Friday, February 13, 2015

You Can Become a Millionaire if You Go into Education! A Teacher on Teaching:

A Teacher on Teaching: You Can Become a Millionaire if You Go into Education!:

You Can Become a Millionaire if You Go into Education!

Suppose we could say to the young: “You should go into teaching. Someday, you can be a millionaire! You can be the next Nathaniel A. Davis!”

Corporate education. That’s the ticket!.

Before we turn to Mr. Davis, however, we need to set the background. This week Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee offered up the latest in a long string of schemes to fix the public schools. Teachers, I imagine, might wonder, “Shouldn’t education in this country be fixed by now? How many plans have politicians put forward?”

Ignore that conundrum.

Alexander was Secretary of Education under President George H. W. Bush.
(At no time in his life did he ever really work in education.)
By the way:  the answer to that questions was "no."


Here’s the bold new plan—not to be confused with previous bold new plans. Such as: No Child Left Behind. Mr. Alexander wants Congress to free up federal funds for 11,000,000 students from low-income families. Not new funds. No, Alexander is a fiscal hawk. His idea is to take away money that the public schools already receive. Then he wants to give it to parents to spend so they can enroll their children in schools of their choice. Choice! That’s what makes America great. Well, not counting parents who are gay or lesbian and might want to choose whom they marry.

Ignore that too.

What Senator Alexander wants is to divert $24 billion in funding. That’s 41% of federal dollars spent on K-12 education. Or: $2,100 per child.

Under his plan states might use the money to:

a) Help low-income students attend public schools outside their neighborhoods.
b) Fund individual scholarships to help pay private school tuition.
c) Attend charter schools, including “for profit” institutions.


Choice is cool! Like: would a member of Congress rather go to a fine restaurant with a lobbyist and A Teacher on Teaching: You Can Become a Millionaire if You Go into Education!:

Tennessee Education Report | Killing K-12, Inc.

Tennessee Education Report | Killing K-12, Inc.:



KILLING K-12, INC.

Iwrote earlier about legislation filed this session that would extend the life of failing Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA) operator K-12, Inc.
Now, legislation has been filed that would effectively kill K-12, Inc. in Tennessee.
HB 1331/SB 1363 by Rep. Mike Stewart and Sen. Jeff Yarbro, both of Nashville, would have the effect of ending K-12, Inc.’s reign as an unchecked operator of a failing virtual school.
Here’s the basic language of the bill:
Local Education Agencies – As introduced, prohibits an LEA from contracting for services with a nonprofit or for-profit operator or manager of a virtual school if the contract requires the LEA to pay more per pupil for students in the virtual school than the operator or manager charges individual students for its services. – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 16, Part 2.
Union County is the LEA “home” of the Tennessee Virtual Academy, a school that has been among Tennessee’s lowest performing since its opening. K-12, Inc. operates the school and does so at an apparent profit.
Interestingly, in Wednesday’s Senate Education Committee meeting, Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga brought up virtual schools during a presentation on Pre-K that had nothing to do with virtual schools.
Gardenhire repeatedly asked if online instruction, such as that offered through a virtual school, would be the most appropriate option for a student diagnosed with Autism. When the representative from the Tennessee Department of Education said that it would depend on the quality of the virtual program, Gardenhire persisted, accusing the TN DOE of hedging on the issue.
Gardenhire asked if it was appropriate to close a virtual school that might be the only option for an Autistic child.
This line of questioning was interesting not just because it was irrelevant to the topic at hand. It also outlines a likely line of argument proponents of K-12, Inc. such as Tennessee Education Report | Killing K-12, Inc.:

Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: Arizona Education Politics Getting Weirder and Weirder

Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: Arizona Education Politics Getting Weirder and Weirder:



Arizona Education Politics Getting Weirder and Weirder





It all started when Doug Ducey won the governor's race last November. Duce, who cut his political teeth as a student at Arizona State University editing the campus newspaper, made his millions in the ice cream business (Cold Stone Creamery). Immediately upon taking office he instituted a hiring freeze and promised to increase school choice. That same mid-term election saw a virtual unknown Republican school board member, Diane Douglas, defeat ASU Education professor David Garcia for the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Douglas vowed to dump Common Core on grounds of its being federal intrusion into a state responsibility, but policy had nothing to do with her victory; if you had an R behind your name in the mid-term election, you won.

Two days ago, Douglas fired two of the top administrators of the State Board of Education -- Executive Director and Asst. Executive Director. It's not hard to imagine why; they were far down the road of installing the Common Core in Arizona schools. Although Douglas is ex officio member of the State Board, the Governor questioned whether she had the authority to hire these two persons and he reinstated them. Yesterday, the whole business erupted in a public fight between Ducey and Douglas over whether the latter has the authority to fire people in her department. After a prayer breakfast Thursday morning, the Governor was barely out the door before he gave reporters an insincere piece of his mind: "[I'm] sorry she chose to go down that path." Douglas shot back. Ducey, she said, is establishing a "shadow faction of charter school operators and former state superintendents [referring to Lisa Graham Keegan who supported Douglas's opponent in the election] who support Common Core and moving funds from traditional public schools to charter schools."



Score +1 for Douglas for speaking the truth. The Arizona Senate has moved forward quickly in this session to support the privatization of K-12 education. The Senate education committee has already approved bills that would 1) award vouchers (at 90% state per pupil expenditure) to any student whose application Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: Arizona Education Politics Getting Weirder and Weirder:







Holyoke teacher's union president on potential state receivership: 'This is not a done deal' | masslive.com

Holyoke teacher's union president on potential state receivership: 'This is not a done deal' | masslive.com:



Holyoke teacher's union president on potential state receivership: 'This is not a done deal'





 HOLYOKE -- At a meeting of concerned teachers, city parents and community members on Thursday, the Holyoke Teacher's Association president spoke of the possibility of Holyoke Public Schools in receivership.
HTA President Gus Morales shared with the group of approximately 50 people a letter to the editor of CommonWealth Magazine, regarding a recent piece they wrote on Holyoke Public Schools.
"Holyoke is not asking to be recused by the state," Morales said, reading from his letter. He went on to critique outside help the state has provided to city educators. "The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has a history of bringing in private partners who have a poor understanding of Holyoke and consequently design ineffective education plans for our students," he said. "We saw it with America's Choice's involvement in the district, and we are seeing it with Project GRAD, which is working in two of our schools. The DESE itself has reported on the shortcomings of its private partners. There absolutely is room for gains in student achievement, but the obstacles our students face are created by economic injustice and not from poor teaching or lack of community concern."
Additionally, Morales emphasized that Lawrence, while also a Gateway City, is not the same as Holyoke. "In Lawrence, former mayor William Lantigua asked the DESE to take over the public schools. But in Holyoke, the City Council opposes the state placing the public schools into receivership. The School Committee opposes the move. The superintendent opposes the move. The teachers oppose the move. And hundreds of parents and other community residents are organizing against the move."
Morales was not the only education official to discuss the district. In a formal lettersent to state education officials, the Holyoke School Committee responded to critiques of the district.
Below is the full letter Morales sent to CommonWealth Magazine:
In regards to Michael Jonas' Feb. 5 column about Holyoke public schools, I'd like to point this out to the author and to Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester: Holyoke is not asking to be recused by the state. In fact, for as long as the state has been involved in the Holyoke Public Schools, all I can see is a track record of money being diverted to private interests and away from student services.In Lawrence, former mayor William Lantigua asked the DESE to take over the public schools. But in Holyoke, the City Council opposes the state placing the public schools into receivership. The School Committee opposes the move. The superintendent opposes the move. The teachers oppose the move. And hundreds of parents and other community residents are organizing against the move.
This opposition is based on good reason and sound policy. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has a history of bringing in private partners who have a poor understanding of Holyoke and consequently design ineffective education plans for our students. We saw it with America's Choice's involvement in the district, and we are seeing it with Project GRAD, which is working in two of our schools. The DESE itself has reported on the shortcomings of its private partners. There absolutely is room for gains in student achievement, but the obstacles our students face are created by economic injustice and not from poor teaching or lack of community concern.
We have not seen the DESE or any other state agency stepping up to allocate the resources necessary for Holyoke's schools to provide the education our students need and deserve. According to the state's own figures, school spending in Holyoke is barely hitting minimum requirements while the academic, social and emotional needs of our students are comparatively high.
That is why we need an investment in resources from the state; we do not 
Holyoke teacher's union president on potential state receivership: 'This is not a done deal' | masslive.com:

HOLYOKE SCHOOLS



White House Denounces House Bill to Rewrite No Child Left Behind - US News

White House Denounces House Bill to Rewrite No Child Left Behind - US News:



White House Slams House Rewrite of No Child Left Behind

Passing the bill could cost schools billions, the Obama administration says.


Big Education Ape: Student Success Act: Corporate Education Reform on Steroids | Education & the Workforce Committee http://bit.ly/1uFiMzf


 White House officials targeted House Republicans Friday in a report denouncing a bill to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, saying the measure would have "disastrous" fiscal consequences for schools nationwide.

The House bill, the Student Success Act, would reduce funding for schools by more than $7 billion in the next six years compared with the administration's proposal, laid out in President Barack Obama's2016 budget, the White House said in the report.
It's the first time the White House itself has directly responded to congressional efforts to update No Child Left Behind, formally known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In January, Education Secretary Arne Duncan detailed his priorities for an updated law, foreshadowing some proposals in the president's budget. The White House report takes particular issue with the House bill's funding levels, inclusion of portable Title I funds for disadvantaged schools and students, and removal of a "maintenance of effort" provision that ensures states keep funding levels relatively constant year to year. 
"After an economic crisis that hit school budgets and educators very hard, this bill attempts to cut our way to better schools … denying students and teachers the resources they need," Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a call with reporters Friday.
The House education committee late Wednesday passed a bill that among many things would significantly reduce the federal footprint in schools nationwide and allow funds for poor students to follow them between public schools. Democrats on the committee took a strong stance against the bill, saying they had no input in the process. No amendments offered by Democratic members were adopted.
Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic members of the Senate education committee have renewed their efforts to draft a bipartisan reauthorization bill. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who leads the committee, previously released a working draft of legislation and held several hearings on what needs to change in the law. While Alexander's draft bill included many provisions similar to proposals in the House bill – including Title I portability – it's unclear if they will remain in the final draft. The Title I topic, in particular, is a sticking point for the Democrats Alexander needs to woo.
Those who support Title I portability say it's a matter of helping disadvantaged students get out of failing schools and keep the resources they need to succeed.
Nearly 24 million students in more than half of all public schools benefit from Title I, the largest program in the sweeping education law, the White House report said. While the House proposal would lock in Title I funding at current levels, which haven't increased since 2012, Obama's 2016 budget seeks to increase the federal investment in Title I by $1 billion. Adding dollars and federal programs to the reauthorization bill was a non-starter for House Republicans, who on Wednesday during the bill's markup session blocked any amendment that would do so, including measures to reduce testing, beef White House Denounces House Bill to Rewrite No Child Left Behind - US News:

More Feedback for the Gates Foundation: Yes, Housing Affects Education - Living in Dialogue

More Feedback for the Gates Foundation: Yes, Housing Affects Education - Living in Dialogue:



More Feedback for the Gates Foundation: Yes, Housing Affects Education 





 By Anthony Cody.

We are getting decidedly mixed signals from the Gates Foundation these days. From Bill Gates himself, we get a sense of frustration that education has not welcomed his central thesis that the “tools of science” — namely common standards and high stakes tests aligned to them. He does not seem to understand the reasons his solutions have not worked, and it is unclear if he is even curious as to why. But Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellman, the new CEO of the Gates Foundation seems a bit more open, and just last month gave an interview in which she suggested that,
As a western academician, as a Gates Foundation person, the first thing you should be doing is listening and learning. And have a huge sense of humility about what you don’t know.
wrote a post about this, and tweeted it to her, and she responded thanking me for the feedback. So I am hoping that there is some serious reflection taking place up in Seattle, and in the interest of helping that process along, I am going to re-post a series of blog entries I wrote back in 2012, when I was engaged in an active back and forth dialogue with representatives of the Gates Foundation’s education team. In this series, I sought to document the core issues where the Gates Foundation’s agenda was off base.
Since today’s news indicates there may be a growing awareness at the Gates Foundation of the connections between housing and education, I am starting with this, the third essay in the 2012 exchange, originally posted here. Housing is one of several poverty-related issues that are addressed here. I will share the other four essays over the next week. (And the entire series, plus more, is available in my recent book, The Educator and the Oligarch, a Teacher Challenges the Gates Foundation.)

Can Schools Defeat Poverty by Ignoring It?

This post is the third round of a five-part exchange with the Gates Foundation. This post can also be viewed and commented on over at the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimist blog. This time I get to go first, and our topic is this:
What is the role of education reform in relation to the problem of family poverty? What is the best way to achieve greater equity in educational and life prospects for children of poverty?
The Gates Foundation’s central slogan is “All lives have equal value,” and the thrust of their work around education has been promoting institutional and political reform, based on the premise that this will increase equity, especially for the poor. The Gates Foundation has avoided systematic efforts to achieve equity of resources for schools and the children who attend them; instead, it asserts that teacher effectiveness is the best lever in this regard, and it has focused most of its research and advocacy on promoting public investment in systems that measure and promote teacher effectiveness.
In the name of reform, the Gates Foundation has wielded its political influence to effectively shift public funds, earmarked for the service of poor children, away from investment in those children’s direct education experience. Through the Race to the Top and NCLB waiver conditions, the US Department of Education has instead dedicated public resources to creating state and federal mandates for the Gates Foundation’s costly project — making sure every aspect of our educational system is “driven by data.” The future public More Feedback for the Gates Foundation: Yes, Housing Affects Education - Living in Dialogue:

The Worst Sort of Violence Against Children - Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:



The Worst Sort of Violence against Children

BY:  Steven Singer
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She was smiling and laughing, but her eyes were terrified.
Sitting in class among her fellow middle school students, her words were all bravado. But her gestures were wild and frightened. Tears were close.
So as the morning bell rang and the conversation continued unabated, I held myself in check. I stopped the loud rebuke forming in my teacher’s throat and just listened.
“You know that shooting at Monroeville Mall Saturday night, Mr. Singer? I was there!”
I swallowed. “My gosh, Paulette. Are you okay?”
She acts street smart and unbreakable, but I can still see the little girl in her. She’s only 13.
She slowed down and told us what happened; a story framed as bragging but really a desperate plea for safety and love.
She went to the mall with her mother. When they separated so she could go to the restroom, the gunfire began. She ran out and Mom was gone. She was ushered into a nearby store where the customers were kept in lockdown. She stayed there until the police cleared the mall, and it was safe to find her mother and go home.
A 17-year-old boy had gunned down three people. One was his target. The others were bystanders – parents who had gotten in the way. Now they were all in the hospital, two in critical condition.
And my student – my beautiful, precious, pain-in-the-butt, braggadocious, darling little child – was stuck in the mix.
I could imagine how scared she must have been separated from her mother, hiding with strangers as police swept the shops, food court and children’s play center.
Here she was telling the class her story and getting more upset with each word.
I gave her a meaningful look and told her we’d talk more later. Then I began class.
But I kept my eye on her. Was that relief I saw as the talk turned from bullets and bloodshed to similes and metaphors? Did the flush leave her cheeks as we crafted multi-paragraph theses? I hope so.
I think I know her pretty well by now. She’s been mine for two years – in both 7th and 8th grades. I even taught her older brother when he was in middle school.
I know she’s rarely going to do her homework – and if she does, it will be finished in the last 20 minutes. I know she’d rather be out playing volleyball or cheerleading than in school writing or reading. I know when she’s secure and when she’s scared.
And I know that today’s lesson will be a breeze for her. So why not put her in her comfort zone, show her things haven’t changed, she’s still the same person, she can still do this – nothing is different?
At least, that was the plan.
As any experienced public school teacher knows, you have to satisfy a person’s basic needs before you have any chance at teaching them something new. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is Badass Teachers Association:

Testing reform bill poisoned with intrusions and prohibitions on bargaining

Testing reform bill poisoned with intrusions and prohibitions on bargaining:







SB 566 – Testing (Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen) was heard Wednesday in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee. The bill was voted out of committee and recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee due to its fiscal impact.

SB 566 is much more than a testing bill. It diminishes teachers' bargaining rights.

Four major items need to be removed from SB 566.
1)    A change in the definition of deficit financing by a school corporation
2)    Changes to the bargaining of performance pay bonuses and master's degrees
3)    Provisions for innovative school networks
4)    An expansion of IEERB (Indiana Education Employee Relations Board) and its role in individual teacher contracts and Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs)

Currently, deficit financing is determined by a certain date so that both the board and the association can negotiate and secure the terms of the agreement for a year. If passed, this provision would allow the administration to manipulate the definition of deficit financing. It would give the employer complete control over spending after the contract has been agreed to. Therefore, allowing board to trump the master agreement every time the district makes expenditures it could be argued that it places it in a deficit.

This bill prohibits the association to bargain performance pay and master’s degree supplements. IEERB has already determined that performance pay is a wage-related issue, making it a mandatory subject of bargaining. Removing these items from bargaining further reduces teachers' ability to have a say in how they are compensated.

SB 566 expands the Innovative Network Schools statewide. This mirrors the law that was enacted for IPS last year and enables local school boards to reconstitute an existing public school within the district or contract out a school to a special management team. Though this bill gives permission for employees to bargain collectively, they will be at-will employees since they are treated like charter school employees.

This bill increases bureaucratic control over CBAs and individual teacher contracts. It sets up a process through which IEERB has control not only over the content of CBAs, but also the laws dealing with individual teacher contracts. This is an unnecessary expansion of state control. IEERB is designed to be a neutral agency. This expansion of duties puts IEERB in both the judge and jury role.        

ACTION: Please contact every member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and urge them to limit SB 566 to reforming testing and not to poison it with intrusions and prohibitions on bargaining and association issues.

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Eli Broad is bored with giving prizes. Moving on to new top-down strategies.

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Eli Broad is bored with giving prizes. Moving on to new top-down strategies.:



Eli Broad is bored with giving prizes. Moving on to new top-down strategies





"No more prizes", says billionaire Eli Broad. 
If your school district is hoping for a Broad Prize to carry it over the hump, you're S.O.L. Billionaire Eli Broad and his foundation have become bored with that strategy. The prize strategy is giving way to the new flavor of the month -- the "portfolio model"  in which different types of so-called "independent schools" compete for students and must demonstrate results.

Not enough bang for the bunk buck in prizes, says Eli. He says he gives, gives and gives some more. And your test score increases just aren't meeting his expectations. And besides, he dislikes traditional public schools with union teachers anyway and refuses to give them a nickel more. So there.

According to the L.A. Times:
Broad "has bypassed districts by promoting and funding charter schools, which have siphoned students from traditional schools. (Charters are publicly funded, and independently managed; most are non-union.) Broad recently established a $500,000 prize for charter organizations, an award that will continue.
The Times quotes Jeffrey Henig, professor of political science and education at Teachers College, Columbia University who says, the suspension of the prize could signal a "highly public step" toward the view that traditional districts "are incapable of reform."

I would say, it's more a indication that top-down reform strategies coming from Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Eli Broad is bored with giving prizes. Moving on to new top-down strategies.:

solidaridad: Robert D. Skeels on Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez's hostile opposition to Ethnic Studies in LAUSD

solidaridad: Robert D. Skeels on Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez's hostile opposition to Ethnic Studies in LAUSD:



Robert D. Skeels on Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez's hostile opposition to Ethnic Studies in LAUSD

"Bennett Kayser of Board District 5 authored the historic LAUSD Ethnic Studies Resolution!" — the Honorable José Lara

Revenue minded Refugio "e;Ref"e; Rodriguez opposes ethnic studies in favor of more test preparation

The more we learn of Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez, the more we realize that he's far worse than just another charter profiteer. Whether discussing his schools using money for advertising instead of classrooms; the astonishing 50% remediation rate of his so-called college-ready graduates; he and his backers' vile ableism and mocking of people with disabilities; or even his cowardly act of pretending he had no connections to the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) after they were called out on their reprehensible, scurrilous attacks on the Honorable Bennett Kayser, we're faced with the possibility that Rodriguez's compass is stuck somewhere between immoral and amoral.

Rodriguez's latest transgression? His outrageous attacks on the historic Ethnic Studies resolution just passed by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). His diatribe against ethnic studies occurred during the LA32 Neighborhood Council forum. While Rodriguez has long dabbled in respectability politics, and seems to wear self colonization with pride (e.g. name change), the idea that a supposed "educator" of color would seemingly support a white supremacist stance against ethnic studies is disheartening and disappointing to say the least. I left the following commentary after a post in the Deasy (LA) School Report blog that contained Rodriguez's rant against Ethnic Studies.

The Los Angeles community has struggled mightily for years to win an Ethnic Studies requirement. This is especially important after bigots Tom Horne and John Huppenthal shut down Ethnic Studies in Arizona, and Marshall Tuck shuttered those selfsame programs locally at Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS). Our students have a right to study about their own languages, cultures, and histories! For Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez and Andrew Thomas to mock, and even belittle the importance of the historic Ethnic Studies resolution championed by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board Members Bennett Kayser, Steve Zimmer, and Dr. George McKenna speaks volumes about their politics and values. Rodriguez and Thomas' anti-ethnic studies statements above find them dangerously close to advocating the same book banning and cultural sterilization programs implemented in other states that should never be acceptable in California (or anywhere for that matter).

There is only one LAUSD District 5 candidate whose track record on Ethnic Studies sets the gold standard: the Honorable Bennett Kayser!

Re-elect Ethnic Studies Supporter Bennett Kayser to LAUSD Board of Education

Teacher Unions Default on the Fightback » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Teacher Unions Default on the Fightback » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names:



Education's Race to the Bottom

Teacher Unions Default on the Fightback

by ANN ROBERTSON and BILL LEUMER
Public education in the U.S. is facing what Diane Ravitch, former assistant in the Department of Education, has called “an unprecedented time in American history” where schools are facing “a radical, extreme break with the past” because of a “direct attack on public education.”
Many of these attacks have been directed specifically at teachers, and consequently one might assume that teacher unions, the preeminent instrument that was created to defend them, has executed its own break with the past by dramatically ratcheting up its weapons of defense in order to rise to the challenge. Remarkably, teacher unions for the most part have maintained a conservative posture, basically doing little more than the same old routine of electing Democrats to office – a routine that has resulted in one defeat after another since this historic attack has unfolded. Fortunately, parents and often teachers acting independently of their unions have stepped up and won some significant victories.
In order to understand why the response of the teacher unions has been so listless and self-defeating, one must understand the source of the attack and what is needed in order to launch an effective defense. At its core, government leaders and influential corporate heads have observed what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has called the flattening of the world, meaning that globalization has forced economic and information barriers to come crashing down so that now, in order to succeed, American students must compete with students all over the world. Not only can capital move easily from one country to another, many jobs can be outsourced around the world, thanks to the Internet.
In explaining the contours of this new world, Friedman quoted an entrepreneur from India who insisted that for Americans, “There is no time to rest. That is gone. There are dozens of people who are doing the same thing you are doing, and they are trying to do it better… If there is a skilled person in Timbuktu, he will get work if he knows how to access the rest of the world, which is quite easy today.”
Friedman concludes his article by noting that when he was a child, his parents told him, “Tom, finish your dinner – people in China are starving.” Friedman, on the other hand, tells his children, “Girls, finish your homework – people in China and India are starving for your jobs.”
Because of this intense global competition, policy makers of both parties have jumped on the bandwagon and insisted that our schools must be radically reconstituted in order for our students to compete effectively in the new economy. Hence, the Obama administration, for example, has promoted teacher accountability, tying their employment and salaries to improvement in their students’ standardized test scores; it has championed charter schools in order to force public schools to improve by requiring them to step up and compete for students; it has raised expectations by forcefully encouraging states to adopt the high Common Core standards – all to make U.S. students more competitive in the global economy. The goal of promoting international U.S. corporate success has transmuted into an adoption of the entire corporate mode of operating – the “corporatizing” of education – in order to promote this goal.
Yet, there can be no question that these radical reforms are undermining education, diluting its quality, and demoralizing both teachers and students. Because of the incessant recourse to high-stake standardized tests to measure the progress of both teachers and students, teachers have been forced to narrow the curriculum and “teach to the test,” while students have been forced to put aside the process of discovery, which is essential to any real learning, and focus on the limited and shallow skill of navigating multiple-choice tests.

Meanwhile there is powerful evidence that conclusively shows that students’ classroom performance is far more correlated with their socioeconomic background than the teachers’ performance in the classroom. To hold teachers responsible for their students’ standardized test scores to a large extent amounts to blaming teachers for their students’ poverty, which tragically is on the rise thanks to the policies of both Democrats and Republicans that are allowing inequalities in wealth to surge. It was just reported that for the first time more than half of U.S. public school children live in poverty. Judging teachers by their students’ test scores has no rational basis yet is being forcefully imposed on our schools by the federal government.

Because their traditional allies from the Democratic Party have obsessively embraced these corporate-motivated innovations, teacher unions seem paralyzed, unable to respond with a new strategy. They criticize the overuse of standardized tests, but they keep electing Democrats to office who, once elected, more often than not join the corporate attack on education. The National Educational Association, the largest teacher union in the country, for example, has called for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s resignation, but they supported Obama’s presidential campaigns both times, even though Arne Duncan is simply implementing Obama’s education policies. The American Federation of Teachers has also endorsed Obama’s campaigns and gone so far as to accept “merit pay,” another toxic ingredient in education but forcefully promoted by the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, parents, students and teachers who are often acting independently of the teacher unions have taken up the challenge to defend public education. For example, in 2014 thousands of Denver seniors refused to take the standardized test, “saying they’re a distraction as they work to get into college and a waste of time and money.” In Florida, where testing is rampant, parents have joined a national protest movement. “One father broke down as he said he planned to pull his second grader from school. ‘Teaching to a test is destroying out society,’ he said.”
Jesse Hagopian, who has edited the excellent book, “More Than a Score – The New Uprising Against High Stakes Testing,” identified the core of the problem. At an event celebrating the opening of a school his kindergarten-aged son was attending, all the children were assembled on the grass. The governor’s education aide came and, according to Mr. Hagopian, announced: “I want to congratulate you all for making the choice to come to this school because you are now getting ready to compete in the global economy.” In response, Mr. morethanscoreHagopian noted: “Cheers did not erupt from the fourth-grade section.” Nor did anyone say, “Yes! My son can keep that kid down in China. My son will be ready to beat down that kid in Mexico.”
In a capitalist economy corporations compete with one another, and if the corporation does not compete successfully, it will not survive. But the logic that applies to corporations does not apply to the workers who are employed by them. When U.S. workers, for example, compete against Chinese workers, while it is admittedly important to have certain skills, the far more common factor that allows the Teacher Unions Default on the Fightback » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names:

Bruce Rauner Wants To Gut Unions In Illinois | The New Republic

Bruce Rauner Wants To Gut Unions In Illinois | The New Republic:



Republicans Think They've Finally Figured Out How to Kill Unions





 Remember unions? You know, those organizations that helped raise wages, made workplaces safer by pushing for laws that would punish employers for dangerous conditions, and gave us the 40-hour workweek?

You could be forgiven for forgetting them, considering that union membership has been on the decline for decades from its high of about 35 percent in the 1950s. That makes it all the more strange that in 2015when union membership in the U.S. has fallen to a measly 11.1 percentRepublicans have cast unions as the ultimate economic villain, responsible for job loss, stagnating wages, and increased foreign competition for labor. The less power unions have, the more Republicans seem to fight against them.
This week, newly elected Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signed an executive order that will prevent public-sector unions in the state from collecting mandatory dues from employees who choose to decline union membership. Those fees, often called “fair share” dues, are unions’ guarantee that the people who benefit from union contracts will kick in their fair share for the cost of organizing and running the union, regardless of whether or not they choose to participate in it.
Fair share dues have been a feature of union organizing since their beginning; the movement against those dues seems to date back over 100 years. But it wasn’t until the 1940s, when a racist oil lobbyist named Vance Muse pushed for right-to-work bills, which allow people to opt-out of paying union dues and membership, even if a workplace is unionized and every employee benefits from a union-negotiated contract. It was an attempt to stop unions from pushing for integration and for the economic power of the working class (especially African Americans); the practice began to catch on. Now, 25 states have some form of right-to-work legislation on the books.
Before becoming governor, Rauner was one of the heads of GTCR, a private equity firm that specialized in finding smaller companies in local markets, merging them with similar companies, and giving them a star CEOa process which often involved layoffs of workers. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that, to hear Rauner tell it, the fair share fee is the only thing keeping the state’s unemployment rate above 6 percent. 
“Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers,” Rauner said. “An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rightsand something that, as governor, I am duty bound to correct.” 
Rauner’s executive order is unprecedented and possibly illegal: It essentially overrides the state’s Labor Relations Act, a law passed in 1984.
“It’s bizarrelawless and bizarre,” said Martin Malin, the director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at the Illinois Institute of Technology Kent College of Law. “But you need to view it in a broader context. It fits in with what’s going on nationally.” 
In Kentucky, several counties passed their own right-to-work legislation, giving the state a patchwork of laws governing union dues. In Pennsylvania,Republican state legislators last year tried to stop unions from automatically deducting dues from people’s paychecks. In California, there’s a lawsuit headed to the Supreme Court, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which could turn it into a right-to-work state. This year, legislators in Wisconsin, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Missouri will all be considering right-to-work laws that would bar unions from charging fair share dues to non-members.
These pushes to quash unions could be seen as individual acts of anti-Bruce Rauner Wants To Gut Unions In Illinois | The New Republic:

No Child Left Behind Rewrite Heads to House Floor Despite Democrats' Objections - US News

No Child Left Behind Rewrite Heads to House Floor Despite Democrats' Objections - US News:






House Lawmakers Push 'No Child' Overhaul Forward

The bill would significantly reduce the federal government's footprint in public education.

The Associated Press

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who leads the House Education and the Workforce Committee, would not back amendments that added federal programs or costs to the bill.
Big Education Ape: Student Success Act: Corporate Education Reform on Steroids | Education & the Workforce Committee http://bit.ly/1uFiMzf
By + More

The House Education and the Workforce Committee has passed a bill to reauthorize the long-outdated No Child Left Behind Act, despite strong objections from Democratic committee members, the Obama administration and dozens of education advocacy groups.
The bill, dubbed the Student Success Act, passed on a party-line vote (21-16) Wednesday night. It would significantly scale back the role of the federal government in overseeing public education, give states more flexibility in designing accountability systems and consolidate dozens of federal education programs. Block grant funding also would allow states to distribute federal money to districts and schools as they see fit. The bill is expected to move to the House floor in less than two weeks.
"The Student Success Act helps provide American families the education system they deserve, not the one Washington wants," Rep. John Kline, the committee's chairman, said in a statement following the vote. "We have a lot of work ahead, and we will continue to move forward in a manner that is open, transparent and fair. America’s parents, teachers and students have waited long enough for a new law that helps every child in every school receive an excellent education."
In the days leading up to the committee markup, Kline, R-Minn., and his GOP colleagues were criticized by Democrats and others who said the chairman failed to include input from stakeholders like teachers, parents and students. The committee sent the bill, nearly identical to one the House passed in July 2013, to the House floor without holding any hearings, which Kline said would be unnecessary because the bill is so similar to the previous version and the committee heard from experts the last time around.
But Democrats on the committee said the refusal was a sign Kline wasn't willing to work in a bipartisan manner. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said 37 percent of the current committee members – some of whom are new and others of whom were absent for hearings in 2013 – never had the opportunity to contribute to the bill.
The tension was also evident during Wednesday's markup session as Republican committee members blocked every amendment offered by a Democrat, based only on whether the amendment would create a new program or cost additional money.
Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, for example, introduced a bill to reduce testing (the SMART Act) as an amendment, and the proposal had garnered bipartisan support.
"I struggle to understand how this can be opposed," Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif, said before the vote on the amendment.
But Kline said that while he supported the idea behind the amendment, he couldn't back the proposal because it called for additional funding, and the amendment was withdrawn. Likewise, amendments to include funding for high-quality early childhood education – a topic popular among both Democrats and Republicans – and to establish dropout prevention programs failed to pass.
Another amendment from Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., would have established federal protections against the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, but was ruled not germane.
Democratic members repeatedly said during the daylong hearing that they would have liked to see more collaboration between members, and that areas for compromise were possibly missed.
"I am extremely disappointed that this ill-advised legislation was approved and would have preferred the chairman work with Democrats to bring about a bipartisan bill that truly serves the students of this country," Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., said in a statement. "As a new member of the committee I felt completely left out of this rushed process and believe we owe it to the American people to have thoughtful [dialogues] about such overarching policies."
In the end, the only approved amendments came from four Republican members: Reps. Steve Russellof Oklahoma, Joe Heck of Nevada, Dave Brat of Virginia and Carlos Curbelo of Florida.
The Russell amendment strengthens student and teacher data privacy provisions; the Heck No Child Left Behind Rewrite Heads to House Floor Despite Democrats' Objections - US News:

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