Trenton, NJ - Ebele Azikiwe was in the sixth grade last year when February came and it was time to learn about Black history again. She was, by then, familiar with the curriculum: Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a discussion on slavery. Just like the year before, she said, and the year before that. Then came George Floyd’s death in May, and she wrote to the administration at her school in Cherry Hill, in New Jersey’s Philadelphia suburbs, to ask for more than the same lessons. “We learned about slavery, but did we go into the roots of slavery?” Ebele, 12, said in an interview. “You learned about how they had to sail across, but did you learn about how they felt being tied down on those boats?”
East Los Angeles is a community rich in culture and a strong history of activism. Our youth led the student walkouts in the ’60s fought against the Vietnam war during the Chicano Moratorium and have since filled the streets protesting the racist policies by the Trump administration. Still, we have been vastly left behind by our local, state, and federal leaders. Policies to protect our local environment, improve access to health care and make sure that our children are well educated have been inadequate. Charter schools swooped in claiming they could fill this void, but their promises were empty. Their presence brought discord, scandals, left our public education even more underfunded, and did not outperform our local schools.
For the 34th straight week, over 700,000 people filed for unemployment in the US according to the Department of Labor’s latest report. The 709,000 state claims coupled with an additional 298,154 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance brings the weekly total once again to over 1 million new claims. Nearly 67 million claims have been filed since mid-March as the worst economic crisis to befall the working class in the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s leaves millions on the brink of destitution.
Michael Barbour, a professor at Touro University California and an expert on K-12 online learning, believes that more than half of the nation’s school superintendents “should be fired.” His blistering criticism stems from the fact that, deep into the 2020-2021 school year, many schools are still struggling with virtual learning during the pandemic. Stories of school districts’ online learning systems crashing are widespread. Teachers complain about not being included in decisions about online curriculum and pedagogy. Alarming numbers of students are not engaged or not showing up, especially in low-income areas and among communities of color.
The same coalition that successfully sued the state a generation ago over an unconstitutional school-funding system now is putting together a new lawsuit challenging the legality of Ohio’s school voucher program. “The vouchers are causing harm to the students that are left in the public school districts, reducing the availability of resources that school districts have,” said Bill Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding. “And, of course, there’s a double whammy now with the reduction of appropriations for primary and secondary education,” he added, noting $300 million in K-12 funding cuts announced last week stemming from reduced state revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program redirects taxpayer money from public schools and gives it to parents to help them pay tuition to private schools.
COVID-19 has shuttered public schools across the nation, state governments are threatening to slash education budgets due to the economic collapse caused by the outbreak, and emergency aid provided by the federal government is far short of what is needed, according to a broad coalition of education groups. But the charter school industry may benefit from its unique status to seek public funding from multiple sources and expand these schools into many more communities traumatized by the pandemic and financial fallout. As school districts reported problems converting classroom learning into online instruction delivered to students’ homes, often due to lack of funding for internet-capable devices and Wi-Fi hotspots, charter school proponents are jumping in to take advantage of emergency aid.
Chris Hedges talks to Cornell University Professor Noliwe Rooks about how America’s public education system, under successive administrations, continues to be segregated along racial lines, and what is taught is often shaped by business goals and ideas. With the rise of charter schools, a cover for privatization, steering public money towards corporate profits, the most disturbing trends are cyber charter schools where children only have to check-in with teachers three times a week, term papers outsourced and graded in India, and the advent of cyber classes for pre-K children. Rooks’ book, now in paperback, is entitled ‘Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation and the End of Public Education’.
Charter School Promoters Terrified Of Growing Opposition To Their Full-Frontal Assault On Public Education
The ongoing widely-supported teachers’ strikes across the United States are bringing to the fore many problems that have been confronting public education for decades, including a big and overdue focus on the havoc and destruction caused by charter schools against public schools and the public interest for the last 28 years. Teacher strikes everywhere are smashing the silence on charter schools and awakening many out of their charter school stupor. Even the most anti-conscious individual is slowly beginning to see the disaster that charter schools and the neoliberal antisocial offensive are producing. Criticism and rejection of charter schools is becoming more mainstream with each passing month.
By Emily Talmage for Save Maine Schools - Across the country, teachers are being asked to collect, record, and slog through mountains of data that “experts” insist is meant to improve their practice. There are pre-assessments and post-assessments, habits of work rubrics, writing prompts, social and emotional screeners, standards-based grading systems, RTI data, student learning objectives, professional growth goals, student surveys, self evaluations, administrator evaluations, office discipline referrals, results from progress monitoring programs …the data demands go on and on, and all of it must be entered and stored in learning management systems. Recently, a few brave teachers have begun to publicly state the obvious: that we don’t need all of this data to do our jobs well. Unfortunately, no one seems to be listening, as there is a far more powerful entity that does need all this data: Wall Street. As Pay for Success schemes – also known as Social Impact Bonds – sweep the country, data collection in schools is reaching new heights. “[It’s] an approach that has come of age,” Andy Sieg, Managing Director and Head of Global Wealth and Retirement Solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said of Pay for Success contracts.
By Michelle Strater Gunderson for Living in Dialogue. Chicago, IL - If you are fortunate, every once in a while you will meet someone who breathes the fire of justice. In my life Sarah Chambers, a special education teacher from Maria Saucedo School in Chicago, fills that role. Yet, this is the teacher who the Chicago Public Schools suspended last week pending a hearing that could lead to her firing. Sarah is everywhere in Chicago when there is a call to defend children with disabilities. She is the leader of the Chicago Teachers Union Special Education Task Force, the co-chair of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, a member of the union’s executive board, and a negotiator on our latest bargaining team. So, why would the Chicago Public Schools send her a letter the night before our Spring Break removing her from the classroom?
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 Morna McDermott for Education Alchemy. The privatizers are busy at work. Unless you live under a rock (a tempting thought lately…) you probably feel like I do every time you turn on the news; the sensation of riding the Tilt a Whirl while taking ‘shrooms. It’s exhausting at best, and terrifying at worst; trying to untangle what is happening around us. Take Devos and her anti-Grizzly platform as the prime example of current insanity.We're all made here The most recent effort toward destroying public ed comes in the form of the Choices in Education Act of 2017. I live in Maryland along with Andy Harris (R) who is co-sponsor of this bill. (lucky me). Many activists fighting against education reform are already on top of pushing back and calling for action against this bill, as well they (and we) should be. Like many of my friends and colleagues I am also strongly opposed to a voucher system for school funding and this bill.
By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report - Sometimes, when ruling class competitors collide, the villainy of both factions is made manifest. Donald Trump did the nation’s public schools a great service by nominating Betsy DeVos, the awesomely loathsome billionaire Amway heiress, for secretary of Education. In turning over that rock, Trump exposed the raw corruption and venality at the core of the charter school privatization juggernaut. Only an historic tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence saved DeVos from rejection by the U.S. Senate. Two Republicans abandoned their party’s nominee, joining a solid bloc of Democrats, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker, a school privatizer that crawled out of the same ideological sewer as DeVos and has long been her comrade and ally.
By Morna McDermott for Educational Alchemy. Lamar Alexander and Patti Murray didn’t (really) write the new Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Business Roundtable (BRT) did. See the BRT resounding endorsement for ESSA here. Ok, they didn’t write it in the literal sense. Kind of like ALEC only writes “model”legislation. or maybe as they say it in their own words: “Thanks to the efforts of our CEO members and partners in the civil rights community who worked with leaders in Congress, the new law is consistent with the principles Business Roundtable released and promoted while the legislation was being developed.” Or let me share the Business Roundtable “Principles for Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act” guiding principles. Pretty much ESSA in a nut shell.