By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The level of student loan debt has risen to $1.5 trillion and defaults are more than 40% and rising. U.S. student loan debt has grown to overwhelm all other categories of non-housing consumer debt in this nation. Underneath the crisis are rising tuition costs, a predatory student loan industry and an absence of consumer protections for students. What is the student debt movement to do? Of course the Biden bankruptcy protections should be repealed but that is not enough. We need a complete student loan debt forgiveness program. These debts are ill gotten gains and should be forgiven. If the government refuses to forgive these debts, people must rise up together and refuse to pay any student loan debt. The people have the power to end this injustice and must mobilize to do so. A student loan debt jubilee, whether mandated by law or put in place by the people, will bring economic freedom to tens of millions, end their debt servitude and allow them to participate in the economy. It will be a significant economic stimulus, but more importantly it will end an injustice.
By Steven Rosenfeld for Alternet – A blockbuster report detailing how California’s charter school industry has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars by opening and building schools in communities that don’t need them and often end up doing worse than nearby public schools, is a nationwide warning about how education privateers hijack public funds and harm K-12 public schools. “This report finds that this funding [building, buying, leasing] is almost completely disconnected from educational policy objectives, and the results are, in turn, scattershot and haphazard,” the report’s executive summary begins. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent each year without any meaningful strategy. Far too much of this public funding is spent on schools built in neighborhoods that have no need for additional classroom space, and which offer no improvement over the quality of education already available in nearby public schools. In the worst cases, public facilities funding has gone to schools that were found to have discriminatory enrollment policies and others that have engaged in unethical or corrupt practices.”
By Rebecca Clarren for Investigate West – On the wall above his desk, attorney Timothy Sandefur keeps a copy of The Liberator, a 186-year-old abolitionist newspaper that features an etching of a slave auction on its masthead. Sandefur is the vice president for litigation at the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, a nonprofit right-wing think tank with a donor roster that includes the Mercer family (Donald Trump’s biggest campaign contributors) and Donors Trust, a dark-money funnel for the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, and others. Goldwater is largely known for its efforts to limit regulation, promote tax cuts, expand school choice, and advance private-property rights. Recently, the Goldwater Institute has stepped into an entirely different legal arena…
By Dr. Hakim for the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Dr. Hakim runs the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Here is the most recent message that they sent about the important work they are doing to survive, heal and build community: I’m so often caught up in the daily concerns of work and the wars raging across Afghanistan and many parts of the world that I forget how remarkable it is that at the Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre in Kabul, 19 small teams with more than 70 active Afghan Peace Volunteers are putting nonviolence into microscopic but concrete practice. There’s also the pulsating energy from 100 eager street kids ready to change themselves. All these ‘small people’ with ‘big souls’ touch me. They move my days and nights.
By Jeff Bryant for Education Opportunity Network – Public school supporters are angry at President Trump’s budget proposal, which plans to cut funding to the Department of Education by 13 percent – taking that department’s outlay down to the level it was ten years ago. But the target for their anger should not be just the extent of the cuts but also how the cuts are being pitched to the public. Trump’s education budget cuts are aimed principally at federal programs that serve poor kids, especially their access to afterschool programs and high-quality teachers. At the same time, Trump’s spending blueprint calls for pouring $1.4 billion into school choice policies including a $168 million increase for charter schools…
By Calvin Priest for Counter Punch – On Monday, March 13, the Seattle Educators Association (SEA) took a big step toward May 1 strike action in voting by an overwhelming majority in favor of a one-day strike at their Representative Assembly. The resolution will now require approval by the union’s full membership. The vote was a response to more than a decade of unconstitutional underfunding of public education in Washington State. But it was also a part of a series of recent moves by Seattle unions preparing to take action on May Day against the vicious right-wing agenda of Donald Trump. In February, WFSE Local 304, representing workers at Seattle community colleges, passed a resolution supporting strike and protest action on May 1.
By Carol Burris for The Network for Public Good – Donald Trump’s education budget is a declaration of war on public education and our nation’s neediest children. It was surely designed by Betsy DeVos. Trump’s budget would axe after-school programs known as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers which help school districts, churches and nonprofit groups serve more than 1.6 million American children, most of whom are poor. In defending the cuts to such programs, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said after-school programs don’t “show results.” He went on to say that feeding children after-school has never been proven to get them better jobs, so we cannot afford to do it anymore
By Jeff Bryant for Education Opportunity Network – Betsy DeVos once called public schools a “dead end,” but now that she’s U.S. Secretary of Education, she’s suddenly all for them. At least that’s what she claims now. During her nomination process, numerous reporters noted DeVos’s obvious bias against public schools. As education journalist Valerie Strauss reported on her blog at the Washington Post, DeVos “made some controversial statements” about public schools, “calling the traditional public education system a ‘dead end.’” Strauss noted DeVos had once said, “government truly sucks.” But now she claims to be all for public schools, at least according to reports on her recent speech to a conference of big city school leaders.
By Peggy Robertson for Bust Ed Pencils – To catch new readers up to speed before I launch into the information about PARCC incentives, let me give you a quick recap. I taught at Jewell Elementary for four years. The first three years were absolutely amazing. We were working hard to become an inquiry-based democratic school. All of our hard work came crashing down in the 2015-2016 school year when we became a Relay Leadership School. All of our work, our beliefs, our identity, were erased, and we were mandated to follow the new mantra via Relay. My position at Jewell was eliminated last year. Needless to say, this year, 2016-2017, things have grown worse.
By Popular Resistance. Maryland’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have never been desegregated. Despite findings by the Department of Education and Federal Court that the HBCUs have not received adequate funding when compared to Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and have had their programs duplicated by PWIs, drawing students and faculty away from the HBCUs, the state has refused to make amends. Below you will find a timeline of this struggle and an interview with two alumni, Rashad Staton and DeJuan Patterson, who are organizing to raise awareness of this injustice. The current court case is the most significant discrimination case in education since Brown v the Board of Education, yet it is receiving little attention in the media. And this fight goes beyond equity in education
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.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams. Trump’s visit comes amid a growing body of evidence that vouchers harm the students who receive them. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a report this week which found that the risks to school systems outweigh the “insignificant gains in test scores and limited gains in graduation rates,” and that cases where individual schools or districts improved were more likely driven by increased public accountability rather than private school competition. The risks include increased segregation; the loss of a “common, secular” educational experience; and unfair treatment of teachers. “If we want to give parents a real ‘choice’ of quality schools, we should invest in neighborhood public schools with a menu of proven policies,” said Stanford professor and EPI research associate Martin Carnoy. “All of these yield much higher returns than the minor gains that have been estimated for voucher students.”
By Jeff Bryant for Educational Opportunity Network. Of course, parents can decide for themselves if this is the kind of “realistic view” they want their children to learn. But why should taxpayer money pay for it? According to a 2015 report in the Orlando Sentinel, Florida’s tax-credit school voucher programs, including the one Merriweather took advantage of, have become a cash cow for many of the state’s private schools – sending out about $544 million to families of nearly 100,000 students in the state. Of the roughly 2,300 private schools in Florida, more than 1,500 accept voucher money, and of these voucher-accepting schools, about 45 percent rely on them for at least half of their students. About 70 percent of these schools are religiously affiliated, “including some where religion is a central focus.” Now, Trump wants to roll that out nationwide.