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

Monday, February 17, 2020

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Cheryl Ortega for UTLA Director of Bilingual Education


Maestros Unidos Los Angeles con Oaxaca

Cheryl Ortega’s tireless advocacy and effective activism for students and bilingual education stems from her years of dedication to the same. There is no better choice for United Teachers of Los Angeles’ (UTLA) Director of Bilingual Education. Her vast experience, institutional knowledge, and devotion to providing students bilingual programs is peerless. Let all persons know that I endorse and strongly support her candidacy for reelection.

— Robert D. Skeels, Education Rights Attorney and Law Professor

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Parnas and Fruman Brief Trump on Need to Remove Ambassador

This could be any two-bit Manhattan gangster being briefed by his hit men, but in this case, it happens to be the President of the United States taking advice from his henchmen, whose job it is to get a foreign government to stage a phony investigation designed to help Trump win the 2020 election.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Is Phonics Effective?

Latest meta-analysis available here.  Abstract below:
There is a widespread consensus in the research community that reading instruction in English should first focus on teaching letter (grapheme) to sound (phoneme) correspondences rather than adopt meaning-based reading approaches such as whole language instruction. That is, initial reading instruction should emphasize systematic phonics. In this systematic review, I show that this conclusion is not justified based on (a) an exhaustive review of 12 meta-analyses that have assessed the efficacy of systematic phonics and (b) summarizing the outcomes of teaching systematic phonics in all state schools in England since 2007. The failure to obtain evidence in support of systematic phonics should not be taken as an argument in support of whole language and related methods, but rather, it highlights the need to explore alternative approaches to reading instruction.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

“In the long run, charter schools are being strategically used to pave the way for vouchers. The voucher advocates, who are very powerful and funded by right-wing foundations and families, recognize that the word voucher has been successfully discredited by enlightened Americans who believe in the public sector. So they’ve resorted to two strategies. First, they no longer use the word “vouchers.” They’ve adopted the seemingly benign phrase “school choice,” but they are still voucher advocates.” — Jonathan Kozol

The end goal of school privatization projects like charter schools has always been vouchers. While both charters and vouchers prevent the public from being able to control the curriculum taught with public dollars, vouchers are far worse in that regard. Vouchers represent an attack on democratic institutions and they represent an attack on rationality in general. Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, a case about to be heard in front of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), could open the flood gates to scare community tax dollars being squandered on dominionist curricula and schools that can openly discriminate.


Vouchers mean Jeanne Allen's dream of teaching children that Jesus rode dinosaurs will finally come true
image by Monty Propps https://b3ta.com/board/7293522

With a SCOTUS populated by arch-reactionaries like Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, it's highly likely that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment will either be ignored or explained away in order to justify funding extremist religious organizations. You know Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue represents a major threat to public education when charter-voucher promoting organizations like the Center for Education Reform file an amicus brief in favor of the right-wing plaintiff. Reactionaries Jeanne Allen and Paul Clement also got a piece published in Time in favor of using public funds to teach religious extremism.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

NOLA KIPP High School Using Students to Fill Teacher Gaps

What happens when your charter school brand is so poisonous that you can't find enough teachers to staff up?  Administrators at Booker T. Washington KIPP HS have come up with a self-serving answer: recruit high school students to teach other students.  

KIPP stands to save millions of dollars when the program is fully operational, and KIPP might even be able to grow its own unique brand of prison guards teachers who may be arm-twisted into coming to work at KIPP once they are actually certified to teach.  

Meanwhile, students must depend upon other students for what they are taught.  A clip:
KIPP's new program, called the Alumni Teaching Force, allows students to get in-classroom experience helping younger kids, and then college support after their senior year. If students are interested in becoming educators, assigned counselors help them map out coursework to make sure they're on track to get needed credentials or certifications. 
With the program, officials also hope to build a teacher pipeline back to KIPP New Orleans, which next school year will operate nine campuses throughout the city. If students get an A in the class, they're guaranteed a teaching or staff position at one of those schools after getting their certificate.

"Bug In Ear" Coaching Marketed by Bug in Brain Consultants

If there is a bad idea out there being pitched for the education industry to make some bucks while pushing more social control and surveillance, Education Week is sure to be on the story.  A recent entry is something called "Bug In Ear" coaching, whereby the teacher wears an earpiece while simultaneously teaching and receiving instructions from a coach at a remote location.

How any classroom teacher could think this is a good idea is ridiculous on its face. It was developed by salesmen selling total compliance discipline and marketed first through KIPP (Kids in Prison Program). 
Here is an account of one former KIPP teacher who shared her experience with this intrusive and entirely disrespectful intervention:
One teacher’s low point came as a result of being chosen as the new teacher who would get “special help” from a consultant hired by KIPP to help the school better monitor student behaviors that this teacher had never known were so important until she came to KIPP: 
The consultant had what he advertised as a sure-fire system based on constant narration of good and bad behaviors that all teachers were to apply. This new teacher admitted she was both skeptical and somewhat resistant, which ended in her having to wear an earpiece as the consultant stood in the back of the room whispering instructions into her ear: 
. . . if they had their hands on their desk, or if they were tracking me when I was giving directions, or like, if their backpack was not on the back of their chair, or if they were wearing their sweater instead of their sweater being in their cubby, or on the back of their chair, or if they still were writing when I had said, “pencils down". 
. . . it just really bothered me that I had to do it this specific way, and it got to the point where he had me wearing like an earpiece, and he was standing in the back of the room, watching me lead my class, and I was so uncomfortable, I was sweating, and then, I had to do this sequence of directions the way that they wanted me to, and he would tell me into my earpiece what I was supposed to be saying to the kids. And it was just really weird, because there were like 27 kids; they were really good kids, but they had to be like perfect, and I—I just—I didn’t believe in it, and I didn’t agree with it, and [in] meetings with him I was crying, talking to this consultant, saying like I just don’t believe in this—I don’t get it, and I was just really encouraged, like well, this is how we’re doing it, so this is how we need you to do it.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Lawsuit against The Accelerated Schools corporate charter chain

This action against The Accelerated Schools (TAS) corporation, on behalf of Michael Kohlhaas dot org, is my second lawsuit against a charter school. My first was against the Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) corporation as third chair at the amazing education law firm that I clerk part-time at. We won that one back in October on behalf of a student of color that was wrongfully expelled — look for a blogpost on the Law Offices of Hirji & Chau, LLP regarding that major victory soon. I'm so fortunate to have the esteemed Rosa K. Hirji and others at her firm as my mentors.

Back to the TAS suit, which is my first for the Michael Kohlhaas dot org activists. They gave me a choice of several to pick from, but I felt like starting with the corporate charter that wronged Hilda Rodriguez-Guzman was the right thing to do. My motivation to suffer through law school at night while working during the day, and then to pass the bar exam on the first attempt despite having no time off from work and no commercial bar prep class, was the prospect at becoming a threat to these vile, discriminatory charter school corporations that steal from children and our communities. I'm glad that I'm finally able to threaten the one thing charter corporations care about— their revenue streams.

Friday, December 13, 2019

New Court Details on KIPP Founder and Sexual Predator, Mike Feinberg


Recent revelations from a lawsuit brought by Mike Feinberg against KIPP have given a whole new meaning to KIPP's concept, "KIPP through college."  In what has to be the sleaziest example of a quid pro quo, it seems Feinberg offered ongoing financial help to an 18-year-old KIPP graduate for sex in return:
. . . Feinberg offered her financial support in exchange for sex, calling it a “tradition in the North,” according to KIPP lawyers. The proposition occurred in the early 2000s, at a time when the then-18-year-old worked for the charter network before enrolling in college, according to the motion.
Other details uncovered in court filings show Feinberg playing doctor, you might say, with a 12-year-old KIPPSTER whom he fondled repeatedly in his office on the excuse of providing physical examinations.

Other details to emerge: Feinberg used his school computer at least 30 times to access porn sites.

But nothing can stop a dedicated "stallion" educator like Mike Feinberg from fulfilling his moral calling.  Today he is helping run a charter school founded by (irony alert) his original patron and Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale.