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

Monday, March 27, 2017

We change the world by showing up. I went to Seattle and got a video on Ed Reform 2.0/Learning Ecosystems to share.

by Alison McDowell
Posted on Wrench in the Gears
March 27, 2017

This weekend I relished the opportunity to meet up with some wonderful activists with whom I have been collaborating online for many months. Virtual worlds provide useful starting points for building networks and sharing information, but nothing beats being able to be in the same physical space, shake hands, share a hug, and discuss the future of education looking directly into each other’s eyes.

There are days when I wonder how I ended up where I am, where this is all headed, and who am I to be pushing the conversation forward? But I continue to believe that our voices matter, our questions matter, and public discussion matters. The future our children and grandchildren inherit hinges on our willingness RIGHT NOW to challenge educational surveillance and profiling being enabled by so-called “personalized” online adaptive learning systems and a “playlist” approach to education that is aligned to workforce skills and social-emotional competencies. I am heartened to hear of the legal challenge in Tennessee regarding a student’s right to have a human teacher rather than a computer. I was grateful to have a full room of everyday people, people like you, show up to the Lake City Library on a Saturday morning to hear what I had to say, and I hope you will help carry the message into your community.

While in Seattle we spent an afternoon visiting ed-reform landmarks, including the visitor center of the Gates Foundation. There wasn’t a gift shop, but I did get the best possible souvenir of my trip, a professionally done video prepared by Mike McCormick. Thank you Mike! I hope you will consider watching it, sharing it and starting these important conversations where you live. You might find this post on digital curriculum a useful starting point.

Link to the slides used in the presentation.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

KIPP Sues to Protect Sweatshop Teaching Conditions

KIPP, Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit to block further implementation of a union contract at a South Bronx KIPP school that KIPP has summarily ignored. 

Here's the list of contract violations cited in a November 2016 letter to KIPP.  Based on my own research, I am not at all surprised to see this list of common violations, as they exemplify the KIPP "culture" of exploitative, abusive, illegal, and inhumane employment practices:

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Don't take any pictures and don't tweet this out. . ."

NEA VP, Becky Pringle, helped wrap things up and put a sweet bow on them at the 2015 International Association of K-12 Online Learning conference that outlined Silicon Valley's dystopian future for school kids. 

In an era when young adults are tethered to their IPhones and exhibit all the symptoms of what might be called a debilitating technological autism, Gates and his young protege, Zuckerberg, see a profitable vista opening up before them, as children become more and more dependent on technological tools that replace teaching and learning among humans.

We now know that NEA and AFT are signed on this nightmare plan, too, that views knowledge as a commodity that requires only Google to unlock.  What about teachers?  They will be necessary insofar as children must be goaded to be enthused by their own subjugation to an education future ruled by algorithms.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

NEA and AFT among Leaders of Blended/Personalized Learning

If you have been wondering why NPE, FairTest, BATs, Diane Ravitch's Basecamp, etc. have had almost nothing negative to say about the brave new world of competency-based, personalized blended learning, then you might want to sit down for a moment and follow the links below.  

It seems the corporate unions that all the anti-reformy groups serve became signatories in 2015 to a wide-ranging blueprint for the future of schools.  It is a future based on heavy doses of computer technology for instruction, curriculum, and assessment, with less teaching by real teachers in fewer school buildings, with great wads of money going to Silicon Valley billionaires. 

In a 2016 blog post from Gisele Huff, Executive Director of the Jacquelin Hume Foundation, we find this paragraph:
Personalized learning is an idea whose time has come. The Foundation was an early supporter of Education Reimagined and I participated as one of 28 strange bedfellows in the production of its vision document (http://ow.ly/ZmPpn). That document has become the North Star for the transformation of a 100-year old educational system which no longer serves America’s children. Among the other signatories of document are the two leaders of the NEA and AFT, evidence that there is a consensus for an entirely different approach to the learning experience.
Here's the Advisory Board for Education Reimagined.  And here are the principal corporate donors:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,  Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,  Jaquelin Hume Foundation,  Nellie Mae Education Foundation,  Oak Foundation.
Breathe deeply.  Now if you are a K-12 educator still sending money to any of the organizations named in the first paragraph of this post, you are contributing to your own burial fund each time you do it.

Anti-Child Advocate, Neil Gorsuch (Mr. de minimis)

If America's special needs schoolchildren are damaged beyond measure in the near future by the judiciary, you can thank the preppy fascist now in line to become the next Supreme Court justice:
At the Supreme Court podium in January, lawyer Neal Katyal was hit with a series of questions that he wasn’t really ready for.

The justices wanted to know who came up with the legal standard “merely more than de minimis” ― a phrase that could undercut the law for students with disabilities across the country. If upheld, the standard would reduce the educational benefits those children are promised under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“What’s the origin of this phrase, ‘More than de minimis’? Who thought this up?” asked Justice Samuel Alito. The law generally defines “de minimis” as being so small as to be legally insignificant.

“Who invented it?” asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, noting that it isn’t found in the Supreme Court’s leading precedent on states’ responsibilities under the IDEA.

While Ginsburg was setting up her question, Justice Elena Kagan jumped in to emphasize the word “merely” — as if to underscore that the standard Katyal was defending is indeed a stingy one.

The accomplished appellate attorney, who is representing a Colorado school district in the dispute, didn’t have a good answer, saying only that the standard was developed over time by the lower courts. But he would have nailed the response if he’d simply said, “Neil Gorsuch.”

Judge Gorsuch, who is now President Donald Trump’s eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee, broke new ground when he used “merely more than de minimis” in a 2008 ruling. That decision has become the touchstone for Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the case the justices heard in January and will likely decide by the end of June.

Gorsuch picked the phrase “out of the blue,” said Jack Robinson, the Colorado lawyer representing the child at the center of the current case. . . .

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trump's Cultural Beheadings

To build support for the kinds of multicultural beheadings and institutional cleansing that the Trumpeteers are pressing for, it will be necessary to create a world devoid of empathy and emotional intelligence.

It is quite natural, then, for Trump's team of death worshipers to zero out educational networking and funding for arts and humanities.  Their agenda requires no humanity, nor does it admit any feeling for others.  I can only sustain the support it needs when people no longer care about the living.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Riding the 'turnaround' merry-go-round in the continuing assault on Philadelphia public schools: Part VI - Who is Afton Partners?

 by Ken Derstine
@ Defend Public Education
March 14, 2016

The previous article in this series was posted June 2, 2016. This series has detailed the assault on Philadelphia public schools by corporate education reform business and financial interests. At the last posting, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission had not acted on the non-renewal recommendation of its charter office for Aspira, Universal, and Mastery charters. 

Pennsylvania law mandates that a charter term is five years and must undergo a renewal process after that.  There is a stipulation in the law that the renewal process can be extended for one year, if there are mitigating circumstances.  That one-year extension can only be used one time. They have been postponing the renewals month after month since April 2016. Aspira’s was postponed without the SRC even taking a vote in 2015.

Now, as can be seen in Part VI in this series, the privatization merry-go-round is spinning ever faster in the assault on Philadelphia public schools.


In a recently released report by Afton Partners, the cost of students leaving Philadelphia public schools to transfer to charters was examined. The study had been commissioned in February, 2015 by the School Reform Commission, which functions as a school board and makes all final decisions for Philadelphia schools.

In “is the glass half full or half empty” coverage, the Philadelphia Inquirer published Report: Philly schools still face costs when students go to charters vs. the Philadelphia Public School Notebook’s Students leaving Philly schools for charters less costly than once thought.

According to The Notebook article, the resolution calling for the contract with Afton said the analysis would take place between February 20, 2015 and May 1, 2015. SRC officials claim the report “got lost in the shuffle as old administrators left and new administrators replaced them.” The District’s Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson, appointed February, 2016, said he first got word of the report last summer and has been working with Afton “to make sure the report addressed all questions.”

Why is the report being released now? Could it have something to do with a bill in the Pennsylvania House introduced by Speaker Mike Turzai on March 6th which would require the Philadelphia School District to add 3,000 charter seats per year? This bill would undercut the charter oversight authority of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC). The establishment of the SRC in 2001, as part of the state takeover of the School District, abolished local control of public schools, along with any hope of any type of democratic process.  A 2014 bill passed by the legislature imposed a $2/pack cigarette tax for school funding; it included a last-minute provision that the SRC consider applications for new charters each fall.  Rejected applicants would be able to appeal to the state Charter Appeal Board.

Now, invoking the states rights' provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Turzai wants to completely take even this oversight from any local influence. He has been agressively intervening in the SRC's charter approval process lobbying for approval of charters that the SRC has rejected. The SRC's Uri Monson said the bill is unessessary because in the SRC's five year financial plan presented last year there is an already projected annual growth of charter enrollement of between 2,700 and 3,000 seats.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

NPE Action Helps Halt Dead Bill

The NEA/AFT support group at NPE are declaring victory over a Congressional bill that had been shelved weeks before Diane Ravitch rallied the unwary and naive to sign an online letter to stop what was already dead.

Ravitch, in the meantime, was able to add thousands of unsuspecting souls to her database for future efforts to pry dollars from them to support her role in promoting AFT/NEA/DNC talking points.

And now that it has become common knowledge that H.R.610 was never ever close to a vote and posed no real threat, Ravitch has quickly claimed victory.

In doing so, she and her NEA/AFT patrons ask for your continued financial support.  

Four SASIC Charter Schools Shut Down in San Antonio

It was the school kitchen floor covered with meat blood after holiday break that made one charter teacher suspicious. She soon, thereafter, quit, and became a whistleblower.

Now all four of the SASIC corporate reform schools have been shut down, pending an investigation.

For the State of Texas to investigate, you know something stinks.  Oh yeah, the meat.

Serving rotted meat is not the only charge facing these charter industry predators.

Here are some of the other charges listed in a letter to Commissioner Mike Morath from State Representative, Diego Bernal: