I Am Not A Hero Teacher

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By Staff for Gad Fly On The Wall Blog – I’ll tell you one thing I don’t need. I don’t need the state, federal or local government telling me how to do my job. When I plan my lessons, I need the freedom to teach children in the way that seems most effective to me – the professional in the room. I also don’t need some bureaucrat telling me how to assess my students. I don’t need some standardized test to tell me what kids have learned, if they can read or write. I’ve spent an average of 80 minutes a day with these children for five days a week. If I can’t tell, I don’t deserve to be in the classroom. And I don’t need my principal or superintendent setting my colleagues and me against each other. We’re not competing to see who can do a better job. We should be collaborating to make sure everyone succeeds. What do I need? My union, for one. I need my right to collective bargaining. I need the power to gather with my colleagues and co-workers so we can create the best possible work environment for myself and my students. I need due process, tenure, so I can’t be fired at the whim of the school board or administrators without having them prove my inequities.

Hundreds Protest Betsy DeVos Ahead Of ALEC Speech In Denver

Ryan Case‏ / Twitter

By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet – The ALEC meeting comes just a week after the education secretary’s talks with men’s rights activists. Hundreds of protesters descended on the Colorado Statehouse on Wednesday, one day ahead of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ speech at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Denver. The meeting comes just a week after the education secretary’s controversial talks on Title IX guidelines with so-called men’s rights activists and other skeptics of the federal law that has consistently protected victims of campus sexual assault. “My primary concern is DeVos’ commitment to protecting sexual assault perpetrators and those accused of sexual assault,” University of Denver doctoral student Alicia Mountain told the Denver Post at the rally. Meanwhile, Suzanne Ethredge, president of the local teacher’s union, remained wary of the secretary’s long-term preference for school choice.

Pentagon Recruiting Playbook Revealed

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By Pat Elder for War is a Crime – Ominous developments in three states this summer – Oregon, Texas, New Jersey, and one city – Chicago, provide a glimpse into the Pentagon’s new playbook to recruit soldiers from high schools across the country. In brief, the military has been engaged in a robust lobbying campaign to lower academic standards to make it easier to recruit youth. New recruits have long been required to hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate. This requirement is a major impediment to finding enough soldiers to meet annual targets, but even when struggling students barely manage to graduate, the Pentagon has developed a plan to marshal more of them into the military. The Oregon Department of Education recently endorsed the Oregon National Guard’s Credit Proficiency Program for use in high schools across the state. The program gives juniors and seniors the chance to earn academic credits while training for military service at Oregon National Guard facilities. The program is expected to cut the state’s drop-out rate while increasing the on-time graduation rate. In 2015 Oregon’s 74.8% graduation rate was the third lowest in the country. Under the program, if a senior in high school realizes a few weeks before graduation that he doesn’t have enough credits to graduate…

The Attitude Of Solutions

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By Paul Glover. The United States’ largest problems — job loss, wage cuts, foreclosures, crumbling bridges, medical costs, school taxes, pollution, crime, hunger, national debt and war — each have many solutions. Real solutions do not wait for government or corporations. They depend on each of us, starting where we live, with whoever is ready to begin. For 45 years, I’ve responded to news with solutions. When I hear bad news, my reflex is to imagine a solution, design it, then begin it. Guided by common sense alone, and without waiting for precise diploma, I’ve started 20 organizations and campaigns.They provide practical alternatives for food, fuel, housing, health care, urban design, education, transportation, sanitation, finance, and jobs. Millions of lively patriots are already enjoying building a new America.

Israeli Soldiers Harass Students On US Campus

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By Charlotte Silver for The Electric Antifada – University of California, Irvine is once again investigating the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine group after a protest of an event featuring Israeli soldiers last month. But members of Students for Justice in Palestine say they are the ones who endured days of harassment and intimidation by Israeli soldiers invited to campus to give a panel discussion about the Israeli army. The SJP students say they were subjected to days of racial and sexual slurs in what they believe was an attempt to provoke a reaction. UC Irvine has been a focal point for Israel advocacy groups seeking to categorize support for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic. Documents obtained by Palestine Legal through a freedom of information request show that over the last year Israel advocacy organizations have consistently pressured the UC Irvine administration to crack down on Palestine activism. They were also instrumental in the school’s adoption of a policy that conflates opposition to Zionism, Israel’s state ideology, with anti-Semitism.

This Former Inmate Is Fighting For Every Prisoner’s Right To A College Degree

by Laura Baker

By Victoria Law for Narratively – As Cheryl Wilkins accepted her college diploma, hundreds of women screamed her name and whooped with joy. They were so loud that Wilkins’ brother, sitting with his four-year-old daughter, couldn’t hear the girl cheering, “Auntie! Auntie!” Other family members were even more enthusiastic. When another woman’s name was called, her six-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and dragged her to the stage. “Come on Mama, get your degree!” Wilkins remembers the girl shouting. “Her daughter took the diploma and walked off the stage with it.” Once the ceremony was over, the pictures taken and the food eaten, the mood turned tearful. Wilkins’ niece sobbed as her father led her away. “I want Auntie to come with us!” she cried. Other children screamed as family members pried them from their mothers’ arms. The visitors left through one exit and the women, many in tears, through another. The afternoon ended with all of the women being strip searched, the required practice after any contact with outsiders. This was no ordinary college graduation. The ceremony took place at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York’s maximum-security prison for women.

Demand …Or Be Damned

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By Staff of Education Alchemy – I was invited by Kevin Zeese to contribute something to Popular Resistance a while back, to contribute a call for an action in response to current education reform policies, including but not limited to, any piece of fecal detritus spewed by Betsy Devos and company. I struggled to formulate a response to that request mostly because my feelings were two-fold: 1) I couldn’t generate any ideas not already being developed by others (i.e. call your state legislator, sign XYZ petition, speak up at PTA meetings etc etc…) and 2) I wasn’t sure where I stood in relationship to ESSA. Generally speaking, I am opposed to supporting ESSA because of the devil in the details (the ways in which it is opening the flood gates for private interests in the form of vouchers, charters and online providers). And yet, as Trump and the clown car call for the dismantling of the US Department of Education and eliminating federal mandates, I am instinctively opposed to that too- much in the way one might instinctively oppose having a nail driven into their eye (the way I feel about anything attached to Trump’s name or policies).

Want To See How School Choice Leads To Segregation? Visit Betsy DeVos’ Hometown

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By Jennifer Berkshire for Alternet – Here, two decades of the policies that the Trump/DeVos education budget now wants to take national, have resulted in white flight and school closures, leaving Holland’s poor and minority students segregated in the few schools that remain open. I traveled to Holland last week for the annual Tulip Time festival, a celebration of the city’s Dutch heritage. But along with Dutch shoes and swagger, the legacy of Michigan’s now two-decade experiment with school choice was on vivid display as well, and it wasn’t pretty. First, some background. During the endless runup to DeVos’ confirmation hearing last year, it was the Wild West-style school choice she’d pushed in Detroit that garnered most of the attention. But DeVos was also behind Michigan’s inter-district choice policies that, starting in 2000, disrupted neighborhood attendance zones, just as the Trump administration’s proposed budget seeks to do. In Michigan, school choice has become the new white flight as white families have fled their resident districts for schools that are less diverse. The most dramatic example of this may be in DeVos’ own hometown of Holland.

DeVos’s Education Budget Throws Students To The Loan Sharks

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By Brad Poling for Occupy – The Washington Post last week revealed a draft of the Education Department’s proposed budget, which it described as a “near final version of the bill.” The proposal, now confirmed, includes $10.6 billion in cuts to federal education spending, including $3.1 billion for teacher trainer, class-size reduction, and after-school programs for students. It’s not all cuts, though. Plans include $500 million to invest in charter schools, $250 million in voucher program expansion funding, and $1 billion to “push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies.” Just one day after the Post’s report, additional details emerged to complete the bleak picture of the Trump administration’s plans. On Friday, the Education Department outlined plans to contract a single student-loan servicer to collect on its behalf. The announcement also hinted that the contract will go to one of three companies: GreatNet, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), or Navient. In a prepared statement, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended the change, stating that “the federal student loan servicing solicitation we inherited was cumbersome and confusing…

Philly Teachers Call Off Work In Bottom-Up Campaign

Philly teachers organized their co-workers to participate in a mass call-off day this May Day. Photo: Caucus of Working Educators

By Samantha Winslow for Labor Notes – Teachers and their unions turned out for May Day this year in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Oakland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Seattle. They held teach-ins at schools and pickets outside, and joined citywide demonstrations in solidarity with immigrant communities. Philadelphia teachers wanted to show solidarity with the day’s themes—but also make a statement to the city about their own contract struggle. They’ve gone four years without a contract and five years without a raise. They’ve suffered school closings, freezes on steps and lanes in the pay scale, layoffs of school nurses and counselors, and the privatization of substitute teachers. The state-appointed school board even tried to cancel their contract, though it was rebuffed by the courts. So, to create pressure on the district, a group of teachers organized their own protest. “We are finally taking some action, after five years of not doing much,” said Tom Quinn, a teacher at the city’s largest high school, where more than half of teachers took a “personal day” on May Day. The 11,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers didn’t authorize the action. Instead it was a rank-and-file group, the three-year-old Caucus of Working Educators, that enlisted 400 teachers from 24 schools to call off from work and join a series of May Day activities.

Diane Ravitch: Betsy DeVos Is A Monster The Democrats Helped Create

Opponents note DeVos' track record of opposing public schools, disregarding civil rights, and having no experience as a teacher or an agency leader. (Photo: Getty)

By Jacob Sugarman for AlterNet – $9.2 billion—that’s the amount the Trump administration plans to slice from the Department of Education, according to its latest budget proposal. The carnage includes deep cuts to teacher training, mental health, school arts, anti-bullying initiatives and countless other services, as well as the elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which affects as many as 400,000 college graduates. Manning the guillotine is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has emerged as one of the Trump administration’s most reviled figures among Democrats; all 48 senators voted against her confirmation in February. What few are willing to acknowledge, however, is that their party’s embrace of the education reform movement helped make DeVos’ political career possible. Indeed her proposed voucher system, allowing parents to use public funding for private and religious schools, builds upon a school choice model introduced by Governor Bill Clinton and later championed by President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In an essay for the New Republic, academic and educational policy analyst Diane Ravitch traces how the Democrats went so horribly astray on education

School Choice Is A Scam In Segregated Neighborhoods

Photo by Marc Monaghan
Wendell Phillips Academy High School is a public school located in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

By Jitu Brown for The Chicago Reporter – Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems not to hear the fierce protests of parents, teachers and school officials over school closings and charter expansion in New York, Chicago, Oakland, Detroit and other American cities. How else to explain her continuing tone-deaf comments praising the glories of school choice? In truth, school choice does not exist in most black and brown communities in the United States. That is why her words ring false and her promises sound empty to the people living in those communities. Whatever hope existed that DeVos would learn on the job and inform her boss, President Donald Trump, of the need to respect that history and build on the effectiveness of American public schools while improving them, has been dashed. During her confirmation hearings, DeVos was criticized for her lack of experience with and knowledge of the public education system. Her later words at the Brookings Institution exemplified someone in a position of great power, who just does not get it: “How many of you got here today in an Uber, or Lyft, or another ridesharing service? Did you choose that because it was more convenient than hoping a taxi would drive by?

Schooling For Myths And Powerlessness

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By Ralph Nader for The Nader Page – All over America, school children are completing another academic year before their summer vacation. This invites the questions, what did they learn and what did they do with what they learned? I’m not talking about their test scores, nor the latest fads in rebranding education, like the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum that de-emphasizes the first two thirds of the old mantra – reading, writing and arithmetic. Rather, I am questioning what they learned about their real-world surroundings, about preparing themselves for life as citizens, workers, consumers, taxpayers, voters and members of various communities. Not very much, sad to say. The same is true of my generation. Instead of receiving an enriching and well-rounded education, we were fed myths. All societies perpetuate lavish myths that enable the few to rule over the many, repress critical thinking and camouflage the grim realities. Our country was, and remains, no exception. In school we learned that our country was number one, the greatest in the world. We sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” in music class.

Education Activists Create Viral Videos

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By Anthony Cody for Living in Dialogue. Short, punchy films with a message have become one of the most powerful ways the movement to resist high stakes tests has spread the word. You might have seen parents from New York speaking from the heart about their experience, about what has driven them to resist and opt out of these tests. Some of them have been shared and viewed thousands of times. It is not easy to create a video that spreads like wildfire across social media. The message must be clear, the voice authentic, the speaker eloquent. Viewers have to not only watch it, but be motivated to share. For these reasons, creating a successful video of this sort is like catching lightning in a jar. The Network for Public Education has a project underway that hopes to do just that. Two weeks ago, several hundred people spent part of their Sunday in a warehouse in the Gowanus district of Brooklyn, participating in the first phase of an experiment in social media.

Graduating Students Boo Betsy DeVos During Commencement Speech

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By Andrew Emett for Nation of Change – During a university commencement speech on Wednesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos received a cold reception as hundreds of graduating students stood up and turned their backs to her while booing throughout her speech. Trump adviser and former contestant on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” Omarosa Manigault also received boos from the students in protest against the Trump administration. While attending the graduation ceremony at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault briefly stood up on stage when hundreds of students began booing and shouting in disgust. In Omarosa’s defense, university President Edison Jackson rebutted, “You don’t know her. And nor do you know her story.” As Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approached the podium to deliver her commencement address, approximately half of the graduating class immediately stood up to turn their backs to her while booing her speech. The crowd could also be heard cheering at one point after a man reportedly pumped his fist in the air as security escorted him out of the building.