Monday, June 27, 2016

Exonerate Ethel! | Bill Ayers

Exonerate Ethel! | Bill Ayers:



 Exonerate our Mother, Ethel Rosenberg | Rosenberg Fund for Children - http://www.rfc.org/node/2024

Exonerate Ethel!

Background information
My brother and I have embarked on a campaign (run by the Rosenberg Fund for Children), to get President Obama to exonerate our mother, Ethel Rosenberg, before he leaves office.

There is damning new evidence showing the government knew she was not a spy, and executed her anyway. We have a very strong case, and I’m writing to ask for your help.


Last summer, previously secret government material at the heart of the case against my parents, was made public after the National Security Archive successfully sued for its release. This material – the transcript of the sworn, grand jury testimony of David Greenglass (my mother’s brother, and the chief prosecution witness against her) – demonstrates that the government knowingly manufactured the case against my mother, to pressure my father to cooperate.

Last July, the grand jury release made international headlines, with story after story calling my mother’s conviction and execution into question. Shortly thereafter, my brother and I published an Op-Ed in The New York Times calling for her exoneration and got tremendous public support for the idea.

On what would have been my mother’s 100th birthday in September, Members of the City Council in New York issued a proclamation stating my mother’s execution was “wrongful ,” and the Manhattan Borough President declared it “Ethel Rosenberg Day of Justice in the Borough of Manhattan.” These actions by government officials in the largest city in this country – where my parents lived all their lives until their arrests, and where their trial took place – demonstrates the growing recognition that my mother’s conviction was a travesty.

Over the winter, a major national network TV news program began working on a segment expected to air this fall, interviewing my brother and me about the miscarriage of justice in our parents’ case.

And this spring, we launched a petition at www.rfc.org/ethelcalling on President Obama to formally exonerate my mother before he leaves office.I’m writing to you now to ask you to help us in this effort.

The time is right to do this not only because of glaring new evidence that the government knew my mother was not a spy and executed her anyway.It’s also essential because we’re witnessing a horrifying resurgence of the same kind of attacks that McCarthy and Hoover engaged in – only now, it’s aimed at Muslims, immigrants, and transgender people; as well as Black Lives Matter organizers, environmental activists, and others challenging our broken system.


We require a government that is just, humane, and accountable…at this moment in history more than ever. 

Please sign the petition at www.rfc.org/ethel .

Exonerate Ethel! | Bill Ayers:


CURMUDGUCATION: Tom Vander Ark and the End of the Big Test

CURMUDGUCATION: Tom Vander Ark and the End of the Big Test:

Tom Vander Ark and the End of the Big Test


It's good to step away from present arguments from time to time and look at what folks said about particular issues back when they were laying groundwork. And when it comes to competency based education, it is always instructive to set the Wayback Machine and travel back through the writings of Tom Vander Ark.

Vander Ark has been a prolific and active advocate for reformsterism. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines (on a football scholarship) with a BA in Mineral Engineering (1981), then moved on to University of Denver for an MBA in energy finances (1984). Then from 1986 to 1993 he was Vice President of PACE membership warehouse, which was supposed to be K-mart's answer to Sam's Club.  From there, Vander Ark went on to a short stint at Capgemini, a multinational consulting group.

And then, somehow, Tom Vander Ark became the superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools in Washington state. It's entirely possible that somewhere in his prodigious volume of writing, Vander Ark has explained how a with zero education background gets hired as a school district superintendent, but I haven't found it anywhere-- the vast ocean of glowing press always recaps his career as if it began as a school superintendent. And he was hired in 1994, before every little piece of news was dutifully transcribed for the internet. 
CURMUDGUCATION: Tom Vander Ark and the End of the Big Test:

Yohuru Williams: Martyred Teachers In Mexico

Martyred Teachers In Mexico:

Martyred Teachers In Mexico

Perhaps it is not surprising in the present political climate that the deaths of 12 teachers fighting to defend public education in Mexico have gone virtually unnoticed. The presidential hopeful and presumptive Republican Party nominee Donald Trump has built a vast political following railing for the construction of a wall to keep illegal immigrants out of the United States. His rhetoric obscured important events inside Mexico.
Last Sunday in the southern state of Oaxaca, demonstrations turned deadly. Government security forces opened fire on a group of teachers engaged in an act of civil disobedience, undertaken to focus attention on government efforts to undermine public education.
The protests were not unexpected. A broad coalition of students, teachers and activists have been engaged in a range of non-violent protests since Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto first announced his education plans in 2013. These so-called national education policy reforms promote the typical agenda of Global Corporate Education Reform including the general defunding of public education, the adoption of standardized testing, the evaluation of teachers tied to student test scores and the privatization of schools. While Nieto appears to be the chief proponent of the laws international conglomerates such as The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank are the real driving force behind such neoliberal reforms in Mexico and beyond.
As in countless communities across the United States, Mexican teachers have revealed the damaging features of these so-called reforms. Such measures further alienate, marginalize, and deny opportunities to low-income students. Teachers also called attention to the failure of politicians to consider the inadequacies of testing in addressing the specialized needs of many students from rural and indigenous communities.
The government response in Mexico has been heavy-handed and violent. Thousands of teachers have been fired. Smaller numbers have been detained. In spite of the peaceful nature of the protests, Mexican officials sanctioned the use of what they initially described as “moderate force“ against teachers. These supposed “moderate” tactics were used last week against activists occupying a highway in Oaxaca with tragic consequences.
Activists and analysts both in Mexico and the United States have read these efforts as an attempt to subvert the democratizing potential of public education. In a recent TeleSUR interview for instance, National Autonomous University of Mexico professor and Legal Scholar John M. Ackerman observed that the government’s Martyred Teachers In Mexico:
Trinational Education Movement Logo
Teachers, Unions, Students Build Trinational Movement | PopularResistance.Org - http://wp.me/p3xdLh-agX on @jetpack

How the U.S. government is actually evaluating teachers (not just telling states how to do it) - The Washington Post

How the U.S. government is actually evaluating teachers (not just telling states how to do it) - The Washington Post:

How the U.S. government is actually evaluating teachers (not just telling states how to do it)



Many school reformers and their critics have long been at odds over using student standardized test scores as an important way to tease out a teacher’s “value” in student achievement. The methods used to do this don’t work for individual teachers, but they became popular anyway as part of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative, which allowed states to win federal funds by enacting certain reforms, including such educator assessment systems. It turns out that the federal government is now doing more than trying to dictate to states how to evaluate teachers. This is about federal workers actually evaluating teachers — and using the scores to close down Head Start programs and eliminate jobs.
I have recently published two posts about the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, known as CLASS, an assessment that supposedly measures the quality of teacher-child interactions across three major domains: emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support. It was developed for use in research, program planning and evaluation, professional development and supervision, and program accountability. But now the federal government is using the scores for “accountability” purposes to the point where Head Start programs can lose funding if their scores are just a fraction too low.
There is now a move being spearheaded by some U.S. lawmakers to urge the administration to reform the system that allows CLASS  scores to have such an important role in program assessment.
Here’s a new piece on this issue by Alan Guttman, the program manager of Early Childhood and Special Education Initiatives at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Technology in Education, where he is coordinating the validation study of Maryland’s child How the U.S. government is actually evaluating teachers (not just telling states how to do it) - The Washington Post:

Bruce Lesley: U.S. May Soon Stand Alone for Failing to Ratify U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child

U.S. May Soon Stand Alone for Failing to Ratify U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child:

U.S. May Soon Stand Alone for Failing to Ratify U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child


Twenty-five years after ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Somalia and the South Sudan are taking steps to join 193 other countries around the world that have ratified the treaty. This is important news for children, as it provides a framework for nations — even oppressive ones — to at least acknowledge and recognize that children have special needs and should be provided the opportunity to, as UNICEF says, “develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse.”
And just last week, it is noteworthy that Malala Yousafzia and Kailash Satyarthi were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to an education.”
These advocates for child rights were honored on a world stage that, unfortunately, may soon find the United States of America as the only nation left in the shadows for its failure to ratify the CRC.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which our nation was instrumental in writing during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, was approved by the United Nations in 1989 and is now the world’s most accepted human rights treaty. Moreover, the CRC is, according to human rights expert Don Cipriani, “inspiring people in countries across the world to think differently about children.” He cites examples of how governments and citizens have positively changed policies to improve the lives and well-being of children in countries as diverse as Pakistan, India, Tanzania, Ireland, Japan, and Montenegro.


Despite these important examples of success and our country’s own significant role U.S. May Soon Stand Alone for Failing to Ratify U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child:

With A Brooklyn Accent: A Great Upstate NY Principal Announces Why She Has Decided to Retire

With A Brooklyn Accent: A Great Upstate NY Principal Announces Why She Has Decided to Retire:

A Great Upstate NY Principal Announces Why She Has Decided to Retire



Dear Parents,

                I am writing to you with an extremely heavy heart.  After almost twenty years in this beloved school, I am announcing my retirement.  This is very bittersweet for me, because I have come to really know and believe in the wonderful children you have graciously shared with me over the years.  I have had the wonderful opportunity to watch them as beginning Kindergarteners learning to navigate around the school independently, and learning the correct bus number to take them back home at the end of the school day.   Each of them has a different birthday, and they come in a variety of sizes.  Some have had the advantage of having attended a preschool program, but many have not.  They will all learn and develop in their own very unique learning style, and at their very own unique rate.  By no means are they standardized.  They are however, the very best that you have placed in our trust and care.  Our job is to nurture them, and guide them along the path in becoming lifelong learners, and kind, caring people.

                Throughout the course of my years, many of the children have shared with me just how overwhelming elementary school is for them.  There is so much for them to learn.  Some of them struggle to learn to read, and know that they are a little behind their classmates when it comes to the actual reading level that they are on --- in other words, each child learns to read at a different rate than their peers.  Some children have a form of dyslexia which has been medically diagnosed, and must work their way through all sorts of frustrations when learning to read.  They need the gift of time.  It is unfair for them to be subjected to taking a state mandated test that is 2 to 3 years above their grade level.  It is heartbreaking to watch children have meltdowns, and shutdown because the reading level, and questions on a state level test are so far above their reading level.

                This year, we were able to enrich our science curriculum through the use of environmental instructors from Earth Spirit Educational Programs.  Children in grades K through 5 were able to go outdoors throughout the school year.  Children need opportunities to get outdoors and learn about their environment, and nature.  They need to learn about their surroundings.  It is important that children feel a sense of freedom.  It is my hope that you will continue to support this excellent program for years to come. 

                I can no longer watch as corporate elites tear the heart out of public education due to their own personal greed and avarice.  I cannot stand by in silence as they promote five week teacher training programs, and student test scores linked to teacher evaluations.  The tests are developmentally inappropriate.  To continue to use these assessments in this manner is malpractice.  Parents have a right to see these tests and to know what the expectations are for their child.  You will need to be aware of the U.S. Secretary of Education, John King’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  While ESSA allows states to pass laws allowing parents to opt children out of taking the state tests, the draft regulations would make any such state “opt out” law simply a vehicle to setup high opt-out schools to be labeled failing.  This would put parents in the position of, either exercising their right to direct their children’s education or, putting their children’s school into the crosshairs of the federal government’s over-reaching regulations.  Last year, Allendale had 75% opt-out.  We would be labeled a failing school according to this dichotomy.  The battle continues.  Please remain vigilant.  I certainly will.

                I am thankful for the opportunity to have watched thousands of children become fine, contributing members of our community, and feel With A Brooklyn Accent: A Great Upstate NY Principal Announces Why She Has Decided to Retire:

Mónica Ratliff for City Council 2017

Mónica Ratliff for City Council 2017:

Meet Ms. Ratliff

Monica Natural
My name is Mónica Ratliff and I'm a teacher and a school boardmember.
In 2013, voters of School Board District 6, which includes Sunland-Tujunga, where I make my home, Lake View Terrace, La Tuna Canyon, North Hills, Mission Hills, Shadow Hills, Sylmar and Pacoima, gave me the honor of serving on the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education. With over 600,000 students and a budget of 7 billion dollars, it was a challenge I embraced with an immense amount of responsibility. I promised the voters of our district: transparency, accountability, safety, support of the arts and to support schools that work.
Our campaign to get to the board seat succeeded thanks to donations from hard-working teachers, neighbors, friends, family and believers.  Some even told me that they knew they were throwing their money away since they felt that I had no chance without any political connections. Opponents spent a combined 2.2 million dollars while we spent under 88 thousand dollars. Thanks to the faith of the voters, I was sworn in to the board seat not owing  anyone other than the voters.  And after my four year term ends in July 2017, I hope, with your help and support, to continue serving our area on the City Council again not owing anyone except you, the voter.
Please consider getting to know me if you don't already or getting to know me better if you do.  Also, please share your concerns and your potential solutions for our communities.  We're in this together and together we can make a difference. Email me at monicaratliff2017@gmail.com or give me a call at (818) 925-5797.
Thanks for visiting! See you in the neighborhood.  
                                                         Mónica Mónica Ratliff for City Council 2017:

Schools Matter: A KIPP Pre-K or a Yale Pre-K: You Choose, Part 1 + Earth to NPE

Schools Matter: A KIPP Pre-K or a Yale Pre-K: You Choose, Part 1:

A KIPP Pre-K or a Yale Pre-K: You Choose, Part 1

Two days ago The Oklahoman reported that "KIPP Reach Academy Principal Tracy McDaniel pulled his proposal off Monday's school board agenda because he said it doesn't have enough support" among Oklahoma City school board members.  

We must applaud those school board members' positions to protect the most vulnerable children of their city from the miseducative and punitive indoctrination that segregated KIPP Model schools provide for the black and brown children of the poor.

I came across a report published in 2015 by some Harvard public policy graduate students that examined the feasibility and advisability of developing Pre-K programs at Uncommon Schools, one of the infamous "no excuses" corporate charter chains based on the KIPP Model.  I will have more to say about the scary possibility of Uncommon Schools getting into the Pre-K business in another post.

A later section of appendices in the 90 page report includes comparisons of some very different Pre-K programs that were examined in the study.  Here are the 12 schools where researchers gathered data in preparation for their recommendations for Uncommon School:

Bank Street School for Children

The Coop School

Fieldston School

First Step NYC

Pre-Pave Academy

Pre-Prep (Public Prep)

Eliot Pearson Children’s School (Tufts)

Calvin Hill Day Care Center (Yale)

DC Prep

KIPP Grow

Powell Elementary

UDC Lab School

I have provided the data below on two of the schools to give readers an idea of the vast gaps in 
Schools Matter: A KIPP Pre-K or a Yale Pre-K: You Choose, Part 1:



 Earth to NPE: There is NOT an Opt-Out Provision in ESSA, So Stop Pretending

Three things to know about how L.A. schools are using your money - LA Times

Three things to know about how L.A. schools are using your money - LA Times:

Three things to know about how L.A. schools are using your money

 Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District approved $7.6 billion in spending for the upcoming fiscal year. But where does that money go, and who decides how to spend it? Here are a few things to know about the 2016-17 budget.
1. Most of the money goes to salaries and benefits
Most of the general fund money— about $6.1 billion—goes toward salaries and benefits for certificated employees (mainly in the classroom) and classified employees (mainly out of the classroom).



In 2015-16, the school district had more than 60,000 full-time employees, including teachers, principals and school support staff who aren’t in the classroom. In the coming year, the district will pay the balance of a two-year, 10% raise for teachers and other employees. 
The district will also add more elective teachers to middle schools and high schools, and introduce teachers to make class sizes smaller for 55 elementary schools with the highest needs.
2. The district has to give more resources to high-needs students.
The district  probably will receive about $5.4 billion of its budget from the state through the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives extra money to districts based on the Three things to know about how L.A. schools are using your money - LA Times:


John Merrow: The Broad Prize Now Goes Only to Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog

John Merrow: The Broad Prize Now Goes Only to Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog:

John Merrow: The Broad Prize Now Goes Only to Charter Schools

Today, the Broad Prize for the nation’s best charter schools will be announced in Nashville at the annual meeting of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The finalists are IDEA Public Schools, Success Academy Charter Schools and YES Prep Public Schools.
John Merrow laments here that the Broad Foundation–and its billionaire leader Eli Broad–has given up on public schools and has decided to drop some money into charter schools. There was no Broad Prize for urban districts either last year or in 2016. This is only right and just, because Eli Broad favors charter schools over public schools.
Eli Broad launched his Broad Prize for Excellence in Urban Education in 2002, when the first award of $1 million went to the Houston Independent School District. Houston must have been an unusually stellar district because it improved so much that it won the Broad Prize again in 2013. The next year, 2014, was the last year that the prize was awarded, and it went not to a big urban district but to Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia and to Orange County Public Schools in Florida. Eli Broad, mastermind of American education (a title shared with Bill Gates) decided that urban districts were no longer improving fast enough to satisfy him, and he suspended the Broad Prize for Urban Education. After all, how many times can you give the prize to Houston?
If you go to the Broad Foundation website, linked in John Merrow’s post, you may gag on some of its “beliefs.”
Like the first one: We believe public schools must remain public. Nothing about charter schools is public, except the money they get from government. Otherwise, they are managed by private boards, which do not hold open meetings, with finances that are neither transparent nor accountable, and with disciplinary rules that do not comply with state requirements for public schools. In short, they are not transparent, they are not democratically controlled, they are not accountable, and they are thus NOT public schools.
One would hope to believe that the Broad Foundation actually does believe that teachers deserve to be treated with respect as professionals, but you learn on this website that Broad is a major funder of StudentsMatter, the group promoting lawsuits to strip teachers of their right to tenure and seniority, both of which protect academic freedom.
Merrow writes that it is not surprising that Eli Broad has dropped the award for urban districts:
But that’s not really new news, as the Foundation’s own pie chart reveals. Since 1999, the Foundation has made $589,500,000 in John Merrow: The Broad Prize Now Goes Only to Charter Schools | Diane Ravitch's blog:
 

Bob Braun: Who Pays the Salary of Chris Cerf’s Chief of Staff in Newark? | Diane Ravitch's blog

Bob Braun: Who Pays the Salary of Chris Cerf’s Chief of Staff in Newark? | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Bob Braun: Who Pays the Salary of Chris Cerf’s Chief of Staff in Newark?
Newark’s shameful response to Cerf’s charms and lies. | - http://www.bobbraunsledger.com/?p=5351

Bob Braun has written an astonishing column about the arrogance of power.
Chris Cerf, who was previously the Commissioner of Education in New Jersey, stepped in to take control of the Newark public schools after the unpopular Cami Anderson stepped down. Cerf is a bona fide reformer, having previously worked for for-profit Edison Schools and as deputy chancellor to Joel Klein in New York City.
Cerf’s chief of staff is De’Shawn Wright, who began his education career in Teach for America, then moved from one policy position to another.
Braun stumbles upon a mystery: Who pays Wright’s salary?
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.

Charter schools founder Steve Barr weighs 2017 challenge to Garcetti - LA Times

Charter schools founder Steve Barr weighs 2017 challenge to Garcetti - LA Times:
Green Dot Charter Schools founder Steve Barr weighs 2017 challenge to Garcetti


The founder of a prominent chain of Los Angeles charter schools said Wednesday he is considering running for mayor in 2017, the second person in as many days to muse aloud about challenging incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Steve Barr, who established the successful Green Dot Charter Schools group and has been a high-profile player in the battle to overhaul the L.A. school system, said his exploration of a potential run was driven by frustration over what he described as Garcetti's hands-off approach to public education.
Although the mayor in L.A. has no formal control over the school district, Barr said Garcetti had abdicated any meaningful involvement in the school system — in contrast to Garcetti's predecessor, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who placed education reform at the core of his agenda.
Barr said he believes Garcetti is avoiding education issues out of fear of alienating the powerful interest groups involved in the schools debate.
"When people move to a new neighborhood, their first question is not, 'What's the water system like?' or 'Are there enough press conferences about climate change this week?' It's, 'What are the schools like?'" Barr said. "It seems I've talked to at least a half-dozen people who will tell you he won't get involved because it's too controversial."
Barr, 56, of Silver Lake, said he is meeting with potential supporters and donors but has not decided whether to run. He said he wants to enter the race but will only do so if he can see a path to building a campaign with adequate political and financial backing. He said he expects to make his decision by the beginning of April.
Villaraigosa's foray into public education saw mixed results. His effort to assert mayoral control of the school district, emulating the systems in cities such as New York and Chicago, was defeated in court.
However, he succeeded in establishing direct control over a group of district schools and Charter schools founder Steve Barr weighs 2017 challenge to Garcetti - LA Times:


An Educated Parent Voice is a Stronger Parent Voice. | Dad Gone Wild

An Educated Parent Voice is a Stronger Parent Voice. | Dad Gone Wild:

AN EDUCATED PARENT VOICE IS A STRONGER PARENT VOICE.


Earlier this week, I commented on the education reform movement’s brilliant use of language. This week, another component of their modus operandi revealed  itself. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the education reform crowd seems to have incredibly thin skin. If they feel even slightly questioned, they are quick to jump on the defensive. One of their favorite tools to use for their defense is the newspaper editorial.
Last week, a lot of folks had questions about Nashville Rise’s true mission and exactly who was footing the bill for their operations. So of course, it was time for an editorial, and Nashville Rise co-founder Wendy Tucker did not disappoint. In this editorial, there are a few interesting nuggets.
First of all, Ms. Tucker reiterates that Nashville Rise is “a parent-led, grassroots coalition of district, charter, magnet, and private school parents from across Davidson County who have joined forces to advocate for high-quality education for every child” and who “generally tune out negativity and focus on our work. When the integrity of our parent volunteers is maligned, however, we feel compelled to respond.” See what she did there? Very subtly and delicately, she shifted the conversation from questioning Nashville Rise and its intentions to defending parents who were supposedly being maligned.
Before we go any further here, let’s get one thing perfectly clear. Nobody is questioning the integrity or the validity of any of the parents who are involved in Nashville Rise. I’ve always said the more voices in the conversation the better, and everybody is welcome to their own opinions as long as they can defend them with empirical evidence. Point being, if you are advocating for educational policy that impacts more than just your child, you need to be able to defend it and site the sources for your opinions. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Which leads us to a question I’ve asked a couple of Nashville Rise supporters this An Educated Parent Voice is a Stronger Parent Voice. | Dad Gone Wild:


Just Like Michelle Rhee's Students first only BETTER


Astroturf lobbying refers to political organizations or campaigns that appear to be made up of grassroots activists but are actually organized and run by corporate interests seeking to further their own agendas. Such groups are often typified by innocent-sounding names that have been chosen specifically to disguise the group's true backers


Just Like Michelle Rhee's
 Students first Astroturf lobbying (only Better) 

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