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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A New Generation of Corporate Spinners at Ed Week

I read the corporate media's flagship education magazine, Education Week as a reliable barometer of the story lines being pushed by corporate education reformers.  As in the recent coverage by reporter/editorialist, Madeline Will, who is listed on Ed Week's "Experts" page as having a bachelor's degree in journalism/political science from UNC (Class of '14).

I would expect Ms. Will to move up quickly within the corporate ed reformer reporter ranks at EW, for she already demonstrates strong potential in bending news to fit the ideological needs of a penurious corporate edugarchy that has damn near demolished the idea of school as a humane and creative public space for learning and working.

A couple of Ms. Will's recent pieces demonstrate that she is more than willing to manufacture division out of unity and to take old news and give it new spin.

In "When Strikes Happen, Teachers' Aides Have the Most to Lose," Ms. Will tries to make a distinction between teachers who don't get paid for strike days and teachers' aides who don't get paid for strike days.  What results is a subtle propaganda piece that attempts to create division among the teachers, aides, parents, and kids who are now bonded together in a growing number of states attempting to reclaim the potential for public schools to serve the public, rather than to exploit the public.

It must be scary, indeed, for the billionaires' educarchy and their stooge unions (AFT and NEA) to see a unified front of adults and children who are willing to finally stand up and say, ENOUGH!

Ms. Will's other piece says plenty about her focus with just the title: "Nearly Half of Public School Teachers Are Satisfied with Their Salaries, Data Show."  Another way to report the same facts might have used a headline that aims to capture the bigger point, which is, of course, that 55 percent of teachers were willing to say they were dissatisfied with their salaries, even when the Feds came asking.  Why not use a more appropriate headline: "The Majority of Public School Teachers Are Dissatisfied with Their Salaries, Data Show?"

More puzzling, still, is the use of data that Ms. Will refers to as "a new analysis."  The data, in fact, are from a 2015-2016 survey, which was reported out almost a year ago in August 2017.  What is new, however, is the spin on the data provided just this week by Betsy DeVos's Dept. of Education, which, by the way, focused also on the percentage of "satisfied" teachers.

So even though a new generation of "journalists" is moving to center stage at Ed Week, readers can count on, it seem, a magazine that continues its long tradition of kow-towing to the corporate misleaders and miseducators who have run public education into the ditch.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Pre-K Profit: ReadyNation Hosts Global Business Leaders In New York City This November

from Wrench in the Gears
May 28, 2018

Business executives, government officials, and representatives of non-profits and NGOs from across the globe will gather in New York City this fall to discuss the business of early childhood. These are not people looking to open childcare franchises. No, that is not their “business.” The intent is more sinister, transforming our youngest learners into points of profit extraction under the guise of social justice and equity. Through technology and forms of “innovative finance” they aim to catalyze a speculative market in toddler data, using the lives of young, vulnerable learners as vehicles to move vast sums of social impact venture capital.
ReadyNation, a program of the Council for a Strong America, is hosting the summit, set to take place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on November 1-2, 2018. Council for a Strong America, a bipartisan coalition of leaders from the law enforcement, military, business, religion, and athletics spheres, has placed influencers guiding early childhood education policy in every state. Their intent is to promote public-private partnerships that will generate investment returns for global finance while shaping children into a compliant citizenry conditioned to accept economic precariousness and digital surveillance while doing the bidding of the power elite.
The rise of pay for success, social impact bonds, development impact bonds, and outcomes-based contracting will usher in privatization of vast new areas of public services, including education and training at all levels from infants through human resource management (lifelong learning, reskilling). This is not merely a phenomenon of the United States; this summit is intended for a global audience, a neocolonial project driven by late-stage capitalism.
Remember the 2007 housing market crash? The fraud Goldman Sachs perpetrated, misleading investors to purchase financial instruments tied to sub-prime mortgage bonds? The $16.65 billion penalty Bank of America had to pay, the largest settlement between the government and a private corporation? Seeing financiers from both companies on stage at a 2014 ReadyNation event promoting early childhood social impact finance should give us pause. Watch the hour-long talk here. The excerpt below is taken from a two-minute clip where the moderator, Ian Galloway, introduces a panel on potential financing structures. Watch that here.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Noblesville School Shooting and the NRA’s Indiana Campaign Donations

By Doug Martin

The day after a school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana left one teacher and a 13-year-old girl wounded, students and parents protested a recruitment tent set up by the National Rifle Association at the Hoosier Armory gun shop in downtown Noblesville.  That day, yesterday, May 26, demonstrators from Noblesville and students from Warren Central, Lawrence North, and Carmel schools also attended the We Live rally for gun control at the Indianapolis statehouse.  

According to the Noblesville gun shop owner, the NRA recruitment event was planned before the school shooting.  Still, the recruitment tent was insensitive, to say the least, and it hasn’t been the first time the NRA has shown up right after a gun tragedy.  

Noblesville resident Ashley Dick told WTHI TV:  "It's ridiculous, especially in Noblesville.  It happened yesterday - in Noblesville. They are trying to recruit new members. Why? Why? What's the point?"

Protestors were asked to leave multiple times, and five police cars arrived on the scene.

Former Indiana Republican lawmaker Luke Kenley’s grandson was one Noblesville student protesting the NRA’s Hoosier Armory tent.  Luke Kenley was not funded by the NRA, but many lawmakers in Indiana and Hoosier politicians in Washington have packed their campaign chests with donations from the pro-gun group.  Although there are undoubtedly other factors involved in school shootings, the NRA's fingerprint in Washington, in state houses, and in schools is enormous, as is its influence in Indiana.  

Shortly after the middle school shooting, Indiana U.S. Republicans Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita, and Democrat Joe Donnelly, sent out either prayers or other statements.   

Brooks visited teacher Jason Seaman at Noblesville West Middle School, after he was released from the hospital.  Seaman was the one who tackled the gunman on Friday and stopped a major massacre.  Brooks from 2013 to 2016 pocketed $3,000 in campaign donations from the NRA, but she also introduced the Jake Laird Law of Indiana which “gives law enforcement the ability to remove guns from individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.”

Rokita has secured $7,000 from the NRA for the years 2010 to 2016 for his campaigns. 
Steering away from gun-lobby money in recent years, Joe Donnelly was once heavily funded by the pro-gun group, receiving $13,900 from the NRA from  2007  to 2010According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA has spent more money opposing Donnelly than in his support. 

Indiana's Todd Young, who went to Noblesville after the shooting, "has received $2,896,732,  9th-highest among all politicians", from the NRA. This includes "contributions from the NRA PAC and indirect support, and includes money spent against his opponents."

President Trump even personally phoned Jason Seaman, calling him a hero teacher.  Mike Pence, who sent out prayers to Noblesville with his wife, tag-teamed with Trump at the NRA convention on May 4 in Dallas where, because of the attendance of the president and vice president, all guns were banned.   The NRA gave “more than $30 million” to support Trump’s presidential campaign, “more than any other outside group.”  

To state lawmakers, the NRA has given $113,900 since 1997 to both Republicans and Democrats in Indiana.  Indiana’s current governor, Eric Holcomb, has grabbed $2,500 in NRA donations.  

The NRA Foundation has handed out “$7 million in grants to hundreds of U.S. schools in recent years,” 34 in Indiana receiving a combined $280,000 from 2011 to 2016, as the Kokomo Tribune noted. The money was used for “the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, rifle teams, hunting safety courses and agriculture clubs.”  The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, in March, found that northeast Indiana schools Concordia High School, Whitko Community School Corporation, Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers high schools, and the Bellmont High School Rifle Club all have accepted NRA Foundation grant money.  

Indiana school board members are often unaware of the NRA Foundation money.  According to the Associated Press:

Donna Corbett, a Democrat on the school board in southern Indiana’s New Albany-Floyd County School Corporation, said she never heard about $65,000 that went to a JROTC program at one of the high schools. Corbett said she plans to raise the issue with her board but feels conflicted about it.

“I am not a big NRA fan, but I also realize that ROTC is a good program,” she said. “I’m not sure I would be willing to pull it to the detriment of the kids and their programs.

South Bend school board president Stan Wruble also said he had no idea about the NRA funding to "Washington High School's Air Force Junior ROTC club in 2014 until he was contacted by The Tribune" newspaper.  Wruble stated: "I'll be bringing this up with the school board and the superintendent.  I do not think it's appropriate for any of our schools to receive money from the NRA because I don't want guns in our schools. My understanding is the NRA promotes arming our teachers and I think more guns in our schools is going to lead to more deaths or injuries."

Although it was not widely publicized by the mainstream media, Nikolas Cruz, the Florida school shooting suspect who allegedly massacred 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, was a member of the JROTC school rifle team that received “$10,827 in non-cash assistance from the NRA's fundraising and charitable arm in 2016, when Cruz was on the squad. The school's program publicly thanked the NRA Foundation on its Twitter feed.” Broward County schools, Stoneman Douglas’ district, has since said it will no longer take NRA money, as have several other school districts across the U.S.

Monday, May 21, 2018

'Panicked' Trump roundly mocked after parroting Fox News conspiracy theory in Monday morning Twitter meltdown

What a fucking dope!

'Panicked' Trump roundly mocked after parroting Fox News conspiracy theory in Monday morning Twitter meltdown: The American president used to be considered the leader of the free world. As such, any president of the United States should have access to the absolute best: the best intelligence, the best advisors, and, if necessary, the best attorneys. But not Donald Trump, who ironically won the White House in part by telling voters he only hired “the best.” That’s turned out to be the far from from truth. The “best advisors” he can …

Sunday, May 20, 2018

“Yes, I am an advisor for Ridge-Lane.” Superintendent Hite May 17, 2018

KIPP Bribes Parents in San Diego: "Bring two 5th Graders to the school--get $1000!"

When shiny brochures and smooth talk don't attract enough parents to submit their children to KIPP's cultural sterilization schools, KIPP uses the old-fashioned method: bribes. 

With KIPP bringing in over $9,000 per child in state per pupil fundinng for ever child enrolled, KIPP can afford to offer a few hundred dollars to cram their 5th grade classrooms with thirty or so kids with untrained beginning teachers at the bottom of the pay scale.  A clip from The Intercept (my bolds):
In December 2016, KIPP Adelante, a San Diego charter, sent a newsletter out to enrolled families offering substantial cash stipends to those who could help recruit new fifth graders to their school.

The promotion read:
If you know a 5th grader at another school and you get them to come to school here, you will receive a premium of $500 to offset your child’s educational expenses. In addition, the family you bring to KIPP Adelante will receive a premium of $100 (also for educational expenses) for enrolling their child here. Bring two 5th Graders to the school – get $1000! These students have to attend our school for at least 2 weeks before you can collect your premium.
A former KIPP Adelante teacher shared the newsletter with The Intercept, troubled by the ad targeting a school where 99 percent of students enrolled are children of color, and 98 percent qualify for free-and-reduced-price lunch.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Speaking Out Against Pay for Success, Predatory Public-Private Partnerships and Dr. Hite’s Ties to Ridge-Lane, LP

from Wrench in the Gears
May 16, 2018

As the parent of a public school student and a citizen of Philadelphia, I arrived at Council Chambers today to convey my concern about Superintendent William Hite’s involvement with former Governor Tom Ridge’s merchant banking advisory firm Ridge-Lane, LP and to get it on the record.  Full list of team members viewable as a PDF here.

I have serious reservations about how the city plans to finance the operation of our district, especially given the substantial needs of our students and the disinvestment our schools have suffered for so many years. This important work must be done with PUBLIC funding. Our schools are not charities and should not be remade as investment opportunities for venture capital.

I was the third speaker to present testimony on the proposed budget as it pertains to public education. City Council members in attendance at the time I spoke included: Council President Darrell Clarke, Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Jannie Blackwell, Bill Greenlee, Allan Domb, and Bobby Henon. We were limited to three minutes, so the testimony I prepared had to be condensed somewhat. The full piece, including important information about the Fels Policy Research Initiative, can be read below.
“Ridge-Lane, Limited Partners is a merchant bank founded by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and R. Brad Lane, which “specializes in corporate strategy and venture development for private growth-stage technology companies.” Its website claims it is at the “apex of public and private sectors,” with over fifty well-connected advisors to broker corporate-government deals in information technology, sustainability, real estate, and education.

According to their website, Superintendent William Hite is one of Ridge-Lane’s senior education advisors. If Dr. Hite is setting public education policy while serving as an advisor to a powerful merchant bank, it is a serious conflict of interest and must be immediately addressed. It certainly makes interventions like the one taking place, against the will of the community, at Strawberry Mansion High School suspect.