Friday, March 22, 2019
Today black youngsters seeking to attend New York City's best high schools must view Dubois's goal as purely aspirational.
Like thousands of other school systems in America, New York City's public school system is using the same standardized testing techniques that public and private schools (and colleges) have been using for over hundred years to keep back the black, put down the brown, and detour the poor.
The students pictured above (from the New York Times) are some of the 29 black students of the 3,300 students of Stuyvesant High School. Story here.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
From Nation of Change:
Don’t call what Kentucky teachers just did a “wildcat” labor action, at least not when you’re speaking with Tim Hall. Hall, a classroom teacher at Shawnee High School in Louisville, answered my phone call as he was driving to the state capitol in Frankfort to protest the latest slate of education-related bills being considered in the legislature. He and hundreds of other teachers in Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district that includes Louisville, called in sick, prompting the district to close schools for over 100,000 students.
Hundreds of those teachers joined Hall at the state capitol. It was the third time in a week and the second day in a row that enough JCPS teachers called out sick to trigger a full district shutdown. The sick-out spread to four other districts that also had to close. But neither the state teachers’ union nor the local union for Jefferson County had anything to do with organizing the action. In fact, union leaders urged teachers to show up for work, preferring instead to have districts send small teams of teachers to lobby state lawmakers.
Yet Hall bristled at using “wildcat” to describe what JCPS teachers were doing. “I don’t like that word,” he said. “I think our concerns are reflective of teachers not only in JCPS but also across the state.”
The Kentucky teachers’ actions are the latest in what has become a wave of teachers using their collective power to influence legislation in state governments, but the sick-out in Kentucky is also a sign of how teacher protests are evolving.
Teachers who once saw labor actions as effective tactical responses to attacks on their financial well-being are now understanding that their labor power is part of a broader strategy to even the playing field in a political landscape that is increasingly unequal. And there’s strong evidence they’re having an impact.
Teacher strikes are evolving
The teachers, joined by parents and other public education activists, organized the sick-out action on social media sites including the Facebook page for JCPS Leads, which Hall helps facilitate. Teachers went back to work at one point, but then extended their protest to a fourth, fifth, and then a sixth day to ensure controversial bills were killed in the legislature.
The roots of this year’s labor action are in last year’s statewide strike when teachers closed schools across the Bluegrass State to protest a new pension bill that would have put retirement earnings for new teachers at greater risk and shortchanged retirees and senior teachers. This year’s sick-out is different.
First, teachers have a much broader array of targets for their protests. “We want a whole package of bills voted down,” Hall explained.
Once again, a threat to teachers’ pensions, House Bill 525, has stirred the teachers’ ire because it would reduce the participation of educators on the state employee pension board. But two other bills go beyond wage-and-benefits grievances: House Bill 205 that would establish a statewide school voucher program giving tax breaks to those who donate to private school scholarships for special-needs and low-income students, and Senate Bill 250 that would take school principal hiring decisions away from local, site-based committees, which include teachers, and give the district superintendent sole responsibility for the hiring process – the bill applies to JCPS only.
Hall sees all three bills as attacks on democracy. “They’re about taking away our ability to collaborate on how our schools operate,” he said. By removing educators from the pension board, ramping up a statewide voucher program, and undermining teachers’ influence on principal hiring, teachers are being pushed further out to the periphery of decision making, he explained, and in turn, are less able to make their voices heard as advocates for their schools and their students.
Also, there’s a good reason why Jefferson County teachers are taking it upon themselves to lead the labor action and go it alone in speaking out for their colleagues elsewhere in the state. Not only is JCPS the only district affected by the bill to change principal hiring; JCPS is also the only district currently under threat of state takeover. Proponents of charter schools and vouchers are generally seen as the most ardent backers of the takeover effort.
And Hall and other teachers see all three bills as efforts to further undermine their participation in governance of their schools and usher in more state control and privatization of schools.
A movement about democracy
In taking their demands beyond economic grievances to include issues of governance and local community voice, the Kentucky teachers are joining a strong new trend in the teacher movement.
When West Virginia teachers walked off the job last year and started what’s become known as RedForEd, they generally made wages and benefits the core of their grievances. But in their labor action this year, West Virginia teachers expanded their protests to include issues with privatization, specifically, to fight new legislation that would take public money from traditional districts and use it for charter schools and for private and religious school tuition.
Also this year, teachers in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, made opposition to the unchecked growth of charter schools and their lack of transparency and accountability a centerpiece of the unions’ demands.
Education journalists and “experts” have noticed this trend and described it as mostly a battle over funding for public schools vs. charter schools, voucher programs, and other forms of privatization. But that misses the broader argument teachers make that all education mandates that stem from top-down authority and big money interests are meant to rob teachers of having a voice in how schools are governed.
Teachers are making RedForEd a fight not just for funding but also for political power.
Teacher strikes work
There’s evidence that the teachers’ change in strategy will work.
Last year’s RedForEd protests clearly affected state legislation where the protests occurred. According to a new analysis, in four states where teachers walked off the job, state legislatures responded by increasing baseline state funding for schools by 3-19 percent.
This year, teacher strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland led to calls from local governments for moratoriums on new charters and increased regulation of the industry. In response, California state lawmakers acted with “lightning speed” to enact new laws that require more transparency in charter school operations.
How successful were the Kentucky teachers? As of this writing, on the final day of the legislative session, two of the three bills teachers targeted in their protests appear to be dead – the bill restructuring the state pension board and the bill creating a statewide school voucher program. The bill targeting the principal hiring process in JCPS appears to have passed in both chambers and will likely be signed by Governor Matt Bevin.
Two out of three is not a bad batting average in a “red state” where Republicans hold a trifecta of strong majorities in both branches of the state legislature and the governor’s seat. And should the dead bills come back to life, Hall assures me, or similar bills spring up, teachers will return to the capitol.
“We’re tired of being unsupported and messed with,” he said. “Teachers want to have fair ways for us to ensure the public education system continues to provide access to well-supported schools for all kids.”
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
In 2019, the same standardized exclusion instruments are still used, even as the use of a single high stakes test to seat students in the best public high schools of New York is getting new scrutiny. Politicians of all stripes continue their silence on the issue:
. . . Mr. de Blasio’s proposal to scrap the entrance exam for the schools and overhaul the admissions process has proved so divisive that the state’s most prominent politicians, from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have mostly avoided taking a definitive position — even as black and Hispanic students are grappling with increasingly steep odds of admission into the city’s eight most selective public schools.Meanwhile, 7 out of 895 students at Stuyvesant High School are black.
Students gain entry into the specialized schools by acing a single high-stakes exam that tests their mastery of math and English. Some students spend months or even years preparing for the exam. Stuyvesant, the most selective of the schools, has the highest cutoff score for admission, and now has the lowest percentage of black and Hispanic students of any of New York City’s roughly 600 public high schools.
Monday, March 18, 2019
. . . .Like the Urban Assembly students, Meremetoh and her schoolmates credit their school with their engagement on this issue. Melanie Mueses, eighteen, said, “The school really pushed me to understand how the environment is crumbling and how we are affecting it,” she says. “I wasn’t like that before.” Meremetoh tells me about an art project she did, showing the sun going from cold to warm to hot. “A lot of people don’t pay attention, and don’t realize the world could be ending in a couple years.”
Mueses suspects policymakers don’t care since they think they’ll be dead when problems caused by climate change get more serious. “I feel people in power don’t feel as deeply about this as us because they’re not going to be here,” she explains. “Us, as ‘the future,’ we are the ones who are going to be most affected.”
Emmanuel Pimentel, eighteen, also a student at High School for Environmental Studies agreed: “We need the world.”
Said Meremetoh, “We have to stand up to everything Trump is saying because he’s crazy. We have to continue to fight. We can’t stop.” Asked what she hopes comes out of these actions, she says, “I hope the future president listens. We have to start taking care of the environment. I really hope the government listens to us, the young people.”
Climate strikers at City Hall were mostly high school kids, but there were younger children, too. A growing movement, #Fridays4Future will continue the Friday strikes that Greta Thunberg began.
. . . . Amid all the carnage, the leading global authority on warming, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, detailed the horrors in store if average temperatures pass 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. (We’re already over 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and worldwide carbon emissions hit a new high in 2018.)
Scientists are now sounding the alarm. Young activists are skipping school and taking to the streets. And in the U.S., a bold proposal to remake the American economy is sending shockwaves through climate legislation discussions that had been stalled for a decade.
Into that now-bubbling climate cauldron comes the book The Uninhabitable Earth, a distressing review of climate science designed to jolt us out of complacency. David Wallace-Wells, who characterizes himself as a concerned liberal who “wasn’t really focused on this issue until a few years ago,” channels the panic he felt at reading reams of scientific reports into a vision of a dystopian future that we’re not doing enough to avoid.
The question is whether fear is the right emotion to play on to get people to sit up, listen, and take action. According to Grist’s own Eric Holthaus, who’s been writing about climate change for more than a decade, it’s not. To him, it’s best to accept the scientific consensus and inspire our fellow humans to roll up their sleeves and ensure we do whatever it takes to decarbonize the global economy rapidly. . . .
Friday, March 15, 2019
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Sunday, March 10, 2019
The Mind Trust’s Neo-colonial War on Parents: Part One
By John Harris Loflin
Due to the Mind Trust’s (MT) view that urban schools are broken and need fixing, this January the non-profit began looking for someone to launch “an independent parent advocacy organization” with emphasis on social justice and closing the Achievement Gap for communities of color in high poverty areas.
However, this commentary argues urban schools are not broken. As concluded in The White Architects of Black Education by Watkins, America’s public schools never meant to educate all children, especially children of color. We can’t call schools broken that were designed to fail.
Because America’s school system was designed to fail and/or mis-educate certain children, it was colonial. That is, its purpose was to colonize Native Americans and other non-whites, “fitting” them and settlers/immigrants into America’s “melting pot.”
“Education’s indoctrination if you're white--subjugation if you're black.” -- James Baldwin
Thus, initial (and current) public schooling confused education with conformity via assimilation/acculturation, making coloniality (kuh-loh-nee-al-i-tee) the main characteristic of US public education.
Coloniality is based on a Euro-centric world view. It’s the continued existence of colonialism (assimilation/acculturation) even after anti-Jim Crow and Civil Rights legislation.
MT’s concern for neighborhoods of color comes from its “Othering” mentality. “Othering” is inherent in MT’s “settler-minded” DNA because without this “other” there would be no reason for MT to exist.
So, intentional or not, this positions MT as purveyors of coloniality and “whiteness” as normative, presupposing difference from “the norm” as somehow inherently “damaged” and needing assistance. Such deficit models of these neighborhoods misconstrue social justice by emphasizing the Achievement Gap and its creator, standardized testing. Both perpetuate the assimilationist/missionary logic of coloniality.
Failing to challenge MT’s colonality means the onus of change is forever on the “colonized.” Success for people of color will endlessly revolve around finding ways to conform and succeed on another’s terms, rather than around nurturing their own criteria for achievement.
“Urban students quickly receive the message that they can only be smart when they are not who they are. This in many cases is classroom colonialism.” ~ Prof. Chris Emdin
From the perspective of this commentary, under MT’s parent advocacy scheme, the value of parents will depend upon how they’re able to get working-class students of color to assimilate towards the cultural normative dogma of whiteness.
What to do? De-colonize the Mind Trust
To push back against this parent advocacy enterprise requires the un-settling of MT’s anti-democratic ideology. Alternatives such as Transformational Community Schools and Local School Councils will begin a process of hope, rooted in resistance, leading Indy towards education for liberation.
Ultimately we need to de-colonizing parent advocacy efforts: center on the humanity and possibility of students of color, and dismantle the prevailing discourses of coloniality that only highlight their “otherness”/difference from whites.
But, will the Mind Trust and its elite-class board members allow their parent advocate to disrupt coloniality, playing transformative roles of cultural, economic, and political liberators of their communities of color?
Please read Part Two here: http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/The-Mind-Trusts-Neo-colonial-War-on-Parents-Part-Two.pdf.
John Harris Loflin
Education-Community Action Team (E-CAT)
March 10, 2019
Friday, March 08, 2019
If you don't care about global warming, then you should read this book. If you care about global warming, then you should read this book.
An excerpt of a good review from NYTimes:
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Isra Hirsi, US Youth Climate Strike
Looks like the two good candidates — Jackie Goldberg and Graciela Ortiz — will be in the run-off, and the vile California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has no candidate to support in Los Angeles Unified School District 5. The CCSA shouldn’t be able to replace their convicted felon Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez with another one of their own ever again.
Glad to see that right-wing privatizers Allison Greenwood Bajracharya, Heather Repenning, and Ana Cubas are likely done. Cubas couldn’t even manage 1,000 votes on Tuesday — I finished with 5,244 votes in 2013 #LAUSD #EdReform
Monday, March 04, 2019
Though educators did not achieve all their demands, Oakland’s teachers strike transformed the city, won important gains, and empowered educators to take on the billionaire education privatizers.
Under the inspiration of the national teachers’ revolt, and with the blessing of a newly elected militant leadership, a torrent of working-class creativity and self-activity was unleashed during Oakland’s strike. In many ways, Oakland resembled the bottom-up, effervescent upsurge of West Virginia much more than the systematically and meticulously prepared Los Angeles strike. . . .
According to documents and stakeholders, all three Pathway to Greatness plans would likely “relocate” Harding Charter Preparatory High School and Harding Fine Arts High School, a pair of high-performing charter schools that share a building (3333 N. Shartel Ave.) leased from the district.Here is news story from last week:
A post on the Harding Charter Preparatory High School Facebook page would seem to confirm that part of the proposals. The post references communication with “OKCPS officials” and calls the Harding building’s proposed closure “unexpected.”
“We are in direct communication with OKCPS to assess possible options, both short- and long-term,” HCP principal Steven Stefanick wrote in the post. “We will be extensively reviewing all information and will be working closely with the district to find the best options for relocation.”
Asked Sunday about his communications with OKCPS officials, Stefanick said his school’s board is exploring options either to stay at the current location or to relocate.
“We anticipate negotiations beginning in February,” he said.
ADG, an architecture firm hired to advise the district on its school properties, identified the current Harding building to be in need of substantial repairs, multiple people with knowledge of the situation said on the condition of anonymity.
Those people also confirmed documents showing that KIPP Charter School — currently co-located at F.D. Moon Elementary School — would relocate under all three paths. Seeworth Academy charter school would relocate as well.
The relocation of those four charter schools are listed atop 15 potential building “repurposing concepts” detailed on another document. . .
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Cohen knows, in fact, that Trump, the classic necrophilous personality, would rather have dead what he cannot have alive, and that is the message Cohen left with the Oversight Committee yesterday.
“My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything: my family’s happiness, friendships, my law license, my company, my livelihood, my honor, my reputation and, soon, my freedom. And I will not sit back, say nothing, and allow him to do the same to the country,” Cohen said at the hearing’s closing. “Indeed, given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.”Cohen's message should give pause to those Democrats who want to "play it safe" and avoid the Constitutional demand for impeachment hearings that they fear Republicans will exploit to their political advantage.
Impeachment or indictment may be the last options before opening the door to a violent political future. These are the tough decisions that we elected Democrats to make, and it is only through their leadership and courage that the Republic can be given another chance to renew itself without the spilling of blood.
Saturday, February 23, 2019
THE “GREEN NEW DEAL” IS SOCIALIST TRIPE
From banning beef cattle to raising gas prices to killing countless Tennessee jobs, the “Green New Deal” would drag our state’s economy into the red if it ever became law. This week, I penned a column on the dangers of this socialist plan for Tennessee’s most productive industries like agriculture, energy, and logistics. I hope Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asks the Senate to vote on the Green New Deal as soon as possible. I will proudly be the first senator in line to vote against this ludicrous plan. When it is defeated, I will celebrate with my family by enjoying some juicy, delicious burgers.