Archives for category: Teachers

Ken Previti tells the story on his blog about Julianna Mendelsohn, a teacher.

Julianna wanted to help the children of Ferguson.

““As a public school teacher, my first thought is always about the children involved in any tragic situation like this,” she writes. “When I found out school had been canceled for several days as a result of the civil unrest, I immediately became worried for the students in households with food instability. Many children in the US eat their only meals of the day, breakfast and lunch, at school. With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry.”

“Julianna is from Raleigh, North Carolina. She knows that all the children in school are our children. The children in Ferguson are our children with their own needs. Our children need many things, and nutritious food is at the top of the list. Julianna’s efforts have raised over $125,000 to feed our children during this crisis.”

Read the post and send whatever you can to feed the children.

Julianna is a hero of public education who, like so many teachers, truly puts children first. She wants to feed them. Please help her.

This may be the most important article you read this week, this month, or this year. It was published last year, and I missed it. But, wow, Bruce Baker nails what is wrong with “education reform.”

Basically, the public has been sold a bill of goods. We have been told that charters, vouchers, tuition tax credits, and other means of removing governance from the public sector to the private sector will produce schools that are more transparent and more accountable. We are also told–though Baker doesn’t explore it here–that these choices will produce education miracles for poor and minority students (that’s not true either).

What Baker demonstrates in detail is that charter schools and voucher schools are less transparent and less accountable than public schools. Furthermore, in these alternative settings, students forego their constitutional rights. In truly private schools, like voucher schools, we can’t expect accountability or transparency. The charters, however, constantly call themselves “public” schools, yet refuse to be audited, refuse to disclose their finances, and shun the accountability and transparency they promise.

As we have seen again and again, whether in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, or other states, charter management organizations claim that their charters are public, but organization running them is private and has no obligation to open its books to anyone. In some states–although Baker doesn’t go into this– the legislature makes sure that charters are not held accountable because of adroit lobbying by the charter industry or generous campaign contributions to key legislators.

Baker writes: “Whatever problems do exist with the design of our public bureaucracies, I would argue that we should exercise extreme caution in accepting uncritically the belief that we could not possibly do worse, and that large scale privatization and contracting of private entities to provide the public good is necessarily a better and more responsive, more efficient, transparent and accountable option.”

Baker avers that the issue of students’ rights is not trivial. He writes:

“Rather, day after day, week after week, we are subjected to more and more vacuous punditry by self-proclaimed “expert” pundits displaying an astounding ignorance of education law and callous disregard for our system of government and the U.S. Constitution.

“For example, it would appear that charter schools that are not “state actors” (which may include most that are governed by boards of private citizens and especially those managed by private companies/EMOs or CMOs) may require students to abide by disciplinary/conduct codes which involve compelling those students to recite belief statements about the school (mottos, pledges, loyalty oaths), obligatory participation in indoctrination activities and imposition of financial penalties for disciplinary infractions, none of which would be permissible in traditional public schools. Government entities – state actors – may not compel speech and especially may not compel statements of belief.

“So then, what is a family to do when no traditional public schools are available to them (as is practically the case in many areas of New Orleans and increasingly the case in other higher charter market share cities)? Should parents have to choose which rights to forgo? [picking the school with the financial penalties over the one requiring daily recitation of a loyalty oath?]

“Can (as some belligerent civic illiterate, pundits believe) entire urban school systems be replaced with charter schools – or the traditional public schools adopt the lessons of “chartering” which involve infringement of constitutional rights? Is it reasonable to assume that the entire student population of a city would be placed in a position of necessarily forgoing their rights to free expression, free exercise?

“I hear those reformy pundits cry… “but who cares about a little constitutional protection here and there if we can squeeze out an extra point or two on state assessments [via selective attrition of low performing peers]? They’ll be better for it in the long run!”

“Yeah… sure… that’s all well and good for someone else’s kids. I for one believe the constitution continues to have a purpose and that constitutional rights should be equally available to all people’s children. I believe that constitutional protections are a key element of an accountable education system available to all – not just some.

“This is a big freakin’ deal. An important policy trade-off to consider, if you will. This is a critically important tradeoff to consider when adopting policies that expand non-state-actor charter schooling, even if some marginal academic gain can be achieved….Poor and minority children should not be disproportionately required to forgo constitutional protections (and a variety of statutory protections) to gain access to those few additional test score points. Further, no-one is telling them that they even have rights to begin with – especially those pitching the charter expansion policies (constantly spewing the rhetoric of the “publicness” of charter schooling).”

Baker is appalled that some state education agencies now play an advocacy role for charters, forgetting tat their first obligation is to the public. He writes:

“Taken to the extremes, State Education Agency and public media flaunting of chartery miracles has created a distorted market for those charters that are least proven on the market (perhaps in some cases, lemons), with those charters that are most proven already over-subscribed and not needing to compete openly. So, those most available on the market are those whose actual performance/quality is far lower than that which is capturing the headlines and receiving accolades from state officials. [not quite a true market for lemons since the price - education "credit" is fixed ... though perhaps I can expand on this at a later point].”

Baker was once an advocate for charters. What turned him off? Boasting, miracle claims, disregard for evidence by the charter industry and its enthusiastic flacks in the media:

“It is the absurd punditry, intentional obfuscation and complete disregard for legitimate data/analysis on charter schooling that have perhaps soured my taste for the movement more than anything else (bearing in mind that I was a founding member of the AERA special interest group on Charter School research and, at the time, was largely an advocate myself).”

Next year, students of Hispanic descent will be a majority in the public schools of Texas. Yet the voices of Latino parents, educators, and advocates are seldom heard in legislative hearings. Instead, it is usually business leaders calling the shots.

A new organization called the Latino Coalition for Educational Equality has emerged to express their views and to release the results of a survey.

What issues are at the top of their agenda: adequate funding and well-prepared teachers.

“School finance is, by far, the biggest priority the groups identified, and the report summary echoes a lot of what the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has argued in its piece of the everlasting school finance lawsuit: that Texas’ school funding is based on what lawmakers want to spend, not what a quality education actually costs, and that cuts in school funding have meant scaling back bilingual education programs.

“Interestingly, the teachers surveyed here are all bilingual teachers—either working in school districts or enrolled in teacher prep programs—and they were far more concerned with teacher quality, school accountability and access to books than school funding. Lopez says that’s a reflection of their more direct interaction with classrooms. “School finance obviously is intertwined in every issue,” she says. “You can’t advocate for more materials and more appropriate materials or resources without it being a school finance issue.”

“Teachers and advocates also agreed, according to the report, that “increasing the number of well-prepared Latina/o teachers” should be a top priority—a finding that squares with research suggesting that Hispanic teachers tend to stay in high-needs schools longer, bringing stability to classrooms as well as a cultural relevancy that helps students relate to lessons.

“It’s also worth noting what’s not listed among the top priorities: charter school chains, vouchers and full-time online schools, which the report dismisses as “privatization experiment efforts” that siphon money away from the schools most kids attend. In other words, if you ask Latino teachers and activists—and not Sen. Dan Patrick—there are plenty of “civil rights issues of our time” more pressing than school choice.

“It’s not that teachers and advocates were opposed to charter schools or any particular group of reformers, Lopez says, just those “who come in who have no historical participation in a community, and see it as a potential market.”

Thanks to Jere Hochman, superintendent of the Bedford Central School District, for bringing this wonderful story to my attention.

Phenomenally successful musician-singer-producer Pharrell Williams tells his story to CBS News. He grew up in Virginia Beach, where his father was a handyman and his mother was a teacher. When he was 15, his grandmother encouraged him to get involved in music and learn to play the drums.

“He went to summer band camp and joined the school band: “And that’s where I met my first music teacher, Mrs. Warren. And my other band teacher, Mr. Warren. And then there was Mr. Edwards and then there was Mr. Sharps.”

“You remember ‘em all?”

“Yes, I do. And Ralph Copley had taught me how to play the drum set. My story is the average story, you know. It was filled with special people.”

“You’re giving everybody else credit.”

“Well, what am I without them? Just try that for a second. Take all of my band teachers out of this. Where am I? I’m back in Virginia, doing something completely different.”

“What would that have been do you think?” Mason asked.

“Struggling art teacher. Struggling because the rest of my grades were not so good. They were like Cs and D’s. And sometimes E’s!”

Imagine: This brilliant, talented young man had bad grades. He was not “college-and-career-ready.” Maybe he didn’t test well.

But some dedicated band teachers helped him develop his passion for music, and today he is a superstar.

Best of all, he remembers his teachers and is grateful for the gift they gave him.

I recently received anxious inquiries from friends in California who read an article in the Sacramento Bee claiming that the state was lowering standards for new teachers.

The authors of the article said that the California Commision on Teacher Credentialing was dropping the requirement of a four-year degree in academic subject areas. They wrote:

“The commission has effectively lowered teaching standards by giving the OK for school districts to allow core academic subjects to be taught by instructors who do not have four-year degrees or, for that matter, may not even have taken any college courses. Core academic subjects with rigorous knowledge standards that are required for high school graduation include English, mathematics, physical education, history-social science and science.

This was a dramatic claim.

I sent out urgent requests to several friends in California, including Linda Darling-Hammond, who chairs the Commission. Linda assured me that the allegations are untrue. She has written a response, which I will post as soon as it is published by the SacBee. The Commission’s decision pertained only to ROTC and PE. Teachers of ROTC are not currently required to hold a four-year college degree but to have at least four years of military service and at least 135 hours if teacher preparation in an approved program.

Meanwhile, here is an official rebuttal by the CCTC:

Dear colleagues~

As you may have seen, The Sacramento Bee ran an opinion piece in today¹s paper that is in response to the Commission¹s June 20, 2014 action related to its Designated Subjects teaching credentials in ROTC. The Commission took action at its June 20, 2014 public meeting to create an Special Teaching Authorization in Physical Education (PE) that may be obtained by holders of Designated Subjects ROTC and BMD (Basic Military Drill) to signal that they have met a higher standard to teach PE in the context of ROTC and BMD. Unfortunately, the opinion piece significantly misrepresents the Commission¹s actions. We wanted to provide you with some information in case you receive questions or inquiries from members or stakeholders with whom you interact.

The opinion piece states that the Commission removed the requirement that teachers have a bachelor¹s degree.

· The Commission¹s recent decision was related only to its
Designate Subjects teaching credentials in ROTC; not to its general
education teaching credentials or any other of its credentials or permits.
More importantly, possession of a bachelor¹s degree was not an existing
requirement for the Designated Subjects teaching credential in ROTC.

The ROTC credential is under the umbrella of the Designated Subjects
Credentials which recognize experience in a particular employment sector
as equivalent to a bachelor¹s degree for the purpose of credentialing. The
Commission issues Designated Subjects Credentials to individuals in a wide range of business and industry sectors, and these credentials are most
often used in Career Technical Education programs offered in California¹s high schools. ROTC Credential experience requirements include at least four years of military service; preparation requirements include at least 135 hours of teacher preparation in a Commission approved program.

The opinion piece states that the Commission dropped the mandate for
teachers to obtain preparation in the teaching of English Learners.

· Certification to teach English learners is a part of the clear
credentialing requirements for the Designated Subjects teaching
credentials.

Currently, local school boards make the decision about who teaches PE and
which courses are counted toward graduation credit, within broad state
requirements. The CTC recognition of a ROTC specialization does not
change this local decision making. Holders of this ROTC specialization
would NOT be authorized to teach regular PE classes.

Holders of this Special Teaching Authorization in PE would only be able to teach ROTC courses that have been approved by their local school board to
carry PE credit. ROTC teachers can already teach these courses under
current law; the Special Teaching Authorization will recognize that
teachers who meet PE subject matter requirements (the CSET exam) and
satisfy the basic skills requirement have met a HIGHER standard to teach
PE in the context of a ROTC course than the regular ROTC credential
requires.

The following FAQs will provide additional information but please do not
hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns you may have.

http://www.ctc.ca.gov/briefing-room/pdf/FAQ-auth-PE-ROTC.pdf

Best~
Erin
__________________________________________________
Erin C. Sullivan, Consultant
Office of Governmental Relations
Commission on Teacher Credentialing
phone: 916-324-8007 fax: 916-445-0800

Stuart Egan, a teacher in Clemmons, North Carolina, wrote to tell me that teachers who have been teaching 33 years or more received a pay cut under the new state budget. One friend took an annual cut of $4866.35.

Stuart added the following letter:

Dr. Ravitch,

The following Facebook posting is from a teacher in Cleveland County. Its contents are not that surprising, especially if you have been aware of the North Carolina General Assembly’s actions concerning public schools. It is yet another example of how many in the North Carolina General Assembly view public educators. This only reaffirms Peter Greene’s observation that the North Carolina General Assembly is the most egregious state legislature when it comes to supporting public schools.

Julia Clore-Laurich, a veteran teacher, posts:

I am not an “idiot teacher” for calling State Representative Tim Moore’s office on Wednesday afternoon to voice my concerns about the current budget that is being proposed, yet that was what I was called after the conversation was over and Legislative Assistant Nancy Garriss didn’t realize she had not hung up. Speaking to another staff person, she told him that “some idiot teacher” had called that and that I made her “blood boil.” About that time, someone realized the phone had not been hung up and proceeded to disconnect the line. Of course, I called back immediately. When she answered and I reintroduced myself, she asked if she could put me on hold; I reluctantly agreed. Shortly, a male staffer answered the call and said that Nancy had gone to a meeting. I also got a legal staffer on this call. They apologized, listened politely to what I had to say, offered to have Nancy call to apologize (which I declined), and got my email address.

Having taught for 18 years, I am smart enough to know that the 7% raise that is currently being debated is not 7% for everyone; for step 19, it means 3.31% according to Nancy. I wanted to get on the record and voice my opposition to losing longevity pay. Teachers should not have to give up longevity pay, and I should not have to be grateful to receive a small portion of one of the largest teacher raises in the state’s history that will be funded by giving up what I have already earned. The “wonderful” 7% raise that is being talked about is not so wonderful for the teachers who have put in years of service to the community for the education of young people.

If exercising my right as a citizen to argue that I should not have to give up longevity pay in return for a small portion of the raise that is being debated gets me called an “idiot teacher” by the Legislative Assistant in my North Carolina State Representative’s office, then it is no wonder teachers are being devalued by our State Government.

I have sent the following letter to Ms. Garriss and also copied her employer, Rep. Tim Moore.

Dear Ms. Garriss,

I received a Facebook posting that highlighted an exchange you had with a veteran teacher from Cleveland County. I am troubled by what seems to be a cavalier attitude on your part and I want to say a few words. But more importantly, I want to present myself as a fellow state servant, one who wants to improve conditions in North Carolina.

Like Ms. Clore-Laurich and the thousands of veteran teachers in our state, I am directly affected by such actions as the removal of longevity pay, the disproportional rearrangement of the salary schedule and the elimination of increased pay for advanced degrees. This could be most devastating for the region (Cleveland County) that Rep. Moore represents.

Cleveland County sits on the border with South Carolina, which is successfully recruiting teachers from North Carolina with higher pay and better teaching conditions. Other out-of-state systems (Houston is notable) also are recruiting actively here. Bumper stickers are starting to appear around the state that parody North Carolina’s iconic automobile license plates. Instead of just saying “First in Flight,” they read “First in Teacher Flight.”

Possibly Ms. Clore-Laurich was relating to her elected official that she is concerned with keeping qualified, experienced teachers in her school district because they are crucial to sustaining quality education in Cleveland County. The “7%” raise for teachers being touted by the General Assembly is really a weak and misleading way of saying that public education is being cut into again. With the Teaching Fellow Program eliminated, teacher career status attacked and the measuring of teacher effectiveness with untested means, it is no wonder many veteran teachers are speaking out. They need to be heard. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system I serve will have to deal with a $4 million shortfall that most likely will affect the hiring of teacher assistants. I have a son who has Down Syndrome and will enter first grade. Having teacher assistants is not a luxury in his classroom; it is vital.

A majority of the money in this so-called raise will be given to newer teachers with the short-term goal that they will start a career in North Carolina. However, the General Assembly refuses to see that the long-term outcome of this is that few teachers will end their careers in North Carolina.

Longevity is now eliminated and then given back to experienced teachers in the form of a raise. It is not an actual raise; it’s a reallocation of money that we teachers have already earned. Think of it this way: someone goes into your savings account and withdraws $10,000 and then hands it to you and says you got a bonus. And all state employees get longevity pay, possibly you as well. But now, teachers will not. It is being used to finance this “raise.”

The new salary schedule simply puts into place the actual numbers promised in the old salary schedule from 2007, but it does not consider inflation and cost-of-living increases. You should read James Hogan’s recent post on this matter. It can be found at http://www.forum.jamesdhogan.com/2014/07/the-pay-scale-no-politician-wants-you.html. Mr. Hogan is a very lucid, straightforward thinker and explains this very well.

The elimination of advanced degree pay is another item of concern. Advanced degrees have been the only means for teachers to get some sort of monetary promotion in the profession of education. Please remember that a profession, such as the fields of law, medicine and education, require licensure; however, our General Assembly apparently does not think educators deserve the same treatment as doctors and lawyers. Take Rep. Moore for example. He is an attorney, which means that he probably has a Juris Doctorate. But what if he was in business law and also possessed an MBA? Would he be able to command more recompense for his knowledge? Yes he would. Why should the field of education be any different?

There are other ramifications of this budget that invite many more questions and concerns. How does this affect teacher pension plans in the future? What about the message this sends to our post-secondary schools that train our teacher candidates? Why is more money going to fund “Opportunity Grants” when that money was already tagged for public education?

But the most obvious concern is keeping qualified, seasoned veterans in our classrooms to teach our kids and to mentor fabulous new teachers to become seasoned educators. And a border county like Cleveland County cannot afford to lose teachers, unless the goal is to always have your students taught by inexperienced teachers who plan to finish their careers elsewhere. Is that really the intent of Rep. Moore, a six-time incumbent seeking reelection this November?

All of this negative talk about public schools and teacher salaries is enough to make my “blood boil” as well. But I have no problem being called an “idiot teacher” if it means trying to speak up for public schools in North Carolina. I will gladly wear that label if it helps our students.

Respectfully,

Stuart Egan, Ed.S., NBCT

West Forsyth High School

Clemmons, NC

James D. Hogan, a former high school English teacher who now teaches in a liberal arts college, decided to fact check the North Carolina legislature’s claim of a “historic pay raise” for the state’s teachers. Other states have been luring North Carolina teachers away with a promise of higher salaries. North Carolina has more National Board Certified Teachers an any other state. The state’s elected officials have taken a lot of criticism for freezing teacher salaries since 2008, and now they are running for re-election boasting of the new teacher pay scales.

So Hogan compared the pay scales for 2008 to the projected pay scales for 2014-15.

Hogan found:

“If you only look at the 2013-14 numbers, the proposed budget looks like a great deal–an average pay increase of $2,129, thanks mostly to the big jumps in the first 12 years of the pay scale. But when you stack the proposed 2014-15 scale next to the 2008-09 scale, the numbers tell a different story. Under that scenario, out of the 32 steps of the scale, 13 pay grades earn less money in the 2014-15 budget. The average pay increase is $270. Read that again: if we were simply comparing the proposed 2014-15 salary schedule to the 2008-09 salary schedule, the average teacher would see a pay increase of $270.

“Further more, these are raw numbers. What that comparison fails to take into account is the simple cost of inflation over the last 6 years. If the 2008-09 salary schedule had been kept in place and updated each year to account for inflation, the average teacher would earn $4,212 more than the 2014-15 proposed budget would pay them. Again: if we simply adopted the 2008-09 salary schedule this year and adjusted it for inflation, the average teacher would make $4,212 more.”

Another interesting fact:

Under the new salary schedule for 2014-2015, it takes 30 years of teaching to reach a salary of $50,000 a year.

Hogan’s solution:

“Our state legislators tell us they value public education. This year, they’re offering a tiny bit of compensation and billing it as a historic raise. What they’ve yet to do, so far, is admit that rebuilding and restoring our public school system to a funding level it experienced within this decade will mean raising taxes.”

See more at: http://www.forum.jamesdhogan.com/2014/07/the-pay-scale-no-politician-wants-you.html#sthash.P2Ba0XjX.dpuf

Peter Greene regretfully, apologetically disagrees with Susan Ohanian, who recently expressed disappointment that the two national unions did not call on teachers to boycott testing. He says it would do no good because they would be fired and replaced by teachers happy to give tests and have a job. He says, pick your fights with care.

I am not sure I agree with Peter on this one. I agree that if a handful of teachers refused to give the state tests, they would be fired. But if an entire school refused to do it, they would send a loud message and probably no one would be fired. That was the lesson of Garfield High School in Seattle. When the teachers stood together, no one was punished.

Best of all would be if the principal and superintendent led the test boycott and carefully explained that they do not oppose all tests. tests should be used for diagnostic purposes, not for ranking and rating. learning is a process, not a race. School boards should declare that they oppose the deluge of testing that has third graders taking tests that last eight hours, that they oppose standardized tests for children in the k-2 grades, that they oppose the use of standardized tests for high stakes, that they oppose devoting a month of instructional time to testing. It would take extraordinary leadership and integrity and wisdom to stand up to the testing regime that has warped education. What a statement that would be!

Even better would be widespread parent boycotts. No one can fire parents. They have it in their power to pull the plug on this mess. I hope it comes to that.

Zephyr Teachout, who is opposing Governor Cuomo in the New York Democratic primary, explained her strong opposition to the Common Core standards, which Cuomo supports.

She writes:

“Common Core forces teachers to adhere to a narrow set of standards, rather than address the personal needs of students or foster their creativity. That’s because states that have adopted the standards issue mandatory tests whose results are improperly used to grade a teacher’s skill and even to determine if he or she keeps their job. These tests have created enormous and undue stress on students, and eroded real teaching and real learning. What’s more, there’s sound reason to question whether these standards even measure the right things or raise student achievement. No doubt, many teachers have found parts of the standards useful in their teaching, but there is a big difference between optional standards offered as support, and standards foisted on teachers regardless of students’ needs.

“Widespread outrage from teachers and parents has led Gov. Cuomo to tweak the rules around the implementation of the Common Core and call for a review of the rollout. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not addressed the real problem with Common Core.

“The fundamental issue is not the technicalities of how the standards are implemented. It is not even that Gov. Cuomo allowed this regime even as he was stripping schools of basic funding, leading class sizes to swell and forcing schools to slash programs in art and extra help. The root problem with Common Core is that it is undemocratic. It is a scheme conceived and heavily promoted by a handful of distant and powerful actors. Here in New York, it was adopted with insufficient input from local teachers, parents, school boards or students, the very people whose lives it so profoundly affects.

“Bill Gates’ coup is part of a larger coup we’re living through today – where a few moneyed interests increasingly use their wealth to steer public policy, believing that technocratic expertise and resources alone should answer vexing political questions. Sometimes their views have merit, but the way these private interests impose their visions on the public – by overriding democratic decision-making – is a deep threat to our democracy. What’s more, this private subversion of public process has come at the precise time when our common institutions, starved of funds, are most vulnerable. But by allowing private money to supplant democracy, we surrender the fate of our public institutions to the personal whims of a precious few.”

Teachout concludes:

“As did the founding generation in America, I believe public education is the infrastructure of democracy. The best public education is made democratically, in the local community: when parents, teachers, and administrators work together to build and refine the education models and standards right for our children.”

In recent days, there has been an extended discussion online about an article by California whistle blower Kathleen Carroll, in which she blasts Randi Weingarten and the Teachers Union Reform Network for taking money from Gates, Broad, and other corporate reform groups, in some cases, more than a dozen years ago. Carroll also suggests that I am complicit in this “corruption” because I spoke to the 2013 national meeting of TURN and was probably paid with corporate reform money; she notes that Karen Lewis, Deborah Meier, and Linda Darling-Hammond also spoke to the TURN annual meeting in 2012 or 2013. I told Carroll that I was not paid to speak to TURN, also that I have spoken to rightwing think tanks, and that no matter where I speak and whether I am paid, my message is the same as what I write in my books and blogs. In the discussion, I mentioned that I spoke to the National Association of School Psychologists at its annual convention in 2012, one of whose sponsors was Pearson, and I thought it was funny that Pearson might have paid me to blast testing, my point being that I say what I want regardless of who puts up the money. At that point, Jim Horn used the discussion to lacerate me for various sins.

Mercedes Schneider decided to disentangle this mess of charges and countercharges. In the following post, Schneider uses her considerable research skills to dissect the issues, claims and counterclaims. All the links are included in this piece by Schneider. Schneider asked me for my speech to the National Association of School Psychologists as well as my remarks to the TURN meeting, which are included.

I will make two points here. First, Randi has been my friend for 20 years, and I don’t criticize my friends; we disagree on many points, for example, the Common Core, which I oppose and she supports. I don’t hide our disagreements but I won’t call her names or question her motives. Friends can disagree and remain friends.

Second, I recall learning how the left made itself impotent in American politics by fighting among themselves instead of uniting against the common adversary. I recall my first job at the New Leader magazine in 1960, where I learned about the enmity among the Cannonites, the Lovestonites, the Trotskyites, the Mensheviks, the Schactmanites, and other passionate groups in the 1930s. That’s when I became convinced that any successful movement must minimize infighting and strive for unity and common goals.

Even earlier, Benjamin Franklin was supposed to have said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

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