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

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

TN Taliban Votes to Arm Teachers

As parents, students, and teachers lined the gallery with signs calling for gun regulations in a state where are none, a bill sailed through the State Senate to arm teachers.  

The best reaction so far belongs to Senate Democrat, Jeff Yarbro, who posted this on X:

The legislature doesn’t trust teachers to pick out books for their classroom or teach basic history—things they’re actually trained to do, but is authorizing them to carry & use firearms in active shooter situations?!? 

This place has lost its damn mind.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Bill Lee Breaks Law To Appoint Perjurer, Lizzette Reynolds

Even though Tennessee's unqualified Education Commissioner collects over $21,000 per month to wreck the State's public schools with Bill Lee's proposed school voucher scheme, she, nonethless, chose to lie on an official state document about her length of service in order to receive a tuition waiver from UT Martin, where she is now enrolled in order to gain certification as a teacher.  Reynolds became a state employee on July 1, 2023, and on August 14 she swore that she had been a state employee for six months.

Reynolds perjured herself a second time when she submitted another of the same form in November, 2023.

You see, Bill Lee made history by being the first Tennessee governor ignore and, thus, break state law by appointing someone as education commission who has no teaching experience, school admin experience, and who lacks certification in either:

According to the century-old law, the education commissioner “shall be a person of literary and scientific attainments and of skill and experience in school administration,” and “qualified to teach in the school of the highest standing over which the commissioner has authority.”

Sunday, April 07, 2024

The Osteopath Who Now Vouches for Trump's Health

WaPo has a great piece today contrasting the two most recent medical reports issued on the two presidential candidates running this year.  Essentially, Joe's report, written by a real doctor, is 6 pages and includes lots of data, both quantitative and qualitative. 

Don's report is written by an osteopath, Bruce Aronwald, who hangs out at the Bedminster, NJ swimming pool looking to ingratiate himself to rich clients who don't know quackery when they see it.  

Dr. Bruce's report is a three-paragraph gloss on Trump's "excellent" condition, with no test results and no numbers. 

You can check out some numbers on Dr. Bruce, himself, here. Spoiler alert: his reputation is much like all the other "best people" that Trump hires to help him maintain the delusion he calls reality. 

There are many qualities measured in this little assessment, but Dr. Bruce scores highest of all among patient loyalty.  Hmm.



Sunday, March 31, 2024

TN Republicans Plan to Have Teachers Pay for School Voucher Scheme

As reality begins to set in about the public expense of using taxpayer money to fund private schools (see here and here), the brain trust for Republican House members have come up with a plan to cheat teachers out their promised raises so that there will be enough money to fund their school privatization plan.  

Instead of providing the teacher raises that Gov. Bill Lee has promised, Republicans plan to forego the raises for a cheap scheme to increase the State's portion of health insurance premiums for teachers from 45 percent to 60 percent.  

And what if you are one of the thousands of teachers who are on your spouse's insurance plan, rather than the State-sponsored plan?  Well, sorry.

From The Tennessean:

As lawmakers continue to hash out parameters for a proposed statewide school choice program, House leadership is proposing to pay for some of their proposal with a pot of money that funds teacher raises.

House leadership said Thursday their plan will fund teacher insurance at a higher level, leaving more "take-home" pay for teachers. . . 

. . . . House leadership confirmed they intend to pay for the difference with the $261.3 million in the governor's budget that right now is allocated toward TISA increases for public schools ― and also includes teacher salary raises ― "through a reallocation of the funding proposed by the Governor," Sexton spokesperson Connor Grady told The Tennessean in a text message.

 


Thursday, March 28, 2024

KIPP St. Louis Teachers Still Seeking Fair Contract

 From the St. Louis/Southern Illiois Labor Tribune:

By TIM ROWDEN
Editor-in-Chief

St. Louis – Still fighting for a first contract, educators from KIPP St. Louis High School, represented by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 420, attempted to deliver a petition Feb. 22 to district leaders outlining their key concerns as contract negotiations drag on.

Officials at the district headquarters at 1310 Papin St. in downtown St. Louis refused to accept the petition but did agree, earlier in the day, to return to the bargaining table with union members.

Teachers and staff at KIPP High School organized in December of 2022. It took KIPP administrators seven months to come to the bargaining table, but after five months of on-and-off negotiations, bargaining had all but ground to a halt.

Now teachers and staff are calling on administrators to work collaboratively to improve the educational experience for students.

“We are dedicated to providing our students with the high-quality education they deserve,” said Nate Gibson, a KIPP history teacher and member of the bargaining team. “However, we face significant challenges in achieving this goal without a stable and empowered staff. We believe that by working together with district leaders, we can find solutions that address our concerns and create a thriving learning environment for all.”

THE PETITION
The petition, signed by a majority of the school’s teachers, emphasizes three main areas of concern:

  • A Safe and Stable Learning Environment. The petition highlights the importance of a consistent and structured learning environment for students. It emphasizes the challenges created by high staff turnover at the charter high school and calls for solutions that ensure stability and continuity for students.
  • Educator Voice and Decision-Making. Educators seek greater involvement in shaping the school environment, including curriculum, programming, safety protocols and professional development opportunities. They believe that their expertise and insights are essential for creating and effective and thriving school community.
  • Compensation and Working Conditions. The petition calls out the disparities in compensation and working-hours between KIPP and other schools in the area. Educators believe that addressing these disparities is crucial for attracting and recruiting qualified staff, ultimately benefitting students.

HIGH TURNOVER
“The school is suffering a 50 percent turnover rate that prevents the teachers from meeting the students’ needs,” said AFT Organizer Ben Harmon.

“A lot of times people look at this as just the teachers issues, but teachers didn’t become teachers to become wealthy. They care about what they do, and students needs are teachers’ needs. If the teachers needs can’t be met how do we meet the students’ needs?”

A REASON FOR TEACHERS TO STAY
“We need a contract,” said Kurt Johnson, an English teacher at KIPP. “Too many teachers and staff members are leaving. It’s creating a situation that’s unsafe, because it’s creating too much teacher turnover. That’s unsafe for teachers and students. It’s not allowing us to do what we want to do, which is to create an environment where all of our students learn. We need to see movement on this contract.”

Johnson said teachers and prospective employees need a reason to stay, Johnson said and that starts with being competitive with the school districts surrounding the high school.

“At the beginning of the year we had multiple people leave for St. Louis Public Schools because they could make more money. We just don’t have anything to counter that and it’s creating a situation where the students don’t have enough certified teachers.

“For the first semester, I think there were two 10th grade certified teachers that made it through the whole semester. That’s only two subjects where students are getting certified teachers. They have seven periods a day. They’re taking these online classes for essential courses like math and science because there’s no teacher. To me, the problem is really about our students. It’s about being able to provide an education and make sure that we have a competitive offer for teachers to stay.”

AN UNSAFE ENVIRONMENT
Adelina Blood, who teaches English as a second language, started at KIPP in August of last year.

“Since then, in a semester and a half, there’s already been 10 teachers leave,” she said “That’s really unstable for not only the school but the education of the students. It creates an unsafe environment to have that many new teachers come in who don’t know the students and how the school works. What we’re trying to do is stabilize everything. We’re trying to make sure that we also have a voice and we can be listened to. We’re trying to make sure that we get heard and that the students get the best education that they can.”

NOT BARGAINING IN GOOD FAITH
Leonette White-Hilliard, a member of the teachers’ bargaining committee, said KIPP administrators are not bargaining in good faith.

“We’ve tried to meet in good faith,” she said “But they’re not really, honestly trying to come to a conclusion with the bargaining. Some things I thought would be fairly common sense, like a third party arbitrator deciding  any disputes. We’re still at loggerheads after a year over even something that simple. That would be a protection for both the school as well as the teachers. That would be something that protects everybody.

“It makes me as an individual question is this really good faith or are they hoping this problem with go away?”

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Tennessee Taliban Set to Pass Law to Keep the Sky from Falling

If anyone in the nation or the world were looking for a place as backward as Afghanistan under the Taliban--a place as hostile to science, as committed to a single religio-political dogma based on hate, oppression, corruption, and revenge--one would need to look no further than the knoll whereupon sits the State Capitol of the State of Tennessee.  For this, my home state, is where the Tennessee Taliban convenes each year to decide the laws for a politically and culturally diverse state that is now misrepresented by a political minority that holds a super majority.  

And despite values and beliefs of the majority of Tennesseans, a corrupt mob of ignorant hicks, swindlers, and bible thumpers are committed to the legislative agenda of a handful of fascist billionaires who achieve their self-serving agendas by successfully fanning the flames of fear and bigotry and by buying the services of state and federal politicians to conduct their dirty business. 

See the big success of the week as the Tennessee Taliban advances a bill to make Tennessee the first state in the nation to pass a law to ban "chemtrails," something that only exists in the heated imaginations of paid conspiracy theorists, intellectual midgets, and political wackos. 

From USA Today, via the Tennessean:

The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill targeting "chemtrails."

SB 2691/HB 2063, sponsored by Rep. Monty Fritts, R-Kingston, and Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, passed in the Senate on Monday. The bill has yet to advance in the House.

The bill claims it is "documented the federal government or other entities acting on the federal government's behalf or at the federal government's request may conduct geoengineering experiments by intentionally dispersing chemicals into the atmosphere, and those activities may occur within the State of Tennessee," according to the bill.

The legislation would ban the practice in Tennessee.

If your bullshit detector just went off, then you're still awake.  See this link to get the facts.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

No Excuses for IDEA Charter Schools Theft of Public Funds?

Based on the No Excuses KIPP Model for chain gang schooling of brown and black children, IDEA Public [sic] Schools was founded in 2000 by two former Teach for America recruits, Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama.  The new corporate charter chain saw explosive growth, becoming the largest charter chain in Texas, with 36 schools and 19,000 students by 2015. By the end of 2024, IDEA plans to have 143 schools and 80,000 students in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Ohio.

Early in 2019 the U. S. Department of Education handed IDEA Charter Schools, Inc. a five-year grant for $116 million, ostensibly to open new charter schools. 

By December of the same year, IDEA's corporate board under the direction of IDEA's CEO, Tom Torkelson, had voted unanimously to lease an eight-passenger private jet for $15 million to, well, jet around. When the story came to light, thanks to the Houston Chronicle, the plan was canceled. 

Ah, well, that didn't stop the high rollers at IDEA from spending $400,000 a year for sky boxes to watch the San Antonio Spurs or for other luxuries that were brought to light by a forensic review in 2021.

Co-founder TomTorkelson took his money ($900,000 in severance) and ran in 2020, followed a year later by the firing of the other co-founder, JoAnn Gama, and a number of other corporate welfare queens and kings.  

Even so, the corruption persisted.  Which led to further investigation by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  That investigation wrapped up in late January, and the San Antonio Report reported on March 6 that TEA has appointed two conservators to oversee operations.  No indictments, no slaps on the wrist, no criminal referrals.  

As a condition, I suppose, of no one at IDEA getting an orange jumpsuit, IDEA has agreed to pay back $28.7 million in federal funds. Why, you ask. No explanation by TEA, which remains a cheerleader for IDEA, so much so that IDEA, specializing as it does in cultural sterilization of brown and black children, has announced a building boom moving forward.



Monday, March 11, 2024

What Did KIPP Leaders Know, and When Did They Know It?

  • Are there former students and/or teachers who are willing to share their stories (anonymously if you so choose) about Charlie Randall or his protege and now-convicted child sexual abuser, Jesus Concepcion? If you would like to share your story, please contact me via email: ontogenyx@gmail.com

Straight out of undergraduate school and fresh from two year stints with Teach for America (TFA), Mike Feinberg and David Levin found themselves in 1994 running their own school program in an elementary school in Houston, TX. They called their new program KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), and with the help of the rich white elites who were bankrolling TFA, Levin and Feinberg quickly became media darlings and the next great white hopes for solving the urban "Negro problem" that white America had fretted about since Emancipation.

The next year KIPP Houston became a separate school under the direction of Mike Feinberg, while David Levin was handed his own school program in New York City, where the white, privileged, and fresh-faced Yale graduate found himself face-to-face with Bronx indigenous cultures entirely foreign to Levin and the other white teachers who were hired to build the first KIPP franchise beyond Houston.

Hoping to garner public attention to KIPP's program, Levin and the NYC Board of Education brought in the renowned school orchestra director, Charlie Randall, who gained fame from his work at a neighboring school in the Bronx, I.S.166.  Randall, who had been a music teacher since the early 70s and the founding director of the I.S.166 orchestra since 1980, brought Levin a skill set that he would desperately need in order to make it in the Bronx. Randall brought PR skills, charisma, street savvy, and local knowledge that Levin did not have and that he came to depend upon in his new position of leadership.  

Charlie Randall also brought with him an attraction to middle school girls, as well as a bad drinking problem.  According to allegations from an anonymous source interviewed by Gary Rubenstein, Randall openly engaged in lascivious behavior among KIPP students, behavior that would have gotten him fired and reported to authorities under normal circumstances. Instead, KIPP eventually promoted Randall and put him in charge of starting orchestra programs at other KIPP schools around the country.  According to Rubenstein

[t]he source, claiming to have firsthand knowledge, alleges that multiple witnesses, including numerous KIPP teachers and leaders, observed Charles Randall’s misconduct but did not report the egregious behavior exhibited by both Randall and Jesus Concepcion.

One account from the source states, “Randall would frequently arrive at school intoxicated. He kept a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black in the orchestra room and even offered us shots.” Additionally, the source mentioned, “He would often make sexually suggestive remarks about our bodies, accompanied by licking his lips, and the teachers witnessed this behavior but never intervened. It seemed as though no one cared until he began harassing the teachers. It was only then that he was eventually removed from KIPP Academy and reassigned to a national position.”

So I have questions:

  • In 2018, the KIPP Foundation was eager to fire Mike Feinberg for alleged sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behaviors.  Will KIPP fire the other founder this time around in 2024 for his alleged complicity?
  • Who was aware of Randall's misconduct while at KIPP, either in New York or at the other KIPP schools?
  • Are there former students and/or teachers who are willing to share their stories (anonymously if you so choose) about Charlie Randall or his protege and now-convicted child sexual abuser, Jesus Concepcion? If you would like to share your story, please contact me via email: 
ontogenyx@gmail.com





 

 


 


 

 

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

TN School Voucher Bill Will Cost Taxpayers Billions, Part 2

As with most school privatization plans, Tennessee legislators can count on a stable of bare-knuckled billionaires and millionaires to provide the cash to drive the current school voucher scheme that appears destined to become law--unless citizens who support public education raise enough hell to stop it.

The legislation (HB1183/SB0503) will provide, during the 2024-25 school year, just over $7,000 in state funding for 20,000 of Tennessee's just over one million K-12 students (including private school students). In Year 2 (2025-26), any or all of the parents of Tennessee's one million+ students may sign up.

Of the 20,000, half will be made available to students whose families’ income are below 300% of the federal poverty level, students with disabilities, and those who meet eligibility requirements for the existing ESA pilot program. The remaining 10,000 will be made available to any student currently entitled to attend a public school. 

Beginning in the 2025-26 school year, eligibility for the program would be opened to all Tennessee students, regardless of income or previous school enrollment. If demand exceeds available funding, previously enrolled program participants, low-income students, and students enrolled in public schools would be prioritized.

Based on conservative estimates of the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee, the costs will be staggering:

The total amount of scholarships awarded will result in an increase in state expenditures
estimated to be:

o $141,500,000 (20,000 x $7,075) in FY24-25;
o $343,147,000 (47,000 x $7,301) in FY25-26; and
o Exceeding $343,147,000 in FY26-27 and subsequent years.

If the voucher scheme led to 10 percent of Tennessee students in private schools by 2027 and moving forward, that would mean an additional $700,000,000+ every year for a state that is ranked 44th among states for K-12 funding.

How Will Local Education Agencies (LEAs) Be Affected?

Because the Republican voucher scheme does not include a hold-harmless provision, local school systems will be required to absorb the loss of state funding for their students who move to private schools. The information below is from the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee's Fiscal Memorandum, dated February 26, 2024:

The proposed legislation does not contain a hold-harmless provision for LEAs that
experience a decrease in local revenue due to students leaving the LEA to attend private
schools . . . .

Based on school voucher data from other states, the scholarships available to students
who are not subject to household income restrictions will be awarded to 60 percent of
students from private schools and to 40 percent of students from public schools . . . .

The total local decrease in revenue and decrease in state expenditures is estimated as
follows:

$101,525,200 ($89,905,200 + $11,620,000) in FY25-26; and

Exceeding $140,710,480 ($124,598,880+ $16,111,600) in FY26-27 and
subsequent years.

A loss in TISA funding would not necessarily be offset by avoiding the cost of educating
the student. Any offset or decrease in local expenditures would depend upon whether
certain cost-savings could be realized through staff reductions or service and resource
reductions.

However, it is assumed that LEAs will maintain spending levels despite a decrease in
student enrollment (pp. 3-5). 

In short, school systems who lose 10-15 percent of their students still must maintain physical plants, transportation systems, maintenance programs, and instructional programs for 85-90 percent of remaining students.  For a largely rural state, these costs could be devastating to budgets that are already bare bones.

 Do Vouchers Offer Improved Test Scores?

This new voucher scheme will be layered on top of the previous one that was implemented during the 2022-23 school year.  The data from Spring 2023 state tests demonstrate that the current push for school privatization is not driven by a desire for academic improvement:

In 2023, only 11.3% of program participants scored proficient on the math section of TCAP, compared to 33.7% of public school students. Similarly in English language arts, 22.8% of ESA recipients scored proficient, while 38% of public school students hit the benchmark.


 



Monday, March 04, 2024

TN School Voucher Bill Will Cost Taxpayers Billions

When it comes to state funding for public schools, Tennessee consistently ranks among states around 44th. In 2023, Tennessee earned an F in funding level, an F in funding effort, and a C in funding distribution.  

When it comes to state support for school vouchers, however, Tennessee is pushing to be among national leaders.  And if the current school voucher legislation passes that is now being crammed through the legislative process, Tennessee funding for public schools will take another huge hit.  

How big a hit?  Conservatively, the Republican voucher program, which they call Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS), will result in annual state expenditure increases of over $340,000,000.  So every three years Tennessee taxpayers will pay over a billion dollars for 2-5% of Tennessee's K-12 students to attend private schools, either secular or sectarian.

The information below is from a memo dated February 26, 2024 by the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee.

• Due to the universal nature of the program, it is assumed that students already attending
private school will seek the additional funding through the EFS Program.
• Based on school voucher program data from other states and the large pool of private
school students that would be eligible for the EFS, it is estimated that 47,000
scholarships will be awarded in the 2025-26 school year.
• The EFS Program is projected to grow in subsequent years following the 2025-26 school
year. However, due to the lack of multi-year data from other school voucher programs
across the country and different factors amongst those programs, a precise growth
estimate cannot reasonably be determined.
• The total amount of scholarships awarded will result in an increase in state expenditures
estimated to be:
o $141,500,000 (20,000 x $7,075) in FY24-25;
o $343,147,000 (47,000 x $7,301) in FY25-26; and
o Exceeding $343,147,000 in FY26-27 and subsequent years.
• The estimated annual growth in the program is conservative due to a limited amount of
data from other states with similar programs and the inability to establish participation
trends in those programs.
• Without a limitation on the number of participants beyond year one of the program, the
fiscal liability to the state created by the proposed legislation is significant.
• Should all 105,503 private school students receive a scholarship in FY25-26 (year two
of the program), the fiscal impact for FY25-26 would be an additional increase in state
expenditures of $572,506,018 [(105,503 x $7,406) - (47,000 x .60 x $7,406)] (p. 3).

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Charter School Funding and that Giant Sucking Sound

 Nice piece of commentary here:

. . . . Charter schools have two primary funding sources: one from the taxpayers and the other from investments often executed with little public knowledge of intent or interest. Specifically, investments from billionaires, private foundations, and hedge fund managers reap tax advantages when they donate large sums of money to charter schools. After tax codes were changed in the early 2000s, “banks and equity funds that invest(ed) in charter schools in underserved areas took advantage of a very generous tax credit,” HuffPost reported. “According to one analyst, the credit allows them to double the money they invested in seven years.”

The real estate industry also stands to benefit by promoting charter schools and helping them buy up property, or rent, in inner city communities.

As one example indicates, the Rocky Mountain Prep charter school chain in Denver  received $4.5 million from billionaire MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, in October 2022. Two months later, the KIPP charter school chain received $6 million from the same billionaire. These investments were in addition to the per pupil allocation these schools received from taxpayers in Denver.

When a child enrolls in a charter school, funds move from the public school to the charter school. Taxpayers may not be aware that their dollars are funding a structure that helps a private company or group of investors reap rewards or gain tax incentives. Moreover, the taxpayer may start to see their local neighborhood school struggling because the funds are flowing into the charter school.

Researchers have demonstrated that charter schools operate differently than their public-school counterparts. In their exhaustive study of charter schools, Kevin Welner and Wagma Mommandi describe 13 practices that many charter schools use to control their enrolment. These practices are not always regulated by state laws, and “when charter school enrollment is ‘biased’, it severely undermines our ability to compare funding, growth, or achievement.” . . . .


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Trump's GOP Turns "Christian" to Re-ignite Base

The life of Jesus and the message he preached became codified as the moral bedrock of the Christian Church: love, humility, patience, forgiveness, self-control, compassion, charity, modesty, egalitarianism, inclusion.

Now when you compare these qualities to those of the old Adderall-snorting sagging bull that showed up at the Opryland Hotel two nights ago to whine his sermon before the Christian Broadcasters Convention, it's quite easy to see Trump quite literally as the anti-Christ: hateful, narcissistic, impulsive, vengeful, irrational, uncaring, greedy, boastful, exclusionary.  But Demonic Donald's qualities were lost on the red-hatted hoodwinkers of the "Christian" airwaves, who see Trump as their free ticket to greater affluence and influence, wealth and power.

So, of course, when the blasphemous former President, now indicted on over 90 federal charges, declared with outstretched arms, as if on the cross, “I take all these arrows for you and I’m so proud to take them. . . I’m being indicted for you,” the fundamentally-fascist audience went wild.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

High School Diversity Program in VA Safe For Now

 From the National Coalition on School Diversity:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NCSD and REEL Policy Clinic Issue Statement on SCOTUS Order in TJ Case

Washington, D.C. – February 20, 2024 – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court released an order denying a petition to take up the Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board specialized school admissions case. The decision comes after multiple deliberations following a petition for writ of certiorari filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the parent group challenging Virginia’s top-ranked public high school’s recently-adopted process for student placement. 

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) and Georgetown Law’s Racial Equity in Education Law and Policy Clinic (REEL Policy Clinic) commend the Supreme Court’s order given its implications for educational access, diversity, and equity. This decision to deny certiorari comes the same year Brown v. Board of Education turns 70, which at its core recognized that K-12 public education is about ensuring equitable access to high-quality education for all students. 

“Diversity in our nation’s schools is vital if we are to function as a multiracial democracy,” said Janel George, associate professor of law and director of the REEL Policy Clinic. “TJ has taken action to provide more children with access to its high-quality program, which is aligned with the goal of public education and with magnet schools historically.” 

Last May, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled to uphold the admissions policy for the selective-enrollment high school, finding that it had not discriminated against Asian American students as the plaintiffs alleged. One month later, the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action at Harvard University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, ruling that such admissions policies violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

In crafting its colorblind rationale for the college admissions decision, the Supreme Court majority ignored the well-documented continuing impacts of systemic inequality and racial segregation in our nation’s public schools. Not only do schools remain deeply segregated by race and class, but students of color are more likely to attend underfunded and high-poverty schools with less effective instruction and reduced access to advanced coursework, extracurricular activities, and standardized testing preparation.

Within two months of the Supreme Court’s decision, the writ of certiorari was filed, asking the Court to declare that TJ’s pro-diversity admissions policy – which is explicitly race-neutral – violates the Equal Protection Clause. The changes to TJ’s process for student placement included 1) elimination of a standardized test, 2) establishment of new eligibility criteria (the top 1.5% of students at each public middle school who meet minimum standards); and 3) incorporation of a “holistic review of…students whose applications demonstrate enhanced merit.”

These changes aimed to acknowledge and help address the diminished educational opportunities, often correlated with a student’s race and socioeconomic background, due to long-standing and persistent systemic inequality. Following the murder of George Floyd and racial reckoning of 2020, the changes to TJ’s admissions policy can be seen as an attempt to provide a fairer chance for all students to access what is consistently ranked among the top ten best public high schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

While the plaintiffs alleged that the 2020 changes to TJ’s process for student placement were designed to reduce the proportion of Asian American students at the school, Asian American students still made up the majority of students admitted under the new policy. Of the students who received offers to attend TJ, 54.36% were Asian, 22.36% white, 11.27% Latino, and 7.9% Black. The first freshmen class included more low-income students, Black and Latino students, English-language learners, and girls than prior classes. Moreover, for the first time in over a decade, all 28 middle schools in Fairfax County sent students to TJ.

Although no formal explanation for the denial is given, Justice Alito wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Thomas, which focuses mostly on challenging the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning that there was insufficient “disparate impact” to violate the Equal Protection Clause.

“The fact that only two justices dissented from the denial of Cert is a good sign,” said Philip Tegeler, a legal advisor with NCSD. “It means that, at least for now, a significant majority of the court is unwilling to overturn the 2007 precedent that local school districts have the power, and the tools, to promote school diversity without selecting students on the basis of their race.” 

Given this reality, NCSD and the REEL Policy Clinic express appreciation for the Supreme Court’s denial of the appeal. We will continue to fight and strengthen our collective efforts to promote equal educational opportunity in our nation’s public schools and help ensure every young person has a fair shot at achieving their full potential.  

For media inquiries, please contact: Jenna Tomasello (jtomasello@prrac.org)

Founded in 2009, the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) is a cross-sector network of 50+ national civil rights organizations, university-based research centers, and state and local coalitions working to expand support for school integration. NCSD supports its members in designing, enacting, implementing, and uplifting PK-12 public school integration policies and practices so we may build cross-race/class relationships, share power and resources, and co-create new realities.

The Racial Equity in Education Law and Policy Clinic (REEL Policy Clinic) centers its work on the intersections of education law, racial equity, and legislative advocacy. Student attorneys explore the origins of racial inequities in education and the role of law in entrenching or eliminating them. This work includes addressing issues that disproportionately impact the educational experiences and outcomes of students of color, including discriminatory school discipline practices, school segregation, resource inequities, and more.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Biden 'very clear and very focused'

 

If you prefer another take by a reporter who's been interviewing Biden for the past 35 years, check this out.




Thirty Lies in a Single Speech

 T____ held a rally in Harrisburg, PA on February 9.  Here is a compilation of his lies that he uttered during that single "speech." These were posted by the Dems at Xitter.



Friday, February 09, 2024

When Biden Gets a Headline, It's for T____'s Benefit

For a month or so after Biden's swearing in 2021, media coverage sort of resembled something we might have called normal back before the Psychotic Age, which was ushered in by the smelly, treasonous scab that the corporate media is now growing and grooming for his return to finish the democracy demolition he started, and damn near completed between 2016 and 2021. But soon Biden World real news and the old normal saw ratings drop, as people stopped hovering over their TVs and newspapers as they had done during the previous four years to see if the Republic would survive another day.  People started to go outside again to get some fresh air.

But on cue, the Insane Clown and his team of interdisciplinary fascists swung into action to give media ratings a boost, producing new conspiracies, new lies, new abominations, to restore the ratings and and to reclaim the headlines for the T____ cancer.

And so the media coverage is starting to look a whole lot like early 1980, when another fascist was marshaling the dark forces of neo-Nazis, John Birchers, Klansmen, fascist fundamentalists, and racists everywhere in America to steam toward the November election of that year.  

And so Biden coverage is looking a lot like Carter coverage, with reporters scurrying to breathlessly document any embarrassment, any gaff, any sign of humility or decency that can be presented as weakness.  And T____ coverage echoes the spin that reporters gave to Reagan, as they chose to ignored then the autocratic and racist undergirdings and implications of the New Right of that era--which look progressive in comparison to the full flowering of a malevolent political madness that has efficiently replaced the Republicans with the T____ Party.

Too, media ownership then seems labor friendly compared to today's takeover of media by billionaires intent to become trillionaires and to show their rockets are bigger, all the while not giving a rat's ass about the preservation of a democratic republic.  

For real facts to be shared, for sound opinion grounded in reason and democratic values to be heard, and for the threat to the country and the world to be understood, then citizens, bloggers, social media influencers, educators, all freedom lovers everywhere must join together to convey one unalterable truth: Joe Biden is a preferable choice to the deadly alternative, regardless of whatever handicap or deficiency that may be imagined, reported on, and trumpeted by all of the media moguls' hired hands that can be assembled.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

To MSNBC and Other News Media: How to Cover T____

MSNBC is not alone, of course, in treating the seditionist ringleader ex-President as media outlets might treat regular ex-Presidents, you know, those who are not intent upon getting back into office in order to avoid prison. 

Here's a prime example of how not to cover T_____ from this morning's online Washington Amazon Post. This (below) is what appears as the lead story just under the masthead, with a captioned photo of "President Trump" behind the Resolute right there in the Oval.  

Notice the T____ rumor news from the diseased cranial cavity where T____ policy is hatched is presented as much more important than the current real President doing real Presidential stuff like as dealing with real immigration problems (see "More Coverage" below the unreal lead story in the much-reduced font).


 

Instead of offering readers news of what is happening in the world today, the Amazon Post chose to go with a story about what's going on among T____'s thought disorders related to his fantasy of being President again.

 

Two nights ago Lawrence O'Donnell admitted what no other news host or outlet will admit: he doesn't know how to cover Donald T___.  This is just one reason I love Lawrence ODonnell.  Lawrence points out that in an era when constant monstrous lies are told daily by a presidential candidate who was elected with fewer votes than his opponent in 2016, who lost his reelection bid by 7 million votes, and is now running again on a "Make Me Dictator platform," the result has led to a situation now characterized by the "banality of crazy."

So here are a couple of rules to get started for covering pathological former Presidents who happen to be uncontrolled sociopaths:

1. Never lead with a story that T____ or his team is responsible for.  The WaPo story above a clear example of this kind of story, one created by the T____ gang to get headlines just like the one they got, this time by promising international chaos if T____ is re-elected.

2. Never normalize the abnormal.  The captioned photo above is a clear example of this: a dangerous malignant narcissist presented in an image that captures him as the respected President of the most powerful nation on planet earth.  Rather than making the abnormal appear normal, mass media must "amplify the crazy" so that readers are never led to believe T____ is anything other than a demented gangster who cares for nothing beyond his own orange hide.


Saturday, January 20, 2024

The True Awfulness of MSNBC Political Coverage

When the Insane Clown lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden by 7 million popular votes, that segment of the American electorate still preferring democracy over fascism thought we could take a deep breath and begin to treat the MAGA-inspired PTSD that peaked in January 2021 during and following the seditionist insurrection led by the bloated Orange Psychopath (OP).

Following Biden's inauguration, there were even signs of other news beginning to emerge from the rutted news cycle, like tendrils of green pushing through the path beat down by the jack-booted army of conspiracy-mongering cultists.  Even humor poked through occasionally, and we saw democratic normalcy begin to appear through features and news of the Biden Administration plans and initiatives.

It didn't take long, however, for OP to rise to the top of the news cesspool once more. When the indictments began fly left and right, mostly right, the world's most garrulous liar took center stage once more on every MSNBC news set other than Maddow, where he remains to this day.  Even Rachel has been dragged in recently, as T____'s team of nazi enablers gin up lies and insults that would make Hitler and Goebbels blush.

After all, the MSNBC excuse goes, don't the American people have to warned about what's coming if OP is elected to a second term? And doesn't the Dem base need some new injections of fear and loathing to gin up the polls? And so the unreasoned reasoning goes.

Meanwhile, when MSNBC evening anchors do mention Joe Biden in passing, it is to talk about his low poll numbers, how old he is, how he is not publicizing his accomplishments, or to cover his latest warning speech about the resurrected OJ. It's as if the producers and writers and reporters at MSNBC are helpless to change the narrative.

So here's an idea. Begin to cover what the President does, says, proposes, enables, promotes, and celebrates.  Tell us what is going on politically in the political world beyond the river of sewage that emanates from the OP camp.  I would even guess that the Biden Team might begin to be more forthcoming and promotional with their accomplishments and plans if they can count on some cameras being there to cover it and some prime time news readers to report it.

I might even return to watch an hour or two of the nightly news line-up, rather than spending all my time on the BBC or CBC or Andy Griffith.  If MSNBC were to give Team OJ the coverage it deserves, there would be hours remaining to fill with real news that just might inspire all those mainstream Dems and Republicans and Progressives to look forward to the future, rather than to hovering in fear of it.


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

My Final Day at Cambridge College

When I came to Cambridge College in 2008, it was to teach in a unique educational leadership doctoral program that was started in 2006 to prepare school leaders with an unambiguous and historically-informed social justice agenda. As a full-time tenured faculty member, I was a rare bird, for the College at that time had fewer than 30 full-time "core" faculty members, which carried the same benefits and responsibilities as tenured faculty.  The rest of the faculty was comprised of adjuncts and part-time professors, and they numbered in the low hundreds. 

Due to administrative incompetence and penurious policies, the Ed Leadership EdD program was dead by 2014. I stayed on, continuing to teach in the Masters program and continuing to create new courses focused on antiracism, historical accountability, and social justice.

There have been exactly three new core faculty hires after me.  One moved into administration and the two others, I found out today, had their positions discontinued several days ago, resulting in curt, unceremonious Zoom layoffs that are, doubtless, planned to be permanent.  Today I became the third.  

If my math is correct, that leaves a total of five full-time core faculty members, as others in that 20-something number of 2008 have retired or are now deceased. And even though Covid, mismanagement, rumors of administrative improprieties, and managerial churn have taken their toll on enrollment, organizational continuity, and the number of recruits in the College's adjunct army, Cambridge College continues, nonetheless, to move forward with grandiose plans for Cambridge College Global, which we might see advertised on matchbooks worldwide.

And so I am offered 6.75 months of severance pay, per the AFT negotiated contract which expires this year, and no health or life insurance coverage beyond January 31.  That's what Cambridge College is offering its core faculty for 15 years of service.  That's not nearly enough, as the College knows now and will continue to learn anew as their crass plans unfold. 

In a final bit of sadly comic irony, the cheap clock that the College sent me just a few weeks back to mark my 15 years of teaching service stopped working after a few days.  I lasted 15 years, and as Cambridge College will come to know, I am still ticking strong.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

MA Wildcatters Earn Big Dividends After 3 Day Strike

 From Jacobin:

A wildly successful, illegal three-day strike by the Andover Education Association (AEA) in November has reverberated statewide for educators in Massachusetts.

The lowest-paid instructional assistants got a 60 percent wage jump immediately. Classroom aides on the higher end of the scale got a 37 percent increase.

Members won paid family medical leave, an extra personal day, fewer staff meetings, and the extension of lunch and recess times for elementary students.

Andover is twenty miles north of Boston, and the strike involved ten schools.

For ten months and twenty-seven bargaining sessions, the Andover School Committee had insisted that none of these demands were possible. But by the end of the first day of the strike, they had ceded many items. By day three, they agreed to almost all of the union’s demands.

Public-school workers can’t legally strike in Massachusetts — but Andover’s is just one of a series of school unions that have struck over the last four years, defying the ban, and in some cases paying heavy fines as a result.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is pushing for legislation that would legalize public sector strikes after six months of bargaining. . . .