Archives for category: Supporting public schools

Steve Matthews, superintendent of the Novi school district, here explains how the education profession has been attacked and demonized, with premeditation.


He begins:


So you want to kill a profession.


It’s easy.


First you demonize the profession. To do this you will need a well-organized, broad-based public relations campaign that casts everyone associated with the profession as incompetent and doing harm. As an example, a well-orchestrated public relations campaign could get the front cover of a historically influential magazine to invoke an image that those associated with the profession are “rotten apples.”


Then you remove revenue control from the budget responsibilities of those at the local level. Then you tell the organization to run like a business which they clearly cannot do because they no longer have control of the revenue. As an example, you could create a system that places the control for revenue in the hands of the state legislature instead of with the local school board or local community.


Then you provide revenue that gives a local agency two choices: Give raises and go into deficit or don’t give raises so that you can maintain a fund balance but in the process demoralize employees. As an example, in Michigan there are school districts that have little to no fund balance who have continued to give raises to employees and you have school districts that have relatively healthy fund balances that have not given employees raises for several years.


Then have the state tell the local agency that it must tighten its belt to balance revenue and expenses. The underlying, unspoken assumption being that the employees will take up the slack and pay for needed supplies out of their own pockets.


Additionally , introduce “independent” charters so that “competition” and “market-forces” will “drive” the industry. However, many of these charters, when examined, give the illusion of a better environment but when examined show no improvement in service. The charters also offer no comprehensive benefits or significantly fewer benefits for employees. So the charters offer no better quality for “customers” and no security for employees but they ravage the local environment.


Then create a state-mandated evaluation system in an effort to improve quality…..


That is how it begins.


For his willingness to speak out honestly and courageously, I add Steve Matthews to the blog’s honor roll as a hero of public education.




Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, the chair of the Public Education Committee, declared that the House would allocate $3 billion to public schools. In the past, the legislature has waited for the courts to order them to increase funding.

Jimmie Don Aycock is a Republican from Killeen. He is a hero to more than 5 million public school children in the great state of Texas. I humbly add him to the honor roll of this blog.

“The announcement also could signal a major fight with the Texas Senate, where budget writers have decided they don’t want to spend nearly as much on public schools.

“Texas still is battling a 2011 lawsuit filed by more than 600 school districts — including those in Austin, Pflugerville and Hutto — after state lawmakers made deep cuts to public education to balance a budget shortfall.

“Travis County state District Court Judge John Dietz — who presided over a similar challenge a decade ago — sided with districts yet again last August, saying the school finance system was inadequate, inefficient and imposed an illegal statewide property tax.

“Then-Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed the ruling directly to the state Supreme Court, which announced in late January it would hear the state’s appeal. But a ruling is not expected before the end of the 140-day session, leaving it up to lawmakers to decide what to do with school finance in the meantime.

“Aycock said Wednesday that an informal group of House lawmakers that had been meeting before and during this year’s legislative session, which began in January, first thought that they would wait until the high court rules, but have since had a change of heart — and hope the Texas Senate goes along.

“The Central Texas lawmaker said the decision came down to a fundamental question of “Do you try to do what’s right for children in the state of Texas or do you try to outguess the lawyers?”

The celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo grew up in Gloversville, New York. It is a small industrial town that is struggling to survive. Its major industry was leather gloves, and the town’s economy crumbled as American women stopped wearing gloves. I can still remember as a teenage girl that I was expected to wear gloves at Sunday school, when going to any dress-up occasion (like a wedding), even for going on an airplane trip. Those expectations no longer exist, and Gloversville has been hard hit by the collapse of its primary industry.


Now there is a fund-raising drive to restore its elegant Carnegie library, which sits at the heart of town and is a meeting place for children and adult and a center of learning.


Richard Russo has been helping to raise money for the restoration of the library.


He told the New York Times:


“I do think I have a debt to pay, and I’m happy to engage now in paying it back,” he said.


In a recent speech, Mr. Russo spoke about his debt to Gloversville’s schools and library, declaring: “I’m a product of public education, government-backed student loans, and publicly funded institutions like the Gloversville Free Library. If you’ve lost faith in them, you’ve lost faith in basic democratic principles.”


Repeat, for the benefit of philanthropists, hedge fund managers, and elected officials of all parties: “If you’ve lost faith in them, you’ve lost faith in basic democratic principles.”


Reworded, for clarity and re-use (as suggested in a comment below): “If you’ve lost faith in public education and public libraries, you’ve lost faith in basic democratic principles.”

Teacher and blogger Ralph Ratto says that New Yorkers must rally to support public education:



“All across the Empire State thousands upon thousands of parents, students, business leaders, and teachers are standing up and speaking out for public education. The message is clear. We will not let Governor Cuomo destroy public education in New York.9/11 Memorial Run/Wall in Manhattan


“Andrew Cuomo, our ‘self-proclaimed student advocate’, is holding school funding hostage in his maniacal quest to sell off public education to the highest bidder. An integral part of his plan is to falsely proclaim our schools and teachers as failures.


“We have all witnessed Cuomo do the following;


“shift needed funding towards the private sector.


hand over public schools buildings room by room to privately own charter schools.


wrenched local control away from communities.


demanded unfunded mandates that are driving public school districts into fiscal distress.


destroyed teacher preparation programs.


whittled away at teacher education centers.


demanded standards that are not age appropriate for students.


forced children to undergo hours and hours of abusive high stakes tests.


labeled public sector unions as an evil force.


Let’s not forget, Cuomo was not endorsed by the New York state AFL-CIO and NYSUT. There is a reason this Democrat was shunned by labor. His agenda is anti-labor and is driven by his hedge fund millionaire campaign donors. That’s why he lost just about every county and every region in the state except for where his hedge fund millionaires poured in tons of cash.


His agenda is quite clear, he has a vendetta against those who turned their backs on him and squashed his presidential aspirations. He is willing to sacrifice the futures of the children, of the Empire State, all the while handing parts of a multi-billion dollar public asset to privateers.


As evident in his decisions to end any oversight on ethics he has ordered all of his administrations e-mail and correspondence to be purged on a regular basis. Cuomo is counting on a world of darkness and despair as he slams the door on open government. We are on to him, and he won’t get away with this.


Cuomo wants us to believe the sun in New York State Seal is setting on the era of public education and open government. It is time to stand up and speak out and tell the governor that the citizens of the Empire State will not allow that sun to set on our most important assets, our children and our public schools.Seal_of_New_York.svg


Stand Up, Speak out for public education. Let the sun shine as we share the successes of public education in New York. Nassau County’s forum- “Stand Up and Speak Out for Public Education” is on March 12 at Westbury High School.



More information can be found at #allkids need you to be there.

Ed Berger lives in Arizona, where the forces of privatization are strong even though 85% of the state’s children attend public schools. Berger is active in his own home town with parents dedicated to saving their community schools from privatization. He has developed some simple guidelines to help others who want to support their community schools.

David Hornbeck was superintendent of schools in Philadelphia from 1994 to 2000. During that time, he approved 30 charter schools, hoping they would improve education for the city’s students. Twenty years later, he admits he was wrong.

Now he realizes that charters are not education reform. They are a change of governance. They get mixed results.
“In some evaluations, charter schools overall actually underperform regular public schools.”

Charter funding has a negative effect on public schools. Funding and unequal opportunity: Charter funding is also negatively affecting regular public schools. “Costs in schools sending students to charters cannot shift as fast as students and revenue leave. The costs for the principal, heating, lights, building debt and many other things remain; thus, the remaining children face the prospect of larger class sizes and cuts to core academic programming, music, art and other inequities.” As charters increase, the resources for public schools decrease, “without a commensurate performance improvement by charter school students.”

Charters don’t choose to serve students with severe disabilities, “leaving traditional schools to disproportionately bear this cost at the expense of all students.”

“Advocates say we need a “stronger” charter law [in Maryland], noting that Maryland ranks near the bottom. Pennsylvania’s law is ranked much higher, yet its charter growth is contributing significantly to a funding crisis that includes draconian cuts to teachers, nurses, arts, music and counselors in Philadelphia.”

The charter law proposed in Maryland “undermines collective bargaining that protects teachers from politics and favoritism and has been crucial to improvement in compensation and benefits. It would create a two-tiered system in which charter teachers would have to organize and bargain separately with each charter opting out of the larger system’s contract. Unionization is not the problem. There are no unions in many of the nation’s worst educational performing states. All schools, charter or traditional, must pay competitive salaries and benefits to attract experienced, skilled teachers who can succeed with all children.”

Hornbeck writes:

“Charters are not substitutes for broader proven reforms. We know from research and experience what works to build schools with thriving students:

•High standards;

•Quality teachers;

•Prekindergarten for 3 year olds;

•Lower class sizes through the third grade;

•Attacking concentrated poverty through community schools; after school programs; more instruction time for students who struggle; home visitation programs; and high quality child care.

“Let’s do what we know works.”

Hornbeck says what seems obvious: do what we know works. Will anyone listen? Are will they continue to demand “reforms” that have been proven not to work?

On Monday, there will be a mass rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis to protest the assault on public education.


The rally will begin at 2 p.m.


Whether you are a parent, an educator, and/or a concerned citizen, please attend to show the Governor and the Legislature that you oppose the destruction of public education and the attacks on Indiana’s elected State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

Peter Greene gives his sales pitch to parents about the advantages of public schools over charter schools. This is one of his best posts ever. He does a great job of explaining why parents should enroll their children in public schools, not charter schools.

Did he forget anything? If you were making this argument, what would you say?

This is what Peter Greene wrote:

“Here’s why you should send your child to your public school.


I will promise you that at the end of this year, at the end of next year, at the end of your child’s educational career, even if that’s thirteen years from now, this school system will still be here. You will never arrive at our doors and find them suddenly locked. You will never spend a single part of your year scrambling to find a new school to take your child in. As long as your child is school age, we will be here for her. You will never have to discover that we have decided to stop teaching your child because we can’t make enough money doing it.

Shared expertise.

Our teaching staff has over a thousand years of collective teaching experience. You may think that those thousand years don’t matter if your child is in a classroom with a second-year teacher, but they do, because that second-year teacher will be able to share in the other 998 years’ worth of experience any time she needs to.

Our staff will also share the experience of teaching your child. Your child’s classroom teacher will be able to consult with every other teacher who works with, or has ever worked with, your child. We do not routinely turn over large portions of our staff, nor do we depend on a stable of green young teachers.


We are committed to educating your child. Only in the most extraordinary circumstances will we expel him, and we will never “counsel him out.” We will never require a minimum performance from him just to stay in our school.


Our public school is owned and operated by the voters and taxpayers of this community, your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. The charter school is not. This public school is overseen by an elected board of individuals who live here and who must answer to voters. The charter school is not. When you have a complaint, a concern, an issue that you want to direct attention to, the people who run this school must have regular public meetings at which you must be able to air your concerns. The charter is a business, run by people who don’t ever have to let you into their board room.

Will you allow me to see your financial statements any time I wish?

Will you commit to holding all meetings of your leaders and operators in public, with ample opportunity for members of the public to speak out?

Will you promise me that no matter what, you will never turn my child away from this school?

My suggestion to you? Find a place that will say yes to all of those, because without a foundation of stability, transparency, and commitment to your child, any other promises mean nothing. They are like getting a marriage proposal from a man who says, “I will be the greatest husband ever, but I do reserve the right to skip town any time that I feel like it.” The charter school promise is not really a promise at all. Our promises are smaller and less grand because we know that whatever we promise, we’ll have to stick around to deliver.”

Kay McSpadden, a high school teacher and writer in South Carolina, notes a striking irony. In the midst of School Chiice Week, two major reports appeared that showed the success of our public schools.

The federal National Center for Education Statistics “report shows that in schools with less than 25 percent poverty rates, American children scored higher in reading than any other children in the world. In. The. World.

“The takeaway is simple. Our middle-class and wealthy public school children are thriving. Poor children are struggling, not because their schools are failing but because they come to school with all the well-documented handicaps that poverty imposes – poor prenatal care, developmental delays, hunger, illness, homelessness, emotional and mental illnesses, and so on.”

A second report, by the Horace Mann League and National Superintendents Roundtable, says the United States is, “by far, the wealthiest and best-educated of the nine G-7 countries studied….yet it posts some of the worst measures of economic inequality, social stress, and support for young families. We have the highest rates of substance abuse and violent deaths, for example, issues which negatively affect children and their performance in school……”

“The report asks communities to recognize that schools alone can’t address those formative forces.

“For policymakers, the report says, “Celebrate the success of schools while helping address some of the out-of-school issues that challenge educators, communities, and young people every day. Enact constructive laws and policies that constantly support people on the front lines of our future. Encourage rather than withhold funds for research in the social, behavior, and economic sciences to advance the well-being of the nation’s people. Treat education as a ticket to an even better future, not as a political football.”

“The report concludes that “Nobody understands the challenges and shortcomings of American schools better than the people who have dedicated their lives to them.” Yet educators are rarely asked for their expertise. That snub is bipartisan – with Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo taking a combative stand against public school teachers in his recent inaugural address, and Republican Governors of Nevada and Texas establishing committees on education comprised solely of non-educators.”

Read more here:

Melissa (Mel) Katz is preparing to become an elementary school teacher at The College of New Jersey. She has her own blog, The Education Activist: From Student to Teacher, and this is how she describes herself: I have been involved in education seriously beginning in my senior year of high school and especially my freshman year in college. I am a student activist, always researching, speaking in Trenton and at local board meetings, and traveling the state of New Jersey to meet different people and attend different education related events. Education is my life, my passion, and I couldn’t imagine spending every day anywhere else but in a classroom.


Mel recently attended a school board meeting in her hometown of South Brunswick and listened to the superintendent defend PARCC testing. In this post, she takes apart his claims and refutes them. If PARCC is so great, she asks, why have the number of states participating in it dropped from 24 (plus D.C.) to half that number? The superintendent defends Pearson and insists that PARCC testing will not drive instruction. She responds with logic and clarity.


Is there something in the water in New Jersey that encourages smart young women who are preparing to be career teachers–like Mel Katz and Stephanie Rivera–to speak up fearlessly about their chosen profession?




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