Archives for the month of: August, 2019

Dr. Anika Whitfield is a remarkable woman. She is a podiatrist. She is an ordained Baptist minister. She has volunteered as a tutor in the public schools of Little Rock for many years. She is active in Save Our Schools Arkansas and Grassroots Arkansas. She is a fighter for social justice and equity. She wrote the following letter to Johnny Key, who is Commissioner of Education in the state. Key was trained as an engineer and served in the state legislature for a decade. Anyone who cares about the children and schools of Little Rock should listen to Dr. Whitfield. She is a dynamo.

The state took control of the Little Rock School District because six of its 48 schools were low-performing. Instead of helping the schools, the state simply abolished local control. The Walton family plays a large role in the state due to its dominance of the state’s economy and its many political lackies.

Dr. Whitfield wrote:

Commissioner Key,

For two weeks now, the Arkansas State Board of Education has been hosting public meetings to discuss the future of the LRSD. Since the LRSD was taken over by the state on January 28, 2019, you have been serving, by appointment, as our sole board member. Sadly, you have not been present for any of the four meetings that the state board of education has been hosting in the LRSD community. Why is that?

Over the past close to five years now, serving as the sole board member of the LRSD, you have not elected to host one meeting with the LRSD about the state of our district, the exit plan for our district, nor to gain insight from the stakeholders and the persons most impacted by the many decisions you have made regarding the LRSD. Why is that?

When we have called on you over the past four and a half years as community organizers and leaders on behalf of the LRSD community, you have refused to host public meetings about our concerns, the state of our district, and your plans for our district. Your attorneys or staff at the Arkansas Department of Education has responded to me that you are not required by law to host meetings like an elected school board, and that given your responsibilities to the entire state of Arkansas as education commissioner, it is difficult for you to make a commitment to doing so. Why then, don’t you give the LRSD back to a democratically elected board who can commit to serving the LRSD who can meet with the public regularly and provide a plan for restoration of the LRSD?

Some of the highlights you missed by not being present, in the room of public discussion were as follows:

•We believe Governor Hutchinson should replace Mr. Key (you) as commissioner of education because not only has he failed to serve as an effective board member of the LRSD, he has refused to listen to our majority voices that have echoed for close to five years now that we want democracy restored to the LRSD and to our school board.

•It has been evidenced by Mr. Key’s (your) actions that Governor Hutchinson appointed you to fulfill the pleasures of wealthy business owners in Arkansas (the Waltons, Mr. Hussman, and the Stephens) who appear to have made it a part of their business plan to invest in charter schools that generate city, county, state and national funding for their businesses to operate privately off the backs of primarily African American/Black and Latinx students.

•We, the LRSD community, realize that BEFORE the LRSD was taken over for six out of 48 (now only 44 because you have forced the closure of four of our beloved neighborhood schools), the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) as recommended by the state board of education (SBE) and enforced by state law, had been overseeing the six schools that were performing below proficiency according to results from racially and culturally biased standardized tests. Therefore, the state board of education should not have, in good moral conscious, decided for the ADE to take on the responsibility of 42 other schools in the LRSD until they could prove success in helping the six schools overcome the barriers prohibiting proficiency or above outcomes of the students attending these schools.

•We recognize that the absence of a democratically elected school board allows for the management of an over $350 million dollar budget in the hands of one person, Mr. Key (you), who has not been allocating funds in good faith according to the will and the knowledge of the LRSD community as an elected board is required. We want to know where have the city, county, state, federal, and limited and regulated private dollars been allocated, spent, diverted, or unused by the LRSD board (Mr. Key), the ADE, and the LRSD administration?

You missed the opportunity to learn, hear, and discuss with the more than 120 LRSD community members who attended all four of the public meetings held in four different locations in our city.

And, most importantly, you missed, as our sole board member and state commissioner of education, hearing and responding to our (the majority of the LRSD stakeholders who attended the meetings (at Roberts Elementary and St. Mark Baptist Church) list of demands:

1) Immediate return of entire LRSD.

2) Local, democratic board elections Nov. 2019 or reinstatement of last elected board. (You still have time to announce and prepare for Nov. 2019 elections by law. Failing to do so will only further indicate your willful sabotage of the will of The People, the majority of the LRSD stakeholders. )

3) An MOA that the SBE and ADE will commit to doing the LRSD no more harm.

4) Reopening of our neighborhood public schools they closed.

5) Nullification of the current blueprint.

6) Immediate establishment of a LRSD Student Union and Parent Union.

7) Full accounting of all LRSD financials during state control of LRSD; constructive trust with method for LRSD to recoup funds from the State.

8) Same standards for private schools and charter schools as for public schools.

9) Higher qualifications for board members, both state and local/district; including requirement that some board members be certified educators.

10) Evidence-driven programs and solutions in all LRSD schools; examples include the early childhood development program at Rockefeller Elementary and the school-based health program at Stephens Elementary.

11) Make public input more accessible for parents and others responsible for children by providing child care at public meetings.

We expect a public response from you today.

Rev./Dr. Anika T. Whitfield
Grassroots Arkansas, co-chair

What do you know about the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC?

It is right now the single most influential private organization in the nation.

This article, though three years old, gives a good overview of the ALEC education goals, mainly to privatize public funding for schools and to eliminate teachers’ unions. This is not surprising, because the DeVos Foundations and the Koch Foundation are among its most important funders.

ALEC opposes any regulation. It opposes gun control and regulation of the oil and gas industry. It opposes the public sector having any power over corporations.

ALEC is a rightwing “bill mill.” Its staff drafts model state legislation.

About 2,000 state legislators belong to ALEC.

They attend its posh meetings at elegant resorts and return home with fully developed bills that they can introduce in their own states, simply writing in the name of their state on an ALEC bill.

Then they can attend the next ALEC meeting and boast about their accomplishments.

If you want to know more, read Gordon Lafer’s fine book The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time, which nails the ALEC approach and shows that its purpose is to lower expectations.

As  you read the article noted above, you will see a proliferation of voucher plans under many names. Each of them is a camel’s nose under the tent. Pass one and soon there will be demand for another and another. The rightwing oligarchs are not interested in poor children or in education; they are interested in power and in killing the public sector that belongs to all of us.


No one has been more effective at describing and fighting the spread of GERM than Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish educator now working to reform education standardization in Australia.

I recently visited Pasi and his family in Croatia. He and his Croatian-born wife have two beautiful children, ages 7 and 3. The boys are tri-lingual (English, Finnish, and Croatian). The older boy is learning Chinese.They have no television. The children play.

Read Pasi’s classic book Finnish Lessons, which demonstrates that there is a better way to educate children and prepare teachers, and his recent book with William Doyle, Let the Children Play. 

Unbeknownst to Pasi, some musical talents put his ideas into song. 

It is only a few minutes. Watch and enjoy.

You can also watch Pasi’s wonderful presentation at the NPE national conference in Indianapolis in 2018, where he used this song in his talk. 

Tempers have flared in San Francisco because of a panorama of murals created during the Depression by a Communist painter who depicted Washington as a slave-owner and a killer of Native Americans. Critics of the murals say the portrayal of Blacks and Native Americans assert that their representation is offensive. Defenders of the murals say they are a historically accurate representation of our nation’s first president.

The Washington Post published a thorough account of the controversy and its resolution, written by Gillian Brockell, a staffwriter at the Post.

Victor Arnautoff didn’t just paint George Washington onto the walls of the San Francisco high school named after the first president in 1936. He painted Washington into them.

Arnautoff used the fresco technique he had learned from his mentor, the masterful Mexican painter Diego Rivera. First came the arriccio, an underlayer of rough, light-brown plaster on which he would sketch his design. Then came the intonaco, a smooth, white plaster high in lime. While it was still wet, he added il colore, ground colored pigments that gave his murals life. As the plaster dried, a chemical reaction with the air around it called carbonatazione fused the color into the wall.

That is why now, as the San Francisco Board of Education has determined that it is harmful for students to view the murals’ depictions of Washington stepping over a dead Native American and commanding enslaved men on his plantation, they cannot be put into storage or moved to a museum. The murals — 13 individual works spanning 1,600 square feet of the entry hall and main stairwell — are part of the school.

The board first voted to paint over the murals, but after widespread public outrage, it partially reversed itself. The plan now is to cover them with solid panels, although supporters of the mural object and insist any covering must be removable.

This is the story of the layers of history that will continue to exist underneath, whether the murals are covered by curtains, panels or paint.

 George Washington owned human beings before he ever made a decision to do so; he inherited 10 enslaved people at the age of 11 when his father died.

He purchased dozens more as an adult. And when he married Martha Custis in his late 20s, she brought even more enslaved people with her to Mount Vernon.

“There wasn’t much evidence prior to the revolution that he ever considered slavery to be wrong,” said Mary V. Thompson, a Mount Vernon historian and author of the new book “‘The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret’: George Washington, Slavery, and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon,” in an interview with The Washington Post.

But then came the Revolutionary War, and for the first time in his life, Washington spent time in areas where chattel slavery was less common, even taboo. Plus, there was all that talk of “liberty” floating around.

“He’s leading a war where people are saying that people are born free, that freedom is a god-given right,” Thompson said. “And he’s not stupid. He can see the hypocrisy of owning slaves.”

In 1778, Washington sent a letter to his cousin confiding that he wanted to “get clear” of slave ownership. At the time, it wasn’t even legal to free them without a special act from the state legislature.

He stopped buying and selling enslaved people after the Revolutionary War, Thompson said. But when it became legal to free them in 1782, he didn’t.

And what kind of slave owner was he? He made efforts to keep families together on the same property. He criticized other plantation owners who were abusive.

But there’s also a record of him ordering an enslaved man to be whipped for walking on the lawn, Thompson said. Washington aggressively pursued runaways, and took steps to prevent his enslaved people from being freed accidentally while visiting free states. Plus, he was a workaholic, and sometimes expressed an obtuse dismay that the people he enslaved didn’t, by his estimation, work as hard as he did.

Washington left instructions to free the 123 people he owned when he died, which was a rare move at the time, and one that he hoped would set an example. But those instructions came with some big asterisks.

First, he stipulated that the enslaved people wouldn’t actually be freed until after his wife’s death. Martha worried this would entice them into murdering her, so she freed them a year later, largely out of fear.

Second, Washington had no right to free the 153 enslaved people from his wife’s estate, since they technically belonged to her first husband’s family; she only had “use” of them while she was alive.

This was a major complication, because the two groups had spent decades together. Many were intermarried and had children. With only half of a family freed, some founded settlements nearby, while others continued working on Washington’s properties for a low wage.

Speaking of properties, George Washington’s lifelong pursuit of Native American land is one of the least-explored aspects of his life, but it took up a lot of his time, as explored by Dartmouth professor Colin G. Calloway in his recent book “The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation.”

“Washington lived in a world where Indian people were present and almost omnipresent,” Calloway told The Post.

As a young man, Washington started his military career alongside Native American politicians and warriors much more sophisticated than he was.

As a landowner, he constantly sought to expand his holdings with Native American land, claiming or buying large tracts and then fighting protracted battles to prove the deeds he held legitimate.

As commander of the Continental Army, he ordered the destruction of indigenous communities when it helped the American cause. At the same time, he enlisted and promoted Lt. Col. Joseph Louis Cook — an African and Abenaki man also known as Atiatoharongwen, who led Oneida warriors against the British. He wrote of his gratitude to Cook several times and sent him gifts.

As president, Washington frequently received Native American diplomatic delegations at his residence in Philadelphia. When American settlers didn’t abide by treaty boundaries, he complained that only “a Chinese Wall, or a line of troops” would keep them from encroaching on Native American land.

Washington believed the government should offer a fair price to Native Americans for their land, and the “opportunity” to embrace “American-style civilization,” Calloway said, “but if they say no, then he describes them as recalcitrant savages who need to be ‘extirpated’ ” — which is an old-fashioned word for genocide.

There’s “an element of reality” to the mural showing Washington standing over the dead Native American, he said. But he adds, “You can’t tell people who are offended that the depictions of themselves and their people are not offensive.

When Arnautoff started work on the mural in 1935, he knew much of this history. But few at the time did — students weren’t generally taught in school that the first president owned people, nor that he had ordered the destruction of Native American villages.

Not that Arnautoff had gone to American schools anyway.

As a young man, he was forced to flee his native Russia when he fought on the losing side against the Bolsheviks. He spent several years in exile in China before immigrating in 1925 to San Francisco, where he studied art.

In 1929, Arnautoff moved again, to Mexico, where he became an assistant to the legendary muralist Diego Rivera. There his anti-communist political outlook “made a 180-degree change,” according to his biographer, art historian Robert Cherny. For two years, Arnautoff worked with the communist-leaning Rivera on two major works, and the men had a lot of time to talk politics.

Arnautoff returned to San Francisco in 1931, smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression. In 1935, through a New Deal project, he got the commission to fill the brand-new George Washington High School with murals depicting Washington’s life and times.

Arnautoff studied Washington’s life carefully before painting his murals over 10 months. And according to Cherny, what he came up with was a “major counternarrative” to how people understood Washington at the time.

“Arnautoff has not presented the Washington of the cherry tree,” Cherny said in an interview with The Washington Post.

In almost all of the panels, Cherny explained, Washington is off to one side, de-emphasizing his importance in the events depicted. In a stairwell mural covering the Revolutionary War, Washington is tucked in a corner on a horse, “but in the center of that mural he showed four working-class men raising the new flag of the republic.”

In a mural depicting the winter at Valley Forge, Washington and other officers are dressed in clean, warm uniforms. Enlisted men are dressed in rags and freezing, emphasizing the class differences in the new nation.

Then there are the two murals that have caused the most controversy. In one, Washington stands to the side, listening to a report from a white slave overseer at Mount Vernon. The man gestures to the men in the center — enslaved African Americans shucking corn and bagging cotton. In the background, enslaved women pick cotton in the fields.

It was “a way of calling attention” to the split between Washington’s principles and actions, Cherny explained.

On the opposite wall, Washington stands with other Founding Fathers on a platform, one arm pointing westward. In front of him lies the body of a Plains Indian man, facedown and stiff, clearly dead but with no obvious wounds. Over him walk four white settlers armed with rifles, painted with black and white pigment against the mural’s otherwise vibrant colors.

“He and Rivera had used [black and white paint] previously to depict things they found outdated or in some way objectionable,” Cherny said.

The mural is an indictment of white America’s expansion to the West — to California itself.

These two murals are the largest, and Cherny said it is not by accident they are the first thing students encounter when they enter the school’s front doors.

“Arnautoff is depicting the two great injustices of early American history: slavery and the genocide and dispossession of the first people,” Cherny said.

Art critics hailed the murals when the school first opened; it’s unclear to Cherny whether they supported Arnautoff’s “counternarrative” or if it was too subtle to understand.

Arnautoff officially joined the Communist Party in 1938, according to FBI records. In the 1950s, he was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for a cartoon he drew depicting then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon in an unflattering light.

In 1963, he returned to Russia, by then the Soviet Union, where he spent the rest of his life.

Three years after Arnautoff left the U.S., Dewey Crumpler first saw the murals. He was a junior at a rival high school visiting for a football game. As a young black man, he thought the depictions of people of color were “horrible,” he recently told Artnet.

Two years later, the Black Student Union at George Washington High School demanded their removal, saying the images of enslaved ancestors picking cotton and shucking corn were degrading. Local Black Panthers joined them. They enlisted Crumpler, by then an activist and art student, to paint a new artwork over it.

The divide over the fate of the murals was more generational than black vs. white. The San Francisco Examiner reported the local Negro Historical and Cultural Society opposed any changes to the mural, saying it was an “honest and truthful account of the condition of black people in colonial America.” The students pushed back, saying members of the historical society “don’t have to live with the murals every day.”

At a school board meeting, one female student shouted, “It seems to me you people keep reminding us that we were once slaves!

As Crumpler remembers it, the arts commission was opposed to hiring “a kid” to make any changes, so, like Arnautoff had decades earlier, he headed to Mexico to learn more about mural techniques. He also researched Arnautoff’s murals and learned about their subversive meaning.

“At that point, I said very clearly that I would not be a party to destroying the mural,” Crumpler told Artnet. What he offered the student activists was to create “response” murals around Arnautoff’s work that lifted up achievements by African, Asian, Latinx and Native Americans throughout history.

The plan was finally approved in 1970. Crumpler finished them five years later, right about the time he finished his master’s degree in art. Unlike Arnautoff’s work, the response murals were painted on panels that can be removed. But they have hung unchanged in the school ever since.

Today he is an art professor at the San Francisco Art Institute — and he’s adamantly opposed to covering the Arnautoff murals.
“My mural is part of the Arnautoff mural, part of its meaning, and its meaning is part of mine,” he told Artnet. “If you destroy his work of art, you are destroying mine as well.”

Left: San Francisco school board president Stevon Cook has pushed for covering the Arnautoff murals. Right: Notable African American city leaders have come out against the measure after public outcry. From left, local NAACP president Dr. Amos Brown, columnist Noah Griffin, Rev. Arnold Townsend and artist Dewey Crumpler. ( Right: Eric Risberg/Left: Facebook/SC4SB, Right: AP)
A controversy explodes: Carbonatazione
Native American and black students, teachers and parents have never stopped complaining about the murals. They say the images reinforce stereotypes, make it harder to learn and traumatize students who have no choice but to view them day in and day out. At a recent school board meeting, a current student said she was sick of hearing classmates say, “I’ll meet you at the dead Indian.”
Last year, there were about 2,000 students at the high school; 100 identified as African American, Native American, Alaska Native or Pacific Islander, according to state data. The majority — more than 60 percent — were of Asian descent.

In December, the school board convened a “Reflection and Action Group” to evaluate the history of the murals and decide if they had a future. After four public meetings, the group recommended the murals be “removed,” even though that’s impossible. Half a dozen local activist groups endorsed the decision.
In June, the school board voted unanimously — student experience came first, and the murals would be digitally archived and painted over.
A few days later, conservative New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss launched the murals into the national conversation as the latest example of “snowflakes seek[ing] a safe space.”
School Board president Stevon Cook and vice president Mark Sanchez published a rebuttal to Weiss’s column in Artnet, saying, “Ultimately, our school board came down on the side of communities that we all know have had their priorities ignored when it comes to just about anything.” Even with Weiss’s invocation of the buzzword of the day, the school board is actually required to provide a safe place for students to learn.
They also argued “those in favor of keeping the mural are predominantly of European descent, and those protesting the mural are overwhelmingly people of color.”
But since then, some of the school board’s most prominent critics have been people of color, too.
Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who is black, compared activists who support the measure to “boorish” Trump supporters. Actor Danny Glover, an alumnus of the school, is against the measure. So is the head of the local NAACP chapter, who said the display “tells the whole truth about Mr. Washington being complicit in the slave trade.”

Others suggested lawsuits and even a ballot measure to prevent the paint job.
Cherny, the art historian, has gone to every public meeting. At one of them, he was shouted down by activists who want the murals gone.
He is quick to say he cannot put himself in the shoes of students of color who are offended by the murals. But he also points out that those students aren’t given much opportunity to learn about the context or symbolism contained in them. There are no plaques with explanations next to them. There is no high school orientation class about them. In fact, California high school students don’t even cover the time period depicted. State educational standards designate fifth grade only for instruction on the nation’s founding.
But at a school board meeting, board member Alison Collins disagreed, saying the murals were as outdated as 1930s textbooks.
“We don’t teach reading with ‘Dick & Jane,’ and we aren’t using murals to teach our complex histories,” she said.
After weeks of uproar, the school board proposed a new plan to cover the murals with solid panels. If they thought it was a compromise, the public didn’t see it that way.
At an Aug. 13 school board meeting, those supporting the mural — none of whom were current students or teachers — said solid panels were still too much and that school board members were “infantilizers” who should be recalled.
Those against the mural, which included current students and teachers, questioned why another vote was being held after the school board had already made a decision. One woman from the Mayagna-Seneca Tribe compared it to the country’s long history of broken treaties with Native Americans.

Cook spoke last. Fighting back tears, he urged the audience to let the board get back to work after the vote, reminding them of the district’s chronic absenteeism problem, and that 1 in 25 San Francisco students is homeless.
“I think everyone here agrees that the murals depict a racist history,” he said.
“No!” a man shouted.
The school board voted 4-3 to reverse its prior decision and cover the murals with panels. The plan must now pass muster with the California Office of Historic Preservation, which oversees the protection of “historic resources.”
After the vote, nearly everyone in the audience got up and left.
Read more Retropolis:
Historic mansion on land George Washington once owned is set to be demolished
Some white people don’t want to hear about slavery at plantations built by slaves
George Washington’s Supreme Court nominees were confirmed in two days. Only half showed up to work.
Powhatan and his people: The 15,000 American Indians shoved aside by Jamestown’s settlers

Gillian Brockell is a staff writer for The Washington Post’s history blog, Retropolis. She has been at The Post since 2013 and previously worked as a video editor.

Democracy Dies in Darkness

I added the link, thanks to Lloyd Lofthouse.

Donald Trump sold himself to the American Public as the master of The Deal, the Master Negotiator.

Now we know that “his” book The Art of the Deal was ghost written by Tony Schwartz, who is a fierce critic of Trump, knowing that he never reads books and is profoundly ignorant.

The eminent journal Foreign Policy comments in this article that Trump is a very poor deal-maker. His idea of a deal is bullying the other party, confronting them, insulting them, verbally bludgeoning them. Maybe it works in the rough world of New York City real estate. But it doesn’t work in foreign relations.

Since the U.S. Senate refuses to consider any regulation of guns, some schools are preparing for the next shooter.

In Colorado, students are receiving training in how to respond if they are confronted by an active shooter.

Colorado was the site of the Columbine massacre in a high school and the Aurora massacre in a movie theater. Last May, a student was killed in a charter school in Douglas County.

The gym at Pinnacle High School echoed with laughter and a few cheers Wednesday morning as students took turns tackling a heavily padded man.

While it might have sounded like a game, the orange water pistol in the demonstrator’s hand served as a reminder of what would be at stake if they ever had to use the tactics they were learning on a real assailant.

The Adams County K-12 charter school spent most of the school day having students practice skills such as barricading their classrooms, evacuating the building — and, if necessary, defending themselves. Many schools near Denver and across the country teach the idea of fighting back as one possible option during an attack, but relatively few have students actually practice what they might do if a gunman entered their classrooms.

Clarissa Burklund, president of Pinnacle’s school board, said officials hadn’t discussed having students do more than traditional lockdown drills until this summer. The May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, where three students rushed one of two attackers, showed that teenagers could defend themselves and need to prepare for that possibility, she said.

“I hate that they have to talk about this,” she said with a catch in her voice. “I hate that they live in this society. But they do, and there’s no point in denying it….”

There’s no nationwide tracking of how schools prepare their students for active shooters, but emphasis appears to have gradually shifted from “locks, lights, out of sight,” where students are told to take shelter in their classrooms, to “run, hide, fight,” where they are expected to choose their best option for the situation. Some schools also have started conducting more realistic drills, including the sounds of simulated gunfire, but that practice has spurred controversy, especially when students weren’t aware they were only dealing with a drill.

Little evidence exists to show if one type of active shooter training is more effective than another, and some experts have concerns about emphasizing cases in which students have fought back. The fear is that could encourage students to overlook safer options such as evacuating.

The Davidson County School Board voted unanimously to close three “Knowledge Academy” charter schools, citing poor academic performance and financial mismanagement.

The charter board will appeal.

When Mayor Bill DeBlasio was on the Democratic debate stage, he lashed out at the charter industry and vowed to fight the privatizers.

But as mayor, he is protecting them.

As Leonie Haimson explains, DeBlasio’s Department of Education routinely hands over the lists of public school students to the charters, despite the protests of parents.

No other city, she says, voluntarily gives charters the names and addresses of public school students.

Now he says parents may ask to remove their names, but that is not good enough.

This is the official statement from DeBlasio’s Department of Education. If you want to take your child’s name off the charter mailing list, it is your responsibility to ask to remove his or her name. If you do nothing, your child’s name and address will be handed over to vendors working for the charter industry.

What happened to the charter school wait lists? Do they exist?

Haimson writes:

After vehement parent protests and a FERPA privacy complaint submitted to the US Department of Education, the DOE announced they will allow parents to opt out of charter mailings in the future, as the Daily News reported today. This is NOT good enough, either from a policy or privacy standpoint.

Best practice to ensure student privacy would require parental consent, as the US Department of Education notes – especially as many parents will not notice the opt out forms in backpack mail or their children may forget to share it with them.

Best practice from the standpoint of good policy would be for the DOE not to allow charter schools to buy access to this information at all – which only helps them market their schools and expand their enrollment.

NYC is the ONLY district in the entire country that voluntarily helps charter schools expand in this manner; even ostensibly pro-charter districts like Chicago don’t make this information available to charter schools.

At the recent NEA forum for presidential candidates, Mayor de Blasio aggressively postured about how he opposed charter schools:

“I’m going to be blunt with you, I am angry about the state of public education in America…“I am angry about the privatizers. I am sick and tired of these efforts to privatize a precious thing we need — public education. I know we’re not supposed to be saying ‘hate’ — our teachers taught us not to — I hate the privatizers and I want to stop them,” he said.

Charter schools already drain more than $2.1 billion from the DOE budget as well as take up valuable space in our overcrowded public school buildings. Too bad that the Mayor continues to favor the privatizers in his actions, if not his words.

Billionaire Jonathan Sackler of Purdue Pharma and charter school kingpin has been ordered to testify in a lawsuit in Connecticut.

A Connecticut Superior Court ruling this week requires Jonathan Sackler, a member of the family that owns drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, to testify in the lawsuit the State of Rhode Island filed last year against the company and several others involved in the making of medications that have contributed to the opioid epidemic.

On May 7, a subpoena was issued to obtain a deposition from Sackler, a Connecticut resident, according to the office of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha. Sackler was served with the subpoena on May 22 and subsequently moved for protection in Connecticut Superior Court, Neronha’s office said.

But in a decision issued Tuesday, the Connecticut court ruled that it “will decline to issue the protective order sought by the respondent…. The court grants the application to compel the deposition of Jonathan Sackler.”

“We intend to continue to vigorously litigate our case against Purdue and the other defendants and hope to take Mr. Sackler’s deposition as soon as possible,” Neronha spokeswoman Kristy dosReis told The Journal.

Alex Caputo-Pearl responds to agreement reached between California charter school lobby and supports of public schools to revise the charter school law. Until now, the California Charter School Association had blocked all efforts to hold charter schools accountable and to empower local school districts to determine whether charters could open in their area and to evaluate the fiscal impact of charters on existing public schools.

August 29, 2019

Contact: Anna Bakalis 213-305-9654

Statement on AB 1505 by UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl

“This a great first step in the ongoing, multi-year effort to fix California’s broken charter laws. AB 1505 is the result of collective action and organized collaboration between educators, parents and our communities throughout California. There is a groundswell of resolve, as highlighted by the strikes in Oakland and Los Angeles, that we must end the privatization of our schools and change the course set by the corporate charter lobby 20 years ago.

Countering the California Charter Schools Association’s plan to starve our public schools requires a strategic and long-term plan to fight back. One bill or even a set of bills is not enough. Funded by billionaires who wish to destroy public education, CCSA will double-down their efforts to starve, rank, then flip our public schools into a privately-run, publicly funded network of charters.

This is evidenced by Nick Melvoin’s recent push to rate LAUSD schools on a “Yelp-like” 1-5 scale, and another group of leaked emails, as shared this morning, that the charter lobby plans to remove all kids from public schools and put them into charter schools by 2030. We must continue to fight back the billionaire-funded attack against public education, reinvest in our schools and create a new vision for our schools, one which works for all students — the true stakeholders in the future of our public schools.”

United Teachers Los Angeles is the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, representing 34,000 educators, nurses, librarians and counselors in Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as more than 1,000 educators in independent charter schools.