"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012 Medley #19

Letters to the President, Privatization, Won't Back Down,
Corporate Charters, Professional Educators.


LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT

Diane Ravitch and readers of her blog have come up with a plan to flood the White House email with letters in support of, and against privatization of, public education. While President Obama's reelection is in no way guaranteed, he is, of the two main party candidates, the one who is most likely to listen. Sample letters and suggestions are on Diane Ravitch's blog.

There is no guarantee that the President will listen, but it can't hurt to let him know that there are many people who are unhappy with the corporate privatization of America's public education system.

For more information about participating, see Instructions for the October 17 Campaign for Our Public Schools.


PRIVATIZATION

The Milton Friedman style corporate privatization of America is not restricted to Education. Privatization Watch has frequent updates about how Corporate America is moving against the public sector. Here are two Indiana examples.

IN: Indiana panel approves lottery outsourcing deal
The commission voted 3-0, with two members absent, to approve a 15-year contract with Rhode Island-based GTECH that is expected to make $1.7 billion in profit over five years — a $500 million increase over state projections. GTECH already provides and maintains vending machines for the Hoosier Lottery. In exchange for running the lottery’s marketing and other services, GTECH will be paid a management fee that hasn’t yet been determined as well as a share of the lottery profits. The state received $188 million in lottery proceeds last year….Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones criticized Indiana’s search for a private lottery manager in August, saying Indiana officials didn’t seem to have learned from Illinois’ problem-plagued lottery outsourcing effort. New Jersey and Pennsylvania also are researching whether to outsource their lotteries. 

IN: IU Employees Fear Losing Jobs Over Privatized Parking
Some unionized workers at Indiana University say they are worried about losing their jobs if the school decides to privatize its parking operations. In a short period of time, Indiana University officials could issue a request for proposals which would seek a trade: a private firm gives a large lump sum of money to the school in exchange for running IU’s parking operations for years to come… But that worries Communication Workers of America Local 4730 President Ed Vasquez. “The burden is that once you start doing all these privatizations I think there will be an impetus to start privatizing other services throughout the campus,” he says. “This provides a lot of anxiety for a lot of staff.” 

WON'T BACK DOWN

Working America: 10 Reasons Not to See ‘Won’t Back Down’.

Won't Back Down was produced with the objective of demonizing teachers unions and promoting Parent Triggers. This article was written before the movie opened...so it's failure at the box office isn't included. Nevertheless, here's are reasons to pass on this film from the AFL-CIO.
The Walden Media film “Won’t Back Down,” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, opens in theaters today. The film dramatizes a parent fighting to improve her child’s school, but it’s actually a dishonest Hollywood portrayal of the problems in our educational system—funded by the very people who want to privatize and profit from our schools. Here are 10 reasons to skip it.

CORPORATE CHARTERS*

The Great Charter Charade

"Reformers" insist on using standardized test scores as the one true measure of student achievement, teacher competency, and school success. However, corporate charters do no better than neighborhood public schools on standardized tests when similar populations are studied. The success of charters using the "reformer's" methods are no better than regular public schools. P. L. Thomas, at Schools Matter, has a summary.
  • Charter schools, public schools, and private schools all have essentially indistinguishable ranges of student outcomes. Research shows there is nothing about the way school is packaged among the three that produces uniquely superior outcomes.
  • Charter schools do, however, appear to have a powerful segregating effect that is detrimental to the goals of universal public education.
  • Charter schools are allowed autonomy simultaneously with public schools losing autonomy; and the outcomes remain about the same.
  • Charter school advocacy exposes the failure of promoting solutions without identifying problems.
  • No compelling or substantial evidence exists showing that any form of competition creates better educational outcomes for the choices offered (such as charter schools) or the traditional schools. Isolated positive and negative data exist regarding the impact of competition.
  • Charter school outliers receive disproportionate media coverage, almost no media scrutiny, and nearly no follow up that confirms we simply do not have evidence of "miracle" schools. Comparisons of apples to apples, scalability, and long-term data are almost never included in media support of charter schools.

WARNING: More Corporate Charter School Profits on the Way

The advance of corporate charters continues. Tony Bennett, Indiana's Superintendent of Public Destruction has given corporate charters full access to Indiana's school children. It's all about the money.
Here is the latest corporate charter school application looking to expand in Indiana and tap into our taxpayer education fund.
Nexus Academy of Indianapolis by Better Blended Learning for Indiana - looking to open up 3 campuses in Downtown Indy, Southern Indy, and in the Carmel Clay School district. This is a blended learning/college prep charter school serving students in grades 9-12 with expected enrollment to be 300 students at each campus. Blending learning is a combination of face-to-face learning in a building and virtual/online learning.

PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS

Why don't educators speak out against the destruction of public education? One reason is that the "reformers" have so overwhelmed public education with unreasonable goals that the average teacher hasn't got time to think about anything other than keeping their heads above water. Still, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of teacher blogs on the net, where teachers reflect, vent and cry out against the damage being done to their students and their profession. Valerie Strauss at the Answer Sheet, hosts a guest blogger who lists...

Things educators could say but don’t
  1. To Parents: “If you effectively raise your children before you send them to school, we can teach most of them. If you do not, we cannot.”
  2. To Legislators: “Do not order us to repair the developmental damage that is done to children before they reach school age. We cannot do so and pretending otherwise wastes resources, damages K-12 education and does nothing to help those utterly innocent children who need it (and deserve it) most.”
  3. To Reformers: “Academic achievement gaps, robust and intractable, are well-established long before the first day of kindergarten. Those gaps are not caused by teachers and cannot be fixed by teachers. What you like to call ‘reforming’ schools does nothing to help children who spend their first five years living in inadequate, often chaotic, households. If you want to help those children, you must do something to change those households. Any other approach is foolish, wasteful and destined to fail.”
The so-called failure of America's public education system is a failure of America's promise. "Reformers" blame teachers and public schools for not solving the problems which politicians and governments have failed to solve. One fourth of our children live in poverty. Schools with high levels of poverty have lower achievement (see #3 above), while schools with low poverty levels achieve at the highest levels in the world. Social safety nets are unable to provide everything children in poverty need...and neither can schools.  "Reformers" claim, without any basis, that improved schools (defined as closing "failing" schools, firing "bad" teachers, breaking teachers unions, turning public education over to private corporations, and redistributing public funds to private and parochial schools) will help children rise out of poverty. We, who are educators, know that we can't do it alone. We need to fix our public schools...not privatize them.


Should a Teacher's Past Be the Basis for Firing?

What if you did something perfectly legal, but a bit off the mainstream before you started teaching? Many young people make poor decisions and generally they leave the past behind as they mature. Bill Clinton smoked pot, Mitt Romney participated in a high school bullying incident, and others behaved in equally foolish and immature ways. A guidance counselor in New York City was a model before she started teaching. Should she have been fired because she modeled underwear? Is modeling what some might consider suggestive clothing as bad as breaking the law by using an illegal drug, or assaulting a classmate because of his presumed sexual orientation?
I was reminded of this by the case of Tiffany Webb, a 37-year-old high school guidance counselor in the New York City system who was fired after 12 years of exemplary service because she seductively posed in her undergarments several years before she became a teacher in 1999. These photos are not pornographic any more than Victoria's Secrets are. Nevertheless, she was axed, even though she disclosed her former career when she was first hired.

*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It's Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then

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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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