Archives for the month of: October, 2017

John Rogers of the University of California in Los Angeles has written a powerful analysis of Trump’s effect on teaching and learning. You will not be surprised to learn that the vulgarity and crudity that Trump regularly expresses towards vulnerable groups has affected the climate in schools. His hate speech has spilled over into the atmosphere. He has given license to bigotry.

Here is Valerie Strauss on the Rogers’ report.

The full title is “Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Hostility and Stress in America’s High Schools.”

This is the press release:

Trump’s Heated Political Rhetoric Spills Over into Classroom,
Increasing Stress and Undermining Learning

New National Survey of Teachers by UCLA finds Heightened Stress and Anxiety, Polarization, Incivility and Hostility Among Students in First Months of Trump Administration

Amid the first months of a Trump administration characterized by highly charged and divisive political rhetoric, a new national survey of public high school teachers finds heightened levels of student stress and anxiety and concerns for their own well being or that of their family members, according to a new study published by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access. Teachers in the survey also report a rise in polarization and incivility in classrooms, as well as an increased reliance by students on unreliable and unsubstantiated information. Teachers also report hostile environments for racial and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups.

“Hate speech and acts of intimidation are not new to U.S. Schools, but its disconcerting that numerous teachers are telling us that the level of animus they are seeing is ‘unprecedented’ in their careers, says John Rogers, a professor of education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and the lead researcher for the study. “The harsh political environment of the first few months of the Trump administration is clearly spilling over into the classroom, increasing anxiety and undermining learning.”

The study, Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Stress and Hostility in America’s High Schools, reports the results of a nationally representative survey of more than 1,500 high school teachers conducted in May 2017 examining the impact of the national political environment on students and the implications for student learning. More than 800 teachers also responded to an open-ended question regarding how their “classroom and school climate has changed this past year as a result of changes in national politics.”

More than half of teachers responding to the survey report more students are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety than in previous years, and more than three-quarters say students are concerned about their own well being or that of family members. Immigration is the issue causing the most concern, with more than half of teachers saying students are concerned about proposals for the deportation of undocumented immigrants. These concerns are significantly higher in schools serving predominately students of color.

Teachers also report heightened polarization on campus and incivility in their classrooms. One teacher said, “In my seventeen years I have never seen anger this blatant and raw over a political candidate or issue.” More than 40 percent of teachers also report that students were more likely than in previous years to introduce unfounded claims from unreliable sources, with many linking the use of unsubstantiated sources and growing incivility.

Teachers also say that a growing number of schools, particularly predominantly White schools, became hostile environments for racial and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups. More than one quarter of teachers reported an increase in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions. Teachers responding to the survey described how the political environment “unleashed” virulently racist, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, or homophobic rhetoric in their schools and classrooms.

“Many teachers are telling us that students seem to be ‘emboldened’ to use harsh racist and bigoted rhetoric,” says Rogers. “They cite examples of students being targeted for the color of their skin, their Muslim faith, or sexual orientation, while others tell stories of students openly embracing racism and white supremacy, and confronting classmates in threatening ways. These acts are taking a toll on young people and undermining student learning.”

Teachers also say that the stresses in the school environment are impacting student learning. 40 percent of teachers reported that students’ concerns over one or more hot-button policy issues including immigration, travel bans with Muslim countries, restrictions on LGBTQ rights, healthcare and the environment impacted students’ learning in terms of their ability to focus on lessons and their attendance.

It is important to note that teachers also have felt heightened stress in the first months of the Trump administration. More than two-thirds (67.7%) of U.S. public high school teachers reported that the level of stress associated with their work increased during the 2016-17 school year.

Teachers responding to the survey want more help to support civil exchange among students and greater understanding across differences. They also believe that leadership matters in cultivating positive school culture and student learning. But just 40 percent of teachers report that school leaders are issuing public statements confronting the problems and just over one quarter say leaders are providing guidance and support. Teachers in schools serving predominately students of color were substantially more likely than teachers in schools with predominately white students to say leaders were speaking out publically or acting to provide teachers with guidance or support.

“Unfortunately, the schools facing the greatest need for leadership to respond to the changing political climate were the least likely to experience it,” says Rogers.

Teachers also strongly support the need for political leaders to address the underlying causes of much campus incivility and stress – the contentious political rhetoric and policies that threaten student well being. More than 90% of teachers agreed that national, state, and local leaders should encourage and model civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.

“In these tense political times, these findings from America’s teachers have important implication for our nation and its schools,” concludes Rogers. “The growing polarization and contentiousness in classrooms and schools undercuts the democratic purposes of public education. Public schooling emerged in the United States as a strategy for developing the civic commitments and skills of each new generation. Ideally, public schools provide opportunities for students to deliberate productively across lines of difference and practice working together to solve collective problems. The heightened level of incivility makes it more difficult for schools to achieve this valued goal.

A complete version of Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Stress and Hostility in America’s High Schools is available online at:

The study is a project of the UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. The study draws on the results of a nationally representative survey conducted in May 2017 of 1,535 social studies, English, and mathematics teachers working in 333 geographically and demographically representative public high schools in the United States. The study also draws on extended interviews with 35 teachers from across the United States who participated in the survey.


Summary of key findings

Stress and concerns with welfare have increased, particularly in schools enrolling few White students.

• More than half (51.4) of teachers reported more students experiencing “high levels of stress and anxiety” than in previous years.
• More than three-quarters (79%) of teachers reported students expressed concerns for their well-being or the well-being of their families in relation to one or more hot-button issues including immigration, travel limitations on predominantly Muslim countries, restrictions on LGBTQ rights, changes to health care, or threats to the environment.
• The policy issue prompting most concern among students was immigration. More than half (58%) of teachers reported some students had expressed concerns about proposals for deporting undocumented immigrants.

• Teachers in schools serving predominately students of color were almost six times more likely (53.8% to 9.1%) than teachers in predominately white schools to report that at least 10% of their students had expressed these concerns.

• 44.3% of teachers reported students’ concerns about well being in relation to one or more hot-button policy issues impacted students’ learning—their ability to focus on lessons and their attendance.

Polarization, incivility, and reliance on unsubstantiated sources have risen, particularly in predominantly White schools.

• More than 20% of teachers reported heightened polarization on campus and incivility in their classrooms.

• 41.0% of teachers reported that students were more likely than in previous years to introduce unfounded claims from unreliable sources. Many teachers noted a connection between students’ use of unsubstantiated sources and growing incivility.

A growing number of schools, particularly predominantly White schools, became hostile environments for racial and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups.

• 27.7% of teachers reported an increase in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions. Many teachers described how the political environment “unleashed” virulently racist, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, or homophobic rhetoric in their schools and classrooms.

School leadership matters.

More than 40 percent of teachers reported that their school leadership made public statements this year about the value of civil exchange and understanding across lines of difference. But beyond the “public statements” only 26.8% of school leaders actually provided guidance and support on these issues, as reported by teachers in the survey. Teachers in predominantly White schools were much less likely than their peers to report that their school leaders had taken these actions.

72.3% of teachers surveyed agreed that: “My school leadership should provide more guidance, support, and professional development opportunities on how to promote civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.”

Teachers strongly supported the need for political leaders to address the underlying causes of much campus incivility and stress – contentious political rhetoric and policies that threaten student well being.

• More than 90% of teachers agreed “national, state, and local leaders should encourage and model civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.”

• Almost as many (83.9%) agreed that national and state leaders should “work to alleviate the underlying factors that create stress and anxiety for young people and their families.”

The founder of a group of prominent charter schools admitted to stealing millions of dollars and lying to the FBI.

“Scott Glasrud used to be the head of the Southwest Learning Centers, representing three different charter schools. Now, Glasrud faces up to five years in federal prison.

“Glasrud accepted a plea deal in Albuquerque Federal Court Wednesday, admitting to what federal prosecutors call a 15-year fraud scheme. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Mexico say the scheme started in November 2000 and continued until Glasrud left the charter school consortium in 2014.

“According to federal documents, it appears Glasrud stole more than $2 million from the four schools, which include the Southwest Secondary Learning Center, Southwest Primary Learning Center, Southwest Intermediate Learning Center, and the Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics & Science Academy (SAMS).

“Glasrud and the SAMS Academy’s finances were the subject of a KRQE News 13 report in March 2014. At the time, Glasrud was making an annual salary of $210,000, as well as making money by renting his own private planes to the school.

“At the time, Glasrud said that questions about how he runs the schools were misdirected.

“I recognize people have problems or they don’t like the way we’ve done it. We’re competition for people, but so be it,” Glasrud said in a March 2014 interview.

“However, according to federal prosecutors, Glasrud was taking several illegal actions with charter school money.

“He’s accepted legal responsibility and he’s prepared to accept his punishment,” said Glasrud’s attorney Ray Twohig, who spoke to KRQE News 13 outside of the federal courthouse Wednesday.

“According to Glasrud’s plea agreement, he’s admitted to creating fake companies and funneling school funds for projects into businesses he controlled. The two dummy companies were located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Court documents indicate that Southwest Learning Centers also received money from the legislature for building projects and paid it to one of the dummy companies with fake proposals and invoices.”

Lily Eskelsen Garcia forced herself to sit down and listen to Betsy DeVos’ speech at Harvard, where she thought she would be in a choice-friendly environment, surrounded by allies at the Program on Educational Policy and Governance, led by choice advocate Paul Peterson. As we now know, students in the audience rejected her message and unfurled banners expressing their opposition to her policies.

Lily has refused to meet with DeVos because of her well-known contempt for public schools and the teaching profession.

This is her reaction to DeVos’ remarks.

“At times, I felt like I was getting a root canal without novocaine from the dentist in “The Little Shop of Horrors.” When the pain subsided, I was more convinced than ever that DeVos knows little about public schools and even less about their mission.

“Here’s a summary:

“1. DeVos talked about her Rethink School tour, applauding the schools she visited for openly stating: “’We’re not for everybody and we don’t expect everybody to want to come here.’ I think all schools should have that attitude.”

“She doesn’t understand the concept of “public” schools—schools that are open to all students, no matter what language is spoken at home, what the family income is, what their religion or race is, what abilities or disabilities they have, whether they are gay, straight, or transgender. The mission of public schools is to provide opportunities for each and every student who walks through the door, not to roll up the welcome mat, bar the door, and declare: “Sorry, but we’re not for everybody.”

“I think we already went through that time in history. There was even a name for it: Segregation.

“2. When she mentioned the places she visited during her tour, there was one noticeable omission: Michigan, her home state. Who can blame her? She funded efforts in Michigan to siphon funds from students in public schools, allowing for-profit companies to operate schools with taxpayer money and no accountability. The result? Schools with shoddy academic records continued operating for years; no state standards focus on who operates or oversees charters; and schools routinely close without giving families or educators adequate notice.

“This, apparently, is her goal from coast to coast.”

Read on to understand Lily’s reaction.

Carol Burris and Darcie Cimarusti of the Network for Public Education spent months assembling a portrait of the Dark Money that is now pouring in to local school board races, not to save schools or improve them, but to privatize them.

Valerie astrauss posted their shocking expose here.

Strauss begins:

“The Denver Post’s editorial board recently published a piece endorsing four candidates running for the Denver school board, all of them in support of reforms that employ some basic principles of for-profit businesses to the running of nonprofit public education. The editorial calls their opponents “anti-reformers” (as if they oppose making things better for students) and says they “enjoy plenty of money and energy.” (That, apparently, includes a 19-year-old “anti-reformer” candidate who just graduated from high school.)

“Here’s what it doesn’t mention: the big out-of-state money behind the editorial board’s chosen candidates. This is a phenomenon that we’ve seen for years now, one in which some of America’s wealthiest citizens back school board candidates — even in states in which they don’t reside — to push their view of how public schools should operate. It has happened in Louisiana, California, Minnesota, Arkansas, Washington, etc.

“This is a detailed post explaining the flow of dark money — funds donated to nonprofit organizations that spend the money to influence elections but do not have to disclose where they got it — by looking at the Denver school board race. There are four open seats on the seven-seat board and a total of 10 candidates.”

Who are these billionaires and millionaires who are spending huge sums to buy acquiescence to privatization, whether in Denver or Massachusetts or elsewhere?

Read on.

In Chicago, the fabled “Dance of the Lemons” shuffles ousted public school teachers to charter schools. Wait a minute! I saw “Waiting for Superman.” I though that dance was only for all those “bad” public school teachers.

“More than 160 Chicago Public Schools employees who were barred from the district because of alleged abuse, misconduct or poor performance were found working in new jobs at city charter and contract schools last year, according to a report from the district’s inspector general.

“The list included three workers who were fired or resigned and blocked from being re-hired at CPS because of sexual abuse accusations, according to the report, which was released Tuesday. Twenty-two were put on a “Do Not Hire” list “due to improper corporal punishment or physical abuse of students,” according to the report.

“Nearly 80 others were blocked from returning to the district due to incompetence or violating school rules. That included a list of probationary teachers who were blocked from future employment at CPS because of poor performance.

“The 163 unidentified employees — 98 of them teachers — represented a small fraction of the workforce at the city’s publicly funded but independently operated charter and contract schools, the report noted.

“But Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office also found that CPS had no system for those schools to determine if their potential employees had been blacklisted by CPS with the “Do Not Hire” designation. Despite preliminary steps taken to fix the problem, the IG’s office said CPS has not finalized a policy on how to handle such situations.”

Jack Schneider, historian of education, writes that Betsy DeVos is an enthusiast about markets but she doesn’t understand how markets work.

In her recent speech at Harvard, she spoke admiringly about the food trucks that have parked around the Department of Education building due to the lack of nearby restaurants. This is a silly metaphor because the government doesn’t pay for lunches, and provision of lunch is not a government responsibility.

But Schneider tears the metaphor apart for other reasons. You can go to a different food truck every day, and you can judge the food yourself, but you can’t switch schools every day, and you can’t judge a school directly, the way you judge a cheese sandwich.

His analysis is more subtle than my representation of it here. The bottom line is that choice in schooling is disruptive without necessarily improving the quality of schooling.

But Betsy is a choice and markets person, without regard to quality or accountability.

New Zealand is one of the few—perhaps the only—nation that abandoned national standards.

As Professor Martin Thrupp Explains here, scholars and researchers helped to expose the flaws of national standards.

The national standards were driven by political, not educational, purposes. The ruling party pushed them and couldn’t stop pushing them, ignoring all criticism.

Thrupp’s book, co-edited with Bob Lingard, Meg Maguire, and David Hursh, “The Search for Better Educational Standards: A Cautionary Tale” teaches us that concerted efforts by educators, scholars, and parents can roll back ruinous education policy.

He writes:

“The National-led Government had become fully invested in the National Standards policy. When it was first announced in 2007, it was National’s big idea for education – the ‘cornerstone’ of its education policy. Over the 10 years that followed, the Government had dismissed all criticisms. Any late turning back would be a sign of weakness, and instead the National party wanted to plough on with this truly awful project that had already became a world-class example of how not to make education policy….

“Despite the National-led Government’s adherence to the National Standards, researchers and academics certainly pushed back against the policy…In fact, researchers and academics did a great deal in this space! A particular highlight for me was the 2012 open letter signed by over 100 education academics against the public release of the National Standards data. But there were countless other instances of academics and researchers opposing the National Standards, either publicly or more behind the scenes. Opinion pieces, articles, TV debates, radio, public meetings, meetings behind closed doors – and all the rest of it. Chapter 8 of A Cautionary Tale, about the politics of research, gives numerous examples.

“A number of us also did empirical research that helped to explain how the National Standards were a problem (see A Cautionary Tale, especially chapters 3, 5 and 7). And, of course, New Zealand researchers are part of international networks that are working on the same concerns about high-stakes assessment in other countries (see A Cautionary Tale, especially chapters 2 and 10). Note to Cullen: without doubt, some of the best work in this area is coming from Australian academics.

“It is true that some researchers and academics chose to support the National-led Government’s National Standards policies (A Cautionary Tale, chapter 8). This happened for various reasons that may have included the researchers’ educational views, their political beliefs, the political pressures that were upon them or their organisations, and the advantages that came with supporting the policy. It may have also involved a judgement that it was better to be ‘inside the tent’ and have influence than be on the outside.

“But this range of viewpoints among researchers and academics is no different than was seen within the teaching profession and amongst principals, where National Standards also had supporters. Indeed, a central problem that the new Labour-led Government will have to grapple with, having removed the National Standards policy, is doing away with the data-driven disposition amongst teachers and principals that grew along with the policy under the previous Government.

“Looking ahead

“Even though most teachers and principals did not like the impact of the National Standards policy, after a decade of its influence New Zealand primary schools are now marinated in the thinking, language, and expectations of the National Standards. This has also had wider impacts, for instance on early childhood education. It will all take a little while to undo.

“It’s great, though, that New Zealand primary schools will now be able to spend less time shoring up judgements about children – judgements that have often been pointless or harmful – and instead spend more time making learning relevant and interesting for each child. Removing National Standards should also allow teachers to be less burdened, contributing to making teaching a more attractive career again.”

Nancy Bailey knows that the high priority given to test scores has driven many important activities out of elementary schools. Some have cut back on recess, or eliminated it. Some have cut back on the arts. Some no longer can spare the time to stage a play. When the school lines by the credo of “no excuses,” dramatics goes the way of the dinosaur.

She bemoans the lost pleasure and learning that comes from putting on a play.

She provides a list of the positive benefits that derive from participating in a play, such as socialization, self-confidence, and self-discipline.

In years ahead, what will you remember? The play you brought to life or your test scores?

The rightwing-funded Black Alliance for Educational Options is closing its doors. It was launched by Howard Fuller, who was superintendent of Milwaukee public schools in 2000. Fuller was radicalized by his inability to change the system and formed an alliance with the far-right Bradley Foundation, which funded vouchers and wanted to privatize public education. Over the years, BAEO has been funded by white conservative foundations including the Walton Foundation.

BAEO Sought to persuade African Americans that school choice, charters, and vouchers, and privatization were in their interest.

Southern legislatures, controlled by conservative white men, liked BAEO’s ideas.

Education Week credits BAEO with getting Alabama and Mississippi to pass charter laws, and Louisiana and D.C. to pass voucher legislation.

White segregationists embrace school choice readily, as they have wanted it since 1954. Fuller pushed on an open door. Now southern states can fund segregated schools and do it with a clear conscience. Sort of.

Fuller no doubt was following his conscience, but it would be better if he had done it without all that rightwing money.

In the era of Trump and DeVos, it is difficult to play the role of a progressive when their agenda and yours are the same. Especially when the NAACP is speaking out against charters and privatization.

In a related story, the former chairman of the BAEO board Kevin Chavous has been named president of K12 Inc.s Academics, Policy, and Schools. K12 Inc. was founded by junk bond king Michael Milken and his brother Lowell and is the nation’s largest virtual online charter corporation. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its schools have been notable for high attrition rates, low test scores, and low graduation rates. The NCAA withdrew accreditation from two dozen K12 schools a few years ago because of their poor quality. This is a choice strongly supported by DeVos. K12 Inc. is also known for paying lavish compensation, desite its poor academic results.

Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy writes:

Fethullah Gulen, the leader of 150 charter schools in the U.S.: His words

Turkish Iman Fethullah Gulen leads an international Islamic movement that has a presence in at least 120 nations. His followers operate 150 tax-supported charter schools in the U.S. A significant portion of the tax funds sent to their charters are plowed into the Gulen movement. So why do Gulenists operate charter schools in America? Pure and simple, they are doing so to promote a political/religious philosophy in the U.S. And the U.S. Government is complicit with Gulen in this endeavor. Federal and state officials help advance the Gulen charter school industry. Most federal and state officials, however, are likely clueless as to the philosophical, religious and political views of Gulen.

Gulen’s website is useful in learning about his political/religious philosophy. Part of Gulen’s book Prophet Mohammad as Commander is posted on his website. In one section, The Holy Struggle in the Way of God, Gulen discusses jihad as a Holy struggle. (Note that Gulen references the Islamic Allah as God. Also note that this is not what someone says Gulen wrote…but actually what he wrote.)

Please explore Gulen’s website.* A couple excerpts from The Holy Struggle in the Way of God:

“There are two aspects of jihad. One is fighting against superstitions and wrong convictions and also against carnal desires and evil inclinations, and therefore enlightenment both intellectually and spiritually, which is called the greater jihad; the other is encouraging others to achieve the same objective and is called the lesser jihad.

“The lesser jihad, which has usually been taken to mean fighting for God’s cause, does not refer only to the form of striving done on battlefields. The term is comprehensive. It includes every action from speaking out to presenting oneself on the battlefield – provided the action is done for God’s sake. Whether speaking or keeping silent, smiling or making a sour face, joining a meeting or leaving it, every action taken to ameliorate the lot of humanity, whether by individuals or communities, is included in the meaning of the lesser jihad.

“If unbelievers or polytheists or those who make mischief and corruption on the earth resist the preaching of Islam and try to block its way of conquering the minds and hearts of people. Being a God-revealed religion of truth, Islam aims to secure the well-being and happiness of mankind in both worlds and therefore has the right to enjoy the freedom of presenting itself to people. In case it is resisted or prevented, it offers its enemies three alternatives: either they will accept Islam, or allow its preaching or admit its rule. If they reject all three alternatives, Islam allows the use of force.”

These excerpts should prompt readers to visit the Gulen website. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars are being used to support Gulen charters that enroll 60,000 American students.

Would the U.S. and various state governments allow a foreign communist regime to operate tax-supported charters in the U.S.?

The issue in this post is that money is being diverted from school districts to help advance an international political/religious movement.


William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540 ||