going so far as seizing their tax refunds and wages.
“I’m not sure if this is contempt or sanctions,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim told lawyers for the Education Department at a hearing Monday in San Francisco. “I’m not sending anyone to jail yet but it’s good to know I have that ability.” . . .

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Rick Hess's Apologia for Child Abuser, Mike Feinberg

KIPP, Inc. would like to forget that Mike Feinberg is co-founder of KIPP, a corporate "no excuses" charter school chain made infamous by a weird macho management style that exhibits sadistic and masochistic excesses toward both students and teachers.  Adults and children are commonly worked to the point of physical and mental collapse and then discarded without any signs of empathy or concern by KIPP CEOs.  

KIPP's discarded victims are most often brainwashed to self-blame for their failure to meet KIPP's expectations, which keeps negative PR to a minimum while insulating the perpetrators from any sense of responsibility for their corrosive and cruel treatment of other humans.  It's a cult technique that continues to be well-funded, as corporate and federal support make the KIPP Model of total compliance schooling the dominant mode of segregating and culturally sterilizing economically disadvantaged black and brown children.

If we have historians a hundred years from now, KIPP Model practices will be viewed the same way we, today, view the eugenics ideology and practices of the 1920s.

While KIPP students are mostly poor and almost entirely black or brown, management is largely white male, and the teacher corps is majority white female.  The KIPP Model is the 21st Century version of the black industrial model of schooling for ex-slaves in the late 19th Century, a theory and practice that was perfected at Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute.  

At Hampton, the future black teachers were indoctrinated to accept their social subjugation and moral inferiority as their just due and to work their fingers to the bone in order to gain acceptance as second class citizens among the white elite. The 80 percent of students who were dismissed from Hampton before earning teaching certificates were viewed as victims of their own recalcitrance and/or laziness.

Last spring Mike Feinberg found himself being dismissed from KIPP, and just as KIPP students or teachers who are viewed as liabilities are disposed of without a second thought, so was Feinberg fired when his sexual dalliances with a middle school student and employees could not be covered up any longer and, thus, became a threat to the KIPP brand. 

Now corporate ed reformer and think tank denizen, Rick Hess, has offered another take on to the unfairness of Feinberg's firing.  Hess doesn't blame KIPP, Inc. nearly so much as he does 1) the timing of Feinberg's public outing, coming as it did during the peak of the Me Too movement, and 2) the "emotionally immature, impetuous, and impressionable" qualities of Feinberg's child accuser. Here's the most disgusting part of Hess's dissembling dissing of the accusations:
Educators work intimately and forge powerful bonds with emotionally immature, impetuous, and impressionable minors. A teacher can’t do their job whole-heartedly or well if asked to live in constant fear that unsupported allegations can ruin their professional lives and public reputations.

Trump's Privatization Plan for Medicare

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Contact
:
Linda Benesch, lbenesch@socialsecurityworks.org

Trump’s Executive Order is Backdoor Privatization of Medicare

(Washington, DC) — The following is a statement from Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, on the Medicare executive order Donald Trump is signed today:

“Medicare Advantage is a hustle designed to allow for-profit corporations to suck up public dollars. For years, Republicans have shoveled money into Medicare Advantage plans and allowed them to offer benefits that traditional Medicare is forbidden from covering. This is a ploy to push seniors into Medicare Advantage plans instead of traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage is stealth privatization intended to undermine traditional Medicare, which is an effective, popular government program and therefore loathed by Republican ideologues.

Under the Trump Administration, the thumb on the scale has turned into an entire arm. They’ve been flooding seniors’ inboxes with advertisements for Medicare Advantage. What these emails don’t mention is that Medicare Advantage plans often have narrow networks, restricting which doctors and hospitals patients are allowed to use. Worse, a recent government report found that Medicare Advantage plans improperly deny care “in an attempt to increase their profits.” It’s no surprise that older, sicker seniors are more likely to drop Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage plans are also a terrible waste of public dollars. They have overcharged Medicare by $30 billion in the past three years alone.

Today’s executive order is yet another giveaway to the corporations that run Medicare Advantage plans. Ironically, the Trump Administration is framing the executive order as an attack on Medicare for All. In fact, the massive flaws of Medicare Advantage epitomize the need to get for-profit greed out of health care by improving Medicare and expanding it to cover all Americans.

Medicare, like Social Security, works. Republicans want to privatize both of them. We have to stop them and instead, expand both.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

New Definition of Sustainability: To Save Life on Earth


A landmark United Nations climate report published Wednesday details the observed and anticipated future impacts of planet-heating emissions from human activity on the world's oceans and frozen zones—and warns of the emerging consequences for humanity, marine ecosystems, and the global environment.

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) is a product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. body that assesses the latest science related to the human-caused climate crisis. It follows recent IPCC reports on the consequences of 1.5°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels and the necessity of reforming land use practices worldwide.

Although a draft of the SROCC leaked to the press last month, the final version was released Wednesday after the world governments approved its Summary for Policymakers (pdf) at a meeting in Monaco Tuesday. For the new report, more than 100 experts from 36 countries examined research on the ocean and cryosphere, which includes Greenland and Antarctica's ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, and areas of snow and permafrost as well as frozen lakes, rivers, and parts of the ocean.

The report presents projections for the future based on both low- and high-emissions scenarios, underscoring the urgent need for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by overhauling human practices, particularly the use of fossil fuels, on a global scale.

"We will only be able to keep global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels if we effect unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, including energy, land and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure as well as industry," Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, said Wednesday. "The ambitious climate policies and emissions reductions required to deliver the Paris agreement will also protect the ocean and cryosphere—and ultimately sustain all life on Earth."

The SROCC features chapters on high mountain areas; polar regions; sea level rise and implications for low lying islands, coasts, and communities; changing ocean, marine ecosystems, and dependent communities; and extremes, abrupt changes, and managing risks.

"The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic, and the high mountains may seem far away to many people. But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways—for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and well-being, for culture and identity," noted IPCC chair Hoesung Lee. "If we reduce emissions sharply, consequences for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable." . . .

Read on.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Greta Thunberg Has a Promise for Traitors to Life on Earth



Greta's message is quite clear:  If "leaders" of the world are to impose a mass extinction with their grotesque inaction and half-measures, the young citizens of the Earth know where that extinction shall begin.
This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you “hear” us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I don’t want to believe that. Because if you fully understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And I refuse to believe that.

The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C degrees, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

Maybe 50% is acceptable to you. But those numbers don’t include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of justice and equity. They also rely on my and my children’s generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us – we who have to live with the consequences. 

To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5C global temperature rise – the best odds given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world had 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left to emit back on 1 January 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years.

There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures today. Because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

This is the speech Greta Thunberg delivered to the UN Climate Action summit in New York on Monday.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

PA Senator and Charter Booster Busted on Child Porn Charges



Based on charges outlined in a criminal complaint alleging possession of child pornography depicting an adult male and a "very young female child," State Senator Michael Folmer has resigned.