Archives for the month of: February, 2020

Only days ago, the American Federation of Teachers encouraged its members to support one of the following three candidates: Joe Biden, Bernard Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren.

Today, Randi announced her support for Warren. Some locals, such as UTLA, have already endorsed Sanders. The AFT endorsement will be one of the three already named.

This is Randi’s personal statement:

Why I’m Supporting Elizabeth Warren

I get asked a lot by our members and others about which candidate I’m supporting for president. And I often pivot to the stakes in this election, and to a plea for unity for the ultimate Democratic nominee. In this election—clearly, the most important in our lifetime—our voices and our actions matter. For me, for my family, my union, our members and their families, and the communities we serve—the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections in November will have momentous consequences.

This election represents an existential crisis for our democracy and our very way of life. Will we be a country that privileges the unimaginably wealthy over people who work every day to build a better life for their families? Will we support the rights of all our children to attend safe and welcoming public schools where they can get a world-class education and the wraparound services they need to help overcome challenges they might face? Will we permit young people to drown in college debt that compromises their future? Will we provide affordable, accessible healthcare and affordable, needed prescription drugs to all, regardless of whether they have pre-existing conditions or live in rural areas? Will we turn a blind eye to this nation’s burgeoning bigotry, racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, hate and acts of violence? Will we literally save the planet for future generations? Will we preserve and strengthen our democracy?

And that doesn’t even address having a president with the basic competency to handle a global public health crisis like coronavirus that no longer falls into a neat ideological “them versus us” bucket.

Neither I nor the AFT executive council thought the answers to these questions could wait. We decided we couldn’t sit on the sidelines waiting for a challenger to emerge from these primary contests.

As a union, we’ve had a robust endorsement process that more than 300,000 members have engaged in. Now, as most of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be elected in the coming weeks, we thought it was time to go from listening and questioning to advocacy and support.

We believe as a union that three Democratic candidates best represent the values and concerns of our members and the communities we serve: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Our members are supporting these three candidates because they share our values, and we know we can count on them. Each has been a strong and reliable advocate for ensuring safe and welcoming environments in our schools, our hospitals and our communities; investing in public schools, colleges and services that are necessary to fund our future; protecting the freedom to teach and the freedom to care so we can meet our students’ and patients’ needs; fighting for the freedom to live securely on one job’s wages, with a decent retirement and the right to join a union, and without catastrophic healthcare costs or crushing student debt; fighting the destructive hate, bigotry and divisiveness that are undermining our democracy; and fighting to secure justice for all.

Any of these three Democrats would be a transformational improvement over Donald Trump. And the AFT is encouraging our members and our affiliates, including all our leaders, to support—actively and vocally—any of them.

But when I am asked which candidate I will vote for, I’ve personally concluded that there is one who has the life experience that brings an understanding of what families—all families— need today to have a better future, the bold agenda to achieve that better life, and the wherewithal to work with others to turn her ideas into reality. And, of course, the toughness and persistence to take on Donald Trump.

That’s why today I am announcing my personal support for our champion, my friend, former teacher and professor—Sen. Elizabeth Warren. I will vote for her in the New York primary on April 28.

It’s a big deal that there’s a former special education teacher running for president. Being a teacher means being fearless and flexible, loving and compassionate, hardworking and resilient, and dedicated and devoted to making life better for all kids and families. Being a teacher means having an innate understanding of the value of public education and what is needed to help all children succeed and to support all educators.

Elizabeth Warren gets this. She infuses all of those qualities and experiences into her candidacy for president. They’re evident in the plans she’s unveiled and her actions as consumer advocate and senator. And we see it in how she’s running her campaign for president.

Yes, she is smart and fearless. Yes, she has plan after plan to invest in public education, child care, infrastructure and healthcare. Yes, she has a plan to restore our democracy; fight corruption; unrig our economy so it benefits working people, with a specific focus on communities of color; and make sure our children inherit a healthier earth. But she has also shown throughout her career the ability not just to raise problems but also to turn ideas into action and get things done. That’s what we need in our next president. This election isn’t just a referendum on Donald Trump, as important as that is. It is our chance to chart a new direction for our nation and create the better life people aspire to. We need a leader up for the challenge of both defeating Donald Trump and accomplishing real change for the American people. That’s Elizabeth Warren.

Beating Expectations

On going toe-to-toe with Donald Trump, let’s remember who she defeated in 2012 to become senator. Scott Brown was a bombastic fake populist, born of the tea party and an early prototype of Trump-style politics. I remember when everyone counted her out, when people said a woman just couldn’t beat Scott Brown, and when she was down by double digits in the polls. Nevertheless, she persisted, and she worked to gain the trust and support of voters—and she beat Scott Brown by double digits.

Saying the Hard Things

And just look at her most recent debate performances after the media totally wrote her off. Just imagine the debate between Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren, if he will even debate her, because she will expose his lies and damage to our nation. And because she is a smart and strategic debater and thinker, she’s already gotten results by raising real and legitimate issues with Michael Bloomberg. While the fight might have gotten the headlines, Warren’s public pressure led Bloomberg to lift several nondisclosure agreements with women so they can share their stories if they choose. That’s getting things done.

A Game-Changer for Public Education

When it comes to public education, Biden, Sanders and Warren all have bold plans to support public schools, help all children, and support educators. But Warren embeds her experience as a special education teacher and professor into her proposals. And after a decade of disinvestment, teacher bashing and testing that supplanted the needs of children, only to be followed by the DeVos agenda to defund and decimate public education in favor of failed vouchers and privatization, it would be great to send a teacher to the White House.

Sen. Warren’s plans for public education would be a game-changer for our public schools and the 90 percent of America’s students who attend them. It is focused, first and foremost, on creating and cultivating the vibrant, safe and welcoming environments kids deserve, and on providing educators the voice and supports they need as professionals to help their students learn and thrive.

Quadrupling funding for schools serving children who live in poverty, keeping the original promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to children with special needs, and investing in 25,000 community schools that meet the social and emotional needs of children, and which serve as neighborhood hubs, would be transformational. So too would the plan’s investment in school infrastructure, which would ensure that students and teachers are not forced to endure lead in their drinking water, buckling floors, or other unsafe conditions in school that hurt teaching and learning. Warren’s plans are about supporting students from birth to college and career, and on supporting teachers throughout their careers. And when it comes to teachers—she couples the need to attract and retain and diversify members of our profession with a plan to invest in historically black colleges and universities, and a plan to confront student loan debt.

Her plan puts checks and balances in place to combat the effort by corporate interests to privatize and monetize our public schools. And it stops charter schools from having a competitive advantage over public schools by ensuring the transparency and accountability we have talked about for years. Written by a teacher for all students and all educators, it is a plan focused on equity and excellence that would truly fulfill the promise and potential of public education as the foundation of our democracy and the great equalizer of opportunity in our nation. And it would be pushed forward every day by having, as she promised, a teacher at the helm of the Department of Education.

Unrigging the Economy

Both Sanders and Warren have called out the rigging of the rules of our economy in favor of the rich. That’s why so many people support Sanders for his blunt talk about millionaires and billionaires and likely why he is the current front-runner. I’ve watched Warren not just talk about the decimation of the middle class and the rigging of our economy by the rich but actually take action to unrig the rules and help people get ahead.

Warren has spent nearly her entire career focused on why working- and middle-class Americans continue to fall further and further behind while the rich just keep getting richer—and what to do about it. It’s not just about income inequality, it’s about affordability and working families being squeezed every which way. It’s about confronting the structural racism that has led to predatory and discriminatory practices targeting communities of color and shutting them out of the middle class and the American dream.

After decades of the wealthy and well-connected using their power and influence to rig the rules so they benefit at the expense of everyone else, and as they’ve gone after unions and any kind of power and voice working people have in our economy and democracy—we’ve reached a breaking point. Wages aren’t keeping up with the basic costs of living and raising a family. Americans are buried under a mountain of student debt and being crushed by healthcare, child care and housing costs. The notion that after a lifetime of hard work a person can retire with dignity is evaporating as more and more people retire into poverty. Communities have been decimated by deindustrialization and the whims of the markets. And under Donald Trump, the rich have just gotten richer at everyone else’s expense.

When the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression struck our nation and ravaged our economy and peoples’ lives, Elizabeth Warren got the opportunity to change this. And she sprang into action. She understood that the crisis was not caused by folks just trying to achieve the American dream but by unregulated, unrestrained Wall Street banks that preyed on Americans and whose greed created a house of cards that crashed our economy and devastated peoples’ lives. And while the banks got bailed out, Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, and their hopes and dreams.

She fought for Wall Street reforms that would help prevent the big banks from ever creating this kind of crisis ever again—and she went a step further to provide direct relief for Americans scammed by Wall Street and protections for consumers so they can’t be preyed upon.

She created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through the hard work of not only making the case for it every day in public and building a diverse coalition to create public demand but also by building support in the Obama administration, in Congress and even some in the banking community. There’s a reason the economically powerful in the Republican Party and on Wall Street were so dead set against her becoming head of the CFPB. They knew how effective she would be at reining in the risky and predatory practices of Wall Street. She may never have been able to lead her creation, but the CFPB has been an effective advocate for consumers, even as Trump has tried to kill it, and has provided $12.4 billion in relief to 31 million Americans. Just imagine what Warren can achieve with the full economy to solve our affordability crisis and increase the power of working- and middle-class Americans. Warren is a capitalist, but she is someone who understands the dangers of untamed capitalism and the need for the kind of checks and balances on Wall Street and big corporations that prioritize profits above all else. And that is why she has been such a big supporter of unions as the vehicle for working people to have a voice on the job, power in our democracy, and the ability to bargain with employers for the wages and benefits we need to support ourselves and our families.

Confronting Our Student Debt Crisis and Making College Affordable

When it comes to America’s affordability crisis, the $1.6 trillion albatross of student debt is one of the biggest crises we face. Sen. Warren has been a leader in putting this crisis on the map—holding accountable the loan companies and people like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who continues to prioritize loan servicers over loan borrowers.

When Sen. Warren talks about what gave her a shot at the American dream, she gives a lot of credit to the $50-a-semester commuter college she attended. This fight is personal to her, and that’s evident in her plan to cancel student loan debt for more than 95 percent of the nearly 42 million Americans who carry this debt. Warren’s plan would release Americans from their debt sentence so they can live their lives, care for their families and have a fair shot at the American dream. Not only would her plan wipe out student debt for most Americans, it would do so automatically and immediately, so people wouldn’t have to worry about being approved or having to deal with confusing paperwork. It would bolster the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which has been completely sabotaged by President Trump, Betsy DeVos and big student loan companies like Navient. Today, 41 states spend less on public higher education than they did before the recession: Warren’s plan would reverse that and provide universal tuition-free education at public two- and four-year colleges and technical schools, and ban for-profit colleges from receiving federal aid.

Earlier this year, Warren pressed DeVos to collect the $22.3 million that student loan servicer Navient Corp. owes the U.S. Department of Education, and she has acted to hold DeVos accountable from day one. Warren grilled DeVos during her confirmation hearing about her lack of experience on public education and her ability to manage the Department of Education’s student loan portfolio, especially given her family’s connections to for-profit colleges and student loan companies. Warren has called out DeVos for failing to support defrauded students and tearing up protections like the borrower defense rule. She’s fought to lower interest rates, refinance loans and to cancel loans for 80,000 students who were cheated by Corinthian Colleges. She’s been my go-to expert when I’ve needed advice on student debt issues.

Besides having the policy know-how and the ability to get things done, being an effective leader also means being an effective listener. Here again, I’ve watched Warren be thoughtful, listen to people, ask the tough questions, and adjust her thinking based on evidence, experts and people’s lived experiences. I’ve been in those meetings where she has asked tough questions. She is guided not by ideology but by what works.

Expanding and Improving Healthcare for Families

After Warren came out with her initial Medicare for All plan, she really took to heart the concerns of many Americans who were nervous about a sudden switch away from their private insurance as well as those of us who believe Medicare for All should be a floor, not a ceiling. And she retooled her proposal to build in a transition phase to actually make sure Medicare for All works and that the American people felt comfortable before moving forward. It’s unfortunate that she took a lot of hits for this thoughtful approach, but I want a president who listens and responds to people and builds trust.

And while it’s no longer on people’s radar, the fight a few years ago in Massachusetts over the charter school cap again demonstrated Warren’s thoughtful approach and strong leadership. This was a huge moment when billionaires were using parents as a front to open the floodgates and have an open-ended number of charters in Massachusetts without accountability and transparency. They were trying to replicate what DeVos pushed in Michigan. These wealthy interests were overpromising the public as a way to siphon off resources from public schools. Sen. Warren didn’t want to weigh in until she understood the stakes and what was really happening. She asked tough questions, and she listened to the concerns of educators and parents. She wanted to do whatever would help all kids succeed. And when she did weigh in and actively opposed open-ended charters in Massachusetts, it turned the tide. People saw her as fighting for the best interests of kids and families, and together we exposed the real motives behind the other side. That fight was a real turning point in shifting the narrative in favor of investing in the public schools that 90 percent of America’s children attend.

An American for Everyone

Elizabeth Warren believes in the dignity and worth of every human. She doesn’t pit people against one another, she doesn’t foment hatred and bigotry, she doesn’t blame “the other.” Warren believes that we are best when we live up to our ideals of justice for all and our nation’s motto: out of many, one. That’s why she is a fierce advocate for “Dreamers” and ensuring they have a place in our nation and can achieve their dreams. That’s why on nearly every issue—from education to housing to jobs to our climate—she has a specific focus on helping communities often left out and left behind. She will truly be a president for all Americans.

For these reasons and more, I believe Elizabeth Warren is the candidate we need to defeat Donald Trump and once again achieve big things in America.

As the Boston Globe declared this week: “One candidate stands out as a leader with the qualifications, the track record, and the tenacity to defend the principles of democracy, bring fairness to an economy that is excluding too many Americans, and advance a progressive agenda,” and that person is Elizabeth Warren.

That’s why I am supporting Elizabeth Warren and voting to put a teacher in the White House. Warren is the fearless, thoughtful leader we need to enact real change to improve peoples’ lives and create a better future for all.

I will end where I started: We confront an existential crisis for our democracy and our very way of life. And I will, like so many others, support the person the Democrats ultimately nominate. I will work harder than I ever have, as I know our union will, to change the direction of our country and defeat Donald Trump.

At the same time in this moment, we can and must ensure that hope wins over despair, compassion over cruelty, fairness over inequality, and that justice and freedom become a lived experience for all. Elizabeth Warren is the candidate who can bring us together and bring out the best in America.

Donald Trump is in charge of the nation’s response to the coronavirus, which may or may not become a global pandemic. He oversees the Centers for Disease Control, whose spokesperson warned that it was no longer a question of if but when the virus would affect the U.S. Trump sought to reassure the public by putting VP Pence in charge of coordinating federal agencies that are involved, despite the fact that Pence has a long record of belittling and ignoring science.

At a rally in South Carolina, Trump said the coronavirus is a hoax invented by Democrats and the liberal media to make him look bad.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — President Donald Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation.

He blamed the press for acting hysterically about the virus, which has now spread to China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy and the U.S, and he downplayed its dangers, saying against expert opinion it was on par with the flu.

The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They’re politicizing it,” he said. “They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.”

Then Trump called the coronavirus “their new hoax.”

Trump’s comments came as the White House has struggled to adequately respond to and contain the coronavirus’s increasingly sweeping path. At the rally — held here on the eve of the Democratic primary in South Carolina — he sought to manage Americans’ expectations about the White House’s ability to fight it.

By undermining the news reporting on the virus and by trying to hold liberals responsible for a potential public health crisis that has little to do with politics, Trump did what he often does best: He sought to deflect blame at a time when many Americans sought leadership and scientific facts.

Trump portrayed his efforts to close the southern border as the best response to coronavirus, even though the virus originated in China.

His treatment of the coronavirus as a political issue whipped up by Democrats contradicts the judgment of every international public health organization and guarantees that he has no plan or personnel to prepare for the spread of the disease. Actual people are dying. But Trump has repeatedly cut the budget and personnel of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes for Health. He thinks he is still playing the host of ”The Apprentice.”

Trump is not only a danger to democracy but a danger to our lives.

During the last Democratic debate, billionaire MIchael Bloomberg boasted about his education record as mayor of New York City. None of the other candidates knew enough about the details—or the other side of the story—to challenge him.

Jan Resseger tells the other side of the story here. If you love Republican policies of high-stakes testing, school choice, and accountability (i.e., punishing students, teachers, principals, and schools for low scores), he’s your guy. If you loved No Child Left Behind, his approach is for you.

If you like Campbell’s Law, where the measure (be it test scores or graduation rates) becomes corrupted by turning it into a goal, Bloomberg’s reign proves the law. Test scores were king, and they miraculously rose (although NYC showed less progress on NAEP than most other cities); when graduation rates were the goal, the dubious practice of “credit recovery” became widespread.

Jan Resseger reviews Bloomberg’s legacy, based on her long experience as a social justice warrior.

She begins:

One of NYC’s best known public school advocates, Leonie Haimson explains, “When I heard that he was running for president, it felt like the return of a bad dream.” Haimson personally lived through the decade when Bloomberg brought technocratic, corporate style disruption and marketplace policy to the NYC schools. She watched the process from the inside. But even from far away, I will never forget learning about Bloomberg’s radical experiment: Bloomberg obliterated the city’s institutional infrastructure of regional and neighborhood high schools. Although overall the high school graduation rate rose, the high school closures, intensifying racial and economic segregation, and the school choice disruption undermined the whole endeavor. And once such an experiment is launched there is no going back.

At a Children’s Defense Fund conference eight or nine years ago, I found myself eating lunch with several NYC middle school guidance counselors, who described the impossible task of trying to help dozens of eighth graders—middle school students without any experience outside of their immediate neighborhoods—sort through a telephone book-sized high school choice guidebook to look for the best high school fit. These counselors told me that they believed NYC high school choice had been, in reality, designed to favor the children of savvy parents who knew how to get their children on the right track beginning in Kindergarten. These counselors were exhausted, overwhelmed, and worried about the effect on vulnerable thirteen-year-olds of losing a stacked school choice competition. They suspected that the new high school choice plan would prove to NYC’s poorest young people that they are losers who can’t possibly triumph…

Bloomberg broke up the comprehensive high schools across the city into small high school programs and charter schools co-located into the old high school buildings, but the new smaller schools did not all offer a comprehensive curriculum. In a 2015 report for the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, Clara Hemphill, Nicole Mader and Bruce Cory explain: “While the graduation rate has steadily increased over the past decade, the proportion of students receiving an Advanced Regents diploma—one commonly used measure of college readiness—has stagnated… Today 39 percent of the city’s high schools do not offer a standard college-prep curriculum in math and science, that is, algebra 2, physics and chemistry. More than half of the schools do not offer a single Advanced Placement course in math and about half do not offer a single Advanced Placement course in science… Roughly 21 percent of New York City high school students attend schools that don’t offer courses in both chemistry and physics. Many of these are the new small high schools that proliferated during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg… (Three years of science is a graduation requirement in all city high schools. Students at schools that don’t offer the full complement of college-prep sciences meet that requirement by taking one of these sciences, usually biology—or as it’s known in New York schools, ‘living environment’—and supplementing that with courses such as forensics or general science.) The result is an intense bifurcation of the city’s public high school system…. Looking at statistics from August 2014, the Center for New York City Affairs found that 48 percent of the New York City public high school students receiving Advanced Regents diplomas are clustered in just 25 schools. At 100 other schools, on the other hand, not a single student received an Advanced Regents diploma…”

My intense concern reflects the moral flaw in the scheme Bloomberg introduced into NYC’s public schools. The Rev. Jesse Jackson named the problem with school choice competitions: Competitions always create losers as well as winners, and the losers of school choice arrangements are almost always poor children of color. At a 2011 Schott Foundation for Public Education town hall, the Rev. Jackson declared: “There are those who make the case for a race to the top for those who can run. But ‘lift from the bottom’ is the moral imperative because it includes everybody. ”

We need to continue improving access and opportunity in the public schools, for no set of institutions can possibly be utopian. In contrast to neoliberal, disruptive plans featuring the closure of comprehensive high schools, school choice and charter school expansion, however, a system of traditional public schools provides the best chance of balancing the needs of each particular child and family with a system that secures the rights and addresses the needs of all children.

While in Chicago, I was interviewed about SLAYING GOLIATH by Justin Kaufman of WGN Radio, who is one of the best interviewers I have met. We had enough time to go into depth and he asked smart questions.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch: “What you are basically measuring with standardized tests is family income and family education”

Say this for Eric Hanushek: He never gives up on his obsession with paying teachers more if their students get higher test scores. Arne Duncan built this concept into the requirements of his disastrous Race to the Top” program, which caused almost every state to adopt a teacher evaluation plan in which student test scores played a significant role. Harvard economist Raj Chetty wtote a highly-publicized paper with two colleagues, claiming that one good teacher (who raised test scores in the early grades) would raise lifetime incomes (by about $5 a week), reduce pregnancies, and be a life-changer. President Obama cited Chetty in his 2012 State of the Union address, but efforts to turn the theory into reality fell flat. (Read more about this catastrophe in SLAYING GOLIATH.) In fact, every state that imposed value-added measurement learned that it discouraged teachers from teaching in high-needs schools, where their chance of getting a big test score gain was reduced. It did not produce any of the promised benefits.

But forget about reality! Let’s stand by the theory. Hanushek’s new venture at the conservative Hoover Institution is joined by Christopher Ruszkowski, who served as Commissioner of Education in New Mexico after the resignation of Hanna Skandera (who previously worked for the Hoover Institution, Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger). After eights years of “reform” leadership, New Mexico remained mired at the bottom of NAEP. The state had a harsh, test-based teacher evaluation plan, but the union fought it in court, it was enjoined by a judge, and the New Democratic Governor scrapped it as one of her first executive actions. New Mexico has one of the highest proportions of students living in poverty, but Republican state leaders ignored that inconvenient fact. After a decade of consistent failure, we can safely put test-based teacher evaluation into the category of a Zombie idea. Dead but still stalking the land.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Hoover Institution, Jeff Marschner, (202) 760-3200

NEWLY FORMED HOOVER EDUCATION SUCCESS INITIATIVE RELEASES PAPER ON TRANSFORMING TEACHER COMPENSATION

Four education policy papers to be released in 2020—addressing how states should consider transforming education in the decade ahead.

STANFORD, CA. (January 30th) – As state legislative sessions begin around the country, the Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI), a new research program at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, has released “The Unavoidable: Tomorrow’s Teacher Compensation”—a policy briefing on the important connections between teacher compensation systems and student achievement outcomes. The research-based policy paper includes both a summary of findings and practical recommendations for policymakers.

The paper highlights often overlooked areas for attention including shifting overall compensation from retirement into salaries, ending the practice of paying for advanced degrees that do not yield changes in student outcomes, addressing teacher shortages in a targeted fashion instead of generally, and paying teachers more when they are effective in higher-need schools.  The paper concludes that teachers’ salaries should be significantly increased, but that students will not make achievement gains unless salaries are also linked to teacher quality.

“We need to pay teachers competitively, which we are not doing now,” said Dr. Eric Hanushek, author of the policy synthesis. “But just increasing compensation without recognizing teacher effectiveness is unlikely to lead to improved student outcomes. We should bundle together better pay with a serious recognition of just how important effective teachers are when it comes to influencing student achievement.”

“While we have spent much of the last year reviewing and synthesizing the research, the next phase of our work turns to helping states implement the policy ideas,” said Christopher N. Ruszkowski, executive director of HESI. “There is overwhelming evidence that nothing matters more than teacher quality, and state legislatures and governors should take strong action. Neglecting this responsibility causes harm to our students that may not be immediately visible today but will certainly be reflected in our students’ lives and in our economy tomorrow.  It’s a tough issue and it may feel like something we can avoid, but it will catch up with us.”

Click here to read the policy analysis brief.

About the Hoover Education Success Initiative

With passage in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states are again in charge of American education policy. To support them in this undertaking, the Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI), launched in 2019, seeks to provide state education leaders with policy recommendations that are based upon sound research and analysis.  HESI hosts workshops and policy symposia on high-impact areas related to the improvement and reinvention of the US education system. The findings and recommendations in each area are outlined in concise topical papers.

The leadership team at HESI engages with its Practitioner Council, formed of national policy leaders, and with interested state government leaders. HESI’s ultimate goal is to spark innovation and contribute to the ongoing transformation of the nation’s K-12 education landscape, thus improving outcomes for our nation’s children.

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Jeff Marschner
Director of Media Relations

Randi Weingarten will be in Providence on Saturday to discuss the role of teachers in the state takeover engineered by neoliberal Governor Gina Raimondo. The governor is openly hostile to teachers and unions and a major supporter of privately managed charter schools. She hired Angelica Infante-Green as State Commissioner, although Green (ex-TFA) was never a principal or superintendent. She is a member of Jeb Bush’s rightwing Chiefs for Change.

Randi said:

Unfortunately, the current Commissioner just continues to do the same things that Joe Klein or Michelle Rhee would do. Rather than work with teachers, they’ve set up other ‘process’ committees that will come out and say all the things are wrong, and what teachers should do in collective bargaining to fix it,” said Weingarten. “It’s not as though we haven’t seen this movie before — you have to roll up your sleeves and work together and you have to lift the morale. You don’t create a situation were every utterance the boss says divides people more and more…”

Weingarten said that she believed Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza had allowed the schools to fall into disrepair — but that takeover by Rhode Island education commissioner Angélica Infante-Green was not necessarily the answer.

“Here you had a situation where you had city control and the mayor was not giving the school the resources they need — just look at the shape they were in. He was not going to play that role, so this was viewed as no worse than already divesting democratic control,” said Weingarten. “Raimondo made a case that she wanted to make things better, but what you’re seeing already, and this is why I’m so proud of my local union, is that you have to change the normal typical tired conversation when a school system is not as good as you wish it would be…”

There are are a couple of other people who were really good who they were considering for superintendent and they didn’t pick them,” said Weingarten of Providence. “The Hopkins report said we have a problem where people feel alienated and discouraged — Hopkins also didn’t spend a lot of time in schools that were working. Since that time our union has come up with recommendations of what to do and meet people halfway.”

“We put out the recommendations that were never taken up. We did some of them ourselves. If this is urgent, and things must be solved right now — and we came up with recommendations in September, and then they do none of them — it gives pause to the urgency,” she said. “We tried to do a bunch of different things to respond to the Hopkins report and we’ve had a couple of big professional development seminars and what we’re hearing from the other side is just give up your contract.”

“So what is all of this, I’ve been through this with Rhee and Klein, and it seems like the same playbook — say things are as bad as you can instead of trying,” said Weingarten. “And in vilifying people you create demoralization — you create a vehicle by which parents say, why am I even here?”

“If you think a change agent is someone who thinks they can do things to teachers not with them, they might be a disruptor, but that’s not a change agent,” said Weingarten. “Schooling is about what happens [with] the connective tissue between teachers, school staff and kids. Kids have to trust teachers — and the community has to as well — and when you have someone who tries to come in from on high and chooses to vilify and not deal with issues, that’s not going to help make things better in schools.”

“How do you create a school where community and parents trust their teachers when the superintendent says they’re not to be trusted? It may get someone headlines — but it’s not the way,” she said.

To my knowledge, there has never been a successful state takeover. Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority collapsed. Tennessee’s Educational Achievement Authority was a $100 million disaster.

The only districts that are targets for state takeovers are those with a black and brown majority. State officials think that eliminating democracy will fix the schools but it doesn’t and never has. It is a civics lesson to citizens and students of color that they are not capable of self-government.

Domingo Morel wrote a book called “Takeover” where he compntended that takeovers were about race and power, not education. Black and brown parents lose their political power and are subject to a colonial regime.

I posted at 10 AM EST today about an article in the Hechinger Report, written at its request by scholars Bruce Baker and Preston Green, each of whom is an expert in his field (school finance, constitutional law and education). A reader identified with the pro-voucher Reason Institute complained that an earlier Supreme Court decision forbade private schools from practicing racial discrimination, and an editor inserted a note saying so, as if to correct Baker and Green.

Baker and Green objected that the reader was wrong. The Supreme Court case he cited—Runyon v. McCrary-did not expressly forbid racial discrimination by religious schools if based on religious grounds.

The editor at the Hechinger Report read the case in question and removed the erroneous insertion, appending this clarification at the end of the article.

*Clarification: After publication of this article, a reader noted that the Supreme Court ruling Runyon v. McCrary (1976) forbids discrimination by race in private schools. We added a parenthetical editor’s note saying that current federal law does not permit private schools to discriminate on the basis of race. This note was overly broad. The authors explained that Runyon does not expressly address sectarian schools, a subset of private schools. Indeed, the Court specifies that its ruling offers no opportunity to address “private sectarian schools that practice Racial Exclusion on religious grounds.” Although it is unlikely that parochial schools would engage in racial discrimination, Runyon does not specifically address that possibility. This clarification should have been obtained from the authors before the editor’s note was appended.

I am glad the editor made this change. I’m glad she read the case and consulted with the authors. But I’m not in agreement with her expectation that religious schools would be “unlikely” to engage in racial discrimination. It is generally acknowledged that choice policies intensify segregation of all kinds: religious, racial, and socioeconomic (although Reason and CATO and other pro-vouchers advocates don’t agree with the scholarly consensus). Among the more extreme of evangelical schools that are currently funded by states, according to a survey by Rebecca Klein of the Huffington Post, a number openly teach racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry, as well as lies about science and history.

Teresa Hanafin writes the Fast Forward daily column for the Boston Globe.

She writes today:

Even as the Ukraine scandal whistle-blower continues to suffer insults, vilification, and threats from Republicans desperate to protect Trump at all costs, a woman who is a top Health and Human Services official has stepped forward to raise an alarm about a coronavirus-related situation.

Talk about [big ovaries] guts.

The official reported that a dozen HHS workers dispatched to two California Air Force bases to meet the first Americans evacuated from China were sent without proper protective gear or training about infection control. Meanwhile, personnel who were there from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were in “full gown, gloves and hazmat attire,” her complaint states.

After the HHS workers finished helping the Americans, they returned to work, some taking commercial airline flights home or back to their offices. They weren’t tested for the virus because at the time, the federal government’s criteria for testing was bizarrely restrictive: You had to have gone to China, been in close contact with someone confirmed to be infected, or exhibit symptoms yourself.

When the official brought the break in protocol and her concerns about the workers’ safety to the attention of her superiors, they did what many Trump loyalists do: They apparently tried to punish her by reassigning her to an area in which she has no expertise, with no workers to supervise, and told if she didn’t accept the assignment, she’d be fired, according to her lawyer.

So she filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Office of the Special Counsel, an independent federal watchdog agency, and now HHS officials are scrambling to explain.

Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization said this morning that the coronavirus outbreak — it has now infected more than 80,000 people in nearly 50 countries, with close to 2,800 deaths — is at a “decisive point” and could soon become a pandemic.

That designation would come about if scientists and doctors see a long chain of transmissions — community-wide outbreaks — outside of China. Although people in many countries are infected, the kind of community spread that would signal a pandemic hasn’t yet occurred outside of China.

But investors around the world are worried, and global financial markets are taking a big hit. By the way, every Disney theme park and property in Asia is closed.

As they say in Mar-a-Lago, Ignorance is Bliss, and Vengeance is Divine.

California spends less per pupil than most states. Its schools have been underfunded for decades.

Reverse the many years of neglect and support the children by voting YES on Prop 13.

Editorial : Yes on Prop. 13

“Prop 13 is a statewide bond measure that will raise $15 bllion to use for immediate costs, to fix crumbling schools, upgrade emergency response equipment and basically make the structures our students learn in more modern and safe.

”It has nothing to do with the 1978 ballot proposition that capped property tax rates in California. It has nothing to do with the Schools and Communities First ballot proposition about tax loopholes that will be on the ballot this fall.

”Most major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, have backed Measure 13 noting that our school campuses aren’t exactly in the best shape. However, the usual coalition of anti-tax groups and conservative newspapers are making the argument that Californians already pay too much for education and that the measure has “sneaky” language that changes the formula for how schools receive state funding and how new housing is build near school districts.

”California currently ranks 31st in per-pupil spending compared to the rest of the states in the country. No matter what other statistics you hear about various bonds and propositions, that number is what it is: too low on the rankings.”

https://www.educationdive.com/news/is-edtpa-standing-in-the-way-of-getting-more-teachers-into-classrooms/572969/

Educators disagree about the value, validity, and reliability of the Pearson EdTPA, which is mandated in many states as the gateway to entering teaching.

Some states have lowered the passing score. Some are wondering whether to abandon it.

The debate occurs at a time when enrollments in teacher education programs have dropped by a third.

While many agree on the importance of high standards for new teachers, it’s by no means clear that the EdTPA encourages better teaching or merely rewards teachers who are good at the demands made by Pearson.