Don’t let the door smack you too hard on the way out, Traitor Duncan

Arne Duncan cartoon
Caricature Credit: DonkeyHotey
Good news today for people who care about students and the state of public education in America. As HuffPost put it: Arne Duncan Resigns Amid Legacy-Threatening Student Debt Crisis. And this summer, the Center for Media and Democracy wrote this about Duncan’s failed initiative to replace public schools with charters: Charter Program Expansion Looms Despite Probes into Mismanagement and Closed Schools.

Developer-owned charter schools are publicly funded but managed privately, without the obligation to provide any public accountability for either their teaching methods or financial expenditures. Not surprising that they’re a virtual breeding ground for a level of corruption so exaggerated that it turned GW Bush’s former Assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, into one of the country’s leading public education advocates. read more

Are New Jersey gentrifiers taking us for a ride?

1934 school bus
1934 Chevrolet Schoolbus by DBerry2006 via Flickr
Believers in gentrification understand neither fairness, nor justice. Yet, since Christie signed bill A-355 into law in 2010, they’ve been provided with yet another powerful arrow in the arsenal of neighborhood destruction and running the vulnerable out of town. This is a racial issue in New Jersey, since our poor are mostly urban Blacks and Latinos.

Christie’s education voucher law allows public school students to attend schools in another district, with your tax dollars paying the receiving school’s tuition fees and the complete bill to, “provide and pay for students’ transportation to new schools up to 20 miles away.” Sounds a bit like specially chartered buses and other things extraordinarily expensive, doesn’t it? Wowza! read more

Newark Students’ May 22 walkout and protest over 2000 strong

Newark 1505 student walkoutOn May 22 2015, over 2000 students and supporters shut downtown Newark NJ down for several hours to create visibility and bring awareness to the horrors Newark students have experienced at the hands of Chris Christie, Cory Booker and Cami Anderson, who jointly created a plan to break the back of public education in this city.

Anderson’s “One Newark” plan has young children from a single family barred from attending the school local to their home and instead, being sent far outside their neighborhood to 4 different schools in different corners of the city. Each child must take 2-3 bus rides and spend an hour of commuting time each way to reach school. Throughout the city, public school students are denied books and sanitary food; the principals and administrative staff of the city’s most successful schools are fired; and police charges were filed against a PTA president for hanging flyers announcing the PTA’s next meeting. read more

One Newark concocted by Cami, Christie, BFF Cory Booker & Zuckerberg

The Newark-eteersLast year, the New Yorker magazine reported that the One Newark Schools plan – which was fully implemented this year and has wreaked tragedy and havoc on Newark students’ lives – is the brainchild of Cami Anderson, Chris Christie and their close friend Cory Booker … and was implemented with the suport of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

25 year study shows poverty as greatest determinant in children’s success

One student from the studyTwo John Hopkins professors tracked the scholastic and employment developments of 790 students via annual interviews conducted over 25 years from the time the students were 1st graders in Baltimore’s public school system until age 28. Their findings are disturbing, although certainly not surprising. The Washington Post article tell us,

A mere 4 percent of the first-graders Alexander and Entwisle had classified as the “urban disadvantaged” had by the end of the study completed the college degree that’s become more valuable than ever in the modern economy. A related reality: Just 33 of 314 had left the low-income socioeconomic status of their parents for the middle class by age 28. read more

Can the Jewish approach to education benefit public schools?

education is a rightI don’t agree with the Orthodox Jewish practice of choking public schools of money in order to fund transportation to, and expenses for, their own community’s schools. But, I do understand why the Orthodox community does feel that the taxes they pay should be funding their children’s education as well as other students’. And I understand why the Orthodox want their children to have yeshiva educations.

Yeshivas are better academically than public schools; they have dual language (Hebrew and English) curricula; midot (values) are taught; and a completely different approach to learning is part of the Torah (biblical) studies component, where students challenge the knowledge and positions of the study mates they partner up with and school days stretch from 7am until almost midnight. The learning culture at traditional yeshivas is fantastic and exceeds anything else I’ve encountered in a school environment. read more

Dems don’t offer Blacks enough support but GOP is worse

Baratunde Thurston

Friend Bryan Alexander reminded me tonight that Dems take the Black vote entirely for granted. He’s so right. This is probably one of the big reasons that communities of color aren’t getting the help they expected with fighting public school takeovers by charters (Philly) … schools being just closed down (Chicago (where 49 schools were closed in one day – by Dem mayor Rahm Emmanuel) and Newark) and why Dems supported the devious Governor Christie’s 2013 re-election bid instead of getting behind Democratic Party candidate Barbara Buono – a progressive with a long, strong record of promoting excellence in public education, and transparency and accountability in the realm of public service and politics. read more

Join Newark students in mass rally & boycott for local control on Mon. Nov 4

Newark Student Union/No ChristiebuttonsThe Newark Students Union (NSU) organized a massive 1,000 student walkout last April and on Monday Nov 4, they will stage another mass boycott demanding that quality education be returned to Newark. The students want Gov. Christie to fund schools at court ordered levels and to repair school buildings, which are currently unsafe – two legal obligations which Christie has refused to honor. Spread the word about the rally and be there if you can. The social media hashtag is #npsboycott.

Boycott & Rally to Protest Gov. Christie’s Control of Newark Public Schools
November 4 2013 @ 9am
30 Clinton Street in Newark NJ
read more

“School reform” aka diverting school funds to the rich

profiting by closing schools

profiting by closing schoolsDavid Sirota helps us see that the true mission of the corporate backed charter school initiative is to bust unions and divert public funds earmarked for student education. The goal is to remove barriers to corporate control of society and for rich guys to get all the money in the world (or at least the US). These people didn’t get the memo that you can’t take it with you.

The bottom line is clear: In attempting to change the mission of public education from one focused on educating kids to one focused on generating private profit, corporate leaders in the “reform” movement are pursuing a shrewd investment strategy. Millions of dollars go into campaign contributions and propaganda outfits that push “reform,” and, if successful, those “reforms” guarantee Wall Street and their investment vehicles much bigger returns for the long haul. read more

This cartoon shows us where we DON’T want to be – in a place of hate

Nazi education for death

Nazi education for deathMy friend David Meza sent me this anti-Nazi propaganda cartoon created by Disney during WWII to stimulate United States citizen’s hatred for Germans. I’m a Jew who lost family in Hitler’s holocaust, so I’m far from being a Nazi sympathizer. But, I like to remember that not everything that reinforces my experiential and cultural judgments is factual or true. And I am a lover of truth. So, please, when watching this disturbing 10 minute cartoon portraying how Nazis killed love and hope in their young men to make them into the optimal fighting machines they wanted them to be, keep in mind that this is the American propaganda version of Germany. What really went on there may have been quite different from what this film portrays.

The cartoon disturbed me for another reason. In the militaristic, unfeeling youth mindlessly pledging obedience to the heartless Nazi philosophy, I see too many parallels with American society today. Which makes sense, right …. as this film is an American brainchild. Today in America, there are too many parents and children taking an approach to education and career preparation that embraces arrogance, elitism and a willingness to hurt anyone who blocks a student’s path to academic success, job security and the acquisition of material goods. In today’s education system, financially stable parents want their children to be separate from those who are not; standardized tests which are culturally skewed to favor middle class children over others and are used as leverage for separating students by economic class or ethnicity. And Blacks, Latinos and other students who struggle with the challenges poverty exerts on their school performance – and their lives overall – are ruthlessly deemed by financially secure student families to be worthy only of condemnation, and neither of inclusion nor assistance. read more

PBS & TED review the state of education today

Malcolm London at TED

Malcolm London at TEDThe Chicago Tribune has a fabulous article on PBS’ TED Talks Education hour long show on May 8 2013, which brought

… together a diverse group of teachers and education advocates delivering short, high-impact talks on the theme of teaching and learning. You’ll also see Chicago’s Malcolm Xavier London performing a spoken word poem about the racial and class tensions he experienced … London, who just turned 20, is a terrific fit for TED — which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. The nonprofit organization bills itself as being devoted to ideas worth spreading and often features people who have taken unorthodox paths giving talks about what they’ve learned read more

Principal Kafele shares inspiring thoughts on mission and passion

Principal Kafele

Principal KafeleI love Principal Kafele‘s positive approach to solving today’s educational issues. He also shares great advice on personal achievement. This 11 minute video is an excellent sample of his practical approach for achievement and success.

Principal Kafele counsels:

If you see in your mind’s eye what you’re striving to achieve, the chances increase exponentially that your vision will become your reality … Everything starts with an idea. From the idea we create a goal – we devise a plan – we become firm in our purpose – we embark on a mission – a mission that is vision oriented. What we are going to achieve … (is) already locked into our mind’s eye … read more

HIPAA offers no privacy or protection to an ill child

Monkeys demonstrate HIPAA compliance

Monkeys demonstrate HIPAA complianceJoey Furlong is a Bethlehem, NY 4th grader interned in hospital for a life-threatening condition and awaiting brain surgery. This week, he was approached by one of the teachers employed by the hospital, who wanted the boy to take a standardized test. CBS News reports (Tami is Joey’s mom),

Tami’s husband was in the room when one of the teachers came in talking about the test but she wonders what would have happened had he not been, “I would like to hope she would not have taken his arm that has an IV and oximeter on it and put a number 2 pencil in it, I would like to hope that she would wait to talk to the family.” read more

Poverty creates poor school performance. Time to stop it.

Kennedy with kids

Kennedy with kidsBobby Kennedy made hunger and poverty relief a top priority with his Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, but 50 years later the United States has the 2nd highest rate of poverty among industrialized nations. And Dale Hansen of the Detroit News is asking, if poverty is the biggest problem education faces, why aren’t we more focused on relieving it? Dale supplies his own answer: Republicans are way too committed to their war on public education to allow positive change to get in their way. read more

New report shows ed reform is failing our kids

Market-oriented reform report cover

Market-oriented reform report coverThe report Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality issued this month (April 2013) by the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education concludes that so-called education reforms have led to bigger gaps and lost ground, “for the students they were supposed to support” – low-income, low achieving and Abbot District students. Outcomes were measured in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Market-driven education is a concept introduced by Milton Friedman in his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom. read more