The Washington Post reports today that the Pentagon diverted coronavirus funds for such things as building jet engines.

A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used for making things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.


The change illustrates how one taxpayer-backed effort to battle the novel coronavirus, which has killed roughly 200,000 Americans, was instead diverted toward patching up long-standing perceived gaps in military supplies.
The Cares Act, which Congress passed earlier this year, gave the Pentagon money to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”

But a few weeks later, the Defense Department began reshaping how it would award the money in a way that represented a major departure from Congress’s original intent.
The payments were made even though U.S. health officials believe there are still major funding gaps in responding to the pandemic. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Senate testimony last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year. There remains a severe shortage of N95 masks at numerous U.S. hospitals. These are the types of problems that the money was originally intended to address.

We have already seen how federal funding for the pandemic favored private and charter schools, which received six times as much money as public schools.

Joyce Elliott is a dynamic woman who is running for Congress in Arkansas. I’m asking you to send whatever you can to help her unseat French Hill, a loyal ally of Trump, a millionaire and former banker.

Joyce would be the first black member of Congress from Arkansas. She was a public high school teacher. She is a member of the Network for Public Education. I have contributed to her campaign eight times.

Joyce is a teacher and public servant running as a Democrat for Congress in Arkansas.

Born and raised in rural Willisville, Joyce could see divisions in her community from an early age. She and her sister were the first Black kids to graduate from their newly integrated school.

In the years since, Joyce has dedicated her life to public service: First, as a public high school teacher, then as a State Representative and Senator, and now as a candidate for U.S. Congress.

The latest reports say Joyce is in striking distance of winning this race and flipping Arkansas blue for Democrats. Her race has been given the prestigious “Red to Blue” distinction, and she is endorsed by EMILY’s List and the Congressional Black Caucus.

But at this moment, Joyce is massively outraised. We’re counting on grassroots support to win. Will you chip in today and help us send Joyce to Congress?

DONATE

Joyce Elliott for Congress
PO Box 179
Little Rock , AR 72203
United States

You have read here that the Texas State Board of Education approved five charter chains to grow in the Lone Star State and nixed three chains. One of those approved is a Gulen charter chain that was rejected in Alabama and Nevada.

Another of those that were approved is the Learn4Life chain, a California-based chain of more than 60 charter schools.

Learn more about Learn4Life here.

Will Huntsberry wrote in the Voice of San Diego about Learn4Life last year. Its a sweet deal for its leaders, not so much for its students.

John Helgeson, a charter school executive, has a great deal for a public servant.

In 2007, he helped found Charter School Capital, a for-profit Oregon company that loans money to charter schools and buys school properties. In May 2015, he also started making $300,000 a year as an executive vice president at Learn4Life, a nonprofit network of more than 60 charter schools that serves roughly 45,000 students in California.

Charter School Capital lends money to Learn4Life schools and pockets the interest. While working at Learn4Life – which is funded almost entirely by California taxpayers – Helgeson maintained an ownership stake in Charter School Capital. In doing so, Helgeson discovered a way to collect not just one, but two paychecks from California’s cash-strapped public school system.

Learn4Life, which operates nine San Diego locations, serves a unique group of students. Many are at-risk and have dropped or failed out of traditional high schools. The schools are publicly funded and often located in strip-mall storefronts. Students usually come in to meet with a teacher once or twice a week and complete work packets.

Since 2014, Charter School Capital has loaned more than $6 million to two Learn4Life schools in San Diego alone. A charter school borrowing money from a for-profit lender is normal enough. To have a key employee who profits from both is not.

Just two months after Helgeson came on board at Learn4Life, the company increased its business with Charter School Capital. Charter School Capital purchased the 100,000 square-foot corporate headquarters of Learn4Life in July 2015 – making Charter School Capital the landlord of Learn4Life. Now Charter School Capital wasn’t just profiting on its loans to Learn4Life. It was also profiting on a lease. And so was Helgeson.

“It sounds like a classic conflict of interest, where someone is serving two masters,” said Jessica Levinson, former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission and a professor at Loyola Law School.

Carol Burris wrote about Learn4Life in her comprehensive report Charters and Consequences. Its schools have enormous dropout rates and very low graduation rates. By traditional indicators, they would be considered failing schools. Some have graduation rates as low as 0%, though 10-20% is more typical.

The Texas State Board of Education has very low standards for charter schools. How can it set standards for students and teachers when its standards for charters are so rockbottom?

As the United States passed the 200,000 death milestone, Trump told a rally that the coronavirus affects “virtually nobody.”

200,000 nobodies.

This on the same day that CNN marked the death of a 28-year-old medical resident in Houston who caught the virus while working with those who had it.

Another nobody.

In this article that appeared in The Atlantic, political reporter Grace Rauh rails against the failed leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio for his inability to open the public schools safely.

To be fair, equal blame for the chaos and confusion surrounding the reopening of schools must be allocated to Chancellor Richard Carranza, who appears to be overwhelmed.

School openings have twice been announced and postponed.

Remote learning has been riddled with technical problems, unequal access to technology, disrupted internet service, and a host of other issues.

Many parents, like Rauh, are furious.

She writes:

For weeks now, I’ve been the unpopular parent on the playground predicting with certainty for anyone who cared to listen that our children would not enter a public-school building in New York City this year. And sadly, I may be proved right. For the second time this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio has delayed the start of in-person school, largely because of a staffing shortage.

New York City has done what seemed impossible in April: It flattened the coronavirus curve and now boasts a positive-test rate of about 1 percent. In theory, the low case-positivity rate might have meant that public-school principals and teachers would feel comfortable opening up this fall. Many do not, however, and the mayor has utterly failed to overcome the problem.

He could have spent the summer months convincing the stakeholders that staggered schedules—with some kids learning at home each day—smaller classes, and improvements to air-circulation systems, along with commonsense precautions such as masks and frequent hand-washing, would be sufficient for an on-time start. He could then have worked with the Department of Education to make sure that these precautions were in place and that teachers knew what to expect.

Alternatively, he could have decided weeks, if not months, ago to start the school year completely remote and announced that the city would gradually move toward in-person learning if conditions allowed for it.

But the mayor chose neither of those paths. He set deadlines that he refused to put in the work to meet, sowing chaos and ongoing frustration for families and teachers alike. How on Earth did he not foresee a staffing shortage? De Blasio has failed our kids and is teaching them a lesson about political leadership that I hope they never forget.

Our children have endured six months of hardship and fear and Zoom calls and canceled plans, and far too many have lost loved ones to this virus. The start of school, though, was a bright spot on the horizon for my family and so many others.

But even as I told my children that September 10 (the first first day of school) was right around the corner, I tried to manage expectations. As many New Yorkers have discovered since the start of the pandemic, our mayor has not demonstrated the ability to manage large-scale operations or the energy to get things done. To put it bluntly, de Blasio doesn’t know how to lead New York City. Even worse, he doesn’t seem to care. At his news conference on Thursday, he did not apologize for the delay and asserted, oddly and insensitively, that because most public-school parents are low-income and live outside of Manhattan, they “understand the realities of life” and are “not shocked when something this difficult has to be adjusted from time to time.”

De Blasio worried about a teacher shortage, which was predictable. It is hard to have social distancing in classrooms that are already overcrowded. The only way to reduce class size to safe limits is to hire many more teachers, thousands more in a system with 1.1 million students. Union leaders (teachers and principals) worried about safe schools, lack of ventilation, lack of cleaning and safety supplies.

Chalkbeat reported:

A staffing crunch has forced the country’s largest school system to delay reopening school buildings for the second time. Estimates are that the city needs thousands more teachers — it’s not clear how many — to fill virtual and in-person classrooms.

The problem was brewing for months, with plenty of warnings from principals and experts. In the end, similar to previous big decisions, Mayor Bill de Blasio repeatedly brushed off concerns until the last minute, further eroding the public’s trust in his reopening strategy.

Now, principals and teachers say they’ve lost precious time that could have been devoted to improving instruction for a year unlike any other, and it’s unclear whether another delay will even solve the staffing conundrum.

Just two school days before buildings were set to reopen, de Blasio announced Thursday the city would instead pivot to a phased-in approach. Now, pre-K students and those with significant disabilities will be the first to return to classrooms on Sept. 21. Elementary school buildings open on Sept. 29, and middle and high schools two days later on Oct. 1. Full-day remote learning will start for all students this Monday.

Parents and students alike are sick of remote learning. Teachers are fearful for their health. Leadership involves planning and acting on the best information. That hasn’t happened.

Stay tuned.

Trump wants to restore “patriotic history” and has vowed to creat a “1776 Commission” to carry out his wishes. Historians, history teachers, and everyone who cares about accurate teaching of history and academic freedom are alarmed.

Kevin Kumashiro has drafted a petition. If you agree with it, please consider adding your name.

Friends–I’m writing to folks who lead or are closely connected to a number of educational organizations/associations/centers/unions. I haven’t had a chance to update the website yet, but in just the first few hours since the first announcement went out, we already have 300+ signers, and we’ve only just begun to publicize! Individuals AND ORGANIZATIONS can endorse, so I wanted to make sure you saw this and that I reached out to you first to:

(a) invite your organization to endorse (T4SJ already endorsed, thanks!), and

(b) ask you to please help to spread the word to your members and comrades.

The announcement is below, which includes the URL to the sign-on form. I hope to push out to the media the full statement (with all the endorsements) in the coming days. Let me know if you have questions, and thanks for considering and helping,
Kevin

*

Dear Friend, Colleagues, Comrades: A coalition of organizations and a team of educators and scholars invite all educators, educational scholars, and educational organizations in early-childhood, K-12, and higher education across the United States to join us in endorsing this important new statement:

“Educating for Democracy Demands Educating Against White Supremacy:
A Statement by U.S. Educators and Educational Scholars”

To view and endorse the statement: https://forms.gle/PcSRzSSvTbDp69V36

From the Introduction: “The battle over what story about the United States gets taught in schools and who gets to tell that story is what has made education, particularly history curriculum, one of the main sites of ideological struggle. Today, as has happened repeatedly before, those who insist on teaching only a white supremacist rendition of U.S. history claim that curricula about the historical and systemic nature of race and racism are based on lies, biased, divisive, and un- or anti-American—but research soundly rejects such claims.”

From the conclusion: “Our country cannot become more just and democratic without illuminating, addressing, and healing from its long legacies of injustices, including imperialism, colonialism, and racism. As educators and educational scholars who specialize in early-childhood, K-12, and higher education across the United States, we reject the renewed calls to deny or ignore the legacies and systems of racism that have long defined and shaped U.S. schools and society and that continue to do so. Our job is to teach toward democracy by teaching the truth, and we proudly work collectively and in solidarity with the communities most impacted by injustice to do so.”

All educators, educational scholars, and educational organizations in early-childhood, K-12, and higher education across the United States are invited to join us in endorsing this statement. Read the full statement and add your endorsement here: https://forms.gle/PcSRzSSvTbDp69V36

Please forward to other educators, scholars, and organizations who may wish to join us. Thank you!
-In Solidarity-
***
Kevin Kumashiro, Ph.D.
https://www.kevinkumashiro.com
Movement building for equity and justice in education
***

This is a short teaching video created by Tim Slekar, dean of the college of education at Edgewood College in Milwaukee.

In the video, you will see Trump denounce Howard Zinn and the “1619 Project,” a series of essays about African American history published by the New York Times magazine.

Trump is reading from a teleprompter.

He has a reputation as a non-reader. You can be sure that he has never read anything written by Howard Zinn and he has never read the “1619 Project.” Based on many comments he has made, it’s apparent that he never studied American history and has no tolerance at all for teaching the history of racism, ethnic groups, persecution, discrimination, segregation, or anything that reflects poorly on our great leaders. He thinks that Robert E. Lee was a patriot, not a traitor who led a rebellion to dissolve the Union and preserve white supremacy. He has frequently referred to the Confederate flag as part of our “great national heritage.” He has opposed all efforts to rename military bases named for leaders of the Confederacy.

In the video, you will see that he is issuing an executive order to create a “1776 Commission” to rewrite American history and to inspire patriotism by removing all problematic issues from teaching American history.

Only a very stupid man would hold history in such contempt and assume that it can be rewritten by a commission.

I am reminded of a trip that I took to the Soviet Union in 1988, before the Wall and the Soviet Union had fallen. My host was a high-level bureaucrat at the Ministry of Education. I met with professors at pedagogical institutes, visited schools, asked questions. On one day, my host tried to impress me by offering me a plate of sliced tomatoes; that was a great delicacy because fresh food of any kind was not in the stores. During conversation, she mentioned that the Department’s big project was rewriting the history of the USSR. I asked her who was in charge of writing it. She said, proudly, “Chairman Gorbachev.” I was trying to imagine the head of state in charge of writing new history textbooks.

I feel the same about Trump’s “1776 Commission,” which hopefully will disappear after November 3.

I will be Zooming with Derek Black on September 23 at 7 pm EST.

The information about signing up is here.

If you have ever debated with friends about school choice, you will want to hear Derek Black.

In his engaging history of public education, Derek shows that the Founding Fathers intended to create public schools, not a system of publicly funded private and religious schools.

It is an important book that you should read. But first, take this opportunity to meet the author.

Please join us.

The discussion is sponsored by the Network for Public Education.

What if?

What if Trump loses the election but refuses to accept the results?

What if he continues to say, as he will, that the election was rigged? He has actually said that the only valid election is one that he wins. He has prepared the public to believe that the election is a fraud.

Here are some suggestions from a group that’s thought about this dilemma. I don’t know the individuals involved but I think many people should be thinking hard about a potential and likely crisis of our system. Trump rules by creating chaos, so it’s not unreasonable to expect that he would cling to power by any means necessary. I picture him clinging to the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, his tiny hands grasping it to his large belly.

Read the report here.

Veteran teacher Stephanie Fuhr writes as a guest blogger for Nancy Bailey, explaining why laws that hold back third graders if they don’t pass the state reading test are wrong and should be abolished. She includes a sample letter that you can send to your state legislator.

This punitive idea is part of the so-called “Florida model,” a creation of Jeb Bush and his advisors. It is bad for children but it gives a temporary boost to fourth grade reading scores. The Florida model is a collection of practices that are not grounded in research or practice, but in the belief that punishment is the beat motivator.