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

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Let us pray. . . that DeVos and Trump Will Be Impeached

Along with the Trump-inspired lawless state house bills to lock up women and doctors for exercising their lawful rights regarding women's health, there are at least 10 states now pushing through more lawless Trumpian legislation to allow Bible study as part of the school curriculum.  

Not comparative religion or history or the Bible as Literature, but Christian Bible study.  

A clip from a good opinion piece at DC Report.org:
. . . .Counseling Today magazine argues, for example, that it has become necessary to lobby seriously to keep federal money for school mental health. The Trump administration’s federal budget proposal cut $8.5 billion from the Department of Education, including the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program. That program supported, among other things, mental health, school security and safety, community engagement—the kind of programs that would address the issues we hear after every school shooting. 
Instead, Washington Post religion writer Julie Zauzmer detailed the movement of church Bible classes from churches into public schools. She took us to Kentucky, where a new state law—one of several pending in other states —is encouraging public high schools to teach the Bible, not as part of a survey of religions, but as Bible study. 
Through a legislative effort Project Blitz, activists on the religious right, have drafted a law that encourages Bible classes in public schools and persuaded at least 10 state legislatures to introduce versions of it this year. Georgia and Arkansas recently passed bills that are awaiting their governors’ signatures. Among the powerful fans of these public-school Bible classes is President Trump. “Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible,” Trump tweeted in January. “Starting to make a turn back? Great!”
Do your part.  Support Americans for the Separation of Church and State. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Bernie Sanders K-12 Plan Falls Way Short

Bernie Sanders has received lots of attention since his announcement of a new education platform for K-12.  While the Sanders plan is the only plan among twenty-some-odd candidates with any real specifics, the Sanders Plan falls far short of addressing the basic needs of children, teachers, and parents who depend upon public schools in the U. S.

However, an article just published by Nikhil Goyal at The Nation offers a positive take on the Sanders Plan.  Let's look at a couple of specifics: first, his position on charter schools.
Sanders announced that as president, in alignment with the NAACP, he would ban for-profit charter schools and impose a moratorium on federal dollars for charter expansion until a national audit was conducted. An audit would reveal that there are indeed many progressive, student-centered charters, such as High Tech High in San Diego, Minnesota New Country School, YouthBuild Charter School in Philadelphia, and Compass Charter School in Brooklyn. And those shouldn’t be shuttered.
We have to wonder if Team Sanders knows that if all for-profit charters were closed today, still over 85 percent of U. S. charter schools would remain open.

As for the proposed moratorium on "non-profit" charter expansion that would remain in effect until a national audit could be conducted, such a moratorium would leave open around 6,400 existing charters, most of which are either entirely apartheid or intensely segregated, and most are based on a total compliance lockdown instructional model that no middle class parent would ever consider for her own child.

As for the value of a national audit for charter operators, the suggestion by Sanders is that if a charter school has high test scores and clean bookkeeping, then it should continue to operate and expand, regardless of how many millions of "non-profit" public dollars are being siphoned away to build corporate education empires whose managers decide how segregated and disenfranchised children will be culturally sterilized in the no-excuses KIPP Model charter schools.

We have to ask ourselves, too, if a national audit would ignore more fine-grained details that show how "non-profit" charter chains legally shortchange instructional budgets while padding management and administrative costs.  Would an audit uncover the many ways that corporate charter grifters legally take public money from children and their teachers?

A couple of charts from 2015 research paper by Bruce Baker and Gary Miron demonstrate what I'm talking about.  Table 3 below shows how Texas charter schools compare with a major urban district in terms of expenditures.  We can see, for instance, how KIPP, Harmony, and other Texas charter schools spend a smaller percentage on instruction and a larger percentage on administration and plant services, when compared to Texas public schools that serve the same students.

We see, too, how charters depend upon a workforce model that exploits new teachers who are burned through, discarded, and replaced by more beginners.

Table 6 shows who the real beneficiaries are of public's generosity to fund a separate school system in  America.

Remember, too, that over 60 billion public dollars go to charter schools every year in this country.

How long can we afford this kind of support for a handful of amateur non-educators who are clueless about the art and science of education or the needs of children?







Tuesday, May 14, 2019

KIPP Menace Has Come to Baton Rouge

When KIPP first pitched its segregated brand of total compliance hell schools in Baton Rouge in 2001, the proposal was soundly defeated.  Now thanks to the arm-twisting of political hack and corporate lackey, Rolfe McCollister, the Baton Rouge School Board has downed a strong dose of the KIPP NOLA kool-aid, even though the three KIPP schools recently approved will drain away at least $34 million each year from public schools when fully operational.

Thanks to Evelyn Ware-Jackson for voting NO to bringing KIPP's unique brand of child abuse to Baton Rouge:
. . . . Evelyn Ware-Jackson voted no on KIPP:New Orleans' proposal.

Initially positive, Ware-Jackson said she was concerned after hearing from a handful of speakers who drove up from New Orleans to tell horror stories about how KIPP handles discipline matters there.

"I don't know who to believe," Ware-Jackson said.

Maria Harmon, co-founder of community organizing group, Step Up Louisiana, harshly criticized what she described as a system of indoctrination and public shaming at KIPP schools.

“I’m telling you now you don’t want this kind of program in your school district,” Harmon said. “It won’t benefit black children, not at all. The only thing it does is prepare them for prison.” . . . .

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Poorest School Kids in Warwick, RI Get Cold Sandwiches Rather Than Hot Meals

from the AP:
WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island school district will begin serving cold sandwiches instead of hot lunches to students whose families owe lunch money.

Warwick Public Schools says it is owed more than $40,000 from outstanding lunch payments and cannot afford to absorb the costs.

The new policy begins next Monday.

A local restaurant owner wrote on Facebook that the district twice turned down a $4,000 donation for the lunch debt.

The district responded in a statement saying it must treat all students equally and cannot single out which debts to reduce.

The district recommended the donor take applications and decide who receives the money.
Critics say such lunch debt policies shame children for something outside of their control.

Pending legislation would change state law making free hot lunches available for all students regardless of income.
Call this idiot: 
Superintendent of Warwick Public Schools
Philip Thornton, Ed.D.
401-734-3100
philip.thornton@warwickschools.org

KIPP Chicago Scraping the Bottom in Test Scores

from Chicago City Wire:
Of the 418 students attending Kipp Chicago Charter School - Kipp One Academy in 2018, 24.4 percent scored proficient in English Language Arts and 19 percent were proficient in math, according to a report recently released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

The report is based on results from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam, a state-mandated exam used to assess the school and student performance in several states nationwide.

In the Chicago SD 299 School District, 27.9 percent of students scored proficient on the ELA portion of the PARCC exam in 2018, and 22.1 percent were proficient in math.

In Illinois overall, 36.9 percent of students passed the PARCC ELA exam in 2018, and 31.3 percent were proficient in math.

Scaling Up the Movement to Force Immediate Action on Global Warming

from Jacobin:
. . . . This movement is organizing and growing quickly after years of stagnation.

Influenced by the climate movement in Europe — as well as by the recent dire warnings, from science and lived experience alike — the US climate movement is moving quickly beyond the nonprofit industrial complex, which produces a lot more direct mail than direct action. We’re now hearing the early rumblings of the movement that’s actually needed, with constant action at every level, from legislative bodies to the streets — and a sense that the subject of climate action has become inescapable. In the mid-nineteenth century, black and white abolitionists alike created a culture in which the evils of slavery were  constantly discussed and debated. In London, Extinction Rebellion has done this with climate change. We may get there, too.

This new movement distinguishes itself by a willingness to tell the truth — that we could be facing disaster, even human extinction — and to confront the horror of that truth. Extinction Rebellion, as its name suggests, is honest about that. On Truth-Telling Thursdays, activists set up tables and tell people, without sugarcoating, how bad the climate crisis is, signing them up for the movement.

For many people, though, denial remains the most popular option. (Not ideological Fox News–style climate denial, but rather the form that many of us deploy as often as possible: thinking about anything other than climate change.) For most of us, it hasn’t been worth exiting that comfortable fog just to participate in the occasional ineffectual protest. That’s changed for two reasons: it’s becoming impossible to hide from the problem, and the movement is growing so fast that change looks possible. Now that it actually might matter, leaving that safe haven of denial seems worth it.

Another reason this movement is growing so fast, and might eventually win, is its understanding that climate change requires a massive economic change that is at least comparable to the ending of slavery. That’s why it is so intertwined with — and at least in part made possible by — the recent resurgence of socialism. This movement understands that the problem, and all its major solutions, are economic in nature and also massive. . . .

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Rep. Jim Cooper, You Must Support Immediate Impeachment Hearings

My letter this morning to the Hon. Jim Cooper.  I hope you will write today, too.

Recently, I called your office following the release of the Mueller Report and asked that you support immediate impeachment hearings for Donald Trump.  You responded via email with all the standard excuses NOT to impeach: 1) voting him out is the best path, 2) impeachment would make him more popular and Dems less popular, 3) there are not enough votes in the Senate to convict if impeachment succeeds.

Now that you have had the time to read the Mueller Report, and now that over 400 former federal prosecutors have agreed that anyone other than POTUS would be under indictment for multiple felonies if they did what Trump did, I am wondering if you have reconsidered your previous position regarding impeachment.  For the sake of our Republic, I hope so.

Let me remind you, sir, that moral decisions are never made on the basis of their popularity or whether or not a preferred outcome will ensue.  


Do the right thing, for god's sake, and put the moral pressure on those unprincipled Trumpists who mock our democratic institutions.  How long do you think Dems can remain under the radar and hope that the American people will look the other way?  

The eyes of the nation are upon you.  Do what your oath demands--uphold our Constitution! 

See today's opinion piece by Brian Klaas: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/06/its-time-start-impeachment-hearings-today/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cd5c86e3fcfc

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Sen. Blackburn Continues to Lie to and Deceive TN Voters

The paragraph below is from the most recent weekly propaganda sheet, the Blackburn Report.  Below that is my response.

Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. The Attorney General told me he believed the Special Counsel’s investigation was exhaustive. We now know the President did not collude with the Russians, and the Attorney General did not recommend any obstruction charges. Yet I remain concerned about the politicized culture among a select group of FBI and Justice Department employees. Tennesseans have told me time and again they want to see these government agencies held fully accountable for their actions, and I support the Attorney General’s efforts to investigate further and restore public confidence within these institutions.

 
Senator Blackburn:

Your most recent Blackburn Report is disturbing for its levels of deception, propaganda, and lies. As you know, the Mueller Report examined the question of criminal conspiracy, rather than collusion (which is not a chargeable offense, even if it rises to the level of being impeachable).  So to suggest that the Report concludes there was no collusion is a flagrant misrepresentation of the facts, which is designed to mislead Tennessee voters.

Secondly, the corrupt Attorney General Barr's failure to recommend criminal charges of obstruction says nothing about the dozen examples of obstruction that Mueller details in the Report.  Both Mueller and Barr are following Justice Department guidelines in not indicting a sitting President, so to suggest that Barr's refusal to recommend charges exonerates Trump is deceptive and misleading propaganda.  In fact, the Mueller Report states explicitly that it does NOT exonerate Trump. 

Finally, and most importantly, your disgusting newsletter does not even mention the fact that Mueller established without doubt a detailed record of Russia's malicious tampering with the 2016 election.  It is obvious that, instead of working to make sure our elections are fair, both you and Trump would rather blame the FBI for pointing out that a foreign adversary helped to assure Trump's illegitimate presidency.  It is obvious, too, that the Republican Party would rather see the same result in 2020 by any means necessary, even if it requires the help of the murderous dictator, Vladimir Putin.

Sincerely,

Jim Horn

Update:  The NYTimes reports today that hundreds of legal authorities agree that Trump would be facing obstruction charges if he were not President.