Archives for the month of: December, 2016
  1. Mercedes Schneider left a professorial job to teach high school English in her native Louisiana. She is proud to be a teacher.


Here she writes a New Years greeting to all teachers as a tribute to them.


Teachers change lives, one at a time. Not for money, God knows, but for love.


She begins like this:


“On this eve of a new year, let us celebrate by taking a moment to remember a favorite teacher, one who inspired us, or challenged us– and one who was not necessarily held high in our estimation until we matured enough to appreciate his/her efforts on our behalf.


“In this spirit, I feature a few open letters of appreciation to teachers.


“The first is by Taylor Elliot and was posted March 22, 2016, on Fresh U:


“An Open Letter to My High School English Teacher


“I would never have read Catcher in the Rye if it weren’t for your class. I would have never learned that it is okay to question things had it not been for your class. I would have never fallen so madly in love with writing had it not been for your class. I would have not have done a lot of things had it not been for your class. Everyone has their favorite teacher from high school, and everyone could probably spend hours talking about how amazing they were and all the small trinkets of advice they received from said teacher. What is particularly uncommon is when the teacher that tops your list of favorites falls a little lower on other people’s.


“This is my letter to you, the teacher who inspired me to major in journalism.


“To my favorite teacher,


“I would have to say that after everything, I don’t think I have had the chance to properly thank you for your influence on me in high school, and ultimately on my college major. So please, if you are reading this, thank you. I can remember going into your English Literature class my junior year being extremely nervous due to everyone’s warnings about you being strict and quite frankly, a little scary. What I didn’t know was that by the end of the school year I would be walking out of your classroom learning so much and wishing I could take your class again. The first paper I wrote for your class was an absolute disaster. The prompt confused me, I wasn’t too sure of my thesis, and to top it off I used the word ‘you’ and with that you immediately took points off my paper. I don’t remember my exact grade for this first assignment, but I do remember thinking that this class was going to be such a pain. Everything changed when one day I decided to stay after school and ask you what I was doing wrong in my writing. This meeting, and countless others, led to be learning how to write and ultimately, how much I loved writing. For a year all I did was read novels and write essays on them. I never thought that out of this I would find my future college major.


“You taught me to write my introduction last which sounded crazy to me at the time, but now makes complete sense. When I first start writing, I am usually so excited that my first paragraph is a jumble of words that is all over the place, but by the end my thoughts are planned out and organized. To this day, even though my writing skills have improved I still write most, if not all, of my introductions last because of a habit I learned from you. Honestly, there is a 90% chance that the intro for this article was written last. In your class I learned to never question or second-guess what I was writing about. You told me that if I could prove my point with evidence, then it was worth writing about. With this being said, I learned how to efficiently get my point across with words. Words can have different meanings or connotations and how I arrange those words affects the message I am trying to get across. I have learned the importance of this idea more since becoming a journalism major. Everything you have taught me about writing has overflown into my journalism classes.


“Lastly, it is because of you that I fell in love with writing and ultimately decided to major in journalism. Over the course of one school year, I learned so much from you. Writing doesn’t have to be a hassle; in fact it can be very fun and rewarding. Evidence is the best way to tell the truth through writing. When writing a story, or trying to get a point across, there is no stronger proof than hard evidence; this lesson has helped me greatly in my journalism endeavors so far. You helped me build a strong foundation of fundamentals when it comes to my writing. I attribute my writing style to your class. In my articles, I look to tell a story using language, words, and evidence as devices to shine light on the truth I am trying to portray through the story. Without your class, I highly doubt that I would be majoring in journalism, I wouldn’t be writing this article if it weren’t for your class.


“Thank you.


“There is so much to thank you for, but I hope this article pinpoints the major lessons I took from your class and applied to my college life and future career path. I also hope this inspires students to look to their teachers for inspiration. There are talented teachers around you who will influence you in one way or another and you never know, one of them may just help you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.”



Vanity Fair reports that Twitter is a-twitter because of Trump’s little mash notes to Vladimir Putin.


Trump does have a crush on Putin.


He didn’t know that Russia had invaded Crimea, and now that he knows he doesn’t care.


He doesn’t know that businessmen who dare to cross Putin lose everything and are imprisoned.


He doesn’t know that dissidents and journalists have been murdered for daring to criticize Putin.


Or maybe he does know, and doesn’t care.


I am weary with commenters who defend the tyrant Putin and say that “we” (the U.S.) are trying to recreate the Cold War, that we are warmongers, and that Russia is an innocent victim of our hysteria. Listen, the Russians are not Communists any more. Putin is a dictator and a tyrant. He plays Trump like a violin. Trump is a chump. Trump’s innocence and ignorance put the former Soviet satellite colonies in Europe at risk of a Russian re-invasion. Putin has no ideology other than power and control. He would love to see Trump break up NATO. He hacked into our election and supported Trump. Trump recognizes his debt to Putin. That’s why he continues to blow him kisses.

You have probably read that the best-known singers in the country have refused to perform at the Trump inauguration ceremonies. The Rockettes will perform, probably at an Inaugural Ball since the swearing-in platform is not large enough to hold a large troupe of high-kicking dancers. One Rockette said she didn’t want to dance at the event, but the owner of the troupe said she would dance or lose her job. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has signed on to sing, but at least one of its members has dropped out for reasons of conscience.


But Andy Borowitz reports that the Trump team has finally enlisted an internationally known performer to sing at the Inauguration. He is not internationally known as a singer, but he is an A list celebrity.


Borowitz also reported on an honor that Trump received even before the swearing-in ceremonies.



Thomas Ultican left the private sector to teach high school physics and mathematics.


In this post, he surveys the wreckage of education “reform” policies and the damage they have inflicted on schools and teachers, students and communities.


Trump, he recognizes, is prepared to double down on failures.


The issue for all of us is to identify the strategies that will enable us to survive what lies ahead.


He concludes on a hopeful note:


With the coming of Trump and Betsy Devos, everything I read leads me to believe that the federal government will continue and accelerate the failed Bush/Obama education policies. However, it will be out in the open because there are no fake progressives in this group to hide behind. Americans of all stripes do not want their public education system parceled out and sold. Most conservative like most liberals believe in public education. They do not want their schools taken over by faceless corporations and distant bureaucracies.


A national consensus on the need to protect America’s truly great public education system is probable.


Education profiteers will over-reach in 2017 and we will make significant strides toward winning back local control of our schools.


Let’s agree that the best way to awaken the public is to call the privatization and profit movement out and name it. Name it. Say that they are stealing what belongs to all of us. They are not “reformers,” they are vandals.


That is the fight ahead.

The New Republic assembled a panel of historians and veteran political observers to discuss Obama, Clinton, and Trump. I think you will find the discussion illuminating, or certainly interesting.


NELL IRVIN PAINTER is professor emerita at Princeton and the former president of the Organization of American Historians. Her most recent book is The History of White People.
ANNETTE GORDON-REED is a professor of law and professor of history at Harvard. She won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Hemingses of Monticello.
SARAH JAFFE, a fellow at the Nation Institute, is a journalist who reports on labor and social movements. She is the author of the new book Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt.
JOHN B. JUDIS, a former senior editor at the New Republic, is the author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.
ANDREW SULLIVAN, a former editor of the New Republic, is a contributing editor at New York magazine. His most recent book is The Conservative Soul, on the future of the right.”


It begins like this:



“From the moment Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he began to disappoint those who had believed in his message of change. He appointed entrenched Washington insiders to his Cabinet. He put Wall Street bankers in charge of regulating Wall Street banks. He compromised with Republicans on the economic stimulus, slowing the recovery for millions of Americans. He refused to push for universal health care, and deported two million immigrants. He failed to shut down Guantanamo, dispatched another 60,000 troops to Afghanistan, and launched hundreds of drone strikes that killed countless civilians. Today, income inequality continues to rise, and big banks are bigger than ever, and student debt has hit a record $1 trillion. Democrats have not only lost control of every branch of the federal government, they are weaker at the state level than at any point since 1920. Those who thought they had elected a bold and inspiring populist were surprised to find him replaced by a cautious and deliberate pragmatist.


“Now, eight years later, many of Obama’s critics suddenly find themselves yearning for the euphoria that accompanied his election, and fearing for the small but significant progress he made on a host of fronts: equal pay, expanded health care, nuclear nonproliferation, global warming. It’s not just that hope and change have given way to fear and loathing—it’s that so few of us saw it coming. Right-wing extremists, it turns out, aren’t the only ones who live in a faith-based reality of their own making. From Brooklyn to Berkeley, American liberals have cocooned themselves in a soothing feedback loop woven from Huffington Post headlines, New York Times polls, and repeat viewings of Madam Secretary. If nothing else, Trump’s election demands that we return to the real world in all its complexities and contradictions, and confront our own obliviousness.”



I am sending $200 to Steve Zimmer, president of the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Each time Steve runs for election, the billionaires target him for defeat. So far, despite the millions spent by the billionaires, Steve has prevailed. Steve started as TFA, but became a career teacher. He ran for the school board after 17 years in the classroom.


Please send whatever you can afford.



“Dear Diane,


I am running for re-election to the School Board on March 7th, and we are facing an important campaign deadline. We will formally launch our campaign and website early in 2017. But I wanted to reach out to you now as we approach this critical funding deadline on December 31st at midnight. I need your support like I’ve never needed it before.


As you know, we have made important progress in LAUSD over the past eight years. We weathered the worst budget crisis ever to face this district, made real and measurable improvement in key indicators of student outcomes, dramatically expanded equal access to arts education, and most critically, raised graduation rates to the highest level in the history of our public school system.


LAUSD is simply a better school district today than it was eight years ago.


But I know there is much, much more to be done, including expanding our reforms to all our schools and fighting for adequacy in public education funding. I need your help to continue this important work – I hope I can count on your support for my campaign. I need your donation today.


I face a difficult challenge this election, one more daunting than four years ago. In an effort to gain control of the School Board, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) together with a few Corporate Reform Mega-Investors has recruited three wealthy candidates to oppose me in this election. They will have limitless funding to promote a very different agenda for public education, including creating a false narrative about crisis and failure in our public schools that belies all our progress and insults the efforts of our amazing teachers, school leaders, and families.


I need you to help me tell the true story of what can happen when we work together for our kids. Please take a few minutes to contribute to our campaign before the deadline on December 31st. Here is a link to follow for credit card donations before December 31st.


Thank you for supporting public education in Los Angeles. Together, we will keep building the positive momentum for our kids and their schools.
All my best,




Paid for by Steve Zimmer for School Board 2017 FPPC ID #1384608, 249 E. Ocean Blvd., Ste 685, Long Beach, CA 90802. Additional information is available at
PO Box 27164
Los Angeles, CA 90027
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I found this on the Internet and think you will find it important to know:


It is a practical guide to resisting the reign of Trump.

Steven Singer has been very productive this past year as a blogger.


Here are his very best posts, according to him. Most will show you how to resist the corporate takeover of public education.



A judge in North Carolina put a temporary hold on one of the legislature’s last-minute efforts to strip power away from the governor’s office, since the new governor will be a Democrat and the legislature has a super-majority of Republicans.


The judge needs more time to determine whether the General Assembly’s assault on democracy is unconstitutional.

Daniel Katz describes Carl Paladino’s many inappropriate remarks, crowned by his recent rant against President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett. Paladino insists his remarks were not racist, but the only way to believe that is not to read the words he wrote.


He is a racist, by any definition of the term. He is also sexist and homophobic.


And he is an enthusiastic backer of charter schools, some of which rent space from his company.


Katz notes that none of the charter school cheerleaders have said peep about Paladino. He and his reputation make it hard to regurgitate the line that charter schools are “the civil rights issue of our time.”