Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Monday, February 27, 2017
“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically. But that may, in fact, be the case.”Now Blevins and the enemies of democratic institutions in Kentucky are threatening violence against public schools, with a bill that must break a record in the ways that charters are to be allowed, if the bill passes, to steal from public education. From Lexington Herald Leader:
House Bill 520 is the latest version of charter school legislation that is bad for Kentucky. The worst aspect is that it would require public school monies to be handed over to charter schools.
For example, if a charter were created in Fayette County with 400 students, the Fayette County public schools would be required to cut its budget by $5.2 million and hand it over to the charter each year, possibly requiring 100 teachers to be laid off.
Under HB 520, a charter school could be created in three different ways: a local public school board could authorize it; if an application were rejected, the state board of education could authorize it; and if 60 percent of the parents of a public school voted to convert it to a charter school.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article134755024.html#storylink=cpy
In this last case, the charter school would continue to be housed in the same public school facility and have the option of using the existing assets of the school.
The proposed legislation makes all employees and teachers of charters eligible for Kentucky state retirement in a system that is already $8 billion underfunded. And they would also be eligible for health and life insurance.
Incredibly, HB 520 would require public schools to transport charter-school students to their schools at the expense of public schools. And more incredibly, it allows charter schools to fine public schools.
Charter school students would be allowed to engage in public school extracurricular activities, even if the public school cannot afford more students to participate. And charter students would be allowed to compete in statewide athletic activities. Just think of a charter school that could recruit the very best high-school athletes from anywhere in the state to create a powerhouse championship team.
HB 520 would allow charter schools to be exempt from zoning and land-use regulations. So, a charter might be able to build an apartment house or bar adjacent to the school, regardless of zoning laws.
The burdens placed on public schools by HB 520 are awesome. For example, If a public school teacher decides to teach in a charter school, the public school would be required to offer a two-year leave of absence. This means that the public school would need to fill that teacher’s position but then two years later might be required to fire the teacher who was then in that position.
In addition, after a charter applicant submits an application, the school board must complete a thorough review process, conduct an in-person interview with the applicant, provide a public forum for local residents’ input, provide a detailed analysis of the application, allow an applicant a reasonable time to provide additional amendments to its application and then approve or deny the application.
But if a school board rejects an application for a charter, the paperwork and bureaucracy required is enormous. If the applicant completes the paperwork required, the local school board must almost automatically accept the application.
If not, the arduous procedure in rejection requires massive paperwork, appeals to the board of education, extensive documentation as to the reasons for the rejection, re-appeals to the board of education then more documentation and finally a decision by the state board.
This legislation could result in fierce court battles costing public-school districts huge amounts in legal fees.
The bottom line is that none of this is necessary to improve K-12 education in Kentucky.
Charter schools offer two things: choice and innovation. But both are now available to public schools through the relatively new legislation called Districts of Innovation. To see how it is already working go to: ket.org/episode/KEDMA_000802/
Marty Solomon, a retired University of Kentucky professor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Christopher Caldwell, senior editor at the right-wing Weekly Standard, offers an op-ed in the Times that tries to recast the pseudo-intellectual bomb thrower, deconstructionist dilettante, and institutional arsonist, Steve Bannon, into a kinder, gentler image--one that does not remind us of death every time his blotchy, spider-veined visage appears below another headline announcing the latest Trump atrocity.
It is hard to say why a Weekly Standard guy would come to the defense of Bannon, especially since Bannon is so far Right that he describes the Weekly Standard as a left-wing magazine that he wants to destroy, too. Bannon made this threat in the same Daily Beast article that quotes Bannon as a self-described Leninist: “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment."
White nationalist booster, Steve Bannon, is the worst example of what can happen when a Goldman Sachs insider, turned Hollywood propagandist, morphs into a postmodern Rasputin-Svengali hybrid hellbent on fitting the white male American oligarchy with tinfoil hats.
Sadly, Bannon has used and continues to use the most desperate and impressionable elements of the American economic underclass as the muscle to build the walls for his philosophical outhouse. And worse, he and his reality theorist chums and climate science deniers seem willing to sacrifice modern civilization to demonstrate their conspiratorial ramblings about history are correct.
Saturday, February 25, 2017
All we have, then, are these tidbits from 2011, long before Trump's disaster fantasy became our disaster reality.
First up, O gives it to the Birther-in-Chief at that time, Donald Trump. Followed by Seth Meyers.
The whining and yipping continued, in fact, until Lamar Alexander and the Clintons came up with a plan to replace NCLB with a states rights version of ESEA that was labeled ESSA. ESSA left in place the annual testing empire, neutralized the role of the Secretary of Education, and gave the states rights advocates greater control of federal education dollars.
ESSA is chocked full of charter school stimulus provisions and incentives for more depersonalized computer screen time for kids that, in good Orwellian fashion, is known as "personalized" learning.
With continuing provisions in ESSA to incentivize annual conversions of the poorest and poorest-scoring five percent of schools, everyone at the RNC and DNC expected the gradualist approach to school privatization to rock along until all poor black and brown children were once again entirely segregated, this time in corporate welfare charters free to impose dehumanizing, paternalistic cultural sterilization methods that public schools with public oversight could never condone.
Even though the Alexander/Clinton plan became law, it could be interrupted by the election of insane clown, Donald Trump, who has his own privatization agenda that replaces DNC gradualism with undisguised Bannonist blitzkrieg.
Less than a week after the Trump inauguration, Steve King introduced H.R. 610 in the House, which replaces ESSA with education block grants to the states to use as they see fit. Sort of. In the event that states don't see fit to use the federal cash to fund charters and vouchers, King's bill requires any states to pass laws allowing school vouchers programs before they can receive federal dollars.
This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states.Reaction has been swift from the Clinton/Obama DNC and their paternalist patrons in the multi-billion dollar charter reform school industry, all of whom have for years now preferred the gradual privatization and cultural sterilization methods of the "no excuses" KIPP Model schools.
The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA's geographical area. From these amounts, each LEA shall: (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.
Leading charter propagandist, Kevin Carey of New America, published a piece at his regular hangout at the NYTimes' TheUpshot, which reminds policymakers of the last three school voucher studies from 2015 and 2016, all of which show negative test score effects for voucher students. Carey's pitch comes near the end of his voucher research survey:
The new voucher studies stand in marked contrast to research findings that well-regulated charter schools in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a strong, positive impact on test scores. But while vouchers and charters are often grouped under the umbrella of “school choice,” the best charters tend to be nonprofit public schools, open to all and accountable to public authorities. The less “private” that school choice programs are, the better they seem to work.The Ravitch Basecamp has come out swinging, too, against Steve King's voucher extortion plan in H. R. 610. Ravitch, in fact, has turned this bad tiding into a fund-raiser for her AFT/NEA support team at the Network for Public Education (NPE).
In NPE's appeal for more letters and more cash, it is interesting to note that there is no mention H. R. 610's planned elimination of ESSA, which, of course, is the current blueprint for school privatization via tech-heavy blended charter schools. Ravitch fought too hard to get ESSA passed to let it go now, and so she focuses, instead, on demonizing other road to privatization that she and her patrons did not take:
This bill [H.R. 610] would undermine funding to public schools while demanding that school vouchers be allowed for states to receive funding. It would also reduce the nutritional quality of school lunches.In focusing only on the threat of school vouchers, thousands of letter writers are misled to believe that they are fighting school privatization. In fact, the focus on the school voucher threat ignores the larger present danger of school privatization via charter schools, the same charter schools that have received the seal of approval by Ravitch, the corporate unions, and the DNC.
Wonder why Ravitch is leading the charge only against school vouchers? Where is the moral outrage against the teacher and student dehumanization of the "non-profit" segregated corporate reform charter schools?
Friday, February 24, 2017
Like many Republican (and Dem) Congressional reps home for the first time after capitulating principles in favor of Trumpism, Blackburn faced many boos and some tough questioning at her town hall this week in Fairview, a hamlet just west of Nashville.
Following the lead lie by her boss, Trump, about townhalls packed with non-constituents, Blackburn followed suit Wednesday night when she told CNN:
“A little bit less than one-third in the room were actually very (sic) constituents of mine,” the Brentwood Republican told interviewer Anderson Cooper, according to a transcript of the show.Apparently, Blackburn has forgotten that her district runs from the Kentucky to the Alabama state line and as far west as the white eastern suburbs of Memphis. If she bothered to host town halls where her constituents live, folks would not have to drive across the state to get their questions answered.
“We had a couple – several that identified themselves as from being outside of the district, a couple from Nashville, one from Murfreesboro,” Blackburn said.
Or maybe Blackburn did not know that Fairview's mayor polled the crowd prior to her arrival, and found that almost every soul at the town hall was from Blackburn's district. Or maybe Blackburn has contracted the insidious and highly-contagious lying bug that Trump and Bannon brought to DC a month ago.
Monday, February 20, 2017
“PLEASE don’t forward this email. simply state it in your own words.”—Yolie Flores Aguilar
This email was addressed to some 60 individuals, including myself, on February 4, 2017. While its authenticity is not absolutely certain, I have researched the email addresses in the email body and they all seem legitimate. The content is consistent with the language that these charter school executives use both in public and internal conversations.
Yolie Flores Aguilar was an employee of the infamous Gates Foundation (of ALEC and Discovery Institute donation fame) while she sat on the LAUSD Board. She brought a resolution to give away new schools built with taxpayer dollars to privately managed charter school corporations.
Here Flores colludes with several well paid charter executives to avoid public mention that her resolution (inappropriately named Public [sic] School Choice) was essentially a real estate bonanza for the lucrative charter school sector. Marco Petruzzi and Ben Austin of Green Dot/Parent Revolution, Judy Burton of Alliance, Mike Piscal of ICEF are the big names in this secret missive. The lot of them have been plagued by scandals, but most of them are still profiting mightily from the charter industry.
Flores is currently running for U.S. Congress. If she's capable of this sort of duplicity and malfeasance while on a school board, imagine her in another position of power to further serve her corporate masters. Arch-reactionary Betsy DeVos would love to have more neoliberal Democrats that support her school privatization agenda of charters-vouchers. DeVos already has corporatists like Corey Booker in her thrall, Yolie Flores would be no different.
The second document should help authenticate this email chain. It's an email from Dr. Danny Weil with Yolie Flores Aguilar's <email@example.com> email address in the to field. I recall she had a blog by the same name (i.e. "itsyolie"), and remember seeing emails from her from that address back in that era.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
“DeVos doesn’t think we should be funding school buildings as much as students.” The line caught my eye as I scrolled through social media this weekend. How could it not? I’ve been working hard over the past year to try and convince other education activists that the true endgame of the reform movement is to make school buildings obsolete. So I listened to the video of DeVos speaking to attendees of the Magnet Schools of America National Policy Training Conference in Washington, and there it was at timestamp 11:40: “I don’t think we should be as focused necessarily on funding school buildings, as much as we should be having a conversation around funding students.”
DeVos, being from Michigan, surely knows the deplorable conditions students in Detroit face daily trying to access a free and appropriate public education. And Detroit is not alone. Parsons completed a Facility Condition Assessment for the School District of Philadelphia last month identifying $4.5 billion in deferred maintenance. Over $1 billion of that total involves life safety, code compliance, health hazards, accessibility, and security issues. Think about that. We are asking vulnerable children and school staff to enter buildings that are not safe five days a week, while at the same time the Secretary of the US Department of Education is proclaiming we should not be funding school buildings.
This week I also came across a legislative forecast for Educational Savings Accounts (vouchers) prepared by Jeb Bush’s group Excellence in Education. The info-graphic accompanying the report indicated that my home state of Pennsylvania was one of 13 states identified as having a 75+% chance of implementing ESA legislation in the coming year. Our schools are already in an incredibly precarious financial position after years of austerity budgets and onerous debt service. The combination of intentionally unsafe buildings and ESAs will likely end up pushing more families out of the public school system with devastating consequences for those who remain.
Following on the “don’t invest in buildings” comment was another doozy from Jonathan Swan’s conversation with DeVos featured in Axios “I expect there will be more public charter schools. I expect there will be more private schools. I expect there will be more virtual schools. I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven’t even been invented yet.” And while some chuckle over that last line, I’m pretty sure she’s talking about “Learning Ecosystems” which exist in concept right now, if not execution. The decentralized cyber-based education model with community drop-in centers would be consistent with her support of market-driven choice and tech-based educational content delivery, as well as her disdain for neighborhood schools being anchors in their communities. In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Roundtable DeVos noted, “One long-term trend that’s working in our favor is technology. It seems to me that, in the Internet age, the tendency to equate “education” with “specific school buildings” is going to be greatly diminished.”
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Kirkus calls this book “exhilarating and authoritative,” two cybergurus offering a “user’s manual to the twenty-first century.” As a longtime teacher, I find the manual to be flawed. I was interested in the authors’ observation that the failure of Microsoft’s professionally designed Encarta encyclopedia contrasted with the success of Wikipedia’s amateur-led platform as examples of push-pull consumerism, with suppliers “pushing” goods toward consumers and consumers “pulling” goods according to their needs, with Encarta being push and Wikipedia pull. Similarly, AOL, with its traditional push approach originally faltered and Twitter’s pull flourished.
Certainly it’s not surprising that the director and visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab would be cheerleaders for technology, but I guess I’m too old to embrace Moore’s law, which the authors explain thusly: “everything digital gets faster, cheaper, and smaller at an exponential rate,” and this results in “wearable computers. Robots building robots.” We are told that we live in exponential times and “Change doesn’t care if you’re ready.”
The authors intone about the importance of maintaining “a culture of creative disobedience,” emphasizing that human systems are most resilient at their most diverse. In promoting the assertion that all kids should learn coding, the authors nod toward research showing that “people learn best when they can connect the things they’re learning to their interests, their personal relationships.” After all, the Media Lab did much to promote this. Think of Seymour Papert, the educational theorist, and Logo. But not for those kids, who need to bark on command.
I can’t think of any school policy further from the Whiplash trumpet of “nonlinear innovation that can act quickly to the kind of rapid changes that characterize the network age.” For a reality check, I would recommend Frank McCourt’s wonderful description of his first attempt at classroom management in New York City. In Teacher Man he describes the chaos that ensues when kids swipe a kid’s baloney sandwich and toss it around. McCourt restores order by grabbing the sandwich, standing in front of the class, and eating it.
Not to mention Einstein.
The authors promote some educational principles I applaud, but they are too quick to dismiss public schools and the teachers in them. Years ago, an education foundation hired me to travel the country looking at how elementary teachers were struggling to change the way they taught math. Visiting classrooms in twenty-eight states and looking closely at what was going on taught me that just because teachers weren't doing things my way didn't mean they weren't doing good in addition to doing well. The resulting book was titled Garbage Pizza, Patchwork Quilts, and Math Magic: Stories about Teachers Who Love to Teach and Children Who Love to Learn. It was named "best book for parents" by Child Magazine.
Frank McCourt noted that in all his years of teaching, only one parent asked, "Is my child happy in school?" And when he said yes, she expressed approval and left. That's all she wanted to know. It was a big plenty.
It’s a question all parents should ask. Teachers, too.
Friday, February 17, 2017
She even gave Lamar Alexander's office nine (9) separate opportunities to sell the high tech and charter incentive stimulus bill as the greatest federal funding event since 1965, when ESEA was originally passed.
The world found out later, of course, that ESSA had been the preferred deal cut by the Clintons and their corporate funders. AFT, NEA, FairTest, and NPE had been trotted out to sell it, and sell it they did.
Now the chickens are coming home to roost, and we hear nothing from Ravitch and the Clintonians about how god-awful this ESSA piece of dreck really is.
Ravitch and her sheeple are spending all their time jabbing at their DeVos voodoo dolls and poring over their extended blog posts that try as they might to distinguish bad privatization (for profit online charters) from good privatization (nonprofit blended charters).
Will someone ask Ravitch, Monty, Randi, Lily, and the rest of the zombie resistance gang to explain once more why they supported ESSA? Or the benefits of hooking up children to more alienating and isolating total surveillance computer screens, even as their teachers wander the classroom feeling inadequate, guilty, and cut off from their students?
New report linked here from Yahoo Finance page on states' plan to expand depersonalized learning through ESSA.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Alex Ruefle has prevailed upon me to support his teaching application to your department, which I gather is hiring adjunct faculty members exclusively, bypassing the tenure track with its attendant health benefits, job security, and salaries on which a human being might reasonably live. Perhaps your institution should cut to the chase and put its entire curriculum online, thereby sparing Ruefle the need to move ... You could prop him up in a broom closet in his apartment, poke him with the butt end of a mop when you need him to cough up a lecture on Caribbean fiction or the passive voice, and then charge your students a thousand dollars each to correct the essays their classmates have downloaded from a website. Such is the future of education.
One of those big stashes of federal cash is about to run out in 2019 unless state politicians can gin up a good reason for extending the Gear Up TN, a 7-year grant awarded in 2012 "that aims to expand the college-going culture in Tennessee and empower students to succeed."
This program, which focuses largely on counseling high school students into college and career fields that fit the needs of corporations receiving huge public incentives to locate in Tennessee, is worth $29,590,281 to state politicians, who, by the way, are unwilling to ask TN's wealthy elites or said corporations to pay a fair share to educate Tennessee children.
And so recently the TN Department of Education (TDOE) manufactured a report that claimed that 30 percent of TN's high school graduates had skirted high school requirements, as established in 2010 by Business Roundtable honchos with the U. S. Diploma Project. Could this be the reason why so many kids drop out of college, the State asks. How could this happen!
According to TDOE, it would seem that quite overnight the State realized that Tennessee school counselor corps falling down on the job, along with administrators and teachers who should act as counselors when counselors can't keep up. And thank goodness, too, for Gear Up TN. Where would the state be without it!!
Obviously, TDOE never guessed that someone might challenge their phony claims that were published in this glossy report. And as you might guess, TDOE never asked local school boards or superintendents to help verify the shocking statistic that 30 percent of graduates were not taking required courses to graduate.
Well, a local superintendent did challenge the fake numbers and came up with quite a different set of numbers. The news spread, and now the TDOE phony data has been exposed:
While state officials continue to check districts’ data, it appears that more than 70 percent of what looked like missing requirements were in fact data errors. Thirty percent of the time, students had actually been allowed to graduate without taking required courses — meaning that only about 12 percent of graduates overall had not met requirements.TN Ed Commish, Candace McQueen, added this bit spin that somehow does not restore confidence:
McQueen said the state is taking several steps. At the top of the list, she said, is working with the companies that manage student information to improve data entry.Does anyone know which companies she is talking about? Are these the same companies that produced the Report? How reliable or secure is this student data?
How embarrassing for Haslam's coterie of dissemblers at TDOE. How will they now justify another $30 million of Gear Up TN federal welfare grants to fund what fiscal conservatives won't pay, themselves? Surely, one of the State's contracted data mercenaries can come up with something.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Saturday, February 11, 2017
If this KIPP were a public school in Florida with the same performance history, it would have a target on its back for charter conversion. But since KIPP has already reached the permanent safe harbor protection of the corporate welfare system, Jacksonville elites know the direct route to getting even more money for what doesn't work.
Thus, one of Jacksonville high rollers has offered a bill written just for this one KIPP, which is expected to sail through the Florida legislature, which guarantees KIPP $1.2 million additional state dollars to fortify the cultural sterilization program that is KIPP's raison d'etre:
The bill, filed by Jacksonville Republican Jason Fischer (a former member of the Duval County School Board), seeks to continue the $1,224,000 appropriation from the previous budget to benefit Jacksonville’s KIPP school.HB 2787 is well-positioned to succeed: Jacksonville powerbroker Gary Chartrand, a member of the local KIPP school’s Board of Directors, is close with Gov. Scott and is on the State Board of Education. . . .
Friday, February 10, 2017
How are the new tests different from the old tests? Quite simple. In the old tests, water was allowed to run for two hours before being sampled. By doing so, most of the lead collected in the pipes was flushed out, and tests came back essentially clean.
So boys and girls of New York, if you need a drink of water without lead, be sure to get a hall pass that allows you to run the fountain for two hours before drinking.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
During the 2016 presidential campaign, authoritarian intellectual, Michael Anton concluded in a widely-read essay that immigration policy, changing demographics, and majority American values have made it clear that white conservatives can no longer afford to lose an election. From New York Magazine:
The most intellectually important essay of the 2016 election cycle, and possibly of the whole political era that has begun, is “The Flight 93 Election.” Its previously anonymous author turns out to be former Bush administration speechwriter Michael Anton, reports Michael Warren. Anton is now working as a senior national security official in the Trump administration. Anton’s role in the administration lends his signature essay all the more importance as a statement of Trumpism. The essay has many interesting aspects, which made it the subject of fervent debate during the election. But its most notable characteristic is its almost textbook justification for authoritarianism.
The premise of democracy is that — unlike dictatorships, in which the winning side gains total and essentially permanent power — the losers can accept defeat, because they know they have a chance to win subsequent elections. Without that predicate in place, the system collapses. Anton’s essay makes the case that conservatives should support Trump because, despite his manifest flaws, they cannot survive a single election defeat.If white conservatives, white nationalists, and white supremacists no longer have the numbers to win elections, obviously this long-held tradition of American society must be curtailed, discontinued, or controlled. Sort of like elections are done in Russia, you might say.
The author of this essay, Michael Anton, is now working for the Trump White House, and he is a chum of Steve (Bad Otis) Bannon.
Look for voter suppression, deportation, and violence against minorities to become a chief priorities at the federal level. It just makes sense, you see.
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
A group of ten souls will constitute a quorum, and upon reaching this number, the group will meet to elect officers, develop by-laws, and priortize a course of action to achieve these goals:
- adequately and fairly funded public schools for every parent who wants them;
- safe public schools administered and staffed by professionally prepared educators and support services professionals who are committed to supportive, challenging, economically-integrated, and humane schools that are open to all;
- curricular, instructional, and assessment methods and content that reflect local values and priorities and that are enacted by elected school boards.
- all charter school expansion will be halted, and existing charter schools, whether non-profit or for-profit, will be closed as public schools re-integrate these students;
- grouping of students in segregated classrooms, whether by ability, ethnicity, religion, sex, or sexual preference, will be discontinued;
- all school voucher programs, regardless of the name used to disguise the intent of such programs to fund private or parochial schools, will be discontinued.
- Standardized assessment of any kind whose results can be identified with individual students or teachers will no longer be required of school personnel or public school students;
- All student educational or demographic data will remain the property of students and parents, and no student data of any kind will be gathered, stored, or shared among private entities, whether corporate or otherwise;
- The use of technological devices and programs in schools will be determined by current pediatric medical standards and social science knowledge bases with regards child physical and mental development, child health, and child learning.
- The National Assessment of Educational Progress will follow the long-ignored recommendations of national testing experts to establish cut scores that reflect realistic expectations and accomplishments by the nation's students.
- All public school employees will be guaranteed representation from collective bargaining units and/or unions, with the stipulation that any such collective bargaining unit will agree to and abide by these principles and goals.