Defeating the DeVos Agenda
Competing on an uneven playing field, public school corporations have taken to advertising in order to keep their students from going to charter schools or using vouchers to attend private schools. Instead, John Merrow offers additional advice on how to "advertise" by involving community members, especially those who have no current connections to the public schools.
Public schools belong to their communities, not to the school board members, or the parents of current students. Schools are investments in a community's future, paid for by everyone, for the benefit of everyone. Closing schools and opening charters, or offering vouchers, is taking years of community investment and throwing it away.
From John Merrow
Only when ‘outsiders’ become convinced that what’s happening in our public schools is not just test-prep and rote learning pushed on sullen teenagers by demoralized instructors, only then will Betsy DeVos and her militant Christian army of ideologues and profiteers lose this war.
TEACHING THE ARTS
Piecemeal Privatization of Arts and Music in Public Schools
The latest Kappan (April, 2017) is focused on the Arts.
Many school systems in the U.S. have had to cut back on their arts programming due to budget cuts and the obsessive focus on reading and math. Music and art teachers are stretched thin trying to educate large numbers of children in areas that aren't tested, and therefore, not considered important by "reformers." Articles in the journal discuss the influx of public/private partnerships which are replacing in-house education specialists in places. Nancy Bailey acknowledges that these partnerships are beneficial where no arts programming exists, but the loss of the arts programming is the real problem.
From Nancy Bailey
This country needs to quit with the trickery. Pretending the arts are returning with partnerships, or through subject integration, or technology, is only a charade. Our tax dollars should go directly to public schools for these programs and to real arts and music teachers.
EDUCATION AS A PUBLIC GOOD
Truth in Edvertising
Are private and privately run schools better than traditional public schools, or do they just have better PR and better advertising? Traditional schools don't usually spend money on advertising because money spent on advertising isn't spent on instruction.
Are schools commodities like widgets, where money needs to be spent on advertising? If we, as a society, accept the marketplace version of education...if we accept that competition improves education...if we accept that it's up to the parent to find the school with the best "fit" for their child...then public education will probably not be a priority.
On the other hand, if we accept that public education benefits the whole society...that public education is a public good, then we won't waste money on advertising, and the "bottom line" will be educating our children, not turning a profit.
From Sarah Butler Jessen on Have You Heard Blog and Podcast
There’s been a lot of talk about how much money they [Success Academy] spend. We were able to look at some of their budgets from the 2012 and 2013 year, along with a bunch of other charter management and charter organizations in New York City authorized by SUNY. Again, as we raised in recent earlier article about the 2010 data, in Williamsburg and Cobble Hill in particular in that year, they're spending more than $1,000 per entered student on marketing alone.
LACK OF SUPPORT FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IS BIPARTISAN
Democrats link party rivals to DeVos as 2018 fights emerge
In Indiana it's the Republicans who support so-called "education reforms" which have the effect of damaging public education, deprofessionalizing public school teachers, and re-segregating our schools. But it's not just a Republican movement. It's bipartisan. There are Democrats across the nation who are apparently hell-bent on replacing public education with privatized, corporate, charter schools.
Cory Booker (and here)...Andrew Cuomo...Rahm Emanuel...
From Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association
“What’s happened over time is that we have seen the Legislature has changed very significantly, and we’ve really seen that among Democrats, we have just many more folks that are supportive of charter schools,” he said. "Do these national winds, do they affect things here? Absolutely, absolutely. But it’s not like we’re just going to be blown across the map.”
Still, Wallace suspected charter school opponents would view DeVos’ appointment as a political opportunity to cut into charter schools’ gains.
“Yeah, that’s going to happen, and we have to be aware of that,” he said.
Trump Restocks the Swamp
President Trump promised to "drain the swamp" telling the American people that the government wouldn't be made up of special interests and their lobbyists.
From Ed Brayton
[Trump] criticized Obama for his lack of transparency, yet just reversed the policy of releasing visitor logs so the public could know if the president or his close advisers were meeting with lobbyists and others with a clear stake in public policy. And a man whose big selling point was that he was rich so he would not be beholden to big corporations and the wealthy. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to name a single thing he’s done since taking office that wasn’t what moneyed interests would want him to to in order to make him more money.
Update for Trump Voters
From Robert Reich
He said he’d clean the Washington swamp. You bought it. Then he brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, to make laws that will enrich their businesses.
...He said Clinton was in the pockets of Goldman Sachs, and would do whatever they said. You bought it. Then he put half a dozen Goldman Sachs executives in positions of power in his administration.
PRE-SCHOOL IN INDIANA
IN: Welcome UPSTART Pre-K Cyberschool
Putting a three- or four-year-old in front of a computer screen and calling it "pre-school" is the most insane thing to come out of the education "reform" cesspool.
From Peter Greene
...we're assured that UPSTART will provide "program sponsors" with data. Because, you know, it's never too early to start building your tiny human's data file, so that the trouble she had picking out vowel sounds when she was four flippin' years old can follow her around for the rest of her life.
In Indiana, the legislature wants to make UPSTART part of the Pre-K expansion bill.
TESTING AND MANDATES
Standardized Testing Creates Captive Markets
The Republicans have railed for years against the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and it's forced health insurance mandates. Yet, forced testing mandates, which every state must waste tax dollars on, is supported.
A must read...
From Steven Singer
The reason public schools give these tests is because the government forces them. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires that all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school take certain approved standardized assessments. Parents are allowed to refuse the tests for their children, but otherwise they have to take them.
Teacher Tenure and Seniority Lawsuits: A Failure of Logic
They're not giving up. Even after the Vergara Decision was overturned anti-teacher forces are still fighting against tenure and seniority. Their goal – the complete destruction of teachers unions at any cost, even if it means also destroying the teaching profession.
From Jersey Jazzman
The backers of these lawsuits will make occasional concessions to the idea that schools need adequate and equitable funding to attract qualified people into teaching. But they never seem to be interested in underwriting lawsuits that would get districts like Newark the funds they need to improve both the compensation and the working conditions of teachers.
THE FEDERAL ROLE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION
The War on Public Schools
The Federal government has helped public education by requiring equal access to educational opportunities for all children regardless of race, sex, or disabilities. They have provided funds for disadvantaged students, for teacher preparation and continuing education, and materials.
With No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Common Core, the Federal government increased it's influence on public education, but evoked a backlash. It's true that some Federal intrusion into public education is necessary and important...
From the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights quoted in the American Prospect
The hard-learned lesson of the civil rights community over decades has shown that a strong federal role is crucial to protecting the interests of educationally underserved students
Closing schools is not an educational option
No school was ever improved by closing it.
From Mitchell Robinson in Eclectablog
Whenever I hear public officials and education policy decision makers suggest that closing schools is a legitimate strategy, I know that person is not serious about actually improving educational outcomes.