Tag Archive: education

Oct 31 2016

School Segregation Is Still A Thing

Last night, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” discussed the disturbing fact that school segregation still exists in America. While the Supreme Court ruled in 1955 Brown v Board of Education that separate was not equal, it was not until 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act that school desegregation actually started. Unfortunately, …

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Sep 15 2016

Trump Child Care: Good For The Rich; Screw The Poor; Then Lie

The United States is the only industrialized country that does not have guaranteed paid maternity leave (pdf) and invests less of its GDP on child care and early childhood educations than 32 other industrialized countries around the world. The lack of programs to assist working class mothers and fathers has not been a very high …

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Aug 22 2016

Charter Schools: Failures At Education

Many people recognized, particularly teachers’ unions, from the start that Charter Schools are a sham and a tax payer rip off with little or no accountability to the public or the parents. Despite the publicity about children being dropped from these schools because of learning disabilities or alleged disciplinary problems and fudged statistics about their …

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Sep 13 2015

John Oliver: What You Need to Know for the New School Year

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Back To School (Web Exclusive)

John is back tonight. Yeah!

May 05 2015

Common Core, Standardized Testing and Vomit

I don’t often delve into the dark world of what education in the United States has become since my child was in school in the 70’s & 80’s. But lately it has factored into politics here in New York State and across the country with the advent of Common Core, standardized testing and for profit charter schools that are encroaching on America’s once excellent public system of education. The arguments in the past were mostly over funding, teachers’ salaries and contracts. Parents used to just worry about homework, grades and snow days. Some things remain the same, but now, add to the list: teacher evaluations, tenure, funding charter schools, teaching to tests, vomit and incontinence:

The principals’ letter on the new exams lists a number of problems with the exams and said many children reacted “viscerally” to the tests:

   We know that many children cried during or after testing, and others vomited or lost control of their bowels or bladders. Others simply gave up. One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, “This is too hard,” and “I can’t do this,” throughout his test booklet.

It urges parents to help children who scored poorly understand that it isn’t their fault.

It has become so bad that in NY state as many as 200,000 students opted out of the mandatory testing:

New York’s rejection of the Common Core tests crosses geographical, socio-economic and racial lines.

There are also reports that student opt-outs were suppressed by administrators in some districts, who called in non-English speaking parents and pressured them to rescind their opt-out letters. Parent activist Jeanette Deutermann states that she “was contacted by dozens of NYC teachers who were horrified by the scare tactics being used on parents in their schools, to coerce them into participating in this year’s assessments. Language barriers and the absence of a social media presence resulted in a lack of knowledge about their rights to refuse the test. Teachers reported that administrators exploited this language and information barrier, telling parents that their children would not be promoted if they refused, or that they simply had no right to refuse. This is blatant discrimination at best.”

Despite attempts to suppress opt out, refusal rates were over three times last year’s 60,000, and activist parents are already planning to increase numbers next year. The opt-out movement is spreading across the nation. PARCC opt out is taking off in Colorado, New Jersey and California, especially among high-school students. [..]

Opt out is far bigger than a test refusal event. It is the repudiation of a host of corporate reforms that include the Common Core, high-stakes testing, school closings and the evaluation of teachers by test scores.   These reforms are being soundly rejected by parents and teachers.

Leave it to John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” to hammer home everything that is wrong with standardized testing:

“Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit,” Oliver said. “Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on ‘8 Mile’ Road.”

Oct 26 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: 101 reasons to love academic ebola by Annieli

It’s an old book, but I was in my local thrift store yesterday and among the other RW books on sale for $1.99, I saw this one and was reminded that I ignored it when it came out but was also reminded that I had a college classmate who edits this line of conservative books, which always seemed odd for someone who had a BMW in college and lived on the upper east side of Manhattan. And having met a couple of the 101 if only as casually as PBO has met Bill Ayers, it continues to baffle me that the false consciousness of the US RW, cannot see education or Liberalism in its classic sense of the Trivium and Quadrivium, rather than reinforcing existing status and class warfare in the basic college curriculum and its prerequisites. The modern college/university is seen by the RW as Educational Ebola, where sharing the tropes of bodily fluids with liberal professors reifies the hypodermic needle model of (banking-style) education where liberal cooties stays with one without the inoculation of RW talk radio and its pastiche of higher education – for example its offering the scholarly heraldry of Photoshop…

The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America is a 2006 book by conservative American author and policy advocate David Horowitz….

Following the Ward Churchill September 11 attacks essay controversy, Horowitz argued that there were many “careers like Ward Churchill’s”. He wrote that “Not all of the professors depicted in this volume hold views as extreme as Ward Churchill’s, but a disturbing number do” and “it would have been no problem to provide a thousand such profiles or even ten times the number.”

The review in the industry news digest Publishers Weekly stated that Horowitz’s “intention to expose the majority of these professors as ‘dangerous’ and undeserving of their coveted positions seems petty in some cases, as when he smugly mocks the proliferation of departments dedicated to peace studies or considers ‘anti-war activist’ as a character flaw… the most egregious crimes perpetrated by the majority of these academics is that their politics don’t mesh with Horowitz’s.

Fortunately there are critiques of Horowitz’s work even as it has become a reactionary cottage industry and without indulging his biography truth does will out, although it is curious that Michael Savage and David Horowitz are never seen at the same time:

http://cdn.publicinterestnetwo…

Nonetheless, there is a spectre haunting Academe, and the reality is that a majority of US college faculty are actually more conservative or grudgingly centrist – in departments that are in the aggregate, predominantly white, male, and decidedly reactionary considering the trend toward more mechanical, menu-driven college degree requirements and attacks on core-curricula / general education requirements. Some of the evil 101 Horowitz cites are retired or passed on so the Pantheon in the eight years has declined since the book emerged yet still supports in spirit the stupidity of RW radio. More interesting is that the democratization of public education not unlike the democratization of suffrage threatens political discourse such that the Kochs through Koch Industries now sponsor a significant number of college sporting events (ESPN College Game Day and The Pac-12 Network) and television channels in their continuing effort to reprivatize it, just as Accuracy in Academia concurrently attacks MOOCs while promoting online efforts to leverage more false consciousness.

Welcome to Conservative University! CU is a project of Accuracy in Academia and will offer free online courses promoting conservative principles. The courses will primarily be geared towards college students, but are open to all lovers of liberty and free speech!

Each course will be taught by expert faculty, will offer continued education resources, class summaries, and an optional brief quiz to test your ascertained knowledge about the class topic.

Thank you for visiting! To see our first course trailer, click here. (“Sex, Lies & Women’s Studies”)

Ultimately, as Activity theory, going to college doesn’t even make one liberal,

Conservatives have been criticizing academia for many decades. Yet only once the McCarthy era passed did this criticism begin to be cast primarily in anti-elitist tones: charges of Communist subversion gave way to charges of liberal elitism in the writings of William F. Buckley Jr. and others. The idea that professors are snobs looking down their noses at ordinary Americans, trying to push the country in directions it does not wish to go, soon became an established conservative trope, taking its place alongside criticism of the liberal press and the liberal judiciary.

The main reason for this development is that attacking liberal professors as elitists serves a vital purpose. It helps position the conservative movement as a populist enterprise by identifying a predatory elite to which conservatism stands opposed – an otherwise difficult task for a movement strongly backed by holders of economic power.

Even if Galileo was a dangerous academic, one can use the global warming denialist movement as yet another example of the less-than-palpable effect of scholarly rationality on public policy in a world that still believes the planet to be only 6000 years old.

The FSFG supports organizations like Accuracy in Academia, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the National Association of Scholars, the Madison Center for Educational Affairs (their “Collegiate Network” links over 70 student newspapers), the Institute for Educational Affairs and others. These organizations work to transform academia toward the right’s ideological agenda.

Mar 14 2014

The War on Public Education

The debate over public schools v charter schools nation wide has been getting more attention due to the confrontation over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision not to give free space in an already overcrowded public to a privately funded charter school. It has brought open “warfare” between the mayor and the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo and much the NY news media is biased toward the well funded corporate backed charter schools which gets rent free space in public schools. Here of some of the facts

De Blasio came into office early this year and was handed plans approved by the former Bloomberg administration for 45 co-locations (some charter into traditional schools, others traditional schools into other traditional school buildings and sharing all space except classrooms). After reviewing the plans, de Blasio’s administration approved 36 and rejected nine. Seventeen of the 45 involved charter schools, and he allowed 14 of them to go through. How did administration officials decide? They used a set of criteria that included disallowing elementary schools from being co-located in high schools and refusing to allow co-locations that could affect space needed for special-needs students.

The three that were rejected were proposed by the Success Academy charter network in New York,  run by a longtime opponent of the mayor’s, Eva Moskowitz, but five Success co-locations were actually approved.  Moskowitz didn’t like being rejected even a little and she launched a public relations campaign against de Blasio that included closing 22 Success charter schools for a day and busing students and parents to Albany to rally with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a charter supporter, against de Blasio. (Imagine the ruckus  if de Blasio closed 22 schools to rally for traditional public schools.) Cuomo told the crowd that “we will save charter schools” as if de Blasio had announced he was closing all of them, which he is decidedly not. In fact, de Blasio has been attacked not only by charter supporters but by charter opponents who think he should have rejected all 17 charter co-location plans.

De Blasio made no bones about his plans for public education over charter scools during his campaign emphasizing that the free ride in a financially strapped city had to end.

There is no way in hell that [Success Academy Charter Schools founder] Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, okay? There are charters that are much, much better endowed in terms of resources than the public sector ever hoped to be. It is insult to injury to give them free rent. They should have to pay rent. They have the money.

Charter schools have a lot of money. Enough to fund a multimillion dollar ad campaign attacking de Blasio and paying Success Academy’s head, Eva Moskowitz, a $475,000 yearly salary

In the crowd, Ms. Moskowitz, who turned 50 on Tuesday, mingled with thousands of people from over 100 charters around the state. Many were from her own 22 schools, which she let out for the day so the pupils and their parents could be bused to the capital. The advocacy group that organized the rally, Families for Excellent Schools, recently started a multimillion-dollar television ad campaign praising charter schools and calling on the mayor not to hold them back.

Ms. Moskowitz’s history of aggressive tactics has led several other charter operators to keep a wide berth. More than 30 charter school leaders, still hoping for better relations with the new mayor, boycotted the rally. [..]

She has also attracted notice for her salary, $475,000, partly paid by donors, and roughly double what the chancellor earns.

While Success Academy’s students do very well and mostly minority students from the inner cities, she comes under a lot of criticism for her tactics and policies to achieve those numbers:

Hope Scott, the parent association leader at P.S. 123, in Harlem, said she could not forget a summer day in 2008, when she saw desks and teachers’ property thrown in the hallway as a Success Academy school was “moving in.” [..]

Other critics note that her schools tend to serve fewer special education students and nonnative English speakers than surrounding neighborhood schools. Chancellor FariƱa said on Tuesday that while some charter schools “do great work” in helping children with special needs, or those with limited English proficiency, Ms. Moskowitz “makes it clear these are kids she cannot help, necessarily, because she doesn’t have the resources for them.”

New York City’s Charter School Showdown Reignites National Debate on Privatized Education

The battle over charter schools is heating up after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blocked three privately run charter schools from using rent-free space inside public schools. The city also announced it will cut $210 million in charter school construction funding and use the money toward universal pre-K and after-school programs. The moves have set off a fierce debate in New York and the country and have even pitted de Blasio against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat.

Steve Barr, CEO and founder of Future Is Now, a nonprofit that works to improve public education and Brian Jones, who taught elementary school in New York City for nine years and is now pursuing a doctorate in urban education at the CUNY Graduate Center, discuss the future of public education

There is something that everyone needs to know about Gov. Cuomo’s vocal support of charter schools from Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education, just follow the money:

You can’t say this often enough.

Money matters in politics.

Forget principle. Think money.

Andrew Cuomo wants to be re-elected governor of New York with a large majority.

He has raised $33 million.

One of his biggest sources of money is Wall Street.

Wall Street loves charter schools.

Wall Street doesn’t love public schools.

The fact that only 3 percent of students in New York State attend charter schools doesn’t matter to Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo now wants to take charge of dispensing millions in public funds to charter schools for construction, and he wants to assure them that they can have public space without paying rent. He wants the power to give free space to charters, no matter what Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

The fact that high-flying charters like Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy not only excludes children with special needs, but literally pushes them out of their schools does not matter to Andrew Cuomo. Success Academy is for winners, not losers. Children with disabilities don’t belong in Success Academy’s charters.

Feb 02 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: A Non-Capitalist Response to the SOTU by UnaSpenser

Author’s Note: Hi everybody! Welcome to a participatory diary. That’s right, participatory. I’m offering this up as an exercise for everyone to try. The original text is  an explanation of the exercise and why I’m suggesting it, followed by a couple of examples. Then, it’s up to you to complete the diary. Add comments with your own examples and I’ll build out the diary with your content. Let’s see what the whole feels like when we make an attempt to respond to the State of the Union address together. When we make a conscious effort to dig into the principles we find buried in the speech and compare them to the principles we would like to live by, how aligned do they feel?

We’ve heard a lot of responses this week to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. What I find persistently frustrating with any US political speech the lack of unpacking the “capitalist”, “democratic” and “American Way” framework. Or rather, the lack of establishing the principles behind what is being said to see whether it’s fits with the principles and values that we hold.

I have not framed this diary as an “anti-capitalist” one. I am suggesting that regardless of how you feel about capitalism, you might find it useful to analyze what another capitalist is saying by setting aside the supposed common ground of capitalism and searching for what values are reflected in what is being said. Capitalism isn’t a value. It’s a type of economic system. When we identify as a capitalist, however, we probably attach a value system to that identity. What I’m wondering here is whether everyone attaches the same value system. Do you even know if the speaker has the same value system as you?

I am someone who gets frustrated when people try to make decisions or solve problems together without establishing their shared principles. “Capitalism” is not a principle. Principles are about values and beliefs. They are guides to how we behave, how we treat one another. You could claim to be a capitalist and believe that everyone has a right to food and shelter. You could claim to be a capitalist and believe that food and shelter are not rights, they must be “earned.” Those are mutually exclusive principles which two different people are claiming as part of the capitalist construct. If they simply greet each other as capitalists, it is possible for them to think they are aligned when they are not. This opens the door for misunderstanding, at best, and deception, manipulation and oppression, at worst.

Is that happening in this speech? The answer to that and the places where we feel it is happening may be different for each person. Hence, the participatory nature of this diary. What feels unaligned for me may feel aligned for you and vice versa. But, perhaps, we’ll find some common threads of values that we would like to see underpinning our governance and social life. Perhaps ….

Aug 18 2013

AC Meetup: Differences Matter-Wage and Wealth Gap for Single Mothers Of Color by Diana Zevala

The following is a guest diary by Diana Zavala. An educator, political activist and single mother of two, this is the second guest diary that Diana has written for us. Diana presented this piece as part of the panel at Left Forum 2013 organised by Geminijen.

Three years ago I found myself closing the chapter on my marriage. I did this against the advice of my friends who tried persuading me to stay for the children, for the sake of security and until I finished my studies. I had spent 10 years in an unsatisfying marriage and the thought of one more day for the sake of something/somebody else just was not acceptable. I left the marriage and while the emotional release was satisfying; but being independent and having to be responsible for my family was a reality I don’t think I fully grasped.

I decided there had to be a way that women in my situation could qualify for public assistance. Here I was a student, with two kids, huge rent bill, no health insurance, but these circumstances were only temporary I thought, and with a little assistance I would be able to overcome them and get myself back on my feet. I thought ‘hey, I’m not the quintessential “welfare queen” so demonized by society’, I’m someone who needs help and can become independent with some assistance. I discovered it wasn’t the case, that women who were in my predicament had no safety nets available for them to bounce back. I didn’t qualify for anything because I had too much money from child support which was just enough to cover the rent. The Welfare office recommended I become homeless in order to apply for Section 8 housing and I didn’t qualify for Food Stamps, nor did I qualify for Medicaid.

Here it was, I had been a high school teacher before getting married, I left teaching to care for my son while my husband’s career progressed and so did his income and retirement. I had no money and no savings and was being advised to become homeless so I could qualify for housing assistance and food stamps, so I could provide for my children.

I had walked into the office feeling like a strong feminist who had left her marriage choosing independence from a husband and who could make it on her own. I was college educated, employable, and young enough to have energy to fight and overcome. I came out of the office understanding that my situation was no different from other women who leave, that while I had education and language, my status as a single mother did not differ much from that of my mother’s when she immigrated from Honduras after she divorced my father.

Jul 26 2013

Chris Hedges: Moving Forward

In Part 6 of a series of interviews by Paul Jay of Real News Network, journalist and author, Chris Hedges discusses issues of corporate control, and “the grim realities” facing the economy and environment:

The more we create self-sustainable systems that are local, the more we sever ourselves from these corporate forces, the less we need them. And the less we need them-I mean, let’s remember that 70 percent of the U.S. economy is driven through consumption-the less we need them, the more we impoverish them. I mean, the goal has to be to break these corporate power, this entity that has seized control of our government, our systems of communication, our judiciary.

I mean, now we’re watching them eviscerate our systems of education. Anytime hedge fund managers walk into a city like Baltimore and propose charter schools, it’s not because they want to teach people to read and write. It’s because they know the federal government spends about $600 billion a year on education, and they want it, and they’re getting it.

So I think that building local centers that are self-sustaining and that can create forms of community that are not dependent on these corporate forces is a political act, because these corporate forces need us to continue to consume their products and rely on their services. And the less we consume and the less we are hostage, the less we need these forces, the more independent we become.

Now, that has to come with a kind of political consciousness, but I think they come hand-in-hand, that both things-I think that as people take control, once again, of their own lives, that will bring a kind of consciousness, because these corporate forces, especially if they begin to feel threatened, are going to see these acts as political acts and are going to move-as we have seen corporate farming move against organic farming, they are going to move to try and destroy these forces.



Transcript can be read here

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