Schooling For Myths And Powerlessness

Dimitry B.

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

Education activists creating video

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.

11 Ways Chicago Is The Beating Heart Of The Disastrous Charter School Agenda

By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – Chicago’s public school system has become a showcase for the negative effects of K-12 privatization, according to a new report that tracks how the city replaced struggling local schools with dozens of charters that didn’t perform better, yet deprived traditional schools of funds, students and public accountability. The report, “Closed by Choice: The Spatial Relationship between Charter School Expansion, School Closures and Fiscal Stress in Chicago Public Schools,” tracks 108 charter schools that opened between 2000 and 2015, a period when Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was shutting struggling schools, cutting district funding and reducing staff. It details and confirms what many charter critics have long said, that lobbying from pro-privatization forces swayed the city’ political leaders to impose top-down reforms that riled neighborhoods, undermined traditional K-12 schools, increased segregation and did not lead to schools with better academic results. Perhaps most insidiously, the report describes in great detail how the CPS system aggressively shut down struggling schools in neighborhoods where student numbers were dwindling, while allowing better-funded charters to open up nearby…

Newsletter: The State Of The Union And Movement

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The United States is a failing empire: the domestic economy has fallen to a level equivalent to a developing nation for most of us while the stock markets, especially for weapons-makers, are at record levels. It has taken decades for the US to get here. Long-term mis-leadership created the environment where a “Make America Great Again” presidential candidate, whose fame came from being a reality-TV star and someone who put his name in giant gold letters on every business he ran, could con his way into office in large part because he is not a politician. Trump’s election woke a lot of people up and sparked new levels of activism. As we reach the one-hundredth day of this new administration, it’s a good time to reflect on the state of the union and of the movements for peace and justice.

Newsletter - The People's Plan For Transformation

Jason Hargrove / Flickr

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. It is important to understand that we arrived in this situation by, what Moyers described as “careful long-range planning and implementation…consistency of action over an indefinite period of years…” By understanding this plan, we can realize that we can design a way out of it. This includes seeing through the propaganda and exposing the truth; not allowing ourselves to be divided into issue-based silos or taken off track by the agenda of a plutocratic political party; and organizing not just to resist, but more importantly to demand the changes we require in our communities and on the planet. Popular Resistance is one of the conveners of The People’s Congress of Resistance, a grassroots effort to build resistance and collaboration in our communities to solve the crises at hand and create a better world. One of the purposes of the conference will be to plan the future of the resistance movement and determine how we can work together more effectively. It’s time for the people to create a plan for the transformation we need.

The Student Debt Crisis Is Exploding

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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.

Taxpayers Spent 100s Millions More For Inferior Charter Schools

Flickr/ Leigh Blackall

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.”

Right-Wing Think Tank Trying To Bring Down The Indian Child Welfare Act. Why?

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania (c. 1900) was one of many boarding schools sponsored by government and religious groups to “civilize” Indian children that had been taken from their families and communities.

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…

Night After Day In Afghanistan

Afghan Peace Volunteers

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.

The Big Lie Behind Trump's Education Budget

Dimitry B.

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…

May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer To Strike

Dimitry B.

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.

Newsletter - Visions For The Future

We Can Build The Future

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The vision for the future laid out in President Trump’s budget is one of large cuts to the federal government for necessary agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development, privatization of services, such as air traffic control, and macho military might. It conjures visions of Nero fiddling as Rome burned. Ralph Nader writes in “‘Making America Great’ at American’s Expense,” that “The tower of contradictions, being constructed by Trump and the most extreme Republican Party in its history, won’t be camouflaged or distracted for long.” People are rising up and will continue to do so. The corporatist’s vision has been pushed for decades in the US and around the world, but there is another vision that is also growing in the hearts and minds of many.

Trump’s Budget Slashes Funding For Public Schools While Giving 1.4 Billion For Privatization

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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

What Betsy DeVos Means When She Says ‘Public Schools’

President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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.