One of the benefits of the 2011 Save Our Schools march in Washington, DC, was the way new organizations emerged in the months and years that followed. Many of the activists now fighting for our children’s future met for the first time that hot July afternoon on the grass near the White House. United Opt Out (UOO) was one of the groups that emerged in the months that followed, with a sharp focus on equipping parents and educators with tools and information to opt out of high stakes tests, to starve the testing machinery of the raw material it needs to operate.
In their book, “An Activist Handbook for the Education Revolution,” the seven leaders of UOO make it clear that their vision extends far beyond the act of opting out of tests. They are trying to spark a social movement. The introduction makes this clear:
We share our story for a reason. Stories create action. The UOO story may be a catalyst for other small pockets of resistance out there who are right now asking, Is it possible? Can our small group do this? Can we make a difference? Yes. You can. Read our story and see how six individuals (now seven) with no money, in different locations, from different backgrounds, each working a day job, managed to make something happen.
The book opens with a review of the corporate reform project by Morna McDermott, who closes this chapter with a reminder:
Reformers aren’t afraid that schools are failing. They’re afraid that schools will succeed. Why else do they close programs that work? Why else rob children of the joy of
Newark trying to force teachers to talk parents out of special education programs
Turnamian: So wrong about so many things
Newark school administrators now working for newly appointed state superintendent Christopher Cerf are trying to force the city’s special education teachers and specialists to persuade the parents of the neediest of the city’s children to buy into a special “pathway” that could rob the students of much needed services.
At meetings a few weeks ago, teachers were given literal scripts to read to parents over the phone or in person in an effort to talk the mothers and fathers into abandoning self-contained, special needs classrooms for their children in favor of so-called “all-inclusive” classes that mix special needs students with the regular population.
The script, obtained by this site, reads as if the teachers were employed in selling new appliances to the parents rather than engaging in what could be a life-altering decision to change their children’s educational program. One script opens:
“We are calling to share exciting news about special education programs for the 2015-2016 school year,” it reads. “Newark Public School (cq) has created special education pathways for students with disabilities to increase opportunities to be educated in the general education program.”
It concludes with the blatant half-truth: “Research has shown that students educated in the general education classroom show more growth than their self-contained peers.”
The truth is that, indeed, some special education students how more growth in general education programs, while some do not. A comprehensive study conducted by Princeton University reached this conclusion :
Brevard County School Board: $4 Million “improperly” paid for “undelivered” delivered software? Investigation needed…
Watch Brevard County School Board members Andy Ziegler and Karen Henderson engage in double-talk about paying $4 million of “improper” payment for undelivered “delivered” software. Ziegler wants to know the definition of “delivered” and then declares it a matter of “perspective.”
Has anyone called Florida’s Attorney General about this?
Here are details and source quotes from a superb summary by Darcey Addo.
Next we heard from two attorneys from Widerman Malek. They were hired to review the CrossPointe contract, the amendments, and the payments.
A summary of their findings include:
Millions of dollars of payments were “improper,”
Information should have been brought to the School Board by staff when the “contract started going sideways,” and
Terms of the contract were not defined before the contract was executed.
They indicated: “When we receive invoices from Crosspointe/EDR, there should have been a procedure whereby staff ensured that software had
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In discussions with friends and neighbors, I find two kinds of voters. The "I got my ballot, filled it out and mailed it already" and the "I'm waiting until the last minute" voter. I'm somewhere in-between.
I'm going to give you my picks for School Board but also throw out some picks for City Council as I think the make-up of the City Council could have a large affect on Seattle Schools (given the aggressive nature of Mayor Murray on this issue).
Note: in the primary you only vote for a School Board candidate if your district is up for election this year. However, after the primary, in the General election, you WILL be voting for four candidates.
Seattle School Board
District 1: I am truly disappointed in this race but both candidates, Michael Christophersen and Scott Pinkham, are moving onto the General election as they are the only two candidates. Neither has a webpage or Facebook page and I certainly hope we get to know more about them because one will be elected. (That is, unless there is a write-in candidate to be found. Stranger things have happened.)
District 3: Jill Geary. Both Lauren McGuire and Geary are bright, capable women. But I believe Jill Geary has the outlook and critical thinking skill set that this district needs right now. The Times endorsed McGuire and The Stranger endorsed Geary. (I want to note that somehow Geary's endorsements did not make it into the primary literature so I want to note that she is endorsed by:
Washington State Democrats Progressive Caucus
Martin Luther King County Labor Council
King County Democrats
King County Young Democrats
46th District Democrats
Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle
IUOE Local 609
Seattle School Board Director Sue Peters
State Representative Jessyn Ferrell
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski
Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien
Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn (fmr)
Shoreline City Councilmember Janet Way (fmr)
District 4: Rick Burkeand Laura Gramer are advancing onto the General as they are the only two in their race. I support Burke in this race.
District 6:Leslie Harris. I supported Marty McLaren (and indeed worked on her campaign last time) but while she is a kind, gentle soul, she has been a disappointment. Just like Geary over McGuire, Harris over McLaren because Leslie Harris has the keen eye and skills to ask critical questions and get real answers to support students/parents/educators AND taxpayers. Her election motto says it all: Transparency, Trust, Equity.
She has been endorsed by both the Times and The Stranger. I invite you to check her endorsements page at her website; it's long and pretty amazing.
July is the month that teachers get to be teachers without students.
I’ve now been to five cities over the course of the last month, and saw nothing but teachers working on developing themselves as professionals and people. What’s missing in the debate over extended time in schools and summers in American schools is the lack of time teachers get to spend not worrying about the students in their care. Building time into the school week is one thing, having independent time a whole nother. During the school year, meeting with teachers helps because we can address immediate needs and concerns, make adjustments, and decompress for a second before we have to get back on the train that is the school year.
Summer, by sharp contrast, allows us to take a time out from bells, alarms, phone calls, and the hundreds of other internal and external interruptions we face as teachers and get down to business as adults. This summer, I’ve seen teachers still keep students in mind, but talk about long-term curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, teacher leadership, and all the great stuff that gets piled on our shoulders while we’re still trying to manage our class load.
Maybe we need to rethink the idea of “summers off” as a summer to unpack and refuel.