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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Schools That Matter!

A clip from Jacobin on the New York City Schools' involvement in the student climate strike:
. . . .Like the Urban Assembly students, Meremetoh and her schoolmates credit their school with their engagement on this issue. Melanie Mueses, eighteen, said, “The school really pushed me to understand how the environment is crumbling and how we are affecting it,” she says. “I wasn’t like that before.” Meremetoh tells me about an art project she did, showing the sun going from cold to warm to hot. “A lot of people don’t pay attention, and don’t realize the world could be ending in a couple years.”

Mueses suspects policymakers don’t care since they think they’ll be dead when problems caused by climate change get more serious. “I feel people in power don’t feel as deeply about this as us because they’re not going to be here,” she explains. “Us, as ‘the future,’ we are the ones who are going to be most affected.”

Emmanuel Pimentel, eighteen, also a student at High School for Environmental Studies agreed: “We need the world.”

Said Meremetoh, “We have to stand up to everything Trump is saying because he’s crazy. We have to continue to fight. We can’t stop.” Asked what she hopes comes out of these actions, she says, “I hope the future president listens. We have to start taking care of the environment. I really hope the government listens to us, the young people.”

Climate strikers at City Hall were mostly high school kids, but there were younger children, too. A growing movement, #Fridays4Future will continue the Friday strikes that Greta Thunberg began.

There Will Be Plenty of Time for Fear If We Fail

In the meantime, let's get to work:
. . . . Amid all the carnage, the leading global authority on warming, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, detailed the horrors in store if average temperatures pass 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. (We’re already over 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and worldwide carbon emissions hit a new high in 2018.)

Scientists are now sounding the alarm. Young activists are skipping school and taking to the streets. And in the U.S., a bold proposal to remake the American economy is sending shockwaves through climate legislation discussions that had been stalled for a decade.
Into that now-bubbling climate cauldron comes the book The Uninhabitable Earth, a distressing review of climate science designed to jolt us out of complacency. David Wallace-Wells, who characterizes himself as a concerned liberal who “wasn’t really focused on this issue until a few years ago,” channels the panic he felt at reading reams of scientific reports into a vision of a dystopian future that we’re not doing enough to avoid.

The question is whether fear is the right emotion to play on to get people to sit up, listen, and take action. According to Grist’s own Eric Holthaus, who’s been writing about climate change for more than a decade, it’s not. To him, it’s best to accept the scientific consensus and inspire our fellow humans to roll up their sleeves and ensure we do whatever it takes to decarbonize the global economy rapidly. . . .

Zuckerberg, The World's Richest Sociopath

From a highly recommended read at The Guardian by Julie Carrie Wong:

It can be hard to remember from down here, beneath the avalanche of words and promises and apologies and blogposts and manifestos that Facebook has unleashed upon us over the course of the past year, but when the Cambridge Analytica story broke one year ago, Mark Zuckerberg’s initial response was a long and deafening silence.
It took five full days for the founder and CEO of Facebook – the man with total control over the world’s largest communications platform – to emerge from his Menlo Park cloisters and address the public. When he finally did, he did so with gusto, taking a new set of talking points (“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you”) on a seemingly unending roadshow, from his own Facebook pageto the mainstream press to Congress and on to an oddly earnest discussion series he’s planning to subject us to at irregular intervals for the rest of 2019.
The culmination of all that verbosity came earlier this month, when Zuck unloaded a 3,000-word treatise on Facebook’s “privacy-focused” future (a phrase that somehow demands both regular quotation marks and ironic scare quotes), a missive that was perhaps best described by the Guardian’s Emily Bell as “the nightmarish college application essay of an accomplished sociopath”.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Old Delusions, Illusions, and Collusions Are Hard to Break

  • Access to higher education has always had various layers of unfairness baked in that are designed to make sure that privilege remains privileged in America.  There is, of course, the use of a fake meritocracy based on the use of standardized tests, with scores that mirror the economic advantage or disadvantage of the children who are forced to take them as part of a demeaning scam that has gone on for a hundred years.  The scam part most people ignore.

    And there is the long history of legacy admissions, where top college access is passed down across the generations, regardless of how dim-witted the descendants of the white protestant elite might be (see the Bush clan).

    But the most recent FBI sting has uncovered a new depth of corruption among the rich and famous, as well as the whores throughout academia who are paid off to give preferential treatment to the spawn of the wealthy.

    And yet the the illusions, delusions, and collusions permeating higher ed down at the cellular level continue.  Look no further than this interview excerpt below, which was aired on PBS the day the news broke about the decades-long conspiracy to cheat and steal Ivy League access. it is clear from insiders, even reporters like Jeffrey Selingo, that the false belief continues that "in many cases, it wouldn't matter where they went." 

    William Brangham:
    At its core, really, this is about wealthy parents who are trying to buy in some ways even more influence for their wealthy children, right?
  • Jeffrey Selingo:
    I mean, what's amazing to me is that, in some cases, it wouldn't really matter where these kids went to college, right? They have both the means, the financial means, but also the connections to live a great life because of their parents, no matter where they go.
    So it's kind of shocking that they really wanted that piece of paper from an elite college — an elite college, because, in many cases, it wouldn't matter where they went.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One

I am busy finishing my new book--a follow-up to Hoosier School Heist that will be released next year--and will be blogging again this summer. Please read John Harris Loflin's new and significant piece posted below. Thanks! Doug Martin

The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One

By John Harris Loflin 

Due to the Mind Trust’s (MT) view that urban schools are broken and need fixing, this January the non-profit began looking for someone to launch “an independent parent advocacy organization” with emphasis on social justice and closing the Achievement Gap for communities of color in high poverty areas.  

However, this commentary argues urban schools are not broken. As concluded in The White Architects of Black Education by Watkins, America’s public schools never meant to educate all children, especially children of color. We can’t call schools broken that were designed to fail.  

Because America’s school system was designed to fail and/or mis-educate certain children, it was colonial. That is, its purpose was to colonize Native Americans and other non-whites, “fitting” them and settlers/immigrants into America’s “melting pot.”  

“Education’s indoctrination if you're white--subjugation if you're black.” -- James Baldwin 

Thus, initial (and current) public schooling confused education with conformity via assimilation/acculturation, making coloniality (kuh-loh-nee-al-i-tee) the main characteristic of US public education.  

Coloniality is based on a Euro-centric world view. It’s the continued existence of colonialism (assimilation/acculturation) even after anti-Jim Crow and Civil Rights legislation.
MT’s concern for neighborhoods of color comes from its “Othering” mentality. “Othering” is inherent in MT’s “settler-minded” DNA because without this “other” there would be no reason for MT to exist.  

So, intentional or not, this positions MT as purveyors of coloniality and “whiteness” as normative, presupposing difference from “the norm” as somehow inherently “damaged” and needing assistance. Such deficit models of these neighborhoods misconstrue social justice by emphasizing the Achievement Gap and its creator, standardized testing. Both perpetuate the assimilationist/missionary logic of coloniality.  

Failing to challenge MT’s colonality means the onus of change is forever on the “colonized.” Success for people of color will endlessly revolve around finding ways to conform and succeed on another’s terms, rather than around nurturing their own criteria for achievement.  

“Urban students quickly receive the message that they can only be smart when they are not who they are. This in many cases is classroom colonialism.” ~ Prof. Chris Emdin 
From the perspective of this commentary, under MT’s parent advocacy scheme, the value of parents will depend upon how they’re able to get working-class students of color to assimilate towards the cultural normative dogma of whiteness.


What to do? De-colonize the Mind Trust


To push back against this parent advocacy enterprise requires the un-settling of MT’s anti-democratic ideology. Alternatives such as Transformational Community Schools and Local School Councils will begin a process of hope, rooted in resistance, leading Indy towards education for liberation.  

Ultimately we need to de-colonizing parent advocacy efforts: center on the humanity and possibility of students of color, and dismantle the prevailing discourses of coloniality that only highlight their “otherness”/difference from whites.  

But, will the Mind Trust and its elite-class board members allow their parent advocate to disrupt coloniality, playing transformative roles of cultural, economic, and political liberators of their communities of color?  

Please read Part Two here: http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/The-Mind-Trusts-Neo-colonial-War-on-Parents-Part-Two.pdf

John Harris Loflin 
Parent Power--Indianapolis 
Education-Community Action Team (E-CAT)  
March 10, 2019

Friday, March 08, 2019

People Alive Today Will Determine the Future of the Earth

Great power entails greater responsibility.

If you don't care about global warming, then you should read this book.  If you care about global warming, then you should read this book.

An excerpt of a good review from NYTimes:

. . . .“The Uninhabitable Earth” seems to be modeled more on Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” — or, at least, it’s a bid to do for greenhouse gases what Carson’s 1962 book did for pesticides. “Silent Spring” became a galvanizing force, a foundational text for the environmental movement. The overarching frame for Wallace-Wells’s book is an analogous call to action: “How much will we do to stall disaster, and how quickly?”

Part of his strategy is to tell us how much we have already lost. “The climate system that raised us, and raised everything we now know as human culture and civilization, is now, like a parent, dead,” he writes. Some of the technology we rely on to make the effects of climate change more bearable, like air-conditioning, also worsens them. The harms of global warming tend to fall disproportionately on poorer people and poorer countries, but the “cascades” already set in motion will eventually grow so enormous and indiscriminate that not even the rich will be spared.

Wallace-Wells avoids the “eerily banal language of climatology” in favor of lush, rolling prose. The sentences in this book are potent and evocative, though after a while of envisioning such unremitting destruction — page upon page of toddlers dying, plagues released by melting permafrost and wildfires incinerating tourists at seaside resorts — I began to feel like a voyeur at an atrocity exhibition. His New York magazine article already synthesized plenty of information about perilous climate risks and scared the bejeezus out of people; what are we supposed to do with this expanded litany of horrors?

“Fear can motivate,” Wallace-Wells writes. He’s aware of those who denounce the graphic doomsaying as “climate porn,” but he arrived at his own ecological awakening when he started to collect “terrifying, gripping, uncanny narratives” about climate change. He describes himself as a Bitcoin-buying, non-recycling city-dweller who hates camping. He was scared out of his “fatally complacent, and willfully deluded” inertia when he became immersed in the awful truth and, his book suggests, you can be too.
Besides, it’s not as if any of the hair-raising material with which he has become intimately familiar has paralyzed him with fatalism — quite the opposite. “That we know global warming is our doing should be a comfort, not a cause for despair,” he writes. What some activists have called “toxic knowledge” — all the intricate feedback loops of societal collapse — “should be empowering.” . . . .

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Join National Student Strike March 15

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. 
It’s going to take bold action to bring about bold solutions to this crisis, and we’re not afraid to show our elected officials that we mean business. On March 15th, youth in the US will join thousands of youth across the globe striking from school for climate action. And we need your support. 
Decades of climate inaction has left the most marginalized communities exposed to the threats of the climate crisis. As this crisis gets exponentially worse, my generation will face extreme impacts like worsening storms, and will be left to clean up the mess we’ve created.
Youth across America will strike in pursuit of a bold set of demands that include a Green New Deal, a fair and just transition to 100% renewable energy, and no new fossil fuel infrastructure. 
Youth across the world are taking power into their own hands. Are you with us?
Isra Hirsi, US Youth Climate Strike
P.S. Not only do we need thousands on the streets on March 15th, we also need tons of volunteers to pull this off. Interested in volunteering to support the US Youth Climate Strike? Sign up today and let us know how you can help.

LAUSD District 5 Special Election morning after (March 6, 2019)

Looks like the two good candidates — Jackie Goldberg and Graciela Ortiz — will be in the run-off, and the vile California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has no candidate to support in Los Angeles Unified School District 5. The CCSA shouldn’t be able to replace their convicted felon Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez with another one of their own ever again.

Glad to see that right-wing privatizers Allison Greenwood Bajracharya, Heather Repenning, and Ana Cubas are likely done. Cubas couldn’t even manage 1,000 votes on Tuesday — I finished with 5,244 votes in 2013 #LAUSD #EdReform

Monday, March 04, 2019

Oakland Teachers Prevail

From Jacobin:
Though educators did not achieve all their demands, Oakland’s teachers strike transformed the city, won important gains, and empowered educators to take on the billionaire education privatizers. 

Under the inspiration of the national teachers’ revolt, and with the blessing of a newly elected militant leadership, a torrent of working-class creativity and self-activity was unleashed during Oakland’s strike. In many ways, Oakland resembled the bottom-up, effervescent upsurge of West Virginia much more than the systematically and meticulously prepared Los Angeles strike. . . .