Archives for the month of: August, 2022

This is bad news for retired teachers in Ohio. Their pension fund lost $3 billion in the market, but the fund is set to award $9 million in bonuses to its employees.

Sure, the market’s down, and everyone is losing money. But this doesn’t seem like the right time to hand out performance bonuses.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The board governing the Ohio’s teacher pension fund will consider a proposal on Thursday that could award $9.7 million in performance-based incentives to its investment associates, despite having lost $3 billion in the first 11 months of the year.

The fund for the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, or STRS, was valued at $94.8 billion June 30, 2021 and $91.8 billion on May 30 of this year, according to the most recent asset mix and portfolio performance report, posted online in mid-June. That’s a $3 billion loss.

What part of the fund’s performance deserves a bonus?

David Berliner is one of the most accomplished education scholars in the nation. A list of his accomplishments would fill a couple of pages so I will say only that the Regius Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University.

Berliner shared his thoughts about the current efforts in red states to destroy the teaching profession:

My Incredibly Short Career as a Brain Surgeon and Some Thoughts About Teaching

When I was an undergraduate psychology major at UCLA I studied physiological psychology, particularly neuroanatomy. During my Masters’program at California State College at Los Angeles I landed a job as a research assistant at the UCLAbrain research center. There I did some fascinatingstudies of brain functioning. Well, more accurately, my job was to get some rats drunk and then test them. I gave the rats a little alcohol, then I had a little alcohol, then they got a bit more, and then I…. well, I am sure you get the picture. I continued to read my physiological psychology textbooks, and in addition have found the works of Oliver Sachs and A. S. Luria to be wonderful reading. In fact, it was Sachs’ engaging “The man who mistook his wife for a hat”that inspired me to write essays such as this.

I note also that I frequently buy and avidly read whatever popular science magazines come out featuring stories about the brain. I am up on CAT scans and fMRIs and the latest techniques for stroke victims, and much, much more. Just as important as all the technical knowledge I posses is the fact that I also have a flair for carving, a skill attested to by anyone who has had thanksgiving dinner with my family.

Naturally, with such interest, such knowledge, and such skills, I have always thought that I would make a great brain surgeon. My secret fantasy was to become the greatest brain cartographer in modern times, locator of Berliners’ spot, or the Berliner bundle. I secretly dreamed I could eventually locate and describe how memory works–a goal of every psychologist.

Then, out of the blue, the most wonderful opportunity arose. I discovered that there was a chance that I could get to be a brain surgeon after all. I might actually be able to practice my real vocational love. This wonderful and exciting change in my life, one that I had dreamed about for so long, was suddenly within my grasp because that day, my newspaper ran a feature story on the scarcity of surgeons at the hospitals serving the most needy members of our society. One of our largest State supported big-city hospitals complained that it was short neurosurgeons all week. Furthermore, on weekends, in the emergency rooms, they never had a specialist on whom to call.

My local newspaper, for many years, took a conservative, free market approach to the economy.So, over the years, it has often been in favor of deregulating just about everything, particularly teaching. On the day I was reading about the shortage in the emergency room my newspaper ran an editorial on socialism in the United States of America using the “inefficient public school system” as their model. They cited someone who believed that “government schools” were founded on Marxist-Leninist principles. America’s schools, the paper continued, were failures when measured against the rest of the world or against the results of private schooling. The newspapers’ solution was more free enterprise, including vouchers for children, having schools compete with each other, and the closing of the useless schools of education. They, and one of our many Arizona governors who ended up in prison, eventually argued that anyone with a bachelor’s degree could teach because teaching wasn’t all that complicated.

Our newspaper was then owned by the Pulliam family. That is the family that gave America the well-known intellectual Vice-president Dan Quayle. It was he who said, among other things, that his goal was to have as few government regulations as possible. Quayle’s views, the news from the hospital, and the editorial seemed to provide the perfect set of conditions for propelling me into the career I always wanted. I actually shivered with hope and excitement.

It was time for people with my kinds of skill to step in and serve where clear social needs had been identified. I thought, “let a thousand points of light shine!” I thought it was time to get government out of trying to do everything. What we needed was a resurgence of volunteerism to renew the spirit of America. I thought of John Kennedy and I asked not what my country could do for me but what I could do for my country. And so I went to the hospital that had reported the shortages and volunteered to take the neurosurgery rounds on weekends.

I told them I hold a doctors’ degree (well, actually, I really do have three doctorates, but I thought they would rebel if I asked them to call me Dr. Dr. Dr.). I informed them that I have a high level of knowledge about brain functioning and understood perfectly the technologies that existed to examine brains, and, with false modesty, I also told them that I really could carve quite well. While the hospital administrator was weighing my offer, I thought: “By golly, this is it, my big chance. I may be able to change careers over night and make my dear mother posthumously ecstatic, by becoming a “real” doctor.”

I sat there waiting, thinking that if computer programmers can become high school teachers of mathematics overnight; if oil company geologists can become earth science teachers overnight; if mothers of two with bachelor degrees in either home or international economics, choose to enter the classroom when their youngest goes off to school and can get a job immediately, without any training beyond their life skills; and if military personnel of all kinds can get jobs in schools, and even jobs to run schools,immediately after they serve our nation; then I, with my skills and interest in neuroanatomy, should prove to be a great catch for the field of medicine. I knew I had what it takes and now here I was getting ready to demonstrate my talents. It was so exciting!

Alas. My hopes were quickly dashed. The administrator of the hospital informed me that they had no openings at that moment, but that one of their other physicians, a psychiatrist, would like to see me. I left quickly. I could tell he did not believe that I had enough knowledge and skill for the job, and I think that I sensed correctly that I could never convince him otherwise. I was crushed.

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I don’t know why, but for some strange reason people think that medicine is hard and teaching is easy. But let’s look a little closer at that. A physician usually works with one patient at a time, while a teacher serves 25, 30 or in places like Los Angeles and other large cities, they may be serving 35 or more youngsters simultaneously. Many of these students don’t speak English well. Typically, anywhere from 5-15% will show emotional and/or cognitive disabilities. Most are poor, and many reside in single parent families. There is also another important difference in the motives of patients and students. Most patients seek out their physicians, choosing to be in their office. On the other hand, many students seek to be out-of-class, preferring the streets to classrooms thatcannot engage them, and in which they often are made to feel inadequate.

I always wonder how physicians would fare if 30 or so kids with the kinds of sociological characteristics I just described showed up for medical treatment all at once, and then left 50 minutes later, healed or not!And suppose that chaotic scene was immediately followed by thirty or more different kids, but with similar sociological backgrounds, also in need of personal attention. And they too stayed about 50 minutes, and then they also had to leave. Imagine waves of these patients hitting a physicians’ office five or six times a day!

In addition, teachers are usually away from other adults for long segments of the day, with no one helping them, which makes possession of a strong bladder one of the least recognized attributes of an effective teacher. Physicians, on the other hand, often have a nurse and secretary to do some of the work necessary to allow them to concentrate on the central elements of their one-on-one practice. Andthey actually have time to relieve their bladdersbetween patients, which helps improve their decision making skills!

That so many teachers and schools do so well under the circumstances I just described shows how undervalued the craft of teaching is, and how little respect there is for pedagogical knowledge. In fact, much of the knowledge needed for teaching and for successful medical treatment is clinical knowledge, or tacit knowledge, not easily described, and hard to teach to someone else. That’s why physicians have grand rounds and a lengthy apprenticeship. Their prolonged apprenticeship is what gets them started learning what it means to be a practicing physician—not a competent student of biology, chemistry, and pharmacology. Every clinician (psychologists, physicians, social workers, and teachers alike) knows that book learning can only teach a little slice of what it means to be a success in practice. The recognition of this fact is the quite sensible reason behind the requirement that teachers need to take teaching methods courses such as how to teach mathematics, how to teach phonics and comprehension skills, how science is learned, and so forth. Course work in mathematics, English literature, and science have no more to say about the teaching of mathematics, literature, and physics than books on organic chemistry prepare a physician for their medical practice. Lengthy residencies are needed in medicine to learn to be a physician and extensive student teaching is needed to become a competent teacher. Fields of complexity, with a strong element of art infusing their practice, and with much of their knowledge base tacit, require prolonged time for learning the minimum, and much longer for learning to be competent on a regular basis.

They won’t let me be a brain surgeon because I have none of the tacit knowledge needed to go along with my book knowledge, interest, desire to serve the public, and of course, my superb carving skills. I can accept that. But why the hell would anyone think it’s different in education?

Please—let’s keep untrained but good-hearted people out of classrooms until and unless they get some training in how to do that complex job well. Classroom teaching is hard work, noble work, and in some way, the life and death of our nation in a global economy depends on having competent people doing such work. The physician is literally, rather than figuratively dealing with life and death. This gets them higher status, respect, and remuneration then our teachers get, but it is no more complex work, no more arduous, no more important to our nation, and certainly no more noble!

Let’s be clear: Those who come into teaching from other fields have much to contribute. But not if we count their other experience as equivalent to studying about teaching methods, and not if their other experiences excuse them from anapprenticeship such as student teaching, which most regularly certified teachers have experienced. Regularly certified teachers usually take 12-16 weeks of supervised student teaching. Those coming in to teaching from non- traditional routes, say those whoenter teaching through the program called Teach for America (TFA), experience much less practice. The bright, young, highly motivated, recent college graduates who join TFA, ordinarily have 5 weeks of teaching experience with students who are not likely to be similar to those they actually end up teaching. Listen to Matt Brown one of those bright, committed TFA recruits:

“when I walked in that door to my trailer, I didn’t have a freakin’ clue. I had been a 1st grader teacher for five weeks [the training period] and …I had never taught more than two hours in a day. I didn’t know how to set up a classroom, manage racial tensions, work with co-workers who weren’t thrilled I was there, deal with parents, unit plan…really ANYTHING. I was eaten alive right from the start, and never really found my footing.

….The stresses of the constant failure of my work began to change me in ways I’m not so proud to admit. I started to find myself snapping at my students, punishing them to prove a point, or yelling more and more (in real life, I never yell…and seldom actually get angry). I used to get extremely stressed during certain parts of the day (say, when a troublemaking student would be in my room for an hour), but I gradually began to feel that way during the whole day…and then on my ride to school, and then even when I woke up on a weekday. Some days, I got to school two hours early, only to sit in the parking lot with the music on full blast, and my sunglasses on…so nobody would know I was crying. Other days, I threw up before going to school. Often, a particularly bad event at school could keep me upset for two days straight.1

My former student and colleague, Dr. BarbaraVeltri, provides much more documentation from other first year underprepared teachers, all backing up Matt’s story about the failure of so many TFA recruits in their initial year. That’s why Veltri titled her oft citedbook “Learning on other peoples’ kids.”2 These are the poor, of course, the throw away kids: the kind of kids one learns to teach with. These are the ones on whom lots of mistakes are made, before moving out of the profession or on to schools with easier to teach children. By the way, it’s really no different in medicine. Had I gotten my job as a brain surgeon I am sure that I would have been working on the poorest people, where my “mistakes” would not have mattered as much! Our society does identify “lesser” humans, mostly the poor, and therefore frequentlyracial minorities, where inexperienced physicians andteachers are allowed to develop their skills. Higher rates of mistakes are permitted to be made with poor people, so that lower rates of mistakes will occur when dealing with “people of more substance!”

Perhaps the recognition of their incompetence, and their impotence in dealing with the overwhelming problems of poverty, are what drive many, like Matt (above) to leave the profession before their two-year commitment is up. It is certainly likely that Matt didn’tknow, and his coaches didn’t either because they lacked experience and were not scholars in education, that teachers have been found to make about .7 decisions per minute during interactive teaching!X Another researcher estimated that teachers’ decisions numbered about 1,500 per day.XDecision fatigue, is among the many reasons teachers are tired after what some critics call a short work day, forgetting or ignoring the enormous amount of time needed for preparation, for grading papersand homework, and for filling out bureaucratic formsand attending school meetings.

In fact, it takes about 10 years for teachers to hit their maximum ability to produce the most learningfrom their students.X But about the time the TFA dilatant teachers start to get competent in their job, around their fourth year,

64% of the TFA recruits have left the profession, a much higher rate than among regularly certified teachers.

To be fair, however, the 36% of TFA recruits who stay longer in the field then they originally committed to, are most welcome additions to the profession. But as they gained in competency, they may have hurt a lot of poor children during their apprenticeship by fire!

Lets face it: People who want to practice medicine or education without sufficient training are ignorant, arrogant, or both. And those that would let them do so will only allow them to work with throw-away humans—the flotsam and jetsam found in many urban hospital emergency rooms, and the powerless poor in the impoverished schools of rural America, or in the the same urban neighborhoods as many of our “teaching” hospitals.

In education, we might think of legislators and accrediting bodies that allow untrained personnel to enter classrooms as traitors. Yes, a harshpronouncement, I know, but the term fits. Persons who betray their country, are correctly called traitors. The legislators, accrediting bodies, and chambers-of-commerce that endorse putting untrained or minimally trained teachers before poor children are hurting America, betraying the principles that Jefferson explicated 200 years ago. Jefferson, a slave-holder and not nearly as democratic as we might have wanted one of our founding fathers to be, did help to persuade his fellow founders of the nation that the poor have talent in equal degree as do the rich. Thus,the poor deserved the same education as the rich, in order to cultivate those talents, so they can be used in service of the nation. He believed that the best way to preserve an ever-fragile democracy was a system of free public schooling. Those who would allow unqualified teachers to enter the classrooms of the poor are traitors to Jeffersonian principles.

So for me, advocates of an “open market” in teacher certification are deliberately hurting America, and that, to me, is a traitorous act, especially since the research shows that teaching credentials do matter, and do actually lead to higher student achievement3. On top of that, most advocates for a free market in credentialing would never allow their own children to have an untrained novice, or an inadequately trained teacher, nor would they allow their children to attend schools that rely heavily on such teachers. The hypocrisy and traitorous actions of legislators, business leaders, and policy analysts whoadvocate allowing anyone to teach in a school that would have them as teachers, ensures that social class social membership will remain as it is—difficult to modify. Moreover, the children most likely to be assigned teachers who have little, or no training, are children of color. So, on top of all my other charges, we might want to raise the issue of racism with the advocates of little or no credentialing for teachers. Traitors? Preservationists of the class structure? Racists? Wow! This is tough language for describing some of America’s most noted politicians, business people, and columnists. But until they put their own children in classes whose teachers are inadequately trained, I think it is fair to charge them with deliberately harming our nation. I’ll apologize to these anti-teacher-credentialing group when they let me operate on their family either as a teacher to their children, or as a surgeon on their brain!

-End-

1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from: ​http://relentlesspoa.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/why-i-quit-teach-for-america/

2. Veltri, B. (2010). Learning on other peoples kids. Charlotte, NC: Infromation Age Publishing.

3. Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2010).Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement in High School: A Cross-Subject Analysis with Student Fixed Effects. Journal of Human Resources 45 (3), 655-681. 

4. D-H.

5. *Researchers Hilda Borko and Richard Shavelson summarized studies that reported decisions perminute during interactive teaching.

6. *Researcher Philip Jackson (p. 149) said that elementary teachers have 200 to 300 exchanges with students every hour (between 1200-1500 a day), most of which are unplanned and unpredictable calling for teacher decisions, if not judgments.

 

Like many other states, Texas is facing a dramatic shortage of teachers. Teachers are fed up by low pay, poor working conditions, and the disrespect heaped on them by hare-brained politicians like Governor Gregg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. While the politicians blabber on about “parental rights,” by which they mean the right of parents to dictate curriculum and to censor books, none of them talk about the value of teachers and their importance.

Politicians tell teachers that they must not discuss gender or sexuality. They must not discuss the past or presence of racism, which is alive and well in Texas and everywhere else. Politicians prattle on about “critical race theory,” which they do not understand and cannot define. Bottom line, they don’t want teachers to talk about racism because it makes the politicians uncomfortable; it makes racists uncomfortable when you mention their bigotry.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

More Texas teachers are considering leaving the profession than at any point in the last 40 years, according to new polling from the Texas State Teachers Association.

The survey found that 70 percent of teachers were seriously considering quitting this year, a substantial jump from the 53 percent who said so in 2018, the last time the typically biennial survey was conducted. Teachers attributed their grim outlook to pandemic-related stress, political pressure from state lawmakers, less support from parents and stretched finances.

I don’t know where they got that “last 40 years” number, because there was never a time when so many teachers were ready to throw in the towel and walk away from their classrooms.

Texas can’t afford to pay teachers more? Nonsense. Texas, under Abbott’s non-leadership, doesn’t want to pay teachers more. Abbott sees more to be gained politically by demonizing teachers.

In the survey, which was completed by 688 Texas teachers, 94 percent said the pandemic increased their professional stress, and 82 percent said financial stress was exacerbated. Experts have pointed to better pay as a key way to recruit and retain teachers. Respondents taught for about 16 years on average, and their average salary was around $59,000. That’s about $7,000 below the national trend, according to the teachers association.

Besides salary, Texas teachers on average also receive some of the worst retirement benefits of those in any state, a separate study from June found. Teachers who have retired since 2004 have not received a cost-of-living adjustment, although the Legislature has passed some “13th check” bills that send extra annuity payments.

In addition to pay, 85 percent said they felt state lawmakers held a negative view of teachers, 65 percent said the public held a negative view and 70 percent said support from parents had decreased over the last several years.

Abbott and fellow Republicans in the Texas Legislature have recently enacted several high-profile education policies, over opposition from teachers groups and education experts.

Last year, the Legislature placed restrictions on social studies curriculum, prohibiting certain discussions about racism. Abbott banned school districts from instituting mask mandates last fall, as COVID-19 cases surged. And schools are now facing calls for censorship of books that include discussions about race, gender or sexual orientation.

“For political reasons, Gov. Abbott has been trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers, and this has definitely hurt teachers and hurt their students as well. It threatens the future of public education in Texas,” wrote TSTA President Ovidia Molina.

“Many of these teachers will be missing from our classrooms this fall, and for others, it is only a matter of time.”

Abbott has defended the measures as a way to depoliticize education and restore power to families about what their children do and don’t learn. He is calling for “Parental Bill of Rights” legislation next year to give parents even more control, as conservatives criticize the public school system as too progressive.

“Many parents are growing increasingly powerless about what to do to regain that control. That must end,” Abbott has said. “No government program can replace the role that parents play in the education of their children.”

A spokeswoman for the governor, Renae Eze, emphasized his commitment to education funding and “support for our hardworking teachers.”

“In 2019, the Governor signed into law one of the biggest teacher pay raises in our state’s history—over $1 billion in annual investment—and established the Teacher Incentive Allotment, which puts teachers on a pathway to earning a six-figure salary while prioritizing high-need areas and rural schools,” Eze said.

The Teacher Incentive Allotment gives raises to high-performing teachers. It has been rolled out to about 10 percent of Texas’ roughly 1,200 school districts, but almost all of the funds for the statewide program go to Dallas ISD — receiving 10 times more than any other district. The program is opposed by teachers unions, which advocate instead for universal raises.

Here are a few thoughts for Governor Abbot.

You have done everything possible to politicize the classroom with your bans and censorship.

You have insulted teachers.

You have pitted parents against teachers.

You have put your money into a merit pay incentive program that has never worked anywhere in the nation. Ever.

Your gag orders, your insertion of politics into what teachers teach, your hostility to public education demonstrates your contempt for teachers.

Your devotion to vouchers shows that you prefer schools where teachers have no certification, no preparation at all to teach. If you get your way, employers will avoid Texas. You favor indoctrination over education. You oppose freedom of thought. Your students will finish high school poorly educated. Texas will go backwards.

Shame on you.

Historian Heather Cox Richardson pulls together the latest news about the continuing assault on our democracy. When the news first broke about the FBI call on Mar-A-Lago in search of sensitive documents, Republicans responded with rage, calling the FBI a Gestapo and assailing the raid as a partisan effort to smear Trump. Now that the Department of Justice has released the search warrant and the list of documents it retrieved, the furor has calmed a bit but not much. Leading Republicans continue to defend Trump, to say that he had declassified the documents he stored in his resort home, and that he had the unlimited power to declassify whatever he wanted. We will learn more as time goes by, but what puzzles me most is why Trump took any sensitive documents to his home. Why did he want them? He was famous for ignoring briefings about intelligence and security. What could he do with the documents?

Richardson writes:


Today, President Joe Biden congratulated the people of India on their 75th anniversary of independence, calling out the relationship between “our great democracies” and “our shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity.” 

Yesterday, he lamented the recent knife attack on writer Salman Rushdie, calling out Rushdie’s “insight into humanity,…his unmatched sense for story,…his refusal to be intimidated or silenced,” and his support “for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”   

But the news today is full not of the defense of democracy, but of those trying to overthrow it. 

Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron C. Davis, and Amy Gardner of the Washington Postbroke the story that after the 2020 election, as part of the effort to overturn the results, Trump’s lawyers paid computer experts to copy data from election systems in Georgia. The breach was successful and significant, although authorities maintain the machines can be secured before the next election. Led by Trump ally Sidney Powell, the group also sought security data from Michigan and Nevada, although the extent of the breaches there is unclear. They also appear to have worked on getting information from Arizona.

Georgia prosecutors have told Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he is a target in the criminal investigation of the attempt to alter the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, letting him know it is possible he will be indicted.  

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has tried to quash a subpoena requiring his testimony before a Fulton County grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, but today a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May, said he must testify. She said that “the District Attorney’s office has shown ‘extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2020 elections.’”

And yet, the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election is still spreading. Amy Gardner in the Washington Post reports that 54 out of 87 Republican nominees in the states that were battlegrounds in 2020 are election deniers. Had they held power in 2020, they could have overturned the votes for Biden and given the election to Trump. In the 41 states that have already winnowed their candidates, more than half the Republicans—250 candidates in 469 contests—claim to believe the lie that Trump won in 2020.

In the issue of Trump’s theft of classified documents from the National Archives and Records Administration when he left office, over the weekend, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported in the New York Times that last June, one of Trump’s lawyers signed a statement saying that all classified documents that had made it to Mar-a-Lago had been given back to the National Archives and Records Administration. But, of course, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last Monday revealed that assertion to be incorrect. 

The statement was made after Jay I. Bratt, the Justice Department’s top counterintelligence officer, visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3. The House and Senate intelligence committees have asked Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines to provide the committees with a damage assessment of how badly Trump’s retention of top secret classified documents in an insecure location has damaged national security.

Today, the Department of Justice has asked a judge not to unseal the affidavit behind the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, saying that it “implicates highly classified materials,” and that disclosing the affidavit right now would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.” CNN, the Washington Post,NBC News, and Scripps all asked the judge to unseal all documents related to the Mar-a-Lago search. But, “[i]f disclosed,” the Justice Department wrote, “the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps.” 

Legal analyst and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe commented: “This suggests [the Department of Justice] wasn’t just repatriating top secret doc[ument]s to get them out of Trump’s unsafe clutches but is pursuing a path looking toward criminal indictment.”

Notes:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/14/statement-by-president-joe-biden-celebrating-the-republic-of-indias-75th-anniversary-of-independence/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/13/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-the-attack-on-salman-rushdie/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2022/08/15/sidney-powell-coffee-county-sullivan-strickler/

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/15/politics/lindsey-graham-georgia-investigation/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/15/politics/justice-department-mar-a-lago-search-affidavit/index.html

Neal Katyal @neal_katyalDOJ is appropriately resisting disclosure of the Mar A Lago search affidavit because it will compromise their ongoing investigation. This is very standard and right. That said, what they said — especially about witnesses — will invariably drive Trump to be even more worried August 15th 20222,266 Retweets9,400 Likes

Laurence Tribe @tribelawThis suggests DOJ wasn’t just repatriating top secret docs to get them out of Trump’s unsafe clutches but is pursuing a path looking toward criminal indictment https://t.co/9uLeJkc7yvScott MacFarlane @MacFarlaneNewsALERT: Justice Dept asks court to keep Mar-a-lago search warrant affidavit UNDER SEAL. “Disclosure at this juncture of the affidavit supporting probable cause would, by contrast, cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation”August 15th 20221,161 Retweets4,709 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/15/election-deniers-march-toward-power-key-2024-battlegrounds/

Beth L. Matters on is a college professor in Florida. She describes how she will respond to DeSantis’ censorship laws: She will ignore them.

She writes:

In a couple of weeks, I’ll walk back into my college classroom and continue my second decade of teaching at one of Florida’s universities. Despite the recently passed HB 7 Amendment (Stop WOKE Act), I won’t be adjusting my syllabi to remove readings or discussions that make students “uncomfortable,” and I won’t pretend that systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and other forms of oppression do not exist. I will not “whitewash” our country’s history or minimize the challenges and oppression that so many still experience, especially those who are women and/or members of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Instead, I will do what I have always done. I will select the creative work of writers who belong to all sorts of communities, and I will require students to read their stories and discuss the work and their themes. Some of those themes are difficult and may make many of us uncomfortable, no matter how we identify or what community we’re in….

I purposefully select work by members of marginalized communities, because many of my students have not yet heard these voices… and many of my students belong to these communities. Recently, among other work, my students read, “Heavy: An American Memoir″ by Kiese Laymon and poems by Danez Smith. Both of these authors address race, class, whiteness, sexuality, politics, family and body image. Smith’s work also addresses homophobia and police brutality, and other topics that are “uncomfortable.”

What if every teacher in Florida did the same? They can’t arrest everyone.

Massive resistance.

John Thompson is a historian and a retired teacher. He follows politics in Oklahoma closely. This article appeared first in the OkObserver.

The arc of the history of corporate school reform has been tragic; the survival of public education in a meaningful and equitable manner is in doubt in Oklahoma and much of the rest of the nation. To understand how and why this catastrophe happened, Tennessee provides perhaps the best case study.

This multi-generational assault on schools took off during the Reagan administration with its spin on A Nation at Risk, which misrepresented the report’s research. Back then, these attacks were largely propelled by two theologies: evangelical Christianity and a worship of the “Free Market.” Two decades later, corporate school reform was driven by Neoliberal ideology, and President Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which was pushed by both Republicans and Democrats and resisted by bipartisan grassroots movements of educators, parents, and students. I will always love President Obama, but during his administration the Race to the Top (RttT) undermined teachers unions, increased segregation, and drove holistic instruction and teachers (who resisted “drill and kill” teach-to-the-test malpractice) out of so many schools.

The damage was made much worse when the Trump administration further ramped up the campaign to use charter schools and vouchers to undermine public education. Now, Tennessee is again at the front of the rightwing’s “nationwide war on public schools.”

The Progressive Magazine’s Andy Spears explains that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s “point person on education policy is Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, a private, Christian evangelical school located in Michigan.” Arnn “compared public school systems to ‘enslavement’ and ‘the plague,’” and “accused teachers of ‘messing with people’s children,’ saying they are ‘trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country,’”

Spears reported, “Lee announced in his State of the State address that he’d reached an agreement with Arnn for Hillsdale to operate up to 100 charter schools in Tennessee.” Gov. Lee defended Arnn’s rhetoric, saying, “I’m not going to rebut someone who was speaking about left-wing problems in public education in this country.”

Clearly, Tennessee schools, like those in Oklahoma and many other states, are facing a new set of dangerous threats, and they do so after being weakened by the RttT, just as the RttT’s failure was made more predictable due to the damage done by the doomed-to-fail NCLB, which was a legacy of coordinated attacks on public education initiated by the Reagan administration.

In order to resist the latest ideology-driven falsehoods, lessons must be learned from Tennessee’s rushed corporate school reforms. Race to the Bottom, by former Nashville Board member Will Pinkston is a great example of what we need to learn about the last two decades of assaults that have left public education so vulnerable. Pinkston begins with an apology:

I helped sell the public on the Obama administration’s multi-billion-dollar Race to the Top competition. In my home state of Tennessee, Race to the Top delivered $501 million to benefit public schools — and along the way spawned some of the most-damaging education policies in modern American history.

Pinkston explained that the RttT was driven by the same “irrational exuberance” that the true believers in the “Free Market” expressed. Briefly and predictably, the half billion dollar gamble produced quick, temporary gains in the reliable NAEP test scores. Soon afterwards, scores stagnated and/or declined; after ten years they dropped to the pre-RttT levels.

Worse, Tennessee’s early education program did something that would previously have been thought to be virtually impossible. High-quality early education has a record of producing significant, often incomparable benefits, for the dollars invested. However, graduates from Tennessee’s pre-k programs were found to have “lower academic scores, more behavioral problems and more special education referrals than their peers who did not attend.” The author of the report on the longterm outcomes, Dale Farran, worried that the state’s “pre-K overall has become too academic, especially when it is enveloped by the school system, and children don’t get enough time to play, share their thoughts and observations, and engage in meaningful, responsive interactions with caregivers.”

From the beginning, the Tennessee teachers union (as would also prove true in Oklahoma) knew that data-driven, corporate reformers were ignoring the overwhelming body of social science as to why their quick fixes would backfire. But, states received “up to $250,000 each to hire consultants (McKinsey & Co. and The Bridgespan Group) to help them fill out their applications,” and establish “reward and punish” systems. I must add that in conversation after conversation with these smart Big Data experts, who “didn’t know what they didn’t know” about schools, they refused to listen to educators like me and social scientists explaining why their hurried, punitive corporate approach would backfire.

And as it became obvious that their mandates were failing, the blame game was ramped up and outsiders like the “American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative think tank with ties to the Koch brothers,” successfully pushed for “stripping teachers of collective bargaining rights.”

Perhaps the biggest fiasco was teacher evaluations where 35 percent of the evaluation would be based on invalid, unreliable student-growth data and algorithms that were biased against teachers in high-poverty schools. The most absurd model for firing teachers used data from students who they had not taught!

Secondly, the rush to expand charter schools led to a dramatic over-expansion of schools run by Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) (as opposed to locally-led charters that might have been good partners.) CMOs were notorious for increasing economic segregation by not welcoming and/or “exiting” high-challenge students. Fortunately, Tennessee did a better job than Oklahoma of using the courts to push back on the worst of teacher evaluations and charters that would not retain higher-challenge students.

(On the other hand, pushback led by State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister saved Oklahoma schools from a disaster which would have occurred if almost every student and teacher was held accountable for inappropriate Common Core test scores, as she pushed for more charter school accountability, and promoted high-quality early education.)

Based on his personal experience and scholarly research, Pinkston concluded, “intentionally or not, Race to the Top laid the groundwork for the attempted destruction of America’s most important democratic institution — public education.” And now, a huge increase in charter schools will advance a conservative curriculum which “relies on approaches developed by Arnn and other members of the 1776 Commission appointed by Trump to develop a ‘patriotic education’ for the nation’s schools.”

In response to the latest rightwing push described by The Progressive, Pinkston tweeted:

Fellow veterans of TN’s charter wars, just a friendly reminder: Long before Hillsdale, there was Great Hearts — which actually was pushed by Hillsdale. In the words of Nashville’s former top charter zealot Karl Dean: “It’s all connected.”

And that is why Oklahomans who are upset by Gov. Stitt’s attempts to expand charters and vouchers, ban Critical Race Theory, bully transgender students, and coerce educators into complying with these mandates should remember Tennessee’s history. Alone, those attacks would have been harmful. But today’s politics of destruction are on steroids. These assaults are more frightening because they are just the latest of destructive mandates, such as NCLB and the RttT, that have dramatically weakened public schools and undermined holistic and meaningful instruction.

During the last two decades, too many Neoliberal corporate reformers were able to “kneecap” public schools. Now we’re facing extremists who now want to go for the throat, and wipe out public education while it’s down.

So now we see the consequences of DeSantis’ fabricated culture war against African-American history. Too much—or any—attention to racism runs afoul of Florida’s STOP WOKE law. One school decided to “stop woke” by ordering the teacher to remove pictures of Black heroes. The teacher quit. Escambia County, where this happened, has a severe teacher shortage.

An Escambia County public school teacher resigned this week over what he characterized as racist behavior by a school district employee.

The teacher, Michael James, emailed a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Escambia County Superintendent Tim Smith in which he wrote that a district employee removed pictures of historic Black American heroes from his classroom walls, citing the images as being “age inappropriate.”

Images that were removed from the bulletin board at O.J. Semmes Elementary School included depictions of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriett Tubman, Colin Powell and George Washington Carver, James said.

District concludes its investigation:Escambia school district refutes teacher’s account of removal of Black leaders’ photos

“It really floored me,” James told the News Journal. “I’ve been teaching special education for 15 years, and it just really floored me when she did that.”

James chose the board’s theme because the majority of the students and the residents in the neighborhoods that surround O.J. Semmes are Black, and he wanted to motivate his students with inspirational leaders they could easily look up to and see themselves.

James, 61, of Daphne, Alabama [who is white], sent his letter to the governor Monday night. He officially resigned from his position as an exceptional student education teacher at O.J. Semmes Elementary School on Tuesday morning.

His resignation came in the midst of a national teacher shortage, a day before the start of the new school year Wednesday.

Superintendent Smith said teachers are permitted to decorate their classrooms with educational materials and he was unaware of any policies that would prohibit a teacher from displaying pictures of inspirational American heroes on their walls.

Smith said a full investigation of the incident, which he called an “anomaly,” has been launched.

Charlie Crist, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor to challenge DeSantis in November, blamed the governor’s “culture wars” for politicizing Florida’s public schools.

The district concluded its investigation and disputed the teacher’s account. It said that two staff members—including a “behavior analyst”— came to help Mr. James set up his classroom. They noticed that he had pictures of “black luminaries” in the front of the room when he should have installed a list of state standards instead.

The behavior analyst told James that the bulletin board directly behind his teaching area had to be dedicated to state-required curricular materials that he would require to teach his specific students, according to the district.

“To be clear, due to the nature of this specific population of students, it is critical the instructional materials be within their line of sight during instruction, for the purposes of student focus and retention,” read the district’s statement.

“The Behavior Analyst observed his bulletin board was ‘Awesome,’ because of the history tied to it, but the language and reading levels on the posters were too complex for this particular group of students,” the statement said.

Mr. James said that the district’s account was malarkey.

Jennifer Hall Lee is a trustee of the public schools of the Pasadena Unified School District. She explains here why public schools are the foundation stone of democracy. All of us pay taxes for public schools even if we have no children; even if our children are no longer school-age; even if our children attend private or religious schools. Supporting public schools is a civic responsibility. Paying for other people’s private choices is not.

In the Superintendent’s Enrollment Committee for the Pasadena Unified School District, a group of us are reading and discussing a book entitled American Public Education and the Responsibility of its Citizens by Sarah Stitzlein.

The book is compelling because it explains why public schools are indispensable to our democracy and how we the people are part and parcel of its success.

I chose the book for the enrollment committee because we live in a time when the importance of public schools is being lost in the trends of privatizing education. Public schools have a dynamic history that seems to keep getting lost.

Why Public Schools

So why are public schools important? Here is my answer: Every child has a seat in a public school. It sounds simple but it is quite profound. No matter who the child is or from where they came, they belong here.

Public education has had its struggles in the United States to be sure. Now we fight the hyper capitalistic phenomenon of privatization (vouchers) in order to preserve the uniquely American institution of public education. At every turn, it seems there is a private company marketing to us to let us know that our child might be better off somewhere else besides a public school.

We live in a time when we are seeing ourselves as consumers rather than citizens.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around the complexity in the world today. The political theorist Benjamin Barber in 2017 suggested that we shift our thinking about the world from seeing nations and instead see our cities, where the majority of people live. It is in the cities, he said, “where we announce ourselves as citizens and participants as people with a right to write our own narratives.”

I understand his point as we are closest to the functions of government in our local communities. We are more apt to know who our city council members are and our librarians, our school board trustees, our mayors, and our county supervisors.

I would extend Barber’s idea to our public schools.

Personally, I think of myself as an Altadenan resident and a member of the PUSD.

For me, it’s easy to support and love my local school district. Simply standing in any one of our schools is a humbling experience because our schools have been through so much history — segregation, integration, and then, unfortunately, resegregation, and now privatization, low birth rates, and high housing costs.

Throughout it all, we succeed.

The PUSD is thought of as a leader throughout the state of California. Our ideas are followed by others in the state in terms of our graduate defense and our graduate profile. We have had many successes and here are just a few:

• We are competitive. In our community, we have the largest number of private schools per capita, yet we are competitive with private schools because of our teachers, principals, signature programs, curriculum, and our diverse student body. There are private school students who choose to come to our district.

• Our graduates attend Yale, Harvard, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Pasadena City College, Howard, Occidental, USC, UC Berkeley, Tulane, UC San Diego, Brown, UC Merced, and more.

• We have been entrusted with back-to-back federal magnet grants because we have shown success.

• We are successfully achieving socio-economic integration through open enrollment.

Public and Publics

When I say public school, I emphasize public.

Please open the link and read the rest of the article.

David Lapp, director of policy research for Research for Action in Philadelphia, recently wrote about the money wasted on Cybercharters in Pennsylvania. Apparently, the industry has a strong hold on the Pennsylvania legislature. There is no other reason that it continues to thrive.

During the worst of the pandemic, schools closed for reasons of safety and caution. Cybercharters boomed to fill the gap. But with physical schools open, the truth must be told about Cybercharters: they are a poor substitute for real schools.

Lapp writes:

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools into remote learning instruction many Pennsylvania policymakers expressed deep concerns. Many lamented the impact on mental health when students stopped receiving in-person learning and the important social skills that develops. Many were upset by the evidence of significant learning loss that accompanied the switch to virtual instruction.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly even enacted a new law allowing students to voluntarily repeat a grade to make up for lost educational opportunities.

This year policymakers should consider bringing that same energy to a similarly harmful and even more wasteful form of remote learning. One that’s been growing for more than two decades and reached a boiling point during the pandemic. I’m talking about the soaring enrollment growth and accompanying financial cost of Pennsylvania’s cyber-charter school expansion.

There’s solid research both nationally and in Pennsylvania that cyber-charter schools have an “overwhelmingly negative” impact on student learning. The learning loss students experience from virtual instruction in cyber-charter schools appears similar to the learning loss students experienced from virtual instruction during the pandemic.

For each year a student is enrolled in cyber-charter school they are also more likely to experience chronic absenteeism and less like to enroll in post-secondary education.

There’s also clear evidence that spending on cyber-charter school expansion comes at the expense of students receiving in-person learning in school districts and brick & mortar charter schools, where more effective instruction is provided. In fact school districts—which pay for cyber-charter tuition from their own school budgets—have indicated that charter tuition is now their top budget pressure.

It’s easy to understand why. Pennsylvania already had the highest cyber-charter school enrollment in the country and then enrollment grew by 22,618 additional students during the pandemic. Districts are now spending over $1 billion dollars a year on cyber-charter tuition, reflecting an increase of $335 million from before the pandemic. These surging expenses impacted the vast majority of school districts in the state.

Cyber-charter tuition likely represents the most inefficient spending in Pennsylvania school finance. For one, the cyber-charter system is redundant. Both before and since the pandemic, most school districts continue to offer their own virtual schools. Secondly, the tuition rates mandated under current PA law require districts to pay cyber-charters more than it actually costs to operate virtual schools. And finally, when students leave for cyber-charter schools, districts must of course still operate their own brick & mortar schools for remaining students, only now with fewer resources….

In Research for Action’s recent report, The Negative Fiscal Impact of Cyber Charter Enrollment Due to COVID-19, we estimated that the tuition increase in just one year of the pandemic, from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, led to between $290 to $308 million of additional stranded costs borne by school districts. Nearly the entire amount of increases in school district total expenditures statewide in 2020-21 were accounted for by increases in school district tuition payments to charter schools, most of which were for cyber-charters specifically.

Meanwhile, this tuition spike has left cyber-charters in Pennsylvania flush with surplus resources. More than half of the additional funding cyber-charters received from districts in 2020-21 was not even used for student expenses. Rather, cyber- charters funneled over $170 million into their general fund balances that, unlike school districts, have no statutory limits.

Idaho should hold a referendum and let its people speak on the subject of abortion. The state has one of the strictest bans in the nation.

The Idaho Supreme Court said late Friday that the state’s strict antiabortion laws can take effect while it reviews legal challenges against the restrictions. The near-total ban on abortions is scheduled to kick in Aug. 25.


The court also lifted a stay on a separate law that allows potential relatives of a fetus to sue a provider who carries out an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. That law becomes effective immediately.


The decision was made in response to lawsuits from a Planned Parenthood chapter and a local doctor challenging laws such as Idaho’s near-total abortion trigger ban, which was designed to become enforceable shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The petitioners had asked the judiciary to suspend enforcement of the abortion restrictions until it reached a final decision.


But Idaho’s highest court denied the requests in a split decision, saying that the petitioners had failed to show that they were likely to prevail in overturning the state’s antiabortion laws.


Idaho’s abortion restrictions have exceptions for rape, incest and when the life of the pregnant person is at risk. Abortion rights supporters had previously argued in court that the medical exceptions were written so vaguely that they were impossible to follow, the Associated Press reported.
The court also noted that the petitioners had raised “serious issues” about the “lack of clarity” regarding Idaho’s medical exceptions, particularly relating to treatment for conditions such as ectopic pregnancies — when a fetus grows outside the uterus, making the pregnancy unviable — and preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication associated with dangerously high blood pressure…

The Idaho Republican Party, which calls abortion “murder from the moment of fertilization” on its platform, didn’t immediately issue a statement in response to the ruling. Its Twitter account retweeted and liked a local reporter’s update on the court’s decision.