from sarah http://ift.tt/2z9P7Vo
I felt like sharing a slice of my life, 24 hours of it.
For 25 years, my partner and I lived next door to a wonderful family in brownstone Brooklyn. She is German-born; he is Irish. They are Catholic. They have three beautiful daughters. They were children when we moved onto the block, now they are beautiful young women. The oldest daughter married a man of Irish descent. The middle daughter married a Chinese-American man. The third daughter was married last night to a French man who is Jewish. Their actual wedding was held in Cambridge last May, but their family wedding was held last night in Brooklyn on the waterfront, with the Statue of Liberty in the background.
The groom’s extended family–sixty of them!–flew over from France. A score of the bride’s maternal family flew in from Germany. People of many nationalities joined together to celebrate their nuptials. The ceremony was a traditional Jewish wedding, with a Chupah (a ceremonial cloth) stretched over the couple, a cantor singing in Hebrew, and a klezmer band playing Yiddish music. The wedding was followed by dinner and dancing and toasts. Some of the toasts were in French, and the French clan laughed heartily at jokes the rest of us could not understand. Then the French clan surrounded the happy couple and sang a song in English from the American musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” They sang, “To Life, to Life, L’Chaim, L’Chaim, L’Chaim to Life. And if your good fortune never comes, here’s to whatever comes, drink l’chaim to life!” (I remembered that many years ago, my husband and I bought a house in Pound Ridge, New York, from the man who wrote that music.)
A D.J., played dance music, most of it written and performed by African American singers. The dancing was spectacular, although it didn’t include me, because my knees are too fragile for dancing. Swaying, yes, not dancing.
For a moment, life was the way it should be. I felt as though this young couple and their family and friends were repairing the world.
Tonight, my partner Mary and I went to a cabaret–Feinstein’s 54 Underground–to hear Christine Ebersole, the wonderful actress and singer, perform. The room was packed. There was joy in the air.
Life goes on.
A good 24 hours.
from sarah http://ift.tt/2z0vZXQ
Since 2001, Philadelphia’s public schools have been controlled by a “School Reform Commission” that has failed again and again to improve public education.
“Over a year ago, we launched the Our City Our Schools campaign to end the 16-year-long failed experiment of the state-controlled School Reform Commission (SRC). The SRC was set up in 2001 in a supposed attempt to bring in more state funding, but instead led to dozens of school closures in black and brown neighborhoods, increased school privatization, failed for-profit consultants like Edison, and an austerity budget that has hurt students, parents, school staff, educators, and the city at large..
“Regaining local control is a huge step forward on the path toward true, democratically based community control of our schools.
“While we celebrate the mayor’s leadership, the question of how our schools will be governed is critical. For the last six months, Our City Our Schools and supporters have pushed for a transitional task force that could study successful school governance models and gather broad public input on what comes next — from an elected school board like those in the other 499 districts in Pennsylvania to the mayoral-controlled board of Philadelphia’s past…
“We can return a voice to the people who know our schools best. In ending the 16-year state takeover, we can define who are the true stakeholders of the Philadelphia schools. For too long, our schools have been treated like a business where decisions are made by people seeking to profit off of our children’s education. In this new era, we need to return power to the people who work, teach, and learn in neighborhood and charter schools every day, the parents who volunteer to fill budget gaps, and the community members who have supported their neighborhood schools for decades.
“We can end the era of conflicts of interests. The most important focus for any school board should be the thriving health of students, teachers, staff, and their schools. With local control and accountability, we can vet new board members for conflicts of interest and end backroom deals.
“Our next school board must push forward a progressive agenda for our schools. Our next school board must see quality education from locally based schools as a key racial and economic justice issue of our time. The SRC failed to stand up against a state legislature that continues to use our schools for its racist and privatizing agenda. Is the next school board ready to lead the fight for more equitable school funding across the state, for Philadelphia-based corporations and developers to pay their fair share toward our schools, and for an end to massive giveaways to private school managers?”
from sarah http://ift.tt/2z3pTbv
Jim Hall of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability has a mission. He insists that charter schools should be accountable to taxpayers for the public money they receive. In Arizona, the charter laws are written to ensure that charter schools seldom are accountable.
He produced this example as the poster charter for total non-transparency and non-accountability.
A member of the legislature, Representative Eddie Farnsworth, owns a chain of charter schools. It has a budget of $18 Million. He is the only member of the board. State law says that “all legal actions of a public body must be made in a meeting open to the public.” State law says that such meetings must be open to the public. “All meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings. All legal action of public bodies shall occur during a public meeting.”
Every school district, charter school, public agency, and commission must abide by these laws.
But not Rep. Farnsworth’s Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools.
The state Attorney General confirms that charter schools owned by Representative Eddie Farnsworth are exempt from all Arizona Open Meeting Laws.
“The four Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools in the East Valley are owned solely by Republican Representative Eddie Farnsworth as a for-profit company. Rep. Farnsworth has appointed himself the only board member of the school’s governing board and, as the result of a technicality in Arizona law, does not have to follow Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws. Rep. Farnsworth has free rein to conduct all matters pertaining to the expenditure of over $18 million in public money every year in complete secrecy – there are no public meetings at Benjamin Franklin and there can be no Open Meeting Law requests for information.”
Jim Hall’s ACSA filed a complaint in March 2017 against the four Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools for failing to provide information about the location and notice of board meetings on their website as required by law. As of October 25, 2017, the school websites are still out of compliance with Open Meeting Laws.
Rep. Farnsworth says that he is exempt from the laws because he is the sole member of the governing board. He alone controls $18 Million and is not obliged to hold public meetings.
Jim Hall, founder of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability, noted: “As a member of the Arizona Legislature, you would hope Rep. Farnsworth would set an example for assuring charter schools are spending tax dollars in a transparent manner. Instead, Rep. Farnsworth participates in the worst of practices of deception and secrecy that undermine the credibility of “public” charter schools. There is nothing “public” about Rep. Farnsworth’s charter schools.”
Contact Jim Hall
Arizonans for Charter School Accountability
from sarah http://ift.tt/2lsevAB
David Safier writes in the Tucson Weekly about well-funded efforts by the billionaire Koch Brothers to promote their anti-government, free-market libertarian views into local high schools.
“The course was created by the University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, which designed the curriculum, wrote the textbook and offers workshops for high school teachers instructing them on how to teach the class. The Freedom Center, which has been at UA since 2011, gets a majority of its funding from the Koch Brothers and a wealthy Arizona donor couple who are big contributors to and play an influential part in the Koch network.
“The course is also being offered in the Amphitheater, Vail and Sahuarita school districts and at least seven private and charter schools in Pima and Maricopa counties.
“The Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the UA and similar centers at ASU are the latest in a continuing effort by the Koch Brothers to infuse institutions of higher education with their libertarian-fueled philosophy. The Koch’s long term goal is for their economic and political views to filter down from the university into mainstream public opinion, and to use their influence with politicians to create legislation favorable to their ideological and economic interests.
“A part of that effort is to create curriculum, class materials and entire courses to be used in high schools around the country.
“In the 1980s, the Koch Brothers began buying their way into universities by setting up departments and think tanks. The Koch-funded centers lend scholarly credibility to the brothers’ libertarian philosophy by teaching courses, writing papers for academic journals and conducting seminars for like-minded academics. The first serious funding venture began in the mid-1980s at Virginia’s George Mason University. At the time the university wasn’t known for the quantity or quality of its scholarship. Since then, it has grown, due to the Koch’s money and influence, into the largest research university in the state.
“Ground zero for the Koch’s efforts at George Mason University is the Mercatus Center. The Washington Post described it as a “staunchly anti-regulatory center funded largely by Koch Industries Inc.” A fellow at the Cato Institute, which was founded and funded by the Koch Brothers, referred to it as a “libertarian mecca.”
“Over the years, the Koch Brothers expanded their academic reach until they were subsidizing programs at more than 300 institutes of learning. From 2005 to 2015 alone, the Koch Foundation gave $145 million to universities, including $95 million to George Mason University and the Mercatus Center. Unlike most major university donors, the Kochs often maintain direct or indirect control over the departments their money creates and the professors they hire.
“Scholarly work tends to be too detailed and complex for public consumption, so the Koch Brothers also fund institutes and organizations outside of universities to shape the academic material into more easily digestible form (the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation are two well known examples). Members of their staff generate position papers, write articles for magazines and newspapers, and appear on television news programs. They also work with sympathetic politicians to formulate and draft legislation.
“University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom began in 2011. The Koch Brothers put in a million dollars to help start the center, though the largest portion of the funding came from Ken and Randy Kendrick, as well as another donor who remains anonymous. Ken Kendrick is the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Randy Kendrick is a lawyer who is deeply involved in right wing causes. Because of their million-dollar-plus donations to the Koch’s donor network, including support for the Mercatus Center, the Kendricks are charter members and influential players in the Koch network.
“From its inception in 2011, UA’s Freedom Center had its eye on Arizona’s high schools. That year David Schmidtz, the founding director of the Center, spoke of his plans with Tim Vanderpool of the Tucson Weekly: “Schmidtz says the center plans to offer a degree program in economic instruction for high school teachers, and to generate texts for K-12 education. ‘We aim not only to produce the teachers, but the materials that are getting taught.’”
“Schmidtz is one of the three co-authors of ‘Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship’, the textbook used in the high school course.
“The Koch Brothers began their efforts to make inroads into high school education with Youth Entrepreneurs, which was founded by Charles Koch and his wife Elizabeth in 1991 as a program to teach basic business skills to young people. It expanded its mission in 2009 when it created what the organization referred to as “a high school free market and liberty-based course,” complete with course materials and training for teachers. By 2014, more than 1,000 students were taking the course in Kansas and Missouri. YE has expanded into other states as well. It has a regional office in Phoenix.”
The goal of the Koch brothers is to install their free-market ideology in high schools across the country.
from sarah http://ift.tt/2z3mxoE
John Rogers of the University of California in Los Angeles has written a powerful analysis of Trump’s effect on teaching and learning. You will not be surprised to learn that the vulgarity and crudity that Trump regularly expresses towards vulnerable groups has affected the climate in schools. His hate speech has spilled over into the atmosphere. He has given license to bigotry.
The full title is “Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Hostility and Stress in America’s High Schools.”
This is the press release:
Trump’s Heated Political Rhetoric Spills Over into Classroom,
Increasing Stress and Undermining Learning
New National Survey of Teachers by UCLA finds Heightened Stress and Anxiety, Polarization, Incivility and Hostility Among Students in First Months of Trump Administration
Amid the first months of a Trump administration characterized by highly charged and divisive political rhetoric, a new national survey of public high school teachers finds heightened levels of student stress and anxiety and concerns for their own well being or that of their family members, according to a new study published by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access. Teachers in the survey also report a rise in polarization and incivility in classrooms, as well as an increased reliance by students on unreliable and unsubstantiated information. Teachers also report hostile environments for racial and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups.
“Hate speech and acts of intimidation are not new to U.S. Schools, but its disconcerting that numerous teachers are telling us that the level of animus they are seeing is ‘unprecedented’ in their careers, says John Rogers, a professor of education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and the lead researcher for the study. “The harsh political environment of the first few months of the Trump administration is clearly spilling over into the classroom, increasing anxiety and undermining learning.”
The study, Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Stress and Hostility in America’s High Schools, reports the results of a nationally representative survey of more than 1,500 high school teachers conducted in May 2017 examining the impact of the national political environment on students and the implications for student learning. More than 800 teachers also responded to an open-ended question regarding how their “classroom and school climate has changed this past year as a result of changes in national politics.”
More than half of teachers responding to the survey report more students are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety than in previous years, and more than three-quarters say students are concerned about their own well being or that of family members. Immigration is the issue causing the most concern, with more than half of teachers saying students are concerned about proposals for the deportation of undocumented immigrants. These concerns are significantly higher in schools serving predominately students of color.
Teachers also report heightened polarization on campus and incivility in their classrooms. One teacher said, “In my seventeen years I have never seen anger this blatant and raw over a political candidate or issue.” More than 40 percent of teachers also report that students were more likely than in previous years to introduce unfounded claims from unreliable sources, with many linking the use of unsubstantiated sources and growing incivility.
Teachers also say that a growing number of schools, particularly predominantly White schools, became hostile environments for racial and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups. More than one quarter of teachers reported an increase in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions. Teachers responding to the survey described how the political environment “unleashed” virulently racist, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, or homophobic rhetoric in their schools and classrooms.
“Many teachers are telling us that students seem to be ‘emboldened’ to use harsh racist and bigoted rhetoric,” says Rogers. “They cite examples of students being targeted for the color of their skin, their Muslim faith, or sexual orientation, while others tell stories of students openly embracing racism and white supremacy, and confronting classmates in threatening ways. These acts are taking a toll on young people and undermining student learning.”
Teachers also say that the stresses in the school environment are impacting student learning. 40 percent of teachers reported that students’ concerns over one or more hot-button policy issues including immigration, travel bans with Muslim countries, restrictions on LGBTQ rights, healthcare and the environment impacted students’ learning in terms of their ability to focus on lessons and their attendance.
It is important to note that teachers also have felt heightened stress in the first months of the Trump administration. More than two-thirds (67.7%) of U.S. public high school teachers reported that the level of stress associated with their work increased during the 2016-17 school year.
Teachers responding to the survey want more help to support civil exchange among students and greater understanding across differences. They also believe that leadership matters in cultivating positive school culture and student learning. But just 40 percent of teachers report that school leaders are issuing public statements confronting the problems and just over one quarter say leaders are providing guidance and support. Teachers in schools serving predominately students of color were substantially more likely than teachers in schools with predominately white students to say leaders were speaking out publically or acting to provide teachers with guidance or support.
“Unfortunately, the schools facing the greatest need for leadership to respond to the changing political climate were the least likely to experience it,” says Rogers.
Teachers also strongly support the need for political leaders to address the underlying causes of much campus incivility and stress – the contentious political rhetoric and policies that threaten student well being. More than 90% of teachers agreed that national, state, and local leaders should encourage and model civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.
“In these tense political times, these findings from America’s teachers have important implication for our nation and its schools,” concludes Rogers. “The growing polarization and contentiousness in classrooms and schools undercuts the democratic purposes of public education. Public schooling emerged in the United States as a strategy for developing the civic commitments and skills of each new generation. Ideally, public schools provide opportunities for students to deliberate productively across lines of difference and practice working together to solve collective problems. The heightened level of incivility makes it more difficult for schools to achieve this valued goal.
A complete version of Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Stress and Hostility in America’s High Schools is available online at: http://ift.tt/2zGS0Ku
The study is a project of the UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. The study draws on the results of a nationally representative survey conducted in May 2017 of 1,535 social studies, English, and mathematics teachers working in 333 geographically and demographically representative public high schools in the United States. The study also draws on extended interviews with 35 teachers from across the United States who participated in the survey.
Summary of key findings
Stress and concerns with welfare have increased, particularly in schools enrolling few White students.
• More than half (51.4) of teachers reported more students experiencing “high levels of stress and anxiety” than in previous years.
• More than three-quarters (79%) of teachers reported students expressed concerns for their well-being or the well-being of their families in relation to one or more hot-button issues including immigration, travel limitations on predominantly Muslim countries, restrictions on LGBTQ rights, changes to health care, or threats to the environment.
• The policy issue prompting most concern among students was immigration. More than half (58%) of teachers reported some students had expressed concerns about proposals for deporting undocumented immigrants.
• Teachers in schools serving predominately students of color were almost six times more likely (53.8% to 9.1%) than teachers in predominately white schools to report that at least 10% of their students had expressed these concerns.
• 44.3% of teachers reported students’ concerns about well being in relation to one or more hot-button policy issues impacted students’ learning—their ability to focus on lessons and their attendance.
Polarization, incivility, and reliance on unsubstantiated sources have risen, particularly in predominantly White schools.
• More than 20% of teachers reported heightened polarization on campus and incivility in their classrooms.
• 41.0% of teachers reported that students were more likely than in previous years to introduce unfounded claims from unreliable sources. Many teachers noted a connection between students’ use of unsubstantiated sources and growing incivility.
A growing number of schools, particularly predominantly White schools, became hostile environments for racial and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups.
• 27.7% of teachers reported an increase in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions. Many teachers described how the political environment “unleashed” virulently racist, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, or homophobic rhetoric in their schools and classrooms.
School leadership matters.
More than 40 percent of teachers reported that their school leadership made public statements this year about the value of civil exchange and understanding across lines of difference. But beyond the “public statements” only 26.8% of school leaders actually provided guidance and support on these issues, as reported by teachers in the survey. Teachers in predominantly White schools were much less likely than their peers to report that their school leaders had taken these actions.
72.3% of teachers surveyed agreed that: “My school leadership should provide more guidance, support, and professional development opportunities on how to promote civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.”
Teachers strongly supported the need for political leaders to address the underlying causes of much campus incivility and stress – contentious political rhetoric and policies that threaten student well being.
• More than 90% of teachers agreed “national, state, and local leaders should encourage and model civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.”
• Almost as many (83.9%) agreed that national and state leaders should “work to alleviate the underlying factors that create stress and anxiety for young people and their families.”
from sarah http://ift.tt/2iLyJnU
The founder of a group of prominent charter schools admitted to stealing millions of dollars and lying to the FBI.
“Scott Glasrud used to be the head of the Southwest Learning Centers, representing three different charter schools. Now, Glasrud faces up to five years in federal prison.
“Glasrud accepted a plea deal in Albuquerque Federal Court Wednesday, admitting to what federal prosecutors call a 15-year fraud scheme. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Mexico say the scheme started in November 2000 and continued until Glasrud left the charter school consortium in 2014.
“According to federal documents, it appears Glasrud stole more than $2 million from the four schools, which include the Southwest Secondary Learning Center, Southwest Primary Learning Center, Southwest Intermediate Learning Center, and the Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics & Science Academy (SAMS).
“Glasrud and the SAMS Academy’s finances were the subject of a KRQE News 13 report in March 2014. At the time, Glasrud was making an annual salary of $210,000, as well as making money by renting his own private planes to the school.
“At the time, Glasrud said that questions about how he runs the schools were misdirected.
“I recognize people have problems or they don’t like the way we’ve done it. We’re competition for people, but so be it,” Glasrud said in a March 2014 interview.
“However, according to federal prosecutors, Glasrud was taking several illegal actions with charter school money.
“He’s accepted legal responsibility and he’s prepared to accept his punishment,” said Glasrud’s attorney Ray Twohig, who spoke to KRQE News 13 outside of the federal courthouse Wednesday.
“According to Glasrud’s plea agreement, he’s admitted to creating fake companies and funneling school funds for projects into businesses he controlled. The two dummy companies were located in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Court documents indicate that Southwest Learning Centers also received money from the legislature for building projects and paid it to one of the dummy companies with fake proposals and invoices.”
from sarah http://ift.tt/2yXdu9h
Lily Eskelsen Garcia forced herself to sit down and listen to Betsy DeVos’ speech at Harvard, where she thought she would be in a choice-friendly environment, surrounded by allies at the Program on Educational Policy and Governance, led by choice advocate Paul Peterson. As we now know, students in the audience rejected her message and unfurled banners expressing their opposition to her policies.
Lily has refused to meet with DeVos because of her well-known contempt for public schools and the teaching profession.
This is her reaction to DeVos’ remarks.
“At times, I felt like I was getting a root canal without novocaine from the dentist in “The Little Shop of Horrors.” When the pain subsided, I was more convinced than ever that DeVos knows little about public schools and even less about their mission.
“Here’s a summary:
“1. DeVos talked about her Rethink School tour, applauding the schools she visited for openly stating: “’We’re not for everybody and we don’t expect everybody to want to come here.’ I think all schools should have that attitude.”
“She doesn’t understand the concept of “public” schools—schools that are open to all students, no matter what language is spoken at home, what the family income is, what their religion or race is, what abilities or disabilities they have, whether they are gay, straight, or transgender. The mission of public schools is to provide opportunities for each and every student who walks through the door, not to roll up the welcome mat, bar the door, and declare: “Sorry, but we’re not for everybody.”
“I think we already went through that time in history. There was even a name for it: Segregation.
“2. When she mentioned the places she visited during her tour, there was one noticeable omission: Michigan, her home state. Who can blame her? She funded efforts in Michigan to siphon funds from students in public schools, allowing for-profit companies to operate schools with taxpayer money and no accountability. The result? Schools with shoddy academic records continued operating for years; no state standards focus on who operates or oversees charters; and schools routinely close without giving families or educators adequate notice.
“This, apparently, is her goal from coast to coast.”
Read on to understand Lily’s reaction.
from sarah http://ift.tt/2zS4nUm
Carol Burris and Darcie Cimarusti of the Network for Public Education spent months assembling a portrait of the Dark Money that is now pouring in to local school board races, not to save schools or improve them, but to privatize them.
Valerie astrauss posted their shocking expose here.
“The Denver Post’s editorial board recently published a piece endorsing four candidates running for the Denver school board, all of them in support of reforms that employ some basic principles of for-profit businesses to the running of nonprofit public education. The editorial calls their opponents “anti-reformers” (as if they oppose making things better for students) and says they “enjoy plenty of money and energy.” (That, apparently, includes a 19-year-old “anti-reformer” candidate who just graduated from high school.)
“Here’s what it doesn’t mention: the big out-of-state money behind the editorial board’s chosen candidates. This is a phenomenon that we’ve seen for years now, one in which some of America’s wealthiest citizens back school board candidates — even in states in which they don’t reside — to push their view of how public schools should operate. It has happened in Louisiana, California, Minnesota, Arkansas, Washington, etc.
“This is a detailed post explaining the flow of dark money — funds donated to nonprofit organizations that spend the money to influence elections but do not have to disclose where they got it — by looking at the Denver school board race. There are four open seats on the seven-seat board and a total of 10 candidates.”
Who are these billionaires and millionaires who are spending huge sums to buy acquiescence to privatization, whether in Denver or Massachusetts or elsewhere?
from sarah http://ift.tt/2gSrPwH
In Chicago, the fabled “Dance of the Lemons” shuffles ousted public school teachers to charter schools. Wait a minute! I saw “Waiting for Superman.” I though that dance was only for all those “bad” public school teachers.
“More than 160 Chicago Public Schools employees who were barred from the district because of alleged abuse, misconduct or poor performance were found working in new jobs at city charter and contract schools last year, according to a report from the district’s inspector general.
“The list included three workers who were fired or resigned and blocked from being re-hired at CPS because of sexual abuse accusations, according to the report, which was released Tuesday. Twenty-two were put on a “Do Not Hire” list “due to improper corporal punishment or physical abuse of students,” according to the report.
“Nearly 80 others were blocked from returning to the district due to incompetence or violating school rules. That included a list of probationary teachers who were blocked from future employment at CPS because of poor performance.
“The 163 unidentified employees — 98 of them teachers — represented a small fraction of the workforce at the city’s publicly funded but independently operated charter and contract schools, the report noted.
“But Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office also found that CPS had no system for those schools to determine if their potential employees had been blacklisted by CPS with the “Do Not Hire” designation. Despite preliminary steps taken to fix the problem, the IG’s office said CPS has not finalized a policy on how to handle such situations.”
from sarah http://ift.tt/2yXroIC