Get To Know The BATS: Teachers Fighting Privatization

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By Marla Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson in partnership with Read the Dirt for Popular Resistance. Chris Christie once told a Badass Teacher that he was “sick”of people like her. It was his response to the question posed by her sign: Schools in NJ are among the top 3 in the country. Why does Governor Christie portray our schools as failure factories?“You know what,”he said, “I’m tired of this. I’m so sick of you people. What do you want?”He pointed his finger in her face, “just go do your job.” It was 2014, seven years into Melissa Tomlinson’s career as a public middle school special education teacher in Buena, NJ—and six months after the founding of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) network. Some might know BATs for their online activism and role in the campaign against Betsy DeVos. Organized horizontally through committees, we have chapters in every state, but all are autonomous to account for unique obstacles and local culture.

Newsletter: Protest Is Working & Growing

Resist banner flies over the Donald Trump White House by Greenpeace.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. People are recognizing that they have power to protest in a lot of areas. Some see the potential for protest at work, such as the resistance and non-cooperation among federal workers. And, many are planning on building toward a general strike, something unheard of in US history. State officials are even talking about protesting by not paying federal taxes. Early in the Trump era, protest is working and the potential ahead is for an even larger resistance movement. The dysfunctional nature of government will add to protest movements, making the country ungovernable. We can defeat the oligarchy, as currently represented by Trump, but which began long before him, by remaining independent of the corporate parties and fighting for the changes we need.

With DeVos, We’re Likely To See A Charter School To Prison Pipeline

From therealnews.com

By Karen Dolan for The Real News Netowrk – Dolan said what we’re likely to see is a charter school to prison pipeline. “Children in charter schools – Black, brown, Latino, LGBTQ, and children with disabilities – are over-disciplined in rates even significantly higher than they are in public schools,” Dolan explained. She said that children of color, even pre-schoolers, are between four and six times more likely to be expelled than white children for the same behavioral offenses – from scribbling on desks, to wearing distracting jewelry. Expulsions increase children’s chances of coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. And those who have contact with the justice system in their youth have “very high – up to 70% higher” chances of reoffending, Dolan said.

Educators, Students, Parents Community Stop Corporate Takeover Of Milwaukee Schools

Educators, students, parents, and community activists in Milwaukee are fighting for the very survival of their public school system. Photo: MTEA

By Amy Mizialko for Labor Notes – If the Wisconsin legislature had gotten its way, private charter companies would have taken over at least one more public school in Milwaukee this year—pushing us dangerously near a tipping point to the planned extinction of our school district. But instead, thanks to the dogged activism of educators, students, parents, and community activists, we have staved off the immediate threat.

Wall Street Firms Make Money From Teachers’ Pensions

The ongoing measles outbreak in the U.S. has put a spotlight on vaccination rates among American schoolchildren. Photo: Reuters

BY David Sirota, Avi Asher-Schapiro And Andrew Perez for IBT – When Massachusetts public school teachers pay into their pension fund each month, they may not realize where the money goes. Wall Street titans are using some of the profits from managing that money to finance an education ballot initiative that many teachers say will harm traditional public schools. An International Business Times/MapLight investigation has found that executives at eight financial firms with contracts to manage Massachusetts state pension assets have bypassed anti-corruption rules and funneled at least $778,000 to groups backing Question 2, which would expand the number of charter schools in the state.

Gap Co-Founder Doris Fisher Is Bankrolling Charter School Agenda

Photo via Andybis123 via Wikimedia Commons

By Joel Warner for Capital Main – As co-founder of the Gap, San Francisco-based business leader and philanthropist Doris Fisher boasts a net worth of $2.6 billion, making her the country’s third richest self-made woman, according to Forbes. And she’s focused much of her wealth and resources on building charter schools. She and her late husband Donald donated more than$70 million to the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and helped to personally build the operation into the largest network of charter schools in the country, with 200 schools serving 80,000 students in 20 states.

A Turning Point For The Charter School Movement

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts poses for a selfie with supporters of his effort to lift the state's cap on charter schools. Charters are facing formidable opposition this election season: Democrats passed a resolution this month opposing the proposed charter school expansion in Massachusetts, and residents will vote on the proposal in November. (Photo: Charlie Baker / Flickr)

By Molly Knefel for Truthout – A political battle is being waged over charter schools in Massachusetts right now, and it’s a microcosm of the state of the charter debate across the country. In the lead-up to a November ballot measure in which voters will decide whether or not to lift the state’s cap on charter schools, known as Question 2, Democrats passed a resolution this month opposing charter school expansion.

Mississippi Parents Demand An Answer: Are Charter Schools Constitutional?

Three charter schools in the Jackson district are currently slated to receive $4 million in public funds this year. (Photo: Kevin O'Mara/flickr/cc)

By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Mississippi parents are challenging the public funding of charter schools on the grounds that it’s not constitutional. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an advocacy group, filed a motion for a summary judgment this week on behalf of the parents, for a speedy answer to this question. The only debate in the case is that of constitutionality, which makes it prime for answering, SPLC told Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas.

Common Core And Corporate Colonization: The Big Picture

Students look for their classrooms on the opening day of instruction at the Westchester Secondary Charter school. (Los Angeles Times / September 3, 2013)

By Staff of Educational Alchemy – I said it over three years ago and I’ll say it again. Common Core was, and is, an agenda crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It was never about “communism,” or “socialism.” It was the state and federal governments serving as the delivery boys for the privatization of public education at the hands of global corporate interests (think: Trans Pacific Partnership and UNESCO).

NAACP Calls For National Moratorium On Charter Schools

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By Julian Vasquez Heilig for Cloaking Inequality – I don’t believe that this has been reported anywhere else. Last week at the NAACP National Convention in Cincinnati, the delegates voted in a new resolution on charter schools. It’s approval as policy will not be official until the National Board meeting in the Fall of 2016. However, this is a big news story that (I suspect because of the political conventions) has not yet entered the traditional media. Yesterday in the post How will history remember the @NAACP on charters? I discussed the 2010 and 2014 NAACP charter school resolutions.

Rally At Castelar Elementary Puts Charters In Crosshairs

Parents, students and teachers rallied Wednesday at Castelar Street Elementary School in Chinatown.

By Craig Clough for La School Report – About 200 parents, students and teachers rallied Wednesday morning outside Castelar Street Elementary School in Chinatown as part of a “walk-in” calling for lower class sizes at LA Unified, increased staffing and more accountability for Prop. 39, the law that gives charter schools the right to use empty class space at district schools through a process called “co-location.” Several TV news crews were on hand for the demonstration, which saw parents, teachers and students march around the block hoisting banners and chanting before walking into the school.

Overwhelming Bipartisan Support To Rein In Charter School Lapses

Image by Shutterstock, Copyright (c) Luminaimages

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – According to a new, nationwide poll, Americans overwhelmingly want public charter schools to be more accountable, have less selective admissions policies, employ better-trained teachers, and refrain from harming traditional local schools by siphoning away precious taxpayer funds. Overall, the poll shows wide support for regulating many aspects of the school privatization movement. “Americans embrace proposals to reform the way charter schools are authorized and managed,”…

Most Charter Schools Are Public In Name Only

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By Steven Singer in Gadfly on the Wall Blog. As a public school teacher, I can never recall being at a training where charter operators taught us how to do things better with these time-tested strategies. I do, however, recall watching excellent co-workers furloughed because my district had to meet the rising costs of payments to our local charters. Moreover, if the freedom to experiment is so important, why not give that privilege to all public schools, not just a subset? The reality is much different than the ideal. In the overwhelming majority of cases, charter schools are vastly inferior to their more traditional brethren. To understand why, we need to see the differences between these two kinds of learning institutions and why in every case the advantage goes to our much-maligned, long suffering traditional public schools

Teachers, Parents And Students Hold Coloring Contest To Expose Crime

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By Carolyn Leith for Living in Dialogue – Back in September, parents were blindsided when Seattle Public Schools (SPS) proposed staff cuts at “25 or something” schools across the district. Emergency meetings were held, letters were sent to the school board, but none of these efforts seemed to make a difference. The district had made up its mind. This is when Shawna Murphy and I decided to create our own advocacy group called Teacher Retention Advocate Parents or TRAP. We staged a spoofy bake sale – dubbed the Half-Baked Bake Sale – at district headquarters.

Teachers’ Union Protests Eli Broad’s Support Of Charter Schools

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By Adrienne Bankert in ABC7 – A crowd of protesters with United Teachers Los Angeles held a rally outside The Broad on the museum’s opening day Sunday. Hundreds of parents, teachers and students clad in red T-shirts held up signs and chanted outside the new contemporary art museum, which opened its doors to the public Sunday morning. The protesters said they are not against the museum but are against Eli Broad’s reported plan to try to expand charter schools throughout the city of Los Angeles. Broad reportedly plans to put between half a billion and a billion dollars into unregulated, non-union charter schools, that could draw half of the district’s students. The teachers’ union fears these schools would not be accountable to the public, would cherry-pick their students, and keep parents from being able to interact with teachers.