Archives for the month of: December, 2018

Parents are preparing for the teachers’ strike on January 10 by creating a FB page to support their teachers.

Parent Jenna Schwartz started a FB Page called “Parents Supporting Teachers.”

If you live in LA, join them.

This just in from Save Our Schools New Jersey, from its Facebook page:

BREAKING!!! BREAKING!!! BREAKING!!! BREAKING!!!

NJ Appeals Court strikes down NJ’s PARCC-based high school graduation rules!!!

From Education Law Center and ACLUNJ

NJ Appeals Court: “We hold, therefore, that to the extent the [NJDOE] regulations required testing of non-eleventh-grade students, they are contrary to the Act and are invalid.”

NJ Appeals Court: “However, the [NJDOE] regulations violate the Act to the extent they specifically authorize multiple tests administered in grades other than the eleventh grade.”

“the Act compels DOE to provide for alternative methods of assessing proficiency other than through PARCC testing or any other standardized testing process.”

“We hold N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)(6),-5.1(f) and -5.1(g) are contrary to the express provisions of the Act because they require administration of more than one graduate proficiency test to students other than those in the eleventh grade, and because the regulations on their face do not permit retesting with the same standardized test to students through the 2020 graduating class. As a result, the regulations as enacted are stricken. To avoid disruption in
any ongoing statewide administration of proficiency examinations, we stay our judgment for thirty days to permit DOE to seek further review in the Supreme Court.”

Full opinion available here: https://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/assets/opinions/appellate/unpublished/a0768-16.pdf?cacheID=tmUepTY&fbclid=IwAR1ifXkDTOAOuplr8lI6cnVQNncJ9xdkNoER9LkXHjEYPHPwD-pLS7KF9bU

We will post additional information as it becomes available.
Happy New Year!!

THANKS TO THE EDUCATION LAW CENTER FOR FIGHTING AND WINNING THIS CASE.

Standardized tests should never be used as a graduation requirement as they are based on a bell curve and those at the bottom of the bell curve will always fail, and they will always be the most disadvantaged students.

New Jersey is one of only six states that still uses PARCC. This test has standards more rigorous than NAEP. It is designed to fail most students. DUMP PARCC!

Linda Lyon, recent President of the Arizona SchoolBoards Association, describes the low funding and legislative hostility that has created a teacher shortage in Arizona. The legislature’s answer to the teacher shortage: lower standards to fill empty classroom.

Pay is not the only reason teachers are fleeing classrooms. They also cite inadequate public respect and increased accountability without appropriate support. In Arizona specifically, contributing factors include 25% of our certified teachers being retirement eligible, a grading system for schools that still relies heavily on standardized tests, a GOP-led Legislature that is very pro-school choice if not openly hostile to public district education and their teachers, and the lack of respect for the teaching profession demonstrated by the dumbing down of teacher qualification requirements.

Arizona began this dumbing down in 2017. According to AZCentral.com, since the 2015–2016 school year, “nearly 7,200 teaching certificates have been issued to teachers who aren’t fully trained to lead a classroom. In just three years, the number of Arizona teaching certificates that allow someone to teach full-time without completing formal training has increased by more than 400 percent according to state Department of Education data analyzed by The Arizona Republic. For the 2017–18 school year, that added up to 3,286 certificates issued to untrained teachers and by 47 days into the 2018–2019 school year, 1,404 certificates had been issued to untrained teachers while 3,141 were issue standard certificates.”

That last 1,404 certificates issued for the current school year is probably the most instructive, because this is after the 10 percent raises for teachers the #RedforEd movement garnered in 2018. So, less than one-third of the way into the school year, the state has issued almost half as many certificates to untrained teachers as the entire previous year. In other words, despite the 10% pay increase, Arizona districts are having even more difficulty attracting professional teachers into their classrooms.

Charles Foster Johnson, one of our best allies in the fight against vouchers and for adequate funding for public schools, was named “Baptist of the Year.”

Congratulations,Charlie!

Charles organized Pastors for Texas Kids to advocate for children in public schools and for separation of church and state. He has helped to organize similar groups in other states because he has a deep commitment to the common good.

EthicsDaily.com’s board of directors is pleased to announce that Charles Foster Johnson is the 2018 Baptist of the Year.

Johnson, a pastor who has become a tireless advocate for public education, is the executive director of Pastors for Texas Children.

The organization, founded by Johnson in 2013, is a statewide ecumenical group mobilizing the faith community for public education support and advocacy.

In Texas, Kentucky, Arizona, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and other states, adequately funding public education has become a significant political – and campaigning – issue.

Johnson and his supporters deserve much credit for mobilizing Christians to support and advocate for public education.

Their efforts paid off with both Democratic and Republican officeholders recommitting themselves to making public education funding a top priority in upcoming legislative sessions.

“With his deep, infectious voice and his black cowboy boots, he never meets a stranger and never backs down from a challenge,” said Sharon Felton, minister to youth and students at Faith Baptist Church in Georgetown, Kentucky, and the head of Pastors for Kentucky Children. “But what makes Charlie one of my favorite Baptists is his gentle and kind heart.”

Felton says Johnson’s personality is “larger than life,” and anyone who knows him will agree.

In an interview with EthicsDaily early this year, Johnson reminded Baptists about the importance of educating all children for the common good.

“People of faith embrace public education as a provision of God’s common good,” he said, “as a basic, core, fundamental, social justice expression in society.”

“When Oklahoma pastors noticed their local public schools falling apart due to a severe lack of funding, we turned to our neighbors to the south in Texas for guidance and help,” said Pastors for Oklahoma Kids Executive Director Clark Frailey. “Charles Johnson answered the call and spoke at what would ultimately become our first organizing meeting.”

Johnson worked with the leaders of Pastors for Oklahoma Kids when thousands of Oklahoma teachers walked out of the classroom to protest a decade-long trend of defunding public education.

Their efforts gave great support to teachers and helped frame the conversation for people of faith.

Johnson, also the founder and co-pastor of Bread, a faith community in Fort Worth, Texas, knows a thing or two about organizing.

He brought a stellar career of pastoring churches in Texas, Mississippi and Kentucky with him to his current advocacy work.

Los Angeles is about to try to prove that class size doesn’t matter. The district, on orders from investment banker Austin Beutner, has hired about 400 substitutes to fill in for thousands of teachers who are preparing to strike on January 10. Let’s see: 400 teachers for 600,000 students. Those are very large classes!

As leaders of Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles remain locked in an impasse over a new contract, the district has hired hundreds of substitute staffers to replace picketing educators in the event of a potential strike come Jan. 10. But the move has sparked outrage from the union.

The districts’ preliminary move, alongside the union’s strike preparations, is a sign of the increasing likelihood of a strike that would be LAUSD’s first since 1989 and stands to impact the daily operations of hundreds of schools in the country’s second largest district.

LA Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said Thursday that the district remains “at the bargaining table” but is actively preparing for teachers’ absence by hiring approximately 400 substitute teachers and fallback instruction for students.

“We have hired substitutes, we have made plans as to alternate curriculums for days that there is a strike but our goal is to make sure schools are safe and open so kids continue to learn,” Beutner said on Thursday. “My concern first and foremost is the safety and well being of our students.”

The move to hire replacement staff drew a sharp rebuke from the union over the last two days.

“It is outrageously irresponsible for Supt. Austin Beutner to force this strike when the district holds $1.9 billion in reserves and it is even more irresponsible to think that 400 substitutes can educate more than 600,000 students,” UTLA said in a statement Friday. “We believe that it is illegal for the district to hire people outside our bargaining unit to teach in LAUSD classrooms.”

Tom Ultican, on his way to becoming the chronicler of the shape-shifting Destroy Public Education movement, brings us up to date on the personnel changes and name changes of the personnel on the DPE Gravy Train.

There is a money a-plenty, but there is also a sense that things are going terribly wrong.

There is no vision. They want change but they seem to have no game plan other than to collect the money, and make sure the millions are transferred in large bills.

There is a Yiddish expression, which I don’t know how to transliterate (and my Texas Yiddish is pretty awful), and it goes like this: “gournish helfem.” My spell check doesn’t want to write this, but there you are. It means literally, “This won’t help, nothing will help.” Or as the Monty Python skit said, “This is a dead parrot.”

Read Tom’s account to learn about the latest organizations, the newest players, the latest strategy, the flailing and obeisance to the Almighty Dollar.

They will keep changing their names, but it is the same old garbage and it stinks.

Ultican concludes:

This October, Diane Ravitch addressed #NPE2018Indy asserting, “We are the resistance and we are winning!” 2018 certainly was a hopeful year for the friends of public education and professional educators. Charter school growth has stagnated and “choice” has been shown to be a racist attack rather than an expanded right. In Arizona, an ALEC driven voucher scheme was soundly defeated and in California, Tony Thurmond turned back the nearly $50 million dollar effort to make a charter school executive Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The DPE response is a new more opaque and better funded effort narrowly focused on its theory of quality schools through the portfolio model. It is yet another effort to transform education with no input from educators. Without billionaire money tipping the scales of democracy; vouchers and charter schools would disappear because they are bad policy. Educators ache to focus on improving public education but must use their energy fighting for the survival of America’s public education system, the world’s greatest and most successful education institution.

America’s teachers are educators who will continue sharing lessons on how to recognize highly paid political agents and profitable propaganda centers masquerading as “think tanks.” I predict, even with the greater spending and reorganization, 2019 will be an awful year for the DPE forces.

The British educator Robin Alexander reads the blog and has a question about whether American children have a right to an education. His thoughts were spurred by Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker, posted this morning, about whether education is a fundamental right. He wondered whether American education has been influenced by international agreements and norms. The short answer is no. The national education goals were set in 1989. I did not work for the U.S. Departmentof Education until mid-1991. I never heard anyone refer to international conventions or treaties about the rights of the child. I feel sure Betsy DeVos has never heard of them.

Robin Alexander writes:


While it’s beyond my competence to comment on the constitutional and legal aspects of the case for or against education as a fundamental right in the US, it might be worth broadening the debate to take in relevant international commitments to which the US is a signatory. These include:

1. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). https://www.unicef.org.uk/what-we-do/un-convention-child-rights/ . Article 28 states that ‘Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free and different forms of secondary education must be available to every child …’. Unfortunately, although the US is a signatory to UNCRC it stands conspicuously apart from the rest of the world’s governments in not having ratified it https://www.humanium.org/en/convention/signatory-states/ .

2. The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted but now superseded (see 3 below). Goal 2 was Universal Primary Education http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/education.shtml .

3. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unanimously adopted by all UN member states in 2015. Goal 4: ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ with a target date of 2030. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/education/ .

The problem here, it will immediately be recognised, is that the US hasn’t ratified UNCRC while although it has adopted the MDGs and SDGs these were/are directions of travel rather than legally binding obligations. In any event, even if the US had ratified UNCRC, Trump’s record on ratified treaties (e.g. on climate change and Iran) shows that as far as he is concerned these exist to be upheld or disregarded at will. On the other hand, many signatories to UNCRC, adoption notwithstanding, have in practice displayed little commitment to many of its articles so they are hardly in a position to condemn the US for taking what is perhaps a more honest line.

Yet although US administrations tend to prefer to avoid tying their and the states’ hands on such matters, the UNCRC and SDGs (and the weight of international support they have attracted), might at least be invoked to exert a degree of moral leverage to accompany the legal forensics in Jill Lepore’s article at the state government level to which education is constitutionally reserved under the US Constitution’s 10th Amendment and which I realise is one of the problems here. Or perhaps not … Were you in the US Department of Education when the six 1991 National Education Goals were agreed? Food for thought?

Houston parents heckled the County Treasurer, Orlando Sanchez, as he tried to hold a press conference where he called for the state to take over the district. One parent even dumped a bottle of water on his head.

Why he thinks the Texas State Education Department is qualified to run the public schools of Houston is a mystery.

Only a few years ago, Houston won the Broad Prize as the most improved school district in the nation. Actually, Houston won it twice, in 2002 and 2013, probably because it pleased Eli Broad by opening many charter schools. Shows you the value of the Broad Prize. About the same as Broad superintendents.

“I’m calling on the governor, and imploring our governor and the Texas Education Agency to step in and take over HISD,“ said Sanchez.

“HISD has had ample opportunity to provide a quality education for the children and the taxpayers and they have failed,” added Sanchez.

That was the message that took almost two hours to deliver. As soon as Sanchez tried to speak, he was drowned out by more than a dozen protesters chanting, “Go away TEA!,” “Whose house? Our house!,” and “Shame!”

“We fight and fight and fight because every child deserves an education,” said Kandice Webber, one of the protesting parents. “They do not deserve what Orlando Sanchez is trying to do two communities that he has never even spoken to.”

The situation quickly escalated when someone in the crowd dumped a bottle of water over Sanchez’s head. The crowd then claimed that a member of Sanchez’s staff had assaulted them.

This is an interesting and plausible analysis of our national drama.

Why is Trump deferential to Putin? What’s the connection?

Is your school district losing funds to charter schools that it did not authorize? If so, you might find this information useful.

A few months ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit in Mississippi to block the state from removing tax revenues from local school districts to pay for charter schools. The district in question is Jackson, Mississippi. SPLC argued that the state constitution requires that the funds of each district are to be spent solely for its own public schools, under local control.

The SPLC brief is linked in the original post.

SPLC shared with me the amicus briefs, which are excellent. If your state or district is being drained by charters, you may find these legal briefs to be useful.

The three briefs can be found here, here, and here.