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

Friday, May 31, 2019

What the KIPP Model Has Spawned

If you know anything about schools based on the "No Excuses" KIPP model, you have probably heard the motto, "there are no excuses," "failure is not an option," success at any cost," and "KIPP is a family", etc.  

If you know more about these schools inspired by the "success" of KIPP, you may have heard something about student intimidation, humiliation, extreme disciplinary measures, ostracism, isolation.

And if you have read my book based on my research and two dozen interviews with former KIPP teachers who have decided to share their horror stories about working there, then you know about documented cases of abuse, where children were forced to sit outside in the heat or the cold for hours, students who forced to bark like dogs, wear garbage cans on their heads, stand in front of the student body and apologize for having to use the bathroom at the wrong time.  

You will be familiar with school leaders who pound tables, load children into U-Haul trailers, and even throw TVs through plate glass windows out of anger.

You will know something, too, of how students are prepped for VIB days (Visitors in Building) and how potential troublemakers have been corralled and taken the basement where they can't be seen by influential visitors.  

You will have read about the Ivy League banners that festoon hallways of elementary schools, and you will know that KIPP Model schools are laser focused on test results that will get children into college.  You will have some understanding of how parents choose to focus on the promise of college and economic success, rather than the suffering of their children and the stealing of their childhoods by corporate school leaders whose mission is branding and expansion of the school brand.

It will not be too surprising, then, for viewers to see the obvious influences between the KIPP Model and the T.M. Landry School in Louisiana.  Look and see.  Make your own list of similarities and influences.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Call it what it is: CLIMATE CRISIS

After Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, conducted some focus groups in 2002, he found out that "climate change" was a term that did not scare folks toward action nearly as much as "global warming."  Since the primary purpose of the Republican Party is to do nothing that might disrupt the massive revenue streams of fossil fuel corporations who pay for Republican politicians, Bush II led an effort to have "climate change" replace "global warming."

It is time for another semantic shift, and this one presages an existential shift in human consciousness as it relates to human-made warming of the Earth.  The new more accurate term is "climate crisis," and we have until 2030 to implement changes that may save life on Earth from annihilation.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Watch David Coleman, SAT CEO, Slither

After David Coleman served the Gates Foundation's most effective Common Core flunky-developer-and-promo-man, he was given a most cushy gig as head the College Board, a "non-profit" corporation with a billion "non-profit" dollars in the bank and generosity to its CEO, who is paid more than $700,000 a year. Not bad work if you can get it. (Besides, Coleman's annual 700K plus perks is a bargain compared to the former College Board CEO's $1.3 million.)

While the College Board does a lot of testing, its meat and potatoes is the SAT. Without the SAT, the College Board that we have come to know and hate would disappear and, as E.M. Forster remarked when fantasizing about the death of standardized testing, "no one would be a penny the stupider." 

Today the SAT follows its racist and classist trajectory that its been on from its inception, when eugenicists got together in the mid-1920s to rework the flawed IQ tests first given to GIs during WWI to determine which ones were the most fit to be gassed in the trenches of France.  

Today the College Board claims to have eliminated the early SAT's class and race biases, even though all the evidence points to the SAT's continuing perfect record in identifying those unfit, by family income, for attending the nation's best colleges.  See below:

Besides the near-perfect correlation between family income and SAT scores, family income also has other benefits for SAT test takers.  

Most recently, we've learned that middle children in middle class schools are much more likely to receive a 504S disability designation that allows them more time to take the SAT. In the interview below, you will see Coleman starring in his current role as the College Board's staunch advocate for the disenfranchised:

In case you missed that chart showing the 504S disparity between rich and poor schools, here is a capture:

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Let us pray. . . that DeVos and Trump Will Be Impeached

Along with the Trump-inspired lawless state house bills to lock up women and doctors for exercising their lawful rights regarding women's health, there are at least 10 states now pushing through more lawless Trumpian legislation to allow Bible study as part of the school curriculum.  

Not comparative religion or history or the Bible as Literature, but Christian Bible study.  

A clip from a good opinion piece at DC Report.org:
. . . .Counseling Today magazine argues, for example, that it has become necessary to lobby seriously to keep federal money for school mental health. The Trump administration’s federal budget proposal cut $8.5 billion from the Department of Education, including the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program. That program supported, among other things, mental health, school security and safety, community engagement—the kind of programs that would address the issues we hear after every school shooting. 
Instead, Washington Post religion writer Julie Zauzmer detailed the movement of church Bible classes from churches into public schools. She took us to Kentucky, where a new state law—one of several pending in other states —is encouraging public high schools to teach the Bible, not as part of a survey of religions, but as Bible study. 
Through a legislative effort Project Blitz, activists on the religious right, have drafted a law that encourages Bible classes in public schools and persuaded at least 10 state legislatures to introduce versions of it this year. Georgia and Arkansas recently passed bills that are awaiting their governors’ signatures. Among the powerful fans of these public-school Bible classes is President Trump. “Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible,” Trump tweeted in January. “Starting to make a turn back? Great!”
Do your part.  Support Americans for the Separation of Church and State. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Bernie Sanders K-12 Plan Falls Way Short

Bernie Sanders has received lots of attention since his announcement of a new education platform for K-12.  While the Sanders plan is the only plan among twenty-some-odd candidates with any real specifics, the Sanders Plan falls far short of addressing the basic needs of children, teachers, and parents who depend upon public schools in the U. S.

However, an article just published by Nikhil Goyal at The Nation offers a positive take on the Sanders Plan.  Let's look at a couple of specifics: first, his position on charter schools.
Sanders announced that as president, in alignment with the NAACP, he would ban for-profit charter schools and impose a moratorium on federal dollars for charter expansion until a national audit was conducted. An audit would reveal that there are indeed many progressive, student-centered charters, such as High Tech High in San Diego, Minnesota New Country School, YouthBuild Charter School in Philadelphia, and Compass Charter School in Brooklyn. And those shouldn’t be shuttered.
We have to wonder if Team Sanders knows that if all for-profit charters were closed today, still over 85 percent of U. S. charter schools would remain open.

As for the proposed moratorium on "non-profit" charter expansion that would remain in effect until a national audit could be conducted, such a moratorium would leave open around 6,400 existing charters, most of which are either entirely apartheid or intensely segregated, and most are based on a total compliance lockdown instructional model that no middle class parent would ever consider for her own child.

As for the value of a national audit for charter operators, the suggestion by Sanders is that if a charter school has high test scores and clean bookkeeping, then it should continue to operate and expand, regardless of how many millions of "non-profit" public dollars are being siphoned away to build corporate education empires whose managers decide how segregated and disenfranchised children will be culturally sterilized in the no-excuses KIPP Model charter schools.

We have to ask ourselves, too, if a national audit would ignore more fine-grained details that show how "non-profit" charter chains legally shortchange instructional budgets while padding management and administrative costs.  Would an audit uncover the many ways that corporate charter grifters legally take public money from children and their teachers?

A couple of charts from 2015 research paper by Bruce Baker and Gary Miron demonstrate what I'm talking about.  Table 3 below shows how Texas charter schools compare with a major urban district in terms of expenditures.  We can see, for instance, how KIPP, Harmony, and other Texas charter schools spend a smaller percentage on instruction and a larger percentage on administration and plant services, when compared to Texas public schools that serve the same students.

We see, too, how charters depend upon a workforce model that exploits new teachers who are burned through, discarded, and replaced by more beginners.

Table 6 shows who the real beneficiaries are of public's generosity to fund a separate school system in  America.

Remember, too, that over 60 billion public dollars go to charter schools every year in this country.

How long can we afford this kind of support for a handful of amateur non-educators who are clueless about the art and science of education or the needs of children?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

KIPP Menace Has Come to Baton Rouge

When KIPP first pitched its segregated brand of total compliance hell schools in Baton Rouge in 2001, the proposal was soundly defeated.  Now thanks to the arm-twisting of political hack and corporate lackey, Rolfe McCollister, the Baton Rouge School Board has downed a strong dose of the KIPP NOLA kool-aid, even though the three KIPP schools recently approved will drain away at least $34 million each year from public schools when fully operational.

Thanks to Evelyn Ware-Jackson for voting NO to bringing KIPP's unique brand of child abuse to Baton Rouge:
. . . . Evelyn Ware-Jackson voted no on KIPP:New Orleans' proposal.

Initially positive, Ware-Jackson said she was concerned after hearing from a handful of speakers who drove up from New Orleans to tell horror stories about how KIPP handles discipline matters there.

"I don't know who to believe," Ware-Jackson said.

Maria Harmon, co-founder of community organizing group, Step Up Louisiana, harshly criticized what she described as a system of indoctrination and public shaming at KIPP schools.

“I’m telling you now you don’t want this kind of program in your school district,” Harmon said. “It won’t benefit black children, not at all. The only thing it does is prepare them for prison.” . . . .

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Poorest School Kids in Warwick, RI Get Cold Sandwiches Rather Than Hot Meals

from the AP:
WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island school district will begin serving cold sandwiches instead of hot lunches to students whose families owe lunch money.

Warwick Public Schools says it is owed more than $40,000 from outstanding lunch payments and cannot afford to absorb the costs.

The new policy begins next Monday.

A local restaurant owner wrote on Facebook that the district twice turned down a $4,000 donation for the lunch debt.

The district responded in a statement saying it must treat all students equally and cannot single out which debts to reduce.

The district recommended the donor take applications and decide who receives the money.
Critics say such lunch debt policies shame children for something outside of their control.

Pending legislation would change state law making free hot lunches available for all students regardless of income.
Call this idiot: 
Superintendent of Warwick Public Schools
Philip Thornton, Ed.D.

KIPP Chicago Scraping the Bottom in Test Scores

from Chicago City Wire:
Of the 418 students attending Kipp Chicago Charter School - Kipp One Academy in 2018, 24.4 percent scored proficient in English Language Arts and 19 percent were proficient in math, according to a report recently released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

The report is based on results from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam, a state-mandated exam used to assess the school and student performance in several states nationwide.

In the Chicago SD 299 School District, 27.9 percent of students scored proficient on the ELA portion of the PARCC exam in 2018, and 22.1 percent were proficient in math.

In Illinois overall, 36.9 percent of students passed the PARCC ELA exam in 2018, and 31.3 percent were proficient in math.

Scaling Up the Movement to Force Immediate Action on Global Warming

from Jacobin:
. . . . This movement is organizing and growing quickly after years of stagnation.

Influenced by the climate movement in Europe — as well as by the recent dire warnings, from science and lived experience alike — the US climate movement is moving quickly beyond the nonprofit industrial complex, which produces a lot more direct mail than direct action. We’re now hearing the early rumblings of the movement that’s actually needed, with constant action at every level, from legislative bodies to the streets — and a sense that the subject of climate action has become inescapable. In the mid-nineteenth century, black and white abolitionists alike created a culture in which the evils of slavery were  constantly discussed and debated. In London, Extinction Rebellion has done this with climate change. We may get there, too.

This new movement distinguishes itself by a willingness to tell the truth — that we could be facing disaster, even human extinction — and to confront the horror of that truth. Extinction Rebellion, as its name suggests, is honest about that. On Truth-Telling Thursdays, activists set up tables and tell people, without sugarcoating, how bad the climate crisis is, signing them up for the movement.

For many people, though, denial remains the most popular option. (Not ideological Fox News–style climate denial, but rather the form that many of us deploy as often as possible: thinking about anything other than climate change.) For most of us, it hasn’t been worth exiting that comfortable fog just to participate in the occasional ineffectual protest. That’s changed for two reasons: it’s becoming impossible to hide from the problem, and the movement is growing so fast that change looks possible. Now that it actually might matter, leaving that safe haven of denial seems worth it.

Another reason this movement is growing so fast, and might eventually win, is its understanding that climate change requires a massive economic change that is at least comparable to the ending of slavery. That’s why it is so intertwined with — and at least in part made possible by — the recent resurgence of socialism. This movement understands that the problem, and all its major solutions, are economic in nature and also massive. . . .

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Rep. Jim Cooper, You Must Support Immediate Impeachment Hearings

My letter this morning to the Hon. Jim Cooper.  I hope you will write today, too.

Recently, I called your office following the release of the Mueller Report and asked that you support immediate impeachment hearings for Donald Trump.  You responded via email with all the standard excuses NOT to impeach: 1) voting him out is the best path, 2) impeachment would make him more popular and Dems less popular, 3) there are not enough votes in the Senate to convict if impeachment succeeds.

Now that you have had the time to read the Mueller Report, and now that over 400 former federal prosecutors have agreed that anyone other than POTUS would be under indictment for multiple felonies if they did what Trump did, I am wondering if you have reconsidered your previous position regarding impeachment.  For the sake of our Republic, I hope so.

Let me remind you, sir, that moral decisions are never made on the basis of their popularity or whether or not a preferred outcome will ensue.  

Do the right thing, for god's sake, and put the moral pressure on those unprincipled Trumpists who mock our democratic institutions.  How long do you think Dems can remain under the radar and hope that the American people will look the other way?  

The eyes of the nation are upon you.  Do what your oath demands--uphold our Constitution! 

See today's opinion piece by Brian Klaas: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/06/its-time-start-impeachment-hearings-today/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cd5c86e3fcfc

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Sen. Blackburn Continues to Lie to and Deceive TN Voters

The paragraph below is from the most recent weekly propaganda sheet, the Blackburn Report.  Below that is my response.

Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. The Attorney General told me he believed the Special Counsel’s investigation was exhaustive. We now know the President did not collude with the Russians, and the Attorney General did not recommend any obstruction charges. Yet I remain concerned about the politicized culture among a select group of FBI and Justice Department employees. Tennesseans have told me time and again they want to see these government agencies held fully accountable for their actions, and I support the Attorney General’s efforts to investigate further and restore public confidence within these institutions.

Senator Blackburn:

Your most recent Blackburn Report is disturbing for its levels of deception, propaganda, and lies. As you know, the Mueller Report examined the question of criminal conspiracy, rather than collusion (which is not a chargeable offense, even if it rises to the level of being impeachable).  So to suggest that the Report concludes there was no collusion is a flagrant misrepresentation of the facts, which is designed to mislead Tennessee voters.

Secondly, the corrupt Attorney General Barr's failure to recommend criminal charges of obstruction says nothing about the dozen examples of obstruction that Mueller details in the Report.  Both Mueller and Barr are following Justice Department guidelines in not indicting a sitting President, so to suggest that Barr's refusal to recommend charges exonerates Trump is deceptive and misleading propaganda.  In fact, the Mueller Report states explicitly that it does NOT exonerate Trump. 

Finally, and most importantly, your disgusting newsletter does not even mention the fact that Mueller established without doubt a detailed record of Russia's malicious tampering with the 2016 election.  It is obvious that, instead of working to make sure our elections are fair, both you and Trump would rather blame the FBI for pointing out that a foreign adversary helped to assure Trump's illegitimate presidency.  It is obvious, too, that the Republican Party would rather see the same result in 2020 by any means necessary, even if it requires the help of the murderous dictator, Vladimir Putin.


Jim Horn

Update:  The NYTimes reports today that hundreds of legal authorities agree that Trump would be facing obstruction charges if he were not President.

Friday, May 03, 2019

One Million Species in Jeopardy, But It's Not Too Late to Act

From The Guardian:

The world’s leading scientists will warn the planet’s life-support systems are approaching a danger zone for humanity when they release the results of the most comprehensive study of life on Earth ever undertaken.

Up to 1m species are at risk of annihilation, many within decades, according to a leaked draft of the global assessment report, which has been compiled over three years by the UN’s leading research body on nature.

The 1,800-page study will show people living today, as well as wildlife and future generations, are at risk unless urgent action is taken to reverse the loss of plants, insects and other creatures on which humanity dependsfor foodpollination, clean water and a stable climate.

The final wording of the summary for policymakers is being finalised in Paris by a gathering of experts and government representatives before the launch on Monday, but the overall message is already clear, according to Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

“There is no question we are losing biodiversity at a truly unsustainable rate that will affect human wellbeing both for current and future generations,” he said. “We are in trouble if we don’t act, but there are a range of actions that can be taken to protect nature and meet human goals for health and development.”

The authors hope the first global assessment of biodiversity in almost 15 years will push the nature crisis into the global spotlight in the same way climate breakdown has surged up the political agenda since the 1.5C reportlast year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. . . .

Best Climate Plan So Far is by Jay Inslee

Beto's inadequate energy plan released earlier this week is blown out of the water by Inslee's most serious outline yet for dealing with the climate emergency.  From HuffPo:
Jay Inslee unveiled a sweeping plan Friday to all but eliminate planet-warming emissions from power plants, automobiles and new buildings, becoming the second contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to release a climate policy this week.
The Washington governor, who is making climate change the primary focus of his inaugural White House run, said his nearly 2,900-word “100% Clean Energy for America Plan” is the first of a series of policies he intends to roll out before the first Democratic primary debate in June. 
The plan calls for shuttering all coal plants and setting a national clean electricity standard that requires 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, leaving room for gas plants equipped with technology to capture and store heat-trapping pollution. It proposes rapidly building out electric vehicle infrastructure and mandating that all buses and new light- and medium-duty vehicles produce zero emissions within a decade. The platform lays out nine separate policies to eliminate emissions from heating, cooling and appliances in new buildings by the end of the next decade.. . .

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Top U. S. University Admissions For Sale to Highest Bidders

The investigation expands.  From the Times:
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Sitting in a plush chair and wearing a white blouse buttoned up to the neck, the young woman looks into the camera, smiles and offers advice about getting into a top American university.

“Some people think, ‘Didn’t you get into Stanford because your family is rich?’” the woman, Yusi Zhao, says in a video posted on social media. It wasn’t like that, she says. The admissions officers “have no idea who you are.”

She adds, “I tested into Stanford through my own hard work.”

The video was recorded in the summer before Ms. Zhao began her freshman year, in 2017. It now stands in sharp contrast with recent news: that her parents paid $6.5 million to a college consultant at the center of an international college admissions scheme, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Prosecutors say that the consultant, William Singer, tried to get Ms. Zhao recruited to the Stanford sailing team, providing a fake list of sailing accomplishments and making a $500,000 donation to the sailing program after she was admitted.

The payment to Mr. Singer was by far the largest known in the case, and the disclosure immediately added Ms. Zhao and her family, pharmaceutical billionaires from China, to a cast of powerful figures swept up in the scandal, including two Hollywood actresses and prominent names from the American legal and business worlds.

The new turns in the investigation, including reports that another Chinese family paid $1.2 million in connection with their daughter’s application to Yale, have illuminated the global reach of Mr. Singer’s operation and the wealthy Chinese families eager to get their children into prestigious American universities. . . .

Thousands of Teachers March on Raleigh, NC

by Tamika Walker Kelly
Yesterday was huge.
Thousands of public school educators, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, social workers, counselors, coaches and other support staff – along with their supporters – flooded the streets of Raleigh. Again.
But we didn't just show up today. We organized. We held our legislators accountable and put them on record about their stance on public education. We met together with our neighbors in county conversations and made concrete plans to continue this work until we win the schools our communities deserve.

And we are already winning.

Tuesday, before so many of us descended on the state capital, Republican leadership in the NCGA announced a plan to give lopsided pay raises to public school employees. But what they don’t know is that we're in this together. We won't accept a proposal intended to divide us.
We are united on the 5 Priorities the North Carolina Association of Educators adopted at our convention in March:
  • Provide enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals to meet national professional-to-student standards;
  • Provide $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, 5% raise for all ESPs (non-certified staff), teachers, administrators, and a 5% cost of living adjustment for retirees;
  • Expand Medicaid to improve the health of our students and families;
  • Reinstate state retiree health benefits eliminated by the General Assembly in 2017;
  • Restore advanced degree compensation stripped by the General Assembly in 2013.

So, what’s next after yesterday’s #AllOutMay1 action?

First – Please fill out our brief survey to tell us about your #AllOutMay1 day.What did you do? Who did you meet? What was one powerful, meaningful moment that you’ll take back to your school district?
Second – If you are not a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators, we need you to join right now. We know from two years of mass mobilization actions that we have strength in numbers. NCAE is our organization and it’s our voice. We need you with us.
Third – NCAE’s Organize 2020 Racial & Social Justice Caucus is working hard in every school district to bring people into NCAE and orient us toward the fight for public schools. You already signed up for this struggle – we need you to bring your co-workers, your friends and your family. Send your folks to organize2020.org and encourage them to join our communications list so they can get in the loop on our work.
Fourth – This work takes time and resources y’all. Over the past month dozens of Organize 2020 volunteers have worked hard with NCAE leadership to pull this event together. Please consider donating to our work as NCAE’s Racial & Social Justice Caucus.
We are so proud of you all, and ourselves, today. We will not be intimidated into silence by politicians and special interests focused on undermining our public schools.
We are together. We are united. We are organized.
Tamika Walker Kelly, NCAE Region 6 Director
Bryan Proffitt, Durham Association of Educators President