Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Randi Weingarten: Lightening the Load of Student Loan Debt - The New York Times

Lightening the Load of Student Loan Debt - The New York Times:

Lightening the Load of Student Loan Debt



For people who choose educating others over enriching themselves, college debt can seem insurmountable — because it is insurmountable. To cultivate a well-educated, globally competitive American work force, we must make college affordable.

The American Federation of Teachers recently started a series of student debt clinics to help our members mitigate the crippling college debt incurred by millions of American students and their families. In 90-minute sessions, these clinics provide information on how to enroll in income-based student loan repayment programs and to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. For some participants, the clinics have been life-changing.
The A.F.T. is fighting on the front lines — warning students and their families about the risks of predatory behaviors by servicers, lenders and for-profit educational providers, educating them on repayment options and cultivating a new generation of activists who have the potential to halt this national student debt epidemic.
In October, a young adjunct professor from Miami attended a two-part A.F.T. debt clinic. Crushed by more than $168,000 in student loan debt and monthly payments exceeding $2,000, this professor, a single mother, was desperate. On the first day of the training, she kept to herself. That night, she applied for income-based repayment and was able to reduce her monthly payment to $700. On the second day of the training, she told the group that it was the first good night’s sleep she’d had in three years. She is now a trainer herself, helping others better understand how to relieve their debt.
The economic and professional advantages of earning a college degree are well established. And a highly educated work force is essential to the nation’s economic future. But many people simply can’t afford to seek higher education, or they pay dearly when they do. Forty-seven states are spending less per student than they did at the start of the recession, after adjusting for inflation. As a result, tuition costs have skyrocketed, putting more of the burden on students and their families.
These debt clinics help alleviate the costs of attending college, but the clinics alone do not make college accessible to all Americans. When our Lightening the Load of Student Loan Debt - The New York Times:

Schools Matter: Gates Moves to Take Over Teacher Education, Part 2

Schools Matter: Gates Moves to Take Over Teacher Education, Part 2:

Gates Moves to Take Over Teacher Education, Part 2


Part 1 was posted in December 2015, just days after the U of Michigan announced a $7 million grant from the Gates Foundation to support a project called TeachingWorks.  The immodest goal (has Gates ever been modest?) was/is to remake teacher education in a corporate high tech image, one that can be turned into deep and fast-running revenue streams by the increasingly rapacious Silicon Valley data miners and dystopian isolationists who view democratic community as a threat to unbridled corporate greed.

There are a couple of major updates to the story.  First, Deborah Ball has resigned as Dean of Education at UMichigan to work full-time on the TeachingWorks project.  Did the University sense of conflict of interest in having a dean for a great public university working for an outfit that, if successful, will overthrow its own program's legitimacy? 

For whatever reason, Dr. Ball seems excited at the prospect of devoting all her energies to two immediate priorities: 1) serving as director of TeachingWorks, thus providing a patina of respectability to a bad sci-fi conception of teacher education and, 2) serving as President of the American Education Research Association (AERA), where Gates, once again, has used some more millions of dollars to blast a hole straight to the top an organization that once represented legitimacy in educational research. 

The second big development in the teacher ed story is the arrival of avatar-based teacher training, which will require prospective teachers, at least in part, to earn their credentials by successfully conducting 
Schools Matter: Gates Moves to Take Over Teacher Education, Part 2:



PA House: Online Courses for the Poor. Teachers for the Rich. | gadflyonthewallblog

PA House: Online Courses for the Poor. Teachers for the Rich. | gadflyonthewallblog:

PA House: Online Courses for the Poor. Teachers for the Rich.


Pennsylvania has a long history of under-resourcing its public schools.
State Rep. Jason Ortitay has a solution.
The Republican representing Washington and Allegheny Counties envisions a world where poor kids learn from computers and rich kids learn from flesh-and-blood teachers.
It’s all in his proposed legislation, H.B. 1915, passed by the state House on Monday. It now moves on to the Senate.
The legislation would assign the Department of Education the task of organizing a collection of online courses for use by students in grades 6-12. Some classes might be created by the state and others would be made by third parties with approval for state use. If anyone so desired, the courses could be utilized by anyone in public school, private school, homeschool and beyond. The online learning clearinghouse thus created would be called the “Supplemental Online Course Initiative.”
But what does this have to do with impoverished schools?
According to the bill, itself, state education officials would:
“Upon request, provide assistance to school districts which have been declared to be in financial recovery status or identified for financial watch status under Article VI-A by facilitating the school districts’ search for low-cost or no-cost online course options.”
In other words, this bill provides an alternative for schools where the local tax base isn’t enough to fund traditional classes presided over by living, breathing teachers.
In the distant past, the state used to made up some of the slack to level the playing PA House: Online Courses for the Poor. Teachers for the Rich. | gadflyonthewallblog:

CURMUDGUCATION: Charterista Faux Teacher Programs Make ESSA Demands of Feds

CURMUDGUCATION: Charterista Faux Teacher Programs Make ESSA Demands of Feds:

Charterista Faux Teacher Programs Make ESSA Demands of Feds

The damndest things turn up on Twitter some days. Take this document. 

Entitled "Joint Statement Calling for Transparency of Outcomes to Improve Teacher Preparation and Better Serve Students and Districts," this is a fairly transparent demand by several "alternative path" teaching programs that new regulations give them a better advantage in the Brave New ESSA World.

Urban Teachers—along with Aspire Public Schools, Blue EngineBoston Teacher ResidencyMatch Teacher ResidencyNational Center for Teacher ResidenciesRelay Graduate School of Education,Teach For America and TNTP—join together to request the Department of Education and Congress create clear guidance for state education agencies as they attempt to act on this opportunity and improve the quality of teacher preparation at the state-level.

And by "improve" of course they mean "make more profitable for folks like us." Specifically, these folks would like the feds to "provide states with specific guidance around developing systems where all teacher preparation programs are accountable for collecting and publicly sharing outcomes data on the success of their programs, participants, and graduates." 

Yes, it's one of the Top Ten Dumbest Reform Ideas Ever, back for another round of zombie policy debate. The same VAM-soaked high stakes test scores that has been debunked by everyone fromprincipals to statisticians to teachers, the same sort of system that was called arbitrary and capricious by a New York judge, the same sort of system just thrown out by Houston-- let's use that not just to judge teachers, but to judge the colleges from which those teachers graduated.

Why would we do something so glaringly dumb? The signatores of the letter say that consumers need 
CURMUDGUCATION: Charterista Faux Teacher Programs Make ESSA Demands of Feds:



CURMUDGUCATION: PA: A Curious Online Learning Bill

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: A Curious Online Learning Bill:

PA: A Curious Online Learning Bill



I'm not honestly sure what to make of this one, but this bill has actually passed in the PA House, so we should probably pay a little bit of attention. It deals with online learning, so that demands attention as well.

House Bill 1915 doesn't even have a snappy name, but its purpose is to establish the Online Course Clearinghouse.

The bill was put out there by Rep. Jason Ortitay (R) who indicated that its purpose was "to establish a central repository of online courses accessible to public schools, nonpublic schools, home education programs, and the general public." It was presented back in March, and if we take a trip through the text, we find that it's about, well, setting up a clearinghouse of online courses. The PA Department of Ed is supposed to set it up, and companies or whoever that produce the courses will pay up to $75 to "apply" to have their course listed (there's also a fine of up to $1000 if they turn out to have lied about the course's swellness).

There will be an online catalog of available courses, and you'll be able to buy the course for your school district or charter or home school or whatever through the site. Oh, and it will have reviews and ratings of the courses, just like Amazon. By 2021, the department is required to produce a report showing how many students used how many of the online courses. School systems can still 
CURMUDGUCATION: PA: A Curious Online Learning Bill:



Education Research Report: Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Education Research Report: Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?:

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

The study: “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?” was published  in the AERA peer-reviewed journal AERA Open.  
Key Findings:
  • In recent years, parents and teachers have become increasingly concerned about changes in kindergarten classes across the country leading many to wonder if kindergarten has become the new first grade. Recent accounts suggest that accountability pressures have trickled down into the early elementary grades and that kindergarten today is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills and a reduction in opportunities for play.

  • Researchers from the University of Virginia tackled this question by comparing kindergarten and first grade classrooms between 1998 and 2010. They found that over a 12-year period, kindergarten classes have become increasingly like first grade.

  • Researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study in 1998 and 2011 to compare kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010. The sample included 2,500 public school kindergarten teachers in 1998 and 2,700 in 2010 and whenever possible, responses from kindergarten teachers in 2010 were also compared to those of first grade teachers in 1999.

  • The authors hypothesized that kindergarten classrooms in 2010 would be more focused on literacy and math than those in 1997, because these subjects were specifically assessed by No Child Left Behind.

  • Based on the data they examined, the authors found that kindergarten teachers in 2010 have much higher expectations of their students than in 1998 and their classrooms have become more similar first grade classes from the ’90s.

  • Specifically, teachers in 2010 are much more likely to believe academic instruction should begin before kindergarten, including an increase in the number of teachers who believe students should know the alphabet and how to use a pencil before beginning kindergarten, both of which rose by 33 Education Research Report: Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?:


Five Myths Reformers Want You to Believe about Teachers – Save Maine Schools

Five Myths Reformers Want You to Believe about Teachers – Save Maine Schools:

Five Myths Reformers Want You to Believe about Teachers

Teachers are no strangers to having stories told about them in order to move political agendas forward. During the era of No Child Left Behind, tales of lazy and incompetent teachers helped pave the way for strict accountability measures. Now, as ESSA marches forward with its plans to commodify, digitalize, and outsource education, a new set of myths has begun to circulate. Here are some of the most common fables you’re likely to hear.
  1. We spend most of our time lecturing.

In a 2010 article titled Teachers Unions vs. Online Education, Katherine Mangu-Ward summed it up like this: “A child who was perfectly content with a video stream, an MP3, and a chart flowing past him is suddenly ordered to sit still, shut up, and listen while a grown-up scrawls on a blackboard and delivers a monologue.”
lecture-gif.gif
But here’s the truth: most teachers spend very little time lecturing. At the elementary level, most teachers are trained in the “workshop model” of instruction, where direct instruction is limited to a short “mini-lesson” only. Across all grade levels, most teachers combine discussions, projects, and group work into their daily lessons. Scrawling on blackboards while delivering monologues? Not so much.

 2) We make our kids memorize lots of stuff.

This one also makes a great foil for reform plans: while teachers simply jam a bunch of knowledge into kids’ brains…
6a012876c6c7fb970c01a73dfd8d3c970d-300wi.gif
…online and digital programs will actually teach kids how to think.
But again: this just doesn’t happenIn most contemporary education programs, teachers are taught to use the constructivist model of education, where knowledge is “co-created” between teacher and student, and memorization takes a back seat to meaning-making. Meanwhile, the end-of-year math and ELA assessments don’t actually require students to know any particular facts at all; instead Five Myths Reformers Want You to Believe about Teachers – Save Maine Schools:


The Disruption of America's (Broken) Education System - The Atlantic

The Disruption of America's (Broken) Education System - The Atlantic:

America's Not-So-Broken Education System

Do U.S. schools really need to be disrupted?



Everything in American education is broken. Or so say the policy elites, from the online learning pioneer Sal Khan to the journalist-turned-reformer Campbell Brown. As leaders of the XQ project succinctly put it, we need to “scrap the blueprint and revolutionize this dangerously broken system.”

This, they explain, is the sad truth. The educational system simply stopped working. It aged, declined, and broke. And now the nation has a mess on its hands. But there’s good news, too. As Michelle Rhee’s group, StudentsFirst, declares: Americans can “work together to fix this broken system.” All it takes is the courage to rip it apart.

This is how the argument goes, again and again. The system used to work, but now it doesn’t. And though nobody inside schools seems to care, innovators outside the establishment have developed some simple solutions. The system can be rebuilt, reformers argue. But first it must be torn down.

American education has some obvious shortcomings. Even defenders of the schools can make long lists of things they’d like to change. But the root of the problem is not incompetent design, as is so frequently alleged. Nor is it stasis. Rather, it is the twofold challenge of complexity and scale. American schools are charged with the task of creating better human beings. And they are expected to do so in a relatively consistent way for all of young people. It is perhaps the nation’s most ambitious collective project; as such, it advances slowly.

For evidence of this, one need look only to the past. If the educational system had broken at some point, a look backward would reveal an end to progress—a point at which the system stopped working. Yet that isn’t at all the picture that emerges. Instead, one can see that across many generations, the schools have slowly and steadily improved.


Consider the teachers in classrooms. For most of American history, teachers received no training at all, and hiring was a chaotic process in which the only constant was patronage. To quote Ted Sizer on the subject, the typical result was one “in which some mayor’s half-drunk illiterate uncle was hired to teach twelfth-grade English.” There were other problems, too. As late as the 20th century, for instance, would-be educators generally had little if any student-teaching experience prior to entering classrooms, and they received no preparation for teaching particular content areas. Even as recently as mid-century, prospective teachers had no background in adolescent cognition and received no training in The Disruption of America's (Broken) Education System - The Atlantic:


JACC: Ex-LA mayor Riordan fined by Ethics Commission - MyNewsLA.com

Ex-LA mayor Riordan fined by Ethics Commission - MyNewsLA.com:

Ex-LA mayor Riordan fined by Ethics Commission


Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan was ordered Thursday to pay an $11,250 ethics fine for failing to include required disclaimer language on communications supporting three candidates for Los Angeles Unified School District board seats.
The fines were approved by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which found that Riordan violated rules aimed at ensuring people know who is spending money to send out campaign materials.
Riordan sent out electronic communications in 2013 expressing support for LAUSD board candidates Monica Garcia, Kate Anderson and Antonio Sanchez, but he neglected to include language saying those materials were not authorized by the candidates themselves and their committees, Ethics Commission investigators wrote in a report.
Riordan spent $30,000 on those messages, and sent them out to about 500,000 people, investigators said.
Riordan did disclose the independent expenditures and submitted copies of the communications to the Ethics Commission, investigators said.
Riordan has admitted to the violation and agreed to pay the $11,250, which is 75 percent of the $15,000 in possible penalties, investigators said. Each of the three violations carries a maximum penalty of $5,000.
The total fine amount is meant to “reflect the serious nature of the violations and Riordan’s prior enforcement history, while fostering cooperation with Ethics Commission Ex-LA mayor Riordan fined by Ethics Commission - MyNewsLA.com:


Appeals court: Parents’ rights trumps agency authority :: SI&A Cabinet Report

Appeals court: Parents’ rights trumps agency authority :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet:

Appeals court: Parents’ rights trumps agency authority

Appeals court: Parents’ rights trumps agency authority


(Calif.) In a ruling with implications for how disputes over special education services are resolved, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed a parent’s right to a due process hearing regardless of potentially conflicting state laws.
The ruling, which was released unpublished but could have an influence throughout much of the western United States, also clarified that “related services” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act can include medically necessary occupational and physical therapy if it has been included as part of a student’s Individualized Education Plan.
The court finding is important to both school districts and state and county social welfare agencies that are often at odds over the need to provide related services to students with disabilities and, more to the point, who pays for it.
To some degree, prior legislative and court actions in many states have already established that occupational and physical therapy can be ordered by an IEP team for a student if deemed necessary.
In this instance, it was the California Department of Health Care Services that brought the case forward against the parents of a severely disabled 12-year-old boy enrolled in the Cupertino Union School District. One of the department’s programs, the California Children’s Services, provides physical and occupational therapy to low-income children with acute or chronic medical conditions.
For several years, the boy’s physical and occupational therapy were provided through the Children’s Appeals court: Parents’ rights trumps agency authority :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet:

UNO’s Rangel gets a slap on the wrist for charter scam. | Fred Klonsky

UNO’s Rangel gets a slap on the wrist for charter scam. | Fred Klonsky:

UNO’s Rangel gets a slap on the wrist for charter scam.

juan-rangel1
What happens to federal investigations of Chicago corruption?
Whatever happens when you read, “The feds are investigating?”
Yesterday Rahm Emanuel’s campaign chairman and former United Neighborhood Organization boss, Juan Rangel, got a slap on the wrist from the Securities and Exchange Commission for engaging in securities fraud.
UNO was one of the largest charter school operators in the state of Illinois. Money isn’t made by charters by charging admission. Gobs of money are made through contracts, kick-backs and bond sales to investors.
In the settlement with the SEC, Rangel got away with paying ten grand in exchange for admitting to doing nothing wrong.
Rangel gets to pay the ten grand in quarterly payments of $2500 dollars everyUNO’s Rangel gets a slap on the wrist for charter scam. | Fred Klonsky: 
Former UNO boss Juan Rangel broke securities law, SEC says | Chicago Sun-Times - http://wp.me/p7fJAs-10ji



Ex-Chicago charter school boss settles securities fraud case - http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160622/news/306229957/ 



In the Newark schools, the second most powerful employee isn’t even an employee. Go figure. |

In the Newark schools, the second most powerful employee isn’t even an employee. Go figure. |:

In the Newark schools, the second most powerful employee isn’t even an employee. Go figure.

Wright: Who pays him?
Wright: Who pays him?


Christopher Cerf, Gov. Chris Christie’s man in Newark, apparently thinks the city residents are stupid and do not deserve to know how or why or by whom his chief aide, De’Shawn Wright, is paid. That really is all anyone needs to know about why Cerf should not be the schools chief in New Jersey’s largest city–but, apparently, Cerf’s contempt for the city residents is just fine for most school board members and his ally, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
Wright, a champion of charter schools in Washington, DC, New York, and Newark, and  past associate of Cerf and Cerf’s protégé and predecessor, Cami Anderson, is  Cerf’s chief of staff, according to an organizational chart released at Tuesday night’s board meeting. Wright is paid a six figure salary but exactly how much is a secret–as is the source of his income.
Although Wright is probably the second most powerful figure in the Newark schools, he doesn’t work for the Newark schools.
Got that? Let’s repeat it: Although Wright is probably the second most powerful figure in the Newark schools, he doesn’t work for the Newark schools.
Who does he work for? Probably for the Fund for Newark’s Future–otherwise known as what’s left of the $100 million Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave to the Newark schools. But that hasn’t yet been confirmed because the fund is a private organization and not subject to New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Or some other private foundation devoted to the expansion of charter schools.
Conflict of interest?
This is what happened Tuesday night as most members of the once defiant and courageous school board sat back and allowed Cerf to drone on about how he and Anderson did marvelous things for the children of Newark for the last five years. The board members, most of them,  now have to shut up because Baraka and Cerf are best budsIn the Newark schools, the second most powerful employee isn’t even an employee. Go figure. |:

Marie Corfield: 7 Things Wrong with Gov. Christie's School Funding Proposal

Marie Corfield: 7 Things Wrong with Gov. Christie's School Funding Proposal:

7 Things Wrong with Gov. Christie's School Funding Proposal



There's an old joke that goes like this: 
Q: How do you know when a politician is lying? 
A: When their lips are moving.

I guess now that Christie's poll numbers are in the tank, his ego is pushing him to appear relevant. So what does he do when his back is against the wall? Attack public education of course. 

In true Christie style, he gave a speech yesterday that even Pinocchio would cringe at, ripping into the state's school funding formula—one of the most progressive in the nation—and vowing to change it to flat funding.

There are so many things wrong with it that it's hard to know where to begin. But let's start with this: Gov. Christie used the word 'unfair' seven times in his speech. So here are seven things that are unfair not only with his proposals, but with how he has treated public education over the past 6 years:

1. Gov. Christie has cut almost $7 billion in education funding statewide, and given away just about that much in corporate tax breaks, yet he has the nerve to claim that urban education is 'failing'.

2. Under Gov. Christie, urban charter schools have bled their host public school districts of hundreds of millions of dollars, which has forced massive layoffs and cuts to programs and vital services. 

3. Under Gov. Christie, segregation has skyrocketed in urban school districts as charters habitually skim the best and brightest (and least expensive to educate) Marie Corfield: 7 Things Wrong with Gov. Christie's School Funding Proposal:


Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Don't wade in the water, children.

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Don't wade in the water, children.:

Don't wade in the water, children.



"We'll spend whatever it takes to remove any devices or any piping that might pose lead hazard risk. Whatever that is, however much it costs, we will do it to make sure that our water pipes are safe and that our children, your children, are safe." --  Forrest Claypool
Claypool sounds like a guy trying to get out of a bad marriage after he's been caught cheating.

Lots of questions here. What does he mean, "whatever it takes"? What if it takes billions, like in Flint for example? I mean, we're only beginning to get a handle on the problem. Right? And why is that?

Every day, the number of schools found with leaded water grows. CPS is still awaiting test results from dozens of buildings but has disclosed that at least 27 28 schools have dangerous levels of lead in their water fountains.

Does Claypool have some unlimited mountain of money stashed somewhere that he's not telling us about? I thought the system was "broke". At least that's what he's been telling the CTU as an excuse for not settling contract negotiations with the union.

Does "whatever it takes" include making things right for the potentially tens of thousands of students, former students, and teachers who have drunk from those toxic fountains for years?


And finally, how can parents trust that current and past lead testing is on the up and up? The Guardian names Chicago as one of 33 U.S. cities that have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Don't wade in the water, children.:






You Can't Make this Stuff Up: Online School Students Gather Virtually for K12 International Academy Graduation Ceremony

Online School Students Gather Virtually for K12 International Academy Graduation Ceremony:

Online School Students Gather Virtually for K12 International Academy Graduation Ceremony

Students living in 32 states and 27 countries who have earned their high school diplomas through the full-time, online school K12 International Academy, will gather online June 24th during a unique graduation ceremony to celebrate their academic achievements and bid farewell to their favorite teachers.
K12 International Academy is an accredited online private school for full- and part-time students in grades K-12. As an online school available to any student with an internet connection, K12 International Academy has a unique student population that represents every state in the U.S. and over ninety countries around the globe. Highly dedicated, certified teachers deliver a quality instruction using online lessons along with text books and lab materials that are shipped to the students. Most students take a college preparatory curriculum over a four year period, and each full-time student also has the support of an Academic Coach and College Counselor to ensure personal and academic success. Students graduate with a U.S. diploma recognized by colleges and universities.
"We are committed to bringing individualized learning to all kinds of minds," said Miriam Rube, Head of School for K12 International Academy. "We help students learn in the ways that are right for them, nurturing a joy for learning and a passion to pursue their interests. And the results are nothing short of amazing."
The virtual graduation ceremony will start with the Pledge of Allegiance, read by Heather Smith of Houston, TX, a member of the Class of 2016 and a recipient of both the Girl Scout Gold Award and the US Congressional Award Gold Medal. Graduating seniorAnnika Horne will provide a rendition of the National Anthem.  Annika is an award-winning singer and actress who has raised over $200,000 to benefit the UT Southwestern Children's Medical Center through a series of benefit concerts.
Big Education Ape: A new political strategy: throw online charters overboard to save the rest of the school privatization industry.| Alternet - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-new-political-strategy-throw-online.html
Big Education Ape: CURMUDGUCATION: Pearson's Cyber-Kindergarten Sales Pitch - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/06/curmudgucation-pearsons-cyber.html



CURMUDGUCATION: Charter vs. Charter Fight Heats Up - http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2016/06/charter-vs-charter-fight-heats-up.html



Big Education Ape: CURMUDGUCATION: Can Cyber Schools Be Saved? - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/06/curmudgucation-can-cyber-schools-be.html



Big Education Ape: CURMUDGUCATION: PA: New Face for Old Pearson Scam - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/06/curmudgucation-pa-new-face-for-old.html





We May Never Know the Real Michelle Rhee!

Ex-state Senator Ron Calderon enters guilty plea in bribery case | 89.3 KPCC:

Ex-state Senator Ron Calderon enters guilty plea in bribery case



Former state Sen. Ron Calderon pleaded guilty to mail fraud Tuesday afternoon in a bribery case that sullied the reputation of the Legislature and helped win the recent passage of a ballot measure on suspending lawmakers without pay for wrongdoing.
The plea, part of a deal with prosecutors announced last week, went before federal Judge Christina Snyder in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Snyder accepted the plea and set a sentencing date for Sept. 19. 
As part of the agreement, Calderon admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for supporting certain pieces of legislation. Prosecutors dropped more than 20 other charges in exchange for the agreement. 
The deal spares Calderon from a trial that had been scheduled for next month and could lead to a lighter sentence for the Montebello lawmaker, who served in the Senate and Assembly for a dozen years. Prosecutors have said they’ll ask for no more than 70 months in prison, far less than the maximum 20 years that is possible.
The court is not bound by the prosecutors' sentencing recommendation. 
In court, Snyder asked Mark Geragos, Calderon's attorney, whether the plea agreement is in his client's best interest.
“It’s definitely in his best interest…I do have issues with whether it’s in the interest of justice,” Geragos said. The attorney said outside of court that the government has too much power and can bring an unlimited number of charges against a defendant.
But given his client's age, he said the plea offer wasn't one they could pass on.
"When you're 58 and you're facing basically 200 some odd years, are you going to roll the dice or are you going to take basically an offer that you can't refuse?" Geragos said.
U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker countered that she believes the reason Calderon accepted the plea agreement was because he had no defense to pursue.
"If he had a defense, he would have presented it," she said. She added that the deal avoids a lengthy trial and allows her to focus her legal resources elsewhere.
According to the plea agreement, Calderon backed legislation that the government said helped a hospital owner maintain a massive health-care fraud scheme. In exchange, the hospital owner paid $30,000 to Calderon's son for three summers of work, the plea agreement stated.
The law in question was repealed in 2013, and the hospital owner was prosecuted, the Associated Press reported.
Calderon also acknowledged taking money from an undercover FBI agent who posed as an associate of a Los Angeles movie studio. He sought Calderon's help promoting an unsuccessful bill that would have expanded tax credits for the film industry. In Ex-state Senator Ron Calderon enters guilty plea in bribery case | 89.3 KPCC:
Big Education Ape: Why Has Michelle Rhee "Disappeared"? - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2015/04/why-has-michelle-rhee-disappeared.html

 
Big Education Ape: Mark Geragos wants to know: Who leaked Calderon affidavit? | Michelle Rhee and the Calderon Scandal - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2015/01/mark-geragos-wants-to-know-who-leaked.html

Big Education Ape: Calderon trial Update: Will Michelle Rhee Testify? | The Sacramento Bee The Sacramento Bee - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2015/04/calderon-trial-update-will-michelle.html

With guilty pleas, Calderon brothers political legacy punctuated with corruption - http://www.whittierdailynews.com/government-and-politics/20160621/with-guilty-pleas-calderon-brothers-political-legacy-punctuated-with-corruption 

Will Hillary Clinton Turn Her Back on Public Education if Elected President? CT News Junkie

CT News Junkie | OP-ED | Will Hillary Clinton Turn Her Back on Public Education if Elected President?:

OP-ED | Will Hillary Clinton Turn Her Back on Public Education if Elected President?



It would appear more than likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected as the next president of the United States come next fall.
She can be thankful in no small part to the major role that the teacher organizations in the nation such as the National Educational Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) played in their early endorsement of her presidency. Public school teachers and parents are fighting the battle of their lives in attempting to hold off the forces of privatization along with the onslaught of charter schools in the nation.
Sadly, theses forces of privatization received major support from Arne Duncan, the former Secretary of Education appointed by President Barack Obama. No other Education Secretary, especially Democratic, has done more to privatize and weaken public education than Arne Duncan who was also obsessed with standardized testing. Under his regime, public schools across the nation experienced two failed programs with Race to the Top (RTTT) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). His so-called “testocracy” grossly neglected the impact of childhood poverty on learning for children from impoverished homes.
Likewise, under Duncan’s time in office, we have witnessed the demise of the neighborhood school and the growth of charter schools, all with corporate sponsors. Hence, it was obvious that former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was not a public school advocate but rather a paid shill who was in the pockets of the corporate reformers and the testing industry.
If Clinton is elected as president in 2016, it will not take very long for both the NEA and the AFT to know whether their early presidential endorsement has been wasted, as was the case following Barack Obama’s nomination eight years ago in his selection of Duncan as Secretary of Education. Whether Clinton chooses someone to serve as Secretary of Education who will undo the disastrous harm that Duncan has inflicted on public education in his eight years remains to be seen. Will she choose another corporate reformer or will she surprise everyone with an appointment of someone who will be a true advocate of public education and who is widely respected by the supporters of public education in the nation?
One who comes to mind as a possible choice and someone who has a proven track record over the years in her support of public education and teachers is Diane Ravitch, author of the best selling book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Education. Dr. Ravitch has had experience as Assistant Secretary of Education during the George W. Bush administration, so she possesses firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of the U.S. Department of Education. Ravitch has traveled the country giving speeches to teacher groups and parents. There is no other individual the corporate reformers fear more for she is, without question, the nation’s greatest public school advocate. Her blog, dianeravitch.com is read by millions of educators and parents throughout the nation.
Aside from being very knowledgeable and a huge advocate for public education, she is a highly competent and distinguished educator, who has a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University.
Indeed, if Hillary Clinton wishes to demonstrate her support for public education in the United States there is no better way to prove it to teachers and parents by appointing an individual such as Dr. Ravitch to be the next Secretary of Education and who will, undoubtedly, lead the charge of restoring public education to its rightful place in the United States.

What if teachers could talk to Bill Gates about schools like a Bolivian minister did about chickens? - The Washington Post

What if teachers could talk to Bill Gates about schools like a Bolivian minister did about chickens? - The Washington Post:

What if teachers could talk to Bill Gates about schools like a Bolivian minister did about chickens?
Chickens huddle in their cages at an egg processing plant in Atwater, Calif., in 2008.  (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Bill Gates has been upsetting teachers for years. He’s spent a fortune to push education initiatives that he liked — even though educators thought they were, at best, a waste of money. Now he’s insulted a Bolivian government minister by doing the same thing. But this time, it’s over chickens. And the minister reacted publicly in a way teachers simply do not.
Gates has poured billions of dollars over more than 15 years into major projects that he fervently believed would improve public schools. None have turn out quite as he had hoped.
There was, for example, the creation and implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which most states adopted years ago but that became so controversial that some states have dropped them and many more have moved away from the federally funded tests designed to go along with them. Gates, the chief executive of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recently conceded that the organization made big mistakes with the Core implementation, something many teachers have been saying for a long time.
Gates’s love for data also led him to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop teacher evaluation systems that can supposedly figure out the “value” of a teacher with the use of student standardized test scores — a method that assessment experts said was unreliable for those purposes. Most state adopted these systems but more recently have started to drop them. Another effort gone awry.
This time, the philanthropist has come up with a way he thinks will people who live in extreme poverty in poor countries around the world can improve their lives. How? By raising chickens. He wrote about it here in a piece “Why I Would Raise Chickens,” which says in part:
If you were living on $2 a day, what would you do to improve your life?
That’s a real question for the nearly 1 billion people living in extreme poverty today. There’s no single right answer, of course, and poverty looks different in different places. But through my work with the foundation, I’ve met many people in poor countries who raise chickens, and I have learned a lot about the ins and 
What if teachers could talk to Bill Gates about schools like a Bolivian minister did about chickens? - The Washington Post:

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