School bus drivers in Greenville, Mississippi, did not report to work for two days to protest their low wages. Apparently they were unaware that the legislature had passed a law in 1985-36 years ago-absolutely prohibiting any strikes by any school employees, including bus drivers.

The local school board debated whether the drivers’ failure to work was or was not a strike. They did not realize that their own board could be fined thousands of dollars each for failing to report the names of those who struck.

One thing is clear: Mississippi loathes the very idea of unions. And another: they “appreciate” their teachers and other school staff but they don’t want to pay them a living wage.

The National Education Policy Center is a think tank known for its incisive reviews, studies, and reports. In this post, it demolishes five myths about teaching.

Myth 1: Evaluating teachers based on student test results is fair, objective, and effective. Wrong.

Myth 2: We’d get better performance out of teachers and attract better candidates to the profession if we handed out bonuses. Doesn’t work.

Myth 3: Five or so weeks of training prepares you to start teaching. Experience and preparation matter.

Myth 4: Education is more equitable and more rigorous when teachers are required to use a scripted curriculum that tells them what to say and when. Bad idea.

Myth 5: Teaching is easy—after all, you get the summers off and you play with kids all day! Try it for a day.

The following post was published by the Economic Policy Institute, which is pro-worker, pro-union, and not funded by free-market billionaires.

As we near the end of #TeacherAppreciationWeek, it is worth remembering that one of the ways we can show our appreciation for teachers is to pay them a living salary.

EPI has been tracking trends in teacher pay for over a decade and a half. Our most recent report finds that, on average, teachers earn nearly 20 percent less than similar workers in other occupations. The size of the gap also varies across by state and can be as large as 32.7% less than other comparable college-educated workers.

Teachers typically have better benefits packages, but even after adjusting for the value of these benefits, the average compensation gap remains 10.2%.

Take a look at EPI’s map that measures the pay gap between teachers and similar workers in each state2 and then share it with family and friends.

Leslie T. Fenwick is Dean emerita of the Howard University School of Education. She is an eloquent critic of efforts to deprofessionalize teaching. She believes that teachers need more, not less, preparation for the classroom. This post appeared in Politico.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated harmful educational inequalities in the preK-12 public education system. The nation’s poorest students, Black and Latino students, and our disabled students have been the most negatively impacted by school closings necessitated by the pandemic. Black students in high poverty schools have been especially hard hit because of the racialized, historic and ongoing disinvestment in the education of Black children and youth.

One of the most obvious — and dangerous — ways this inequality shows up is by channeling a proportionally larger share of less qualified or alternatively credentialed teachers to schools with higher percentages of Black, Latino and disabled students. Black and Latino students are more likely than their white peers to be taught by teachers in training who are in alternative teacher preparation programs. These alternative route programs differ from traditional teacher preparation programs in at least one significant way: Most alternative route teacher interns become teachers of record prior to completing any teacher training. This means that as teachers in training, they are not profession-ready on Day 1. They are training on the backs of our neediest students — the students who most need a profession-ready teacher.

The pandemic and racial unrest have revealed just how much further the nation has to go to fulfill children’s constitutional right to equal educational opportunity. State constitutions define this right to an education in beautiful and compelling language as a “democratic imperative,” “fundamental value” and “paramount duty.” Yet, despite these powerful phrases, nearly 30 years of research shows that in schools serving students of color where 50 percent or more are on free or reduced lunch (one indicator of poverty status), these students are 70 percent more likely to have a teacher who is not certified or does not have a college major or minor in the subject area they teach. This finding holds true across four critical subject areas: mathematics, English, social studies, and science.

A review of the typical requirements for traditional teacher preparation and alternative programs — especially those that are not based at universities — reveals just how different the programs are in terms of substantive coursework and the length of time spent devoted to reflective and supervised practice under a fully certified and prepared preK-12 teacher (usually with at least three years of successful teaching experience) and university faculty member. It is clear that these two routes are not producing similar calibers of teachers and, even if they did, the alternative route program places an undue burden on the preK-12 students who are assigned a teacher-in-training as their full-time teacher of record.

This trend of placing untrained and uncertified individuals as teachers of record in schools serving the urban poor and disabled students is accelerating during the pandemic as states utilize more back door routes into classrooms through emergency certificates — in some states, these are granted to individuals with only a high school diploma. This practice is generating a new wave of uncredentialed teachers.

This reality is ill-matched to another circumstance: high stakes standardized tests and graduation examinations are more often used in states with higher percentages of Black and Latino students. How can we continue to educationally malnourish students, raise the bar on what they are expected to know and demonstrate on standardized tests, and lower the standards for the adults who teach them?

Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the teacher pipeline, creating shortages that disproportionately affect Black, brown and low-income students. Are you a teacher or education professional? Tell us how you have seen the pandemic affect teacher training or certification programs and you might be invited to a private discussion with Leslie Fenwick, PhD, and reporter Carly Sitrin.

Teacher quality is clearly tied to opportunity to learn in four categories: the quality of resources, school conditions, curriculum and the teaching that students experience. Yet the data about each of these opportunity-to-learn categories reveal alarming trends. According to the Schott Foundation, which researches and advocates for racial justice in the public school system, Native American, Black and Latino students have just over half the opportunity to learn, compared to white non-Latino students in the nation’s best supported and best performing schools. Additionally, the Schott study found that low-income students of any race or ethnicity have just over half of the opportunity to learn, compared to the average white, non-Latino student. Therefore, the availability and placement of fully credentialed, profession-ready, caring and effective teachers for students of color and poor students is especially acute.

As citizens and leaders, we can certainly tinker around the edges of the current order and attempt to return to a pre-Covid sense of normalcy, but this will not serve the nation well. One reason is that students of color are now the majority of our public school population, which means the majority of today’s public school students have probably not benefited from the prevailing order. In sustained and systematic ways, the new majority of public school students have had their education and life chances stymied by a social contract that consistently ensures lack of access to the best educational resources: namely, teachers.

The federal courts have recognized this reality. Nearly a decade ago, in a case known as Renee v. Duncan, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the practice of disproportionately placing uncertified teachers, teachers in training or teacher interns in classrooms serving poor and minority students is “discriminatory” and “does harm.” Further, the court indicated that the appellants in the case provided evidence that 41 percent of interns in California taught in the 25 percent of schools with the highest concentration of students of color. Further, 61 percent of California’s teacher interns taught in the state’s poorest schools. The court starkly stated: “We conclude that the appellants established injury in fact. This disproportionate distribution of interns … results in a poorer quality education than appellants would otherwise have received.”

Not only is a disproportionate share of students of color saddled with teachers in training, remarkably, nearly 40 percent of special education teachers are coming from alternative preparation routes. This means that while these students come to school ready to learn, their teacher is not fully prepared to teach. They are learning. To teach. On them.

Clearly, the proliferation of ill-credentialed “teachers” and their placement in schools serving the urban poor is linked to a broader issue of the devaluing of public education and the students of color and poor students who have become the majority constituency of public schools. Unfortunately, common sense has not gotten us to equality of educational opportunity and educational equity. Research has not gotten us there. Court decisions and decrees have not gotten us there. State and federal policymaking has not gotten us there. Time has not gotten us there. And, though the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing us to reconfigure and recalculate how to deliver schooling, we should not revert to a “normal” that continues to disadvantage our students who are most in need.

So, what can be done to rectify these problems? There are at least three policy responses that will help:

— Enforce through federal and state statutes and regulations the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Renee v Duncan.

— Incentivize states to approve only those teacher preparation programs — whether they are university-based or not — that meet national accreditation standards.

— Incentivize states to work with districts to develop plans that equitably distribute fully certified, profession-ready teachers.

Ultimately, there are larger questions at stake. Are we as a nation prepared to confront our beliefs about whose children we deem worthy and unworthy of investment? Are we willing and able to dismember the infrastructure, mechanisms and policies that have us ideologically and financially disinvesting from children of color and children from families experiencing poverty? What state, district and school policies and practices routinely privilege white and affluent students and disenfranchise students of color and poor students? How do we move past a deficit perspective about Black and other students of color and create teaching and learning environments that affirm the intellectual capacity and cultural heritage of all students?

In the unfolding pandemic, economic crisis and reckoning on race, governors and mayors are shaping our shared future. Who are the power players, and how are they driving politics and influencing Washington?Full coverage »

The Black Lives Matter movement and protests continue to rightly place structural racism front and center, reinvigorating discussions about diversity in the teacher workforce, the need to change curriculum content imagery and authorship so that it is not exclusively white, and the equitable assignment of teachers so that more students have access to profession-ready teachers.

The Black, Latino and poor children who are languishing in too many under-resourced schools will soon be the majority of adult Americans. They already constitute the majority of public school students. What will it mean for American democracy when these young people — many of whom have been pushed and held at the margins of the social, political and economic order — are the majority of adult citizens? Will their commitment to democracy and public schooling be resonant or absent? What we do now will answer this question in the near future.

The executive director of StudentsFirstNY, Jenny Sedlis, has taken a leave of absence from her job to manage a fundraising PAC for Eric Adams, one of the leading candidates for mayor. The election is this November.

Sedlis previously was the lead spokesperson for Success Academy, Eva Moskowitz’s charter chain.

The new entity plans to run digital and TV ads supporting Adams’ candidacy, without being beholden to the strict spending limits imposed by the city’s Campaign Finance Board. Ahead of Sedlis establishing the PAC with the Board of Elections, StudentsFirstNY released a poll showing Adams closing the gap with frontrunner Andrew Yang. A poll published yesterday showed Adams in the lead.

Sedlis has not begun raising money yet, but the group is hoping to secure $6 million — matching the stated aim of political consultant Lis Smith in her fundraising effort for Andrew Yang, Adams’ chief rival in the race…

“New York City’s comeback starts with Eric Adams as mayor,” Sedlis said in a prepared statement. “He’ll make our streets safer, bring real police reform and get COVID under control so we can get the city back open for business.”

Though the promotions will not address charters, Adams has been an ally of the well-heeled movement to expand the schools.

“We need to identify those charter schools that are failing and those are the schools we need to replace with the schools who are doing a good job. The goal is to scale up excellence,” Adams said following an endorsement on Monday. “We have too many charter schools and district schools that are not meeting the standards that are needed … to talk about caps and non-caps is just the wrong conversation. What we’re capping is excellence.”

Meanwhile, Adam’s chief rival is Andrew Yang, who gained attention because of his failed candidacy for president in 2020. Yang won the endorsement of major Orthodox Jewish groups by agreeing with them that their Yeshivas should not be required to meet state standards or to teach the courses in English, instead of Hebrew.

Yang is advised by venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, who previously worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and is an avid supporter of charter schools.

The outlook for public schools in New York City is not good.

..

Maurice Cunningham is a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts. His specialty is following the gobs of money poured into “education reform.” His exposes of Dark Money in the 2016 charter expansion referendum was a crucial element in turning the public against the referendum (you can read more about him in his blogs and in my book Slaying Goliath.)

In this post, published here for the first time, Professor Cunningham writes about the innocence or naïveté of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who met with a billionaire astroturf group and thought he was reaching out to ordinary parents and families.

Cunningham writes:

Who Got Suckered, Secretary Cardona or Readers of The74?

“The Pro-privatization education blog The74 recently published To Rebuild Trust with Families, Ed. Dept. Seeks Input from Outspoken Parents Group. The story purports to be about how Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona “seeks” the advice of parents and thus turns to the National Parents Union. But the National Parents Union isn’t about parents, it’s a front for oligarchs with “parents” in the name. So who got suckered here, Secretary Cardona or readers of The74?”

“Let’s start at the end of the post, with The74’s disclaimer:

Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and The City Fund provide financial support to the National Parents Union and The 74.

Let’s not stop there. Here’s an excerpt from The74’s first ever piece of NPU puffery, Mothers of Invention: Frustrated with the Educational Status Quo and Conventional Parent Organizing, Two Latinas Gave Birth to a National Parents Union.”

Marquez and Rodrigues raised seed money and funding for the recent convening from several philanthropies that fund education initiatives: The Walton Family Foundation; EdChoice; the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; National School Choice Week; the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation; and The City Fund, which in turn receives funding from Walton, the Hastings Fund, the Arnold Foundation (now Arnold Ventures), the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ballmer Group.

“Picture this. You’re a parent sitting at your kitchen table thinking about school just like millions of parents across the country. You call a friend across the country and decide to start a parents group. You’ll need some startup money so you divide up possible donors: ‘You call the Waltons, Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, and John Arnold. I’ve got Mike Dell, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Mark Zuckerberg, and Charles Koch.’

“A few months after ‘giving birth’ Ms. Marquez disappeared from her position as secretary-treasurer. No word from NPU or The74 on what happened to her. 

“You’d have to know this to get the irony of The74 writing a headline about rebuilding “trust” with parents. Maybe rebuilding trust with the Waltons, Koch, et al. but not parents. 

“Here’s how The74’s post begins:

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Monday he wants “families at the table” as schools prepare for the fall, offering welcome news to parents who have felt shut out of efforts to help their children recover from the pandemic.

Last week, his staff took steps to fill up the guest list by contacting the National Parents Union, a network of advocacy groups that has been critical of distance learning, especially for low-income and minority students, and has pushed for schools to reopen.

On April 28, Christian Rhodes, chief of staff for the department’s Office of Elementary and Secretary of Education, met with Keri Rodrigues, National Parents Union’s founding president, and Marisol Rerucha, the group’s chief of strategy and partnerships.

Since then, the group’s representatives have been asked to work with the department’s School Climate and Discipline Work Group and the Office of Parent Engagement and Communication, and to be involved in a meeting regarding federal relief funds later this week.

“This is artful. It starts out with an actual quote from Secretary Cardona and then transitions to the only place one could go to hear the authentic voice of parents, NPU. If any of this is true, it is epically bad staff work. We can discuss corporate America’s value in education policy but Gates, Walton et al. have no problem getting a seat at the table. They just shouldn’t get one masquerading as parents. 

“Back to that kitchen table conversation. ‘Oh, and once we line up the Waltons and Gates and those other billionaires, we’ll need a chief of strategy and partnerships. Every parent group needs one of those.’

“Just wondering, who was the source for this information?”

“They feel like we represent a really important constituency,” Rodrigues said. “We were very clear with them. We’re not here just to be disseminating information from [the department]. We need to be informing policy.”

“It appears that the source was Ms. Rodrigues, not only a mother of invention but now able to read the feelings of DOE personnel. It doesn’t look like The74 spoke to any DOE source.”

The department’s invitation to the organization to be part of its “kitchen cabinet” follows accusations that the teachers unions have had greater access to the secretary and the administration than other interest groups. The National Parents Union represents groups that have largely blamed unions for slowing down the reopening process and say schools have failed their children during the pandemic. Parent organizations were not represented during Cardona’s March 24 reopening summit, and in early April, Rodrigues said she was “furious” that the department had not yet reached out to any groups within the network. With states facing a June 7 deadline to submit plans to the department for spending American Rescue Plan funds, some of those local groups now want to have more say in how districts spend that money.

“‘Kitchen cabinet’”? Here is something very basic from the concept of principal-agent theory. A principal, here the lead investor Walton Family Foundation, employs an agent, here Ms. Rodrigues, to pursue the goals of the principal. So you have an agent of the Walton family and its wealthy allies in Secretary Cardona’s “kitchen cabinet.” 

“Let’s continue with that paragraph because it’s really funny: “accusations that the teachers unions have had greater access.” With a link! But the link has nothing to do with accusations about teachers unions, it is to a Today.com story where First Lady Jill Biden is praising teachers for their matchless contributions to children’s development, Jill Biden honors fellow teachers in her 1st official event as first lady. I cannot make this up. 

“So who has made accusations against teachers unions? National Parents Union! Which is exactly what we should expect from an agent working for the anti-union Waltons and Koch.

“States are looking at revisiting what it means to have families engaged,” Cardona said at the Education Writers Association’s annual conference. “This pandemic taught us that we have to be nimble, we have to be flexible and we have to meet families where they are.”

As part of his “Help is Here” tour to local schools, mostly in the Northeast, the secretary has interacted with some parents who don’t represent particular advocacy groups. And Rodrigues said her group is directing the department to other organizations “doing important work.”

Cunningham concludes:

“Wait a minute, Secretary Cardona has already been meeting with real parents? I imagine one of the groups Ms. Rodrigues will be recommending is Massachusetts Parents United, which she also “founded” with millions in Walton backing and where the organizations Form 990 tax return shows that she was compensated $189,000 in 2019. 

“Here’s more artistry from The74, the very next paragraph:

“Rachel Thomas, a spokeswoman for the education department, said working with parents is “critical” to addressing academic inequities made worse by the pandemic.

“It’s with parents’ partnership that we can build our education system back better than it was before, and make sure our schools are welcoming environments that work for all students, not just some,” she said.

“The placement invites the reader to conclude that Ms. Thomas was responding to Ms. Rodrigues. But there’s no evidence she was. It’s just boilerplate. 

“The story goes on some, I provided a link above.

“National Parents Union is a sucker’s game. The question is, who got suckered, Secretary Cardona, his staff, or the readers of The74

“Or all three?”

[Full disclosure: as an educator in the UMass system, I am a union member. I write about dark money, democracy, and oligarchy.]


This is a deep dive into a serious problem in Texas. An employee in the Special Education division was upset by a no-bid contract to an inexperienced, unqualified company. She filed a whistleblower complaint to the Office of the Inspector General. She was fired. A lower court upheld her appeal for compensation and protection. An appeals court rejected her claim.

Parents in Texas of children with special needs should be outraged. The employee did her duty to protect their children. The fired whistleblower said, “The allocation of funding for the education of the most vulnerable children in the state should not be left to its most corrupt people.”

The Wyoming Legislature passed a charter law that allows new charters to open wherever they wish, without the approval of the elected local school board. Governor Mark Gordon neither signed nor vetoed the law, expressing confidence that kinks could be fixed in the future.

The legislation allows the State Loan and Investment Board to approve a charter school. Typically, local school districts have approved charter schools in the state.

The law allows charter schools to potentially be exempt from teaching standards requirements and oversight from the State Board of Education.

“This bill seemingly makes it easier for charters to be established outside the state’s rigorous educational parameters,” Gordon wrote.

I like to follow the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily report of the gains and losses of the biggest billionaires in the world.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon “lost” $4.31 billion yesterday. But don’t worry about Jeff. He’s the richest person in the world, and his fortune is edging closer to $200 billion.

With a fortune so staggering, it makes you wonder why he fought so hard to prevent Amazon workers from joining a union.

Remember when his ex-wife McKenzie Scott gave away $4 billion? She’s already recovered more than that.

Nancy Bailey believes that parents owe a debt of thanks to the valiant teachers who taught online and in person, doing whatever was needed during the year of the pandemic.

She reminds us that tech vultures are waiting in the wings, hoping that the pandemic has set the stage for “reimagining” education without buildings.