"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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013 Medley #19

Charters, Teachers Unions, Privatization
"Reformers", Read-Aloud, Poverty

CHARTERS

Bennett is gone, but charter school problem persists

"An $80 million gift to charter school sponsors." This looks like payback for political services rendered. Why isn't the apparent favoritism in this situation obvious to everyone?
So, with Dr. Bennett gone, is the special treatment for charter schools over? Hardly. Not known to most Hoosiers is the fact that the 2013 Indiana Legislature, with the governor’s signature, enacted into law the HB 1001 budget bill, including a provision added in the Senate that forgave all Common School Fund debts owed by charter schools in Indiana.

Based upon a printout dated Jan. 2, 2013, that provision forgave charter schools $81,828,253.30. Some reports have placed the value at $93 million. With the passage of this legislation, the forgiven debt and the assets purchased by the borrowed funds became the assets of the individuals and/or corporations that sponsor the charter schools -- an $80 million gift to charter school sponsors.

Public school districts with low assessed valuation borrow from the Common Schools Fund, which assists them by providing low-interest loans for capital expenditures, such as facilities and equipment. A report on Jan. 2, 2013, shows $85,508,760.18 is owed by Indiana public school districts. Their debt was not forgiven.

Indiana forgives charter school loans

State Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) said,
traditional public schools just want more money.
Well...yes! Isn't that what we pay taxes for? Why are privately owned public schools treated differently than traditional (publicly owned) public schools?
Many local educators and politicians are calling outrageous a recent law forgiving $91.2 million in loans to charter schools, in light of tight finances faced by public schools across the region and districts that have had to raise taxes to maintain programs and quality teachers. Moreover, they say, they must pay back any loans provided by the state's Common School Fund.

Indiana's General Assembly approved a provision in last session's budget bill calling for the state to forgive the Common School Fund loans made to charter schools, erasing nearly $92 million of their debt to the state.

UNIONS

Evidence Says That Students Do Better In Schools With Strong Teachers’ Unions

Union bashing is a tried and true political tool. Especially now, when unemployment and a low minimum wage are making it harder and harder for the average person to keep up with expenses. Rich politicians will blame unions for negotiating a livable wage and benefits package for their members. In Illinois, for example, politicians are currently blaming the public employee pension funds instead of the hedge fund managers, millionaires/billionaires and their corporate cronies, friends, and investors -- many of whom don't pay their fair share of taxes.

The fact is that unions are not the cause of poor school achievement. Poverty and its accompanying out of school factors are the main problem facing America's public school students. More than one fifth of our children live in poverty. Shouldn't shame and embarrassment be the appropriate response to that particular statistic instead of blaming their teachers?
Unions such as the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have been blamed by politicians, think tanks, and the public for everything from low student achievement to blocking proposed education reforms.

However, despite claims from some quarters that unions are a large part of the problem with American public education, there is ample evidence that teachers’ unions are a vital piece of the education puzzle, and that students benefit from their existence.

"nea hearts arne" or "WTF? are you crazy!!!"

The NEA has sold out for a "seat at the table." NEA now supports the Common Core...and has refused to publicly denounce the damage that the Democrats in Washington are doing to public education. Could this be because they want to keep the Gates Foundation money flowing? (Full Disclosure: I'm an NEA Life Member, and have been a member since August, 1976)

If Dennis Van Roekel and the NEA leadership had any courage they would be organizing a nation-wide strike against No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, the misuse and overuse of testing, closing traditional neighborhood schools and opening charters, vouchers (by any name), the use of untrained novices in classrooms needing the most experienced teachers, and the general privatization of public education. Instead they're writing blogs supporting the Common Core.
New Business Item 36 called for the removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Despite several well-informed speeches in support of this NBI, it was defeated. It is a mystery to me how a room full of educators, all of us victims of Duncan's horrific education policies, could continue to support Arne Duncan. His policies are harming our nation's non-elite children and the majority vote seems to send a message that that's OK with the majority of teachers. WTF? Either there's not much critical thinking going on among the delegation, or people are just plain stupid.

PRIVATIZATION

Privatization Watch tracks the selling of America's public sector...

August 27, 2013
OH: New state report card proves Ohio’s charter school experiment has failed. After 15 years of charter school expansion, the new Ohio school report cards provide the strongest evidence yet that this method of using charter schools to supposedly reform education in our state is a complete failure. The latest results from the state make it clear that the large urban districts are not dramatically improving and the charter schools that are supposed to be transforming educational practices while being given every advantage (including a greater amount of state funding) are doing no better. Plunderbund

August 30, 2013
PA: Charter operator owed its schools millions, but no one’s checking its books. The Philadelphia School District will spend a projected $729 million on charter schools in the coming fiscal year. But, if the past year at one charter operator is any indication, not all of those funds will actually go toward serving students. Philadelphia City Paper


"REFORMER" POLITICS

"Education Summits" Without Teachers

Would anyone ever hold a medical conference without inviting medical professionals to attend? Who would hold a Hardware convention without having hardware manufacturers, jobbers and retailers in attendance? Would the Southern Baptist Convention hold it's annual meeting and not include any ministers?

Yet, time after time we read about conferences on education which are held in the absence of any practicing public school educators.

Words and phrases like "insulting," "slap in the face," and "disrespectful" aren't adequate any longer. This is insane.
...When Barack Obama held an education summit several years ago, no teachers were invited so it is not surprising that Florida Governor Rick Scott is taking the same approach in his state by organizing his summit during school hours. The result is the nightmare we are all living with- K-12 testing and teacher evaluation based on those tests, with added pressures imposed by the full court press for the imposition of Common Core Standards...

In Our Shoes

Those politicians, policy makers, and "reformers" who hold those conferences spoken of above are afraid to invite real teachers. They might hear this...
Come walk in our shoes. See what you’ve left us with, and let’s see if YOU can ensure that every third grader can read, that every student graduates high school college and career ready. Because we can’t. And we aren’t a group people that often admit there’s something we can’t do. We can cause light bulbs to turn on inside little minds. We can inspire a love of historical facts. We can make any math concept relevant to real life. We can love a child who doesn’t know what that feels like, and we can show them that they can learn. But to do all of this without sufficient funds, sufficient staff, and, most of all, sufficient appreciation and respect, is simply becoming too tall of an order. So you give it a try. Then let’s talk.

READ ALOUD

Babies Learn to Recognize Words in the Womb

Read aloud to your baby in utero...
Be careful what you say around a pregnant woman. As a fetus grows inside a mother's belly, it can hear sounds from the outside world—and can understand them well enough to retain memories of them after birth, according to new research.

POVERTY

How Poverty Taxes the Brain

"Reformers" claim that even mentioning poverty is making excuses. That's because they, and the politicians they have purchased, don't care to do anything about it. Poverty may not matter to millionaires like Rahm Emanuel, billionaires like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg or Eli Broad, "reformers" like Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee, Politicians like George W. Bush and Barack Obama...but it matters to the child who comes to school hungry.
Researchers publishing some groundbreaking findings today in the journal Science have concluded that poverty imposes such a massive cognitive load on the poor that they have little bandwidth left over to do many of the things that might lift them out of poverty – like go to night school, or search for a new job, or even remember to pay bills on time...

...“When your bandwidth is loaded, in the case of the poor,” Shafir says, “you’re just more likely to not notice things, you’re more likely to not resist things you ought to resist, you’re more likely to forget things, you’re going to have less patience, less attention to devote to your children when they come back from school.”
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All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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