Archives for category: Closing schools

A new groups called GPS (Great Public Schools) Pittsburgh plans a major rally at the state Capitol in Harrisburg to demand adequate funding for public education across the Keystone State. The state funds low-performing cyber charters and expands the number of privately managed schools that perform no better than public schools. Meanwhile the lights are going out in public schools across the state, especially in urban districts. Will Pennsylvanians unite to save public education?

Come to Harrisburg on June 25 for the beginning of the movement to stop privatization of public education in the Keystone State.

The Bloomberg administration loves small schools. Conversely, it hates large schools, especially large high schools. The city used to have dozens of large high schools, some of which had a storied history. Now few remain. One that was slated to close last year was Long Island City High School, but it was saved by a court order.

So the Department of Education is killing it by the usual means, by diverting students to other schools. As enrollment falls, so does funding. We previously saw this process at historic Jamaica High School, where the city starved it of students and funding until programs died and nothing was left but bare bones of what was once the pride of the community.

Katie Osgood refers obliquely here to the famous John Dewey quote that what the best and wisest parent wants for his children is what we should want for all children:

“Here is the fundamental question: If low-income parents were offered fully-funded neighborhood schools with all kinds of “choice” offered within the schools like arts, music, sports, technology, supplemental services, libraries, world language, special education services, small classes, experienced/stable staff with low-turnover, etc (like what kids in Winnetka are offered)-would they EVER choose the charter school with inexperienced teachers, harsh discipline, long “rigorous” school days with little access to music/art, prescriptive curriculum, non-unionized/exploited and overworked staff–>high turnover? If the answer is “no” then what we need is equity, equal access to quality learning environments, and not “choice”.

“As an aside, parents in Chicago came out by the thousands to beg, plead, yell, and protest to keep their underfunded neighborhoods schools open, but the school board still voted to close 50 of those schools. We don’t even have “choice” here, we have sabotage and a privatization agenda.”

The state of Pennsylvania, the School Reform Commission, Governor Corbett, and the Legislature have decided to strip bare the publuc schools of Philadelphia. They are doing to these students what they would never do to their own. They are vandals.

This morning, i received this poem written by a student, Siduri Beckmann. Why is Siduri less deserving of a full education than the children of the city and state’s leaders?

“This poem has brought tears to many eyes in Philadelphia in the last twenty-four hours!

“Siduri Beckman is a ninth-grader at Julia R. Masterman School. She is the city of Philadelphia’s first Youth Poet Laureate. She “felt like it was part of my job and my duty as a Masterman student to write a poem protesting the school budget cuts.”

A Word from the Cripples

I’ve got something

to say.

It won’t take long

Just as long as it took you

to snatch everything away

One fourth of the body is

the leg

You have crippled us

Cursing us to hobble

all of our lives.

I cannot run

cross-country

on just

one leg.

Rip song

off of our tongues

to find songs are not Velcro but flesh

Snap the bows of the violins

in case the students could ever get the idea

that music

is alive

Because then you would have blood on your hands.

God forbid.

You see us as a problem

the classic class problem

INNER CITY streaked like mud across our faces

they’re all on the street anyway.

But leeches don’t suck out the disease

just the lifeblood.

I am angry

But I will not stoop

and hurt you

As you have hurt me

Thrusting fear

into our hearts

Why make us feel

so small

helpless

Forgotten by the people

whose duty it is to remember

Turn your back on your city

that chose not to choose

you

Because they feared

and now do all fears dawn true.

Bust the beehive

We will come out

In droves of wasps

We sting and live

to sting again

We will show ourselves to be

as formidable a foe

as all of those frackers

who you refuse to tax.

But you have also forgot

all of those ink marks slashed

with no faces or hopes or dreams or blood or flesh

Dismiss us

We cannot vote.

But in this country

we can speak.

Whose schools are closing? Is there a pattern?

Take a look at this graphic.

Tweet it. Share it.

And think about it. What is going on?

“Two roads diverged in a wood,” begins one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems.

In 2011, Arthur Camins described the fateful choice confronting American education. In 2011, he wrote:

“U.S. education is at a transformational moment. The choices we make will determine whether our schools become collaborative and democratic or prescriptive and authoritarian. The policies proposed by the federal government for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will create some good schools for some students while hurting many more and will do little to improve teaching or learning.”

Now, in 2013, he writes that our leaders are taking us down the wrong road:

“We have traveled much further down the latter road than I imagined even in my most pessimistic moments. Charter schools and school closings, value-added, metrics-based teacher evaluation and pay systems and prescriptive turnaround models have all gained momentum, while so-called reform–minded billionaires have influenced elections and administrative hiring around the nation. Perhaps, most disturbing is that this has proceeded despite persistent credible evidentiary challenges, while scholars from around the world have pointed out that no country has made accelerated improvement by relying on market-based policies.”

Two low-performing for-profit Imagine charter schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana, were supposed to close because of their poor academic records. But instead of closing, they are merging with Horizon Christian Academy, where students will be encouraged to apply for vouchers.

Karen Francisco, the editorial page editor of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, says that we now know that school “reform” has nothing to do with accountability as this move enables failing charters to evade any accountability for their performance.

Meanwhile, some public schools in Indiana are closing because of budget cuts.

A reader offered the following comments on the relationship between Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Broad Foundation:

“There is no way Duncan limited testing when he was in Chicago because it would have impeded the corporate education reform agenda.

Arne Duncan was on the board of the Broad Foundation while he was the leader of Chicago schools. The modus operandi of Broad Foundation is deception. It is the method of implementing the Broad Foundations anti-democratic agenda.

On Page 10 of the 2009/2010 Broad Foundation Annual Report http://tinyurl.com/6w5sps2
it says:

“Prior to becoming U.S. secretary of education, Arne Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools, where he hosted 23 Broad Residents. Duncan now has five Broad Residents and alumni working with him in the U.S. Department of Education.”

On Page 35 of the same annual report it says:

“The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.

With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.”

A reader (Mom/Speducator) has an idea for President Obama. Instead of going to Mooresville, North Carolina, to talk up the high-tech classroom, she says, how about this:

“Shouldn’t he have instead traveled to Chicago to offer support to the thousands of families whose lives will be in upheaval in a matter of months.”

Paul Thomas analyzes the latest plan to save the D.C. Public schools, this one prepared by a law firm on behalf of City Councilmember David Catania. Thomas finds that it is just as innovative, perhaps even more innovative, than past innovations. On the other hand, it might be somewhat less innovative than past innovations. But what is clear is that it uses all the same tools, the same carrots and sticks, as past innovations. At least, the Councilman says, he is trying. That’s innovative too. Or is it?

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