Proposed State-Run STEM School Raises Questions, Suspicions

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By Bill Raden for Capital and Main – A hastily revised bill introduced in Sacramento last month is attempting to address the state’s STEM crisis by adding a single new privatized state STEM school to California’s already contentious K-12 landscape. The plan to create an 800-student “State School for Instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)” that would serve grades six through 12, and be located somewhere within Los Angeles County, has met heated resistance from public school advocates. Part of their concern lies in just how much the proposed new breed of state STEM schools resembles charter schools, which are privately managed but taxpayer-funded. School districts have long contended that charters siphon off their higher achieving students while leaving the districts with less money to teach a larger percentage of far-needier kids. Authored by Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando), Assembly Bill 1217 stipulates that the new STEM school would operate similarly. It would be managed by a private non-profit corporation and get its funding from the same combination of private philanthropy and the state ADA (average daily attendance) money that would follow its 800 students, probably from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Newsletter - Mobilize For System Change

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Decades of neo-liberal economic policies in the United States and debt, which is required by the bottom 90% to survive, have fanned political unrest and the call for revolution, rather than reform. Just as Obama and the Democrat’s populist façade disintegrated under a growing wealth divide, worsening climate change and militarization of our communities and woke many self-described progressives up to the need for systemic changes, the Trump presidency could have similar effects on conservatives. Voters who thought they were ending the status quo, “draining the swamp,” by voting for Trump may find that loss of health care, trade deals that drive a race to the bottom and tax cuts for the wealthy move them to be open to solutions they may have once rejected.

Rahm’s Police Academy Plan Met With Youth-Led Backlash

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By Maya Dukmasova for Chicago Reader. Chicago, IL – As rain pelted the Fullerton el platform on Tuesday night, two dozen young people boarded a southbound Red Line train with printed and hand-drawn signs. “#NoCopAcademy” one read. “$95 million for schools, mental health care, and affordable housing!” declared another. The activists organized in protest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build a $95 million police and fire training academy in West Garfield Park. The training compound would occupy a 30.4-acre site along Chicago Avenue between Pulaski and Kilbourn and include a swimming and diving pool, driving course, shooting range, labs, classrooms, and auditorium, and a mock CTA station and apartment building.

Seattle Educators Ready For DeVos

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By Staff of Diane Ravitch – My name is Jesse Hagopian and I teach ethnic studies at Seattle’s Garfield High School. I hope you didn’t just stop reading this letter after you heard the subject I am teaching—I urge you to keep reading. I am writing in regards to the Washington Policy Center’s $350-a-person fundraising dinner you will be addressing on October 13 at the Hyatt Regency in the nearby city of Bellevue. Thousands of my colleagues and I will surround the building to make sure the world knows your message of division is not welcome here. Given the recent protests of your speeches at Harvard, at historically black Bethune-Cookman University, and many other places, you must be getting used to this by now. But just so there are no surprises, let me tell you what to expect. There will be bull horns, signs, speeches, and I bet some of the more creative teachers—perhaps the few art teachers your proposed budget hasn’t cut yet—will show up in grizzly bear costumes, referencing the asinine comment you made defending the use of guns in schools to “protect from potential grizzlies.” There will be students there questioning your qualifications to serve as Secretary of Education, given that they have more experience with the public schools than you. They might point out that you never attended public schools and neither did any of your four children.

White Power Structure Grabs Control Of Jackson Schools

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By Diane Ravitch. Jackson, MS – The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or worse. The parents and citizens of Jackson, Mississippi, organized to save their public schools from state takeover. They think that black people should have the same democratic rights as white people. But the past is never really past. The state stepped in to seize control and ousted the superintendent. Fortuitously, Betsy DeVos just have Mississippi millions of dollars to open charter schools. Sure looks like a conspiracy by mean-spirited whites people to dis-empower black people. Are there educational geniuses at the State Department of Education?

Small Class Size – Reform We’re Too Cheap To Try

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By Steven Singer for Gadfly on the Wall. We’re one of the richest countries in the world, yet we treat our own children – especially if they’re poor and brown – as if they were refugees from the third world. Well, perhaps marginally better. To my knowledge no one is suggesting we send the unwashed masses back to Africa, Europe or wherever else they originally came from – at least those who can prove they were born here. But we certainly aren’t bothering ourselves too much about taking care of them. What would that look like? Nothing all that radical. Imagine a classroom where students have the space to be individuals and not nameless cogs in the system.

Newsletter - Greater Austerity Coming Unless We Act

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. As one of the world’s richest nations, the US stands out for having the greatest wealth divide and high levels of poverty. Over the past 40 years, wages have stagnated and, as Lynn points out, “the richest one percent took more than half of all income growth since 1979.” Currently, the top 0.1 percent have wealth equal to the bottom 90 percent. It isn’t a matter of whether the US has enough money to support basic necessities like health, education and housing, but who has the wealth in the US and where our tax dollars are being spent.

What's In A Name? Everything!

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By Cindy Milstein. Michigan – On Tuesday, September 26, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members interrupted a “debate” on whether to consider changing the name of a University of Michigan building. This “conversation” isn’t new; it’s been considered for some fifteen years as, meanwhile #CCLittle, a eugenicist, racist, and ableist, has continued to be honored on a campus building, and black and Latinx students have continued to experience small numbers in the student body and myriad white supremacist indignities and injuries. The simple yet powerful demands on Tuesday, as part of AGITATE: a week of action against anti-blackness and other forms of racism (#BBUM, #ReclaimingOurTimeUMich), was that C. C. Little’s name not only be replaced, and immediately, but also that the building be renamed after a black woman, especially a black female scientist alumni.

#WeChoose Equity In Education Campaign

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By Popular Resistance. Launched just after Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss was appointed in February, 2017, the #WeChoose campaign is fighting for equity in education. They write: “We are not fooled by the ‘illusion of school choice.’ The policies of the last twenty years, driven more by private interests than by concern for our children’s education, are devastating our neighborhoods and our democratic rights. Only by organizing locally and coming together nationally will we build the power we need to change local, state, and federal policy and win back our public schools. School closings are a key issue now because if our communities don’t have schools, we will have little to fight for. But if we only fight against closings, we won’t succeed at building the kind of sustainable school transformation that will carry us forward.

Teachers Should Not Do These When Educating Native Youth

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By Sarah Sunshine Manning for Indian Country Today – American Indian and Alaska Native students remain a very special and uniquely vulnerable population, often suffering from educational experiences that either fail to serve them adequately or that cause them to feel alienated, invisible, or unsupported. Teachers who serve Native youth must be cognizant of the unique needs of indigenous students, and their communities. Teachers who serve Native youth must also be willing to examine their preconceived notions of Native Americans, and then make the necessary adjustments in order to give Native youth a meaningful education that they deserve and need. To best serve Native youth, here are some more important dos and don’ts for educators: 1. DON’T ever overlook students’ indigenous identity, or attempt to see them through a “colorblind” lens Native Americans have suffered centuries of forced assimilation and marginalization. Do not maintain the erasure of Indigenous Peoples by failing to acknowledge the unique identity of your indigenous students. Attempting to see them through a colorblind lens actually causes harm, as important parts of their identity are being ignored.

Teacher Wins Against Israel Lobby Effort To Fire Her

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By Ali Abuminah for Electronic Intifada. Canada – Canadian elementary school teacher Nadia Shoufani has won a year-long struggle against efforts by Israel lobby groups to force her out of her job. Shoufani, who teaches in Mississauga, west of Toronto, was the subject of complaints because of a July 2016 speech she gave at a rally in support of Palestinian rights. “Earlier this year Ms. Shoufani’s case came before the Ontario College of Teachers and she was found not to be in breach of the professional conduct expected of a teacher,” Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, said in a statement to The Electronic Intifada on Monday.

UB Students Protest Commencement Speaker Betsy DeVos

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By Elizabeth Janney for Baltimore Batch – Students last week were also protesting against DeVos at another campus, this time in Arlington, Virginia, where the education secretary announced plans to roll back Title IX guidelines regarding sexual assault. Under the Obama administration guidelines, schools were told to use the lowest standard of proof, called “preponderance of the evidence,” in prosecuting sexual assault cases. In an address at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School last week, DeVos said colleges must raise the burden of proof in order to protect the rights of both victims and those that they accuse because “the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students.” Said DeVos: “Any perceived offense can become a full-blown Title IX investigation, but if everything is harassment, then nothing is harassment.” Her statement drew criticism for equating the harm done to falsely accused students with the suffering of assault survivors. The University of Baltimore stood by its decision to invite DeVos to speak at the fall commencement, issuing this statement on Facebook…

DeVos Embrace Of Predatory For-Profit Colleges Is Breathtaking

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By David Halperin for Republic Report – Betsy DeVos, whose interest in education prior to the Trump administration seemed mostly focused on K-12 schools, has made her mark as Secretary of Education instead with a remarkably blatant embrace of the worst demands of the for-profit college industry. The reputation of that industry, which at its peak a few years ago had 10 percent of U.S. college students and was getting as much as $32 billion a year from taxpayers in student grants and loans, was in tatters after a decade of government and media investigations exposing abusive practices by many for-profit schools: deceptive and coercive student recruiting, sky-high prices, low spending on instruction, and terrible job placement outcomes, leaving former students across America with crushing loan debt and often without the jobs they sought. But instead of continuing the Obama Administration’s increasingly determined efforts to protect students and taxpayers by holding predatory for-profit schools accountable, which was beginning to push schools to improve their ethics and quality…

Immigration Crackdown Traumatizing A Generation Of Children

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By Mark Keierleber for The Guardian. Gathered around a camera in their family’s kitchen, the four Duarte children pleaded for help. When their undocumented parents were picked up by border patrol agents outside their home in National City, California, the full-time students, aged 12 to 19, were unable to pay for food, let alone rent. Yarely and Aracely, 12-year-old twin sisters had watched it happen. The girls were eating breakfast last May when their father, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, went outside to grab a newspaper and was swarmed by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agents. When their mother went outside their home in National City, California, to investigate all the commotion, she, too, was arrested.

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.