|Wilson School Board rejects business charter school|
Allentown Morning Call
Joe Lewis, former Bethlehem Area School District superintendent and a consultant for the charter's founders, said he wanted to read the resolution before responding to the board's reasons for denying the application. He said he wasn't surprised with ...
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|Senate approves online charter school moratorium|
San Francisco Chronicle
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would impose a temporary moratorium on new fully online charter schools under a proposal approved by the Senate. The measure by Republican Sen. Gay Kernan of Hobbs calls for a one-year moratorium to allow a ...
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|ScholArts charter school to close today|
A charter school in the Milo-Grogan neighborhood is giving up its legal fight to stay open and will hold its final day of classes today. ScholArts Preparatory and Career Center for Children dropped its appeal in Franklin County Common Pleas Court ...
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|Washington state charter school law faces legal challenge|
SEATTLE -- A coalition of educators and community groups filed a legal challenge with the state attorney general Wednesday questioning the constitutionality of Washington's new charter schools law. The three-page "legal demand" asks Attorney General ...
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|Pittsburgh school board rejects 2 charter schools; 3rd tabled|
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board Wednesday night rejected two applications to open charter schools this fall and tabled a third, effectively denying it because of requirements to act within a certain time window. The tabled proposal is from Hill ...
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. . .a pupil attitude factor, which appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together, is the extent to which an individual feels that he has some control over his own destiny. James Coleman, 1966
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Despite a proposed 170 central office employee layoffs, five school closings, changes in the teacher-pupil ratios in the schools, a reduction in the district’s contribution to employee health insurance premiums and other cost-cutting measures, however, a preliminary 2014 general fund budget for the unified district was still short by $83 million.Meanwhile, no one at the School Board is talking about the primary reason there is a projected deficit of $200 million. If the local news media were interested in finding out, it on page 168 of the Transition Commission's Report from 2012. This is what happens when 20 percent of the the system's students are turned over to corporate apartheid charter schools to be psychologically brutalized in the name of equal education.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Part I (sound file, 12:21)
Now, apart from intensive national propaganda, quite apart from German national propaganda, the 'university system' of Germany is evil. It is evil wherever in penetrates. Its 'universal pervasiveness' is a poisonous and most pestilent sort of pervasiveness. The drug is insidious and attractive.
It is...the only system whereby every local nobody is able to imagine himself a somebody. It is in essence a provincialism....
Its action in Germany was perfectly simple. Every man of intelligence had that intelligence nicely switched on to some particular problem, some minute particular problem unconnected with life, unconnected with main principles (to use a detestable, much abused phrase). By confining his attention...he could become at small price an 'authority', a celebrity. I myself am an 'authority', I was limed to that extent. It takes some time to get clean....
It is evil because it holds up an ideal of 'scholarship', not an ideal of humanity. It says in effect: you are to acquire knowledge in order that knowledge may be acquired. Metaphorically, you are to build up a dam'd and useless pyramid which will be no use to you or to anyone else, but which will serve as a 'monument'. To this end you are to sacrifice your mind and vitality.
The system has fought tooth and nail against the humanist belief that a man acquires knowledge in order that he may be a more complete man, a finer individual, a fuller, more able, more interesting companion for other men.
Knowledge as the adornment of the mind, the enrichment of the personality, has been cried down in eery educational establishment where the Germano-American 'university' ideal has reached. The student as the bondslave of his subject, the gelded ant, the compiler of data, has been preached as a summum bonum....
No one who has not been caught young and pitchforked into a 'graduate school' knows anything of the fascination of being about to 'know more than anyone else' about the sex of oysters, or the tonic accents in Aramaic. No one who has not been one of a gang of young men all heading for 'scholastic honors' knows how easy it is to have the mind switched off all general considerations, all considerations of the values of life, and switched on to some minute, vital detail....
The crux of the matter is that the student, burying himself in detail, has not done so with the understanding of his act. He has not done it as necessary sacrifice in order that he may emerge....
The student has become accustomed first to receiving his main ideas without question; then to being indifferent to them. In this state he has accepted the Deutschland über Alles idea, in this state he has accepted the idea that he is an ant, not a human being. He has become impotent, and quite pliable. This state of things has gone on long enough already.
Part II (sound file, 11:10)
The desire to coerce the acts of another is evil. Every ethical thought is of slow growth; it has taken at least thirty years to suggest the thought that the desire to coerce the acts of others is evil. The thought belongs to only a few hundreds of people. Humanity is hardly out of the thought that you may have inquisitions and burn people at stakes....
The bulk of scholarship has gone under completely; the fascinations of technical and mechanical education have been extremely seductive (I mean definitely the study of machines, the association with engines of all sorts, the inebriety of mechanical efficiency, in all the excitement of its very rapid evolution).
Part III (sound file, 10:26)
America has yet no notion of reforming her universities....Provincialism I have defined as an ignorance of the nature and custom of foreign peoples, a desire to coerce others, a desire for uniformity--uniformity always based on the temperament of the particular provincial desiring it.
The moment you teach a man to study literature not for his own delight, but for some exterior reason, a reason hidden in vague and cloudy words such as 'monuments of scholarships', 'exactness', 'soundness', etc., 'service to scholarship', you begin his destruction, you begin to prepare his mind for all sorts of acts to be undertaken for exterior reasons 'of State', etc., without regard to their merit....
Take a man's mind off the human value of the poem he is reading (and in this case the human value is the art value), switch it on to some question of grammar and you begin his dehumanization....
The uncritical habit of mind spreads from the university to the Press and to the people. I am well aware that this uncritical habit of mind is hidden by an apparatus criticus, and by more kinds of 'criticism' and criteria, and talk about criticism than the man in the street has heard of. But it is for all that uncritical. It divides facts into the known and the unknown, the arranged and the unarranged. It talks about the advancement of learning and demands 'original research', i.e., a retabulation of data, and a retabulation of tables already tabulated.
[Pound, Ezra. "Provincialism the Enemy" in Selected Prose: 1909-1965. New Directions, 1973.]
A) The Garfield High School teachers’ boycott of the administration of standardized tests.
B) The 120 Massachusetts professors’ protest against standardized testing.
C) The Chicago, Georgia, and New York protests that inspired the Massachusetts stand.
D) The 818 Texas school districts that have joined the protest against bubble-in excesses and the thousands who joined the Save Texas Schools rally in Austin?
I am too biased to answer such a question. For decades, top Oklahoma teachers and students fled to the better schools in Texas. However, many became trapped in the Texas testing mania and returned with horror stories. But, recently, Oklahoma has been forced to adopt much of the worst of the Texas system, even though we do not have nearly as much money to mitigate the damage. And, two years ago the Texas legislature cut public schools by $5.4 billion, even as they are sending $1.2 billion to the Pearson testing company. This means that Texas also faces the worst of both worlds.
So, I will simply try to draft some multiple choice questions regarding the Texas rally.
1. The rally’s best metaphors to describe the Texas testing situation was:
A) Funding Pearson and testing at such a time is not like the tail wagging the dog, but as former Education Commissioner Robert Scott said, “the flea at the end of the tail of the dog trying to wag the dog."
B) Senator Kirk Watson’s explanation that “the Legislature is sitting around like a litigious deadbeat dad waiting from a ruling from a higher court."
C) Superintendent John Kuhn's affirmation that the 2011 cutbacks and continued testing were "our Alamo," but "this year is our San Jacinto."
D) Robert Scott’s explanation of why he had to reject test-driven reform, "I had to turn in my reformer card because I looked at it as a flea circus," he said. "They are selling two ideas and two ideas only: No. 1, your schools are failing, and No. 2, if you give us billions of dollars, we can convince you [of] the first thing we just told you.
2. The best points made by speakers at the rally were:
A) Joe Arnold, Chair of the Workforce Committee for the Texas Manufacturing Association, observed that if testing was working so well, why would Texas need to recruit outside talent for 21st century jobs?
B) Explanations by former State Comptroller Carol Keegan Strayhorn and others about colleges not wanting high school graduates to only be trained to take tests and write according to the test's formula.
C) Superintendent Mary Whittaker’s observation that it is shameful for schools to put up banners and pass out stars to exhort students to try harder on tests as schools cut the arts.
D) John Kuhn said, "Some people have forgotten that good teachers actually exist. They spend so much time and effort weeding out the bad ones that they’ve forgotten to take care of the good ones. This bitter accountability pesticide is over-spraying the weeds and wilting the entire garden."
3. The very best part of the day was:
A) Affirmations that teachers may have been slow to anger, but that they are tired of the narrowing of the curriculum and the pushing out of students who might lower test scores, and now that they are joined by parents and administrators, a change is bound to come.
B) The articulate and professional quality of student speakers who described the pain of their teachers in narrowing the curriculum and pushing students out, their critiques of vouchers and other ill-conceived market-driven reforms, and the demonstration of the excellence that our kids produce when treated with respect.
C) Seventeen year-old Luz Zamora's thoughts on testing and her moving rendition of "Amazing Grace." followed by the students from Kashmere H.S leading the closing performance of the "Harlem Shake."
D) The way that these students gathered around Diane Ravitch at the end of the rally and the inspiring exchange of wisdom across the generations.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Leaders of the area Public Building Authority are accusing the Knox County Schools chief and school board members of misleading the public about the state of security systems in at least two schools and putting taxpayers at financial risk.
School officials Saturday, however, disputed PBA members’ assertions.
At a meeting Tuesday, PBA’s board of directors asked attorney Morris Kizer to draft a statement notifying Knox County Commission, Mayor Tim Burchett and the public that the school system’s statements about the state of security systems at the two schools were at best misleading and at worst untrue.
The move comes amid growing concerns over school security systems that began when PBA discovered all manner of woes with systems installed at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School.
PBA’s 2008 discovery led to an independent audit in 2011 that revealed unsafe wiring, codes violations, fire wall intrusions, missing motion detectors and non-working cameras, among other things. PBA sued the firm responsible, Professional Security Consultants & Design.
The News Sentinel obtained the audit by Stansell Electric last month and reported on a personal relationship between PSCD’s owner and Schools Security Chief Steve Griffin, who has since been placed on leave and is under probe. In the wake of the newspaper’s reporting, Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre and Board Chairwoman Karen Carson held a news conference Feb. 2 assuring parents that although PSCD did not deliver the “quantity and quality” of equipment and installation services promised, all systems — fire protection, burglar alarms and video monitoring — were “functioning properly.”
McIntyre has repeatedly said the school system’s new security monitoring firm had “identified deficiencies” in all schools and made repairs.
However, the Knox County Law Department last week confirmed to the PBA that no repairs have been made at Hardin Valley or Powell Middle aside from fire wall intrusions that PBA ordered fixed in 2008.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Barbara Madeloni at The Chalkface Radio tells it like it is. The cost of freedom and truth about corporate ed deform is getting higher along with the cost of everything else.
But, it's more dangerous not to talk.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Sent to the Washington Post, Feb. 22, 2013
“U.S. schools brace for federal funding cuts,” Feb. 21, did not mention that despite anticipated cuts of $1.3 billion in federal funding of education, there are no plans to cut back on the common core standards, accurately described by Susan Ohanian as “a radical untried curriculum overhaul and … nonstop national testing.”
The common core requires that all students be connected to the internet in order to take the tests that enforce the standards. This represents an investment of billions. New York City and the State of Florida have budgeted about a half a billion each just to set up internet connections for all students, and you can be sure that as soon as the infrastructure is in place, it will be declared obsolete, resulting in a never-ending flow of taxpayer money to computer and testing companies.
The Post reported that most of the cuts will affect programs for poor children and students with disabilities. The feds are decreasing funding for teaching and learning but continue to demand that districts and states fund testing, investing in weighing the animal rather than feeding it.
Susan Ohanian: http://www.dailycensored.com/woo-hoo/
New York funding: New York Times, "In city schools, tech spending to rise despite cuts," March 30, 2011.
Florida funding: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/content/time-hardwire-florida-schools-senate-ed-chairman-says
SCHOOL VOUCHER BULLYING, PURE POLITICS, AND THE INDIANA OFFICE OF MANAGEMENTAND BUDGET
When it comes to the corporate-religious-political bullying for the Amway/Walmart/ALEC/Overstock.com/Koch Brothers assault on Indiana school children, the Republicans will stop short of nothing. House Bill 1342 was a perfect example. Having moved out of committee but finally killed off yesterday by GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma, this bill sought to strip Indiana superintendent of public instruction Glenda Ritz and the Department of Education of all power to monitor the state voucher schools, giving instead, the Koch-Brothers/ALEC crony Chris Atkins and his Indiana Office of Management and Budget complete control over voucher school funding distribution, oversight, and even voucher school visits.
With OMB’s State Board of Accounts now handing charter school audits over to private companies, House Bill 1342 was meant to punish Ritz, who was originally involved in the lawsuit to stop Indiana’s school voucher system, and lead to even more lack of oversight.
THE INDIANA OMB AND THE CORPORATE RIGHTWING MACHINE
Mike Pence recently rehired Chris Atkins to lead OMB. A past tax and fiscal policy director at ALEC, the Anderson, Indiana-born Atkins began working for the sociopathic voucher lobbying and propaganda mill, the Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, after leaving as OMB policy director where he hammered out the Mitch Daniels’ anti-public school property tax plan, one of the first initiatives to drain funding from the schools.
Not surprisingly, Atkins is a member of the pro-school voucher Institute of Justice’s Human Action Network, a group of IJ student law conference alumni who volunteer for various cases IJ deems appropriate. IJ is battling in court to save the Indiana school voucher program.
Atkins is not a fan of increased spending to eliminate inequality in the public schools. In 2007, while carrying corporate water for the Koch Brothers-supported/ Eli Lilly affiliated Tax Foundation, Atkins released a “study” at the Philadelphia ALEC meeting which claimed that lawsuits in favor of forcing states to pay adequate funding to inadequately funded school districts have not led to better schools or “long term increases in school spending” but only to higher tax rates. Atkins commented: "Lawsuits may be able to build schools, but they haven't proven effective at teaching kids.”
Atkins, however, is not the only OMB employee with ties to school voucher groups. The Friedman Foundation-funded and Tea Party Americans for Prosperity is represented at OMB’s Department of Government Efficiency and Financial Planning by Gloria Downham, whose husband, Chase, heads the Americans for Prosperity’s Indiana branch. Chase, a former Mike Pence intern, helped elect Republicans for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Chase and Gloria are parishioners at the St. Monica Catholic Church which operates its own Indianapolis school receiving state vouchers.
Former Ice Miller attorney Brian Bailey, OMB’s chief of staff & general counsel, is also a Tax Foundation crony.
Micah Vincent, at OMB’s Department of Local Government Finance, likes to attend Friedman Foundation events, too.
LIVING WITH DINOSAURS
Besides the American flags flying high in the Indiana religious schools accepting taxpayer money, OMB would have found no problem visiting schools promoting creationism, John Birch Society propaganda and paranoia, and free-market radicalism. Many of the schools receiving vouchers, as Steve Hinnefeld noted at School Matters, use the A Beka and Bob Jones curriculum texts, which vilify liberals, plug free-market inequality, lie about global warming, and see the Bible as the see-all-be-all to an education. Hinnefeld unearthed some disturbing examples, including these from the teacher’s guide to United States History in Christian Perspective: Heritage of Freedom, an A Beka 11th-grade history book:
FDR and the New Deal: “New Deal socialism is but a halfway house to Communism; what Communists seek by violent revolution, socialists seek by legislation, regulation, and taxation … The effects of the New Deal can be seen today in the Social Security system, Medicare, various welfare programs, and the numerous federal regulatory agencies in operation today. Many Americans depend on the government for their daily needs and all suffer from excessive government regulation in one way or another.”
Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s 1950s crusade against Communists: “Senator McCarthy’s aggressive manner and his physical appearance – he did not photograph well and often appeared to be scowling – did not play well in front of the television cameras … In addition, the print media and radio roundly castigated McCarthy. The combined effect of this propaganda turned many people against the senator.”
LBJ and the Great Society: “Higher taxes drained money from individuals and business to fund programs that destroyed the work ethic among the poor while eroding the self-sufficiency of the American family.”
These textbooks, as Professor Frances Paterson and Rachel Tabachnick have observed, compare gay people to child molesters and rapists and show hatred of Hinduism, Native American beliefs, and Buddhism, even lashing out at Roman Catholics and non-evangelical Protestants. Tabachnick also details the texts’ prejudice against African-Americans, writing that “Concerning slavery in America, a Bob Jones high school text states, ‘To help them endure the difficulties of slavery, God gave Christian slaves the ability to combine the African heritage of song with the dignity of Christian praise. Through the Negro spiritual, the slaves developed the patience to wait on the Lord and discovered that the truest freedom is from the bondage of sin.’”
If you want more on Indiana school voucher schemes, like visits to the Creation Museum, see Zack Kopplin’s report here.
Robert Behning, House Bill 1342’s author, told the Journal Gazette “The goal was to try to send a message that we don’t want to abuse our power but we want to make sure that everything we have moved that we value in terms of reform needs to be moving forward the way it was intended.”
In other words, it was an act of bullying and pure politics, plain and simple, one geared on “moving” Indiana back into another century, with a Good News Club in every public school still left standing. If one believes that OMB would have been capable or willing to regulate Hoosier schools receiving vouchers in any way, shape, or form, one would have to believe that humans walked hand in hand with the dinosaurs and that Jesus hated the poor, which many in the school voucher movement either believe or like to lie about.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Answer: Choose the response that represents your thinking.
a. to catch rain water coming off the roof
b. to catch and direct rain water deflected by a roof out away from a vulnerable foundation
c. to correct an imposition
d. to protect a preconception
We have a gutter on our house that is a bit askew in one place over the porch and near the front steps. Consequently the rain will come off the room slip by the gutter in that spot and pour straight down. This has clearly been the case over the years prior to our occupation as the front walk has begun to sink a bit and now pools water right in front of the porch. My "fix" has been to insert a stick underneath the roof lip to adjust the drip line to meet the guttering in the right place as the guttering itself will not adjust properly. This works, but the pooling persists, naturally, due to the current sloping state of the ground.
I moved this stick the other day as my son and I were headed out for school (a ten-minute walk), a minor adjustment made by a shrewd handyman.
As we crossed the road my son asked me about this. Why? You tell me. I don't know. Guess. You were doing something to the gutter. Yes. What? I don't know. What is a gutter, that is, what is its purpose on the house? To collect the rain. Why? I don't know. Where does the rain go without the gutter on the house? Straight off the roof and into the ground. What's wrong with that? I don't know. Are houses built so that their "bottom" sits right on the ground? I don't know. Is ours? No. What is it built on. A wall? Yes. Why? I don't know. Why are there gutters? C'mon, Dad!
Why can't you just tell me? Why won't I just tell you? Ugh.
What is the Bill of Rights? What? What is the Constitution? What is the sunrise? What is "an apple a day"? What is the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, the Analects? Dad, what are you talking about? What the heck are Vedas? Foundations.
What formed the Grand Canyon? A river. How? Um... What is a river? Dad!!!
What happens when it rains on city streets? What do you mean? When the rain falls on our yard where does the water go? In the ground. Can it go in the ground when it hits our roof? No. Can it go in the ground when it hits our streets? No. Where does the water go that falls on the streets? The sewer? Yes, through those storm drains. There's a lot going on underground to make what is above ground work and persist. What happens if there are no storm drains and no sewers? I don't know...road rivers. And? I don't know. What formed the Grand Canyon? Hmmm.
What happens to a sand castle when the tide rises over it? What's that got to do with it? Well? I guess it ruins it. Right. Water makes stuff happen whether as falling drizzle, rising tide or rushing torrent.
Why do we want to keep the water away from the wall?
Why are their gutters? Because there are houses. Without houses there are no gutters. Without streets, without houses, without gutters, without sewers...Just rain on the ground.
Hey, what about a rain barrel? Yes, what about a rain barrel? It doesn't just take away water. Good.
Question: What is a cistern?
a. a big rain barrel
b. a big hole in the ground
c. a way to collect rain water for use
d. a functional representation of a way of thinking.
Question: What is learning?
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
But the message of The Hunger Games was not to get good at shooting arrows. The message was the Capitol’s efforts to divert the districts’ attention from the source of their problems, the Capitol’s oppression, and to devote their energies to competing against each other in a cruel game of death.
Haymitch recognized this when he advised Katniss to “ …. remember who the enemy is” as she entered the arena for the second time.
Posted at: http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/stcharles/education/archery-coming-to-frontier-middle-school-in-wentzville/article_db0f3d50-c89a-589f-90e0-9d4bfe3f5172.html?mode=comments
Haslam Sends BRT Puppet to Help McIntyre Get Funds for Disproven Bonus Pay Plan for Knoxville Teachers
The other priority item for Eli Broad's Supt. McIntyre is "technology," which means building the capacity for online high-stakes national tests that will be part of the national standards known as the Common Core. Are Knoxville parents supportive of public schools? Yes. Do they want to waste money for the benefit of profiteers and schemers who are draining money from public schools? No. Do they believe in good research and frown on attempts at manipulation. You bet.
Story from Knoxville News-Sentinel:
In 2012 the county’s public schools asked for $35 million more in the county’s annual budget, but received a $7 million increase in funding, and it appears that there may be a similar request in the 2013-14 budget proposal.
“Last year there was a huge demand by the school system for its budget and we wanted to ask what do people really feel about public education,” said Jennifer Evans, vice president of public policy at the Knoxville Chamber, which has a history of endorsing higher public spending on schools.
The survey showed that 80 percent of respondents believe that students should have electronic access to course material, the same level of support for increased teacher pay.
“If that requires additional funding, can that be covered by property tax or some other ways?” Evans said.
The survey results also showed that nearly half of those polled believe academic standards are too low, but two-thirds agree that their neighborhood school is effective.
Randy Boyd, founder and president of Radio Systems of Knoxville, funded the survey with five other individuals to have data to back the sentiments of Knox County voters regarding education.
“I hope that everybody involved in the decision going forward might have better information to make those decisions,” Boyd said.
“Being a business person, I like data, and I felt there was a lack of data on the discussions.”
Boyd is a known supporter of education. He’s an adviser on higher education to Gov. Bill Haslam and in 2012 he was part of a group that gave $42,000 to the Chamber for advertisements supporting an $35 million for Knox County schools.
The survey represents a different tack: to provide hard figures on public sentiments about schools through the years. The data will be updated annually and questions may be added, he said.
“You need to have hard data to make a decision,” Boyd said, “not just opinion or how many people called you last night.”
Boyd agreed that those most zealous voices on an issue can often drown out sentiments from the bulk of a population.. . . .
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
We could do something different if the plutocrats' corporate drones could be run out of Washington.
From Nation of Change:
Monday, February 18, 2013
"Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector." — Professor Noam Chomsky
Readers have probably already seen the news of how the morning after I trounced the incumbent at a local candidate forum, that NYC Mayor Bloomberg increased my opponent's already obscene campaign fund by a whopping $1 Million. We had begun our campaign early, because we knew that the corporate reformers would "up the ante" this election cycle, but I don't think anyone anticipated the right-wing Coalition for School Reform (CSR) would raise over $2.5 Million in support of the corporate candidates for the March 5, 2013 election. This is significantly more than they raised last election cycle.
The intractable Los Angeles Times asked me for a quotation on the latest plutocrat donation to the corporate CSR slush fund. As their custom, they only used an out-of-context sentence fragment from my quote. Professor Diane Ravitch, on the other hand, used my full quote along with an introduction:
Robert Skeels is a pro-public school candidate in Los Angeles. He has raised $15,000. He will not get anything from Eli Broad or Michael Bloomberg.
The LA Times asked me for a quote on Bloomberg's $1 Million CSR donation. Here's my response: "As a community candidate who has raised over $15,000 through myriad small contributions from local parents, community members, and classroom teachers, I find it dismaying that a single out-of-state billionaire has a greater voice in our school board election than all the working families of District 2. Where were these millions of dollars when the incumbent callously cut early childhood education, adult education, and K-12 arts last year?"
I'm not expecting to out-fund-raise the billionaire boys club, but every donation counts. If you believe in public education, and have followed my work on schoolsmatter.info and other sites, then you know what I stand for. If you're in Los Angeles, we can use your physical help with precinct walking, phone banking, and letters to the editor. If you aren't in town, consider a donation. We're a few weeks out, and the last minute help can make all the difference.
Community candidate video
Award-winning documentary film-maker Chris Hume captured footage and interviews from the Robert D. Skeels for LAUSD School Board campaign's third weekend of precinct walking on January 19, 2013. Filmed on 1st Street in Boyle Heights at Purgatory Pizza just prior to the group going out to talk to voters. Featured in the video are two widely respected educators whose support is greatly appreciated.
- Dr. John Fernandez — Teacher, Theodore Roosevelt High School (Ret.) and former Director of the Mexican-American Education Commission for the LAUSD.
- Martha Infante — 2009 CCSS Teacher of the Year, National Board Certified Teacher, Past-President Southern CA Social Science Association, proud public middle school teacher.
Here is the text of our latest campaign flyer:
Trusted by Community, Rooted in Community
Robert D. Skeels' longstanding as a principled community activist has won him broad support with families, community leaders, and grassroots organizations. LA Schools Report recently wrote about him: "just one School Board candidate [is] running a truly grassroots campaign built on dozens of volunteers and more than a hundred small contributions of as little as $5 — and little else by way of outside support." Robert's record of defending schools like Garfield HS from outside takeover, siding with public school parents against colocations, advocating for the rights of special needs students, and standing up against the incumbent's cuts to early childhood education, elementary arts, and adult education has demonstrated that he will aways fight for the community and stand up against corporate interests.
Trusted by Education Experts, Rooted in What Works
Because of his extensive education policy knowledge and deep understanding of local issues, Robert D. Skeels is the only District 2 candidate endorsed by both United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA). Robert is also endorsed the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, Dr. Diane Ravitch, and many other national and local education experts including: Professor Stephen Krashen, Professor Paul L. Thomas, Professor James Horn, Dr. Rosemary L. Lee, Dr. John Thompson, Dr. John Fernandez, Susan Ohanian, and Cheryl Ortega. A regular contributor to education websites like the nationally recognized schoolsmatter.info, Robert is an advocate of what works in education, not expensive fads or wasteful experiments. He supports proven, research based methods of pedagogy, including dual language immersion programs, project based learning, free voluntary reading with ample access to libraries, and critical studies.
Supporting Programs that Serve Our Community
The current LAUSD leadership has a long history of squandering our community's money as evidenced by massive spending on useless assessments, expensive consultants, highly discredited value added methodologies, and nine figure real estate giveaways to lucrative charter corporations. Instead of looking to cut the former expenses, LAUSD leaders have targeted programs that our communities depend upon most — Early Education, Student Readiness and Language Development Program (SRLDP), Elementary Arts, and Adult Education. The Superintendent and LAUSD Board of Education President have continually balanced the budget on the backs of the working people. Robert D. Skeels has been on the forefront of every struggle to fight budget cuts and to save programs critical to our community.
Public education activist, researcher, and writer Robert D. Skeels has lived, worked, and organized in District 2 for over 18 years. He and his wife, Yoon Jung Lee, make their home in Historic Filipinotown. Robert is a U.S. Navy Veteran. He attended Glendale Community College and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Robert taught Catechism at St. Teresa of Avila Church for 12 years. For the past 15 years he has volunteered ten hours a week teaching life and literacy skills at the Mary Lind Foundation. Robert is a committed member of a number of grassroots education and immigrant rights organizations including Coalition for Educational Justice, Public Education and Social Justice Advocacy, The Trinational Coalition To Defend Public Education, The Southern California Immigration Coalition, and Veterans for Peace. Robert's articles and essays have appeared in publications including: Schools Matter, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Daily Censored, Echo Park Patch, and The Los Angeles Daily News.
Robert's campaign website is www.robertdskeelsforschoolboard.org
Corporate Welfare King, Reed Hastings, Offers Up Another Hollywood Propaganda Film Promoting Corporate Ed Deform
. . . According to Ed Week, the fictional version is a cudgel with which Francis “Frank” Underwood pummels those who get in his way: “Denied a nomination to be secretary of state by the president-elect, Underwood channels his ambitions toward passing a major education bill, the Education Reform and Achievement Act.”
Apparently the ERAA is indeed ripped from the headlines, albeit headlines most frequently published by scandal sheets like Ed Week. Underwood and his foes debate “testing frequency, teacher evaluation, seniority-based exemptions on value-added measurements, financing of non-public schools, and accountability for charter schools [and] an amendment that would strip federal school funding from any unionized districts.”. . . .Beau Willimon, the playwright who adapted “House of Cards” from a British show of the same name, apparently tweeted that he made education and its reform the show’s central polemic because the former affects everyone and the latter is “contentious.”
A different hypothesis
In the article’s comments thread, “Django” offers a different hypothesis: “Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix … is deeply invested (literally, lots of $$$) in education reform. Former chair of the California State Board of Education. Investor in Rocketship charter schools and Dreambox, their for-profit side. Donor to anti-teachers union causes. Investor in the New Schools Venture Fund, EdVoices. Founder of an elitist charter school in CA. Member of Obama's inner advisory circle on education issues.”
(Is this true? You may decide for yourself.)
Follows run of 'Won't Back Down'
“House of Cards” was released just as “Won’t Back Down,” the movie about a mother and a teacher who team up to save the moppets in a gulag-like inner city school, mercifully disappeared from the local multiplex. The film’s promoters cagily created the impression that its breathless action was inspired a real-life turn of events in which parents take over the hellhole and turn it around.
The real-life turn of events never happened, not even close. There are, however any number of politicos and groups that would like to see the passage of “parent-trigger” laws. One of the policy’s advocates bankrolled the film, in fact.
I’m sure it’s available on Netflix. Stream at your own risk.
Corporate education reformers love to rave about how schools that “beat the odds” are full of teachers with “high expectations”. There are echoes of George W’s “soft bigotry of low expectations” in this mantra implying that in the past, teachers–stifled no doubt by those innovation-hating unions–all had “low expectations” for their students and somehow THAT is why students from low-income backgrounds struggled in school. Regardless of the obstacles of poverty, homelessness, underfunding/lack of resources, large class sizes, mental health problems, special needs, or not yet knowing English, the rationale is that a teacher who just BELIEVES a child can graduate and go to college can make it happen (with a little grit and maybe a longer school day to boot. Oh, and don’t forget to hang up college banners in the hallways and talk about “college and career readiness” all the time.) This refrain is a constant in charter franchises, Teach for America circles, and the EdReform movement as a whole... continues[Read the entire essay @ THE CHALK FACE]
Sunday, February 17, 2013
CHATHAM — State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) is urging a community group to file a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools for not complying with a 22-year-old state law that requires all public elementary and high schools to include black history as part of its regular curriculum.
"I encourage you to file a lawsuit against CPS to make them comply with the state law," Flowers said at a Saturday meeting with community group We Can Inc. at Josephine's Cooking restaurant, 436 E. 79th St. . . .
In 1986, Flowers sponsored a state law, which took effect in 1991, mandating public schools make black history a part of their regular curriculum and not just taught during Black History Month in February.
"The proposed curriculum CPS has presented is unacceptable," said Florence Cox, president of We Can Inc. and the first black president of the Chicago Board of Education.
"It lacks our history and language arts. There is nothing in here about who [African Americans] are and where we came from."
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive officer for CPS, did not attend the meeting, but was represented by Phillip Hampton, chief community and family officer for CPS.
"Barbara needs to meet with you. I do know she is aware of this situation," Hampton told the community group. "I will speak with her on Monday and elevate this issue to her, so that by Tuesday you have a response back. "
State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) attended the last meeting held on Jan. 27. At that meeting she said too many black kids are attending schools named after blacks, and the students don't even realize it.
"Most of the students who attend Paul Robeson High School [on the South Side] don't know anything about him other than he is a black man," said Davis. "And that's a shame."
According to CPS data, 99 percent of the students at Paul Robeson are black, and at William Harper High School, also on the South Side, 93 percent of the students are black.
John Thuet, 28, teaches world studies to freshmen at Harper High School and has worked at the school the last four years, but he doesn't know who William Harper is.
"You know, that's a good question. I don't know who William Harper is, but now that you've asked I plan on looking him up to see," Thuet, who also chairs the school's history department, said.
Examples like this, said Hampton, are not good, but fall within the leadership of the school.
"We have a lot of challenges with teachers. When I was a business teacher at DuSable High School, I made sure my students knew who [Jean Baptiste Point] DuSable was, even though I was not a history teacher," said Hampton.
Possible school closings also were discussed at the meeting.
Many of the 129 elementary schools CPS is considering closing in June are located in black neighborhoods on the South and West Side, said Flowers.
While Hampton acknowledged that the recently released list contains "many schools on the South and West Sides," he denied Flowers' allegations that those areas were targeted by design.
"None of these schools being considered for closure are overcrowded," Hampton said. "As for the empty school buildings, once the closure process is complete, the buildings would probably be sold."
The method CPS is using to determine which schools to close is a broken formula, added Flowers.
"School closings are done purposely to drive [black] kids out of certain areas experiencing gentrification," said Flowers. "The closings of these schools are criminal."
Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130217/chicago/cps-could-be-sued-for-lack-of-black-history-schools#ixzz2LDnYQxDp