Archives for category: Education Reform

Mercedes Schneider teaches high school in Louisiana. She is supposed to resume full-time, in person instruction in a few weeks, although her state has a 14% positivity rate for COVID.

She describes how she will rearrange her classroom and how she will teach, in detail.

I am the teacher, and I am supposed to limit my movement in my own classroom. Is every conversation with a student to be said loud enough for all to hear? Am I to teach without being able to walk up to my students or have them walk up to me? Apparently that is the expectation. But let’s not pretend that what I will be able to do for my students in my COVID-era classroom is remotely on par with normal teacher-student and student-student interaction.

In short, what I will be offering in my room is a form of distance learning to students who happen to be seated in a space in which they can see me and I can see them.

In another post, Mercedes explained that she bought two HEPA filters for her classroom. It has windows, but they don’t open. It has air-conditioners but they don’t filter the air. She is doing what she can to protect her students and herself.

Thomas Ultican continues his investigation of the tentacles of billionaire reformers, this time focusing on the tumultuous career of John Deasy, who resigned as superintendent of the Stockton, California, school district.

Ultican shows how Deasy rose to become superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, how Justin tenure there was marked by controversy as he walked in lockstep with the Eli Broad-Bill Gates agenda of charter school expansion, high-stakes testing, and huge investments in technology. His controversial decision to spend $1.3 billion on iPads and tech curriculum led to the end of his tenure in L.A.

On to Stockton, where the Mayor and three school board members were closely allied with the billionaire agenda.

A sad and cautionary tale about the destructive billionaire-funded movement to gut public schools.

In this article that appeared in Forbes, Peter Greene reviews the implications of the Network for Public Education’s report of charter school closures.

When parents choose a charter school for their child, they are gambling that the school will be around for another three or four years or longer. The odds are not good.

He writes:

Within the first three years, 18% of charters had closed, with many of those closures occurring within the first year. By the end of five years, 25% of charters had closed. By the ten year mark, 40% of charters had closed. Of the 17 cohorts, five had been around for fifteen years; within those, roughly half of all charter schools had closed (anywhere from 47% to 54%). Looked at side by side, the cohort results are fairly steady; the failure rates have not been increasing or decreasing over the years.

Charter advocates have often argued that charter churn is a feature, not a bug, simply a sign that market forces are working and that weaker schools are being sloughed off. But the NPE report notes that these closures represent at least 867,000 students who “found themselves emptying their lockers for the last time—sometimes in the middle of a school year—as their school shutters its door for good…

Charter supporters may argue that this is all just the market working itself out, but that’s hardly a comfort to parents who must go through shopping, application, enrollment and adjustment to the new school yet again. As the report acknowledges, there are charter schools doing some excellent work out there, but for parents, enrolling a child in a charter school—particularly a new one—is a bit of a risk. It’s one thing to see market forces work in a sector such as restaurants, where new businesses come and go and very few go the distance; if you discover that your new favorite eatery has suddenly closed, it’s a minor inconvenience. It’s another things to see such instability in a sector that is supposed to provide stability and education for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Governor Cuomo gave thumbs-up to reopening schools in New York so long as their plans are approved by the state. Some parents and teachers are happy. Some are worried. Sone wonder how schools will pay for testing and tracing.

Schools have already opened in a few other states, and their experiences bear watching.

There is still much about the virus that is unknown, and some states (California and Georgia) reopened too soon, sone states are watching upticks in the infection rate (Massachusetts, New Jeraey), some nations reopened too soon (Israel, Spain, South Korea).

A seven-year-old boy with no pre-existing conditions died of COVID-19 in Georgia.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote today:

If the national failure has an image, it is the photo of the crowded hallway of a high school in Paulding County, Ga., this week, where schools rushed to reopen with a mask-optional policy even though an outbreak was underway. As schools reopen without safeguards, the virus is already hitting students and staff in Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi and Kansas.

It didn’t have to be this way. Cornell researchers report that other countries have found ways to reopen schools — with self-administered tests with overnight results (Germany), daily temperature checks (China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan), staggered arrival times (Japan, Israel), measures to let vulnerable staff work remotely (Britain, Israel, Denmark), and policies prioritizing elementary schools for reopening (Denmark, Norway). They’ve expanded transportation, limited class size, spaced desks, installed partitions, closed public spaces and moved classes outside.

The successful countries also had a crucial precondition: a low infection rate. A new article in the Lancet calculates that in order for British schools to reopen full-time in September, 75 percent of people with symptoms would need to be tested, positive cases isolated and 68 percent of contacts traced. Otherwise, a resulting new wave could be twice as bad as the first.

Here in the United States, testing, isolation and tracing capability lag badly, while Trump falsely claims children are “almost immune” from the virus and his education secretary claims children are “stoppers of the disease.”

How was the most powerful and advanced nation on earth brought so low? Of the various causes, one rises above all: The incompetence and selfishness of just one man.

Today, the Network for Public Education released a new report on the astonishing rate at which charter schools close. The period covered in the report was 1999-2017, using data collected by the U.S. Department of Education. The findings were researched by Ryan Pfleger, Ph.D., and written by Carol Burris, executive director of NPE.

Contact: Carol Burris
Phone: 516 993 2141
Email: cburris@networkforpubliceducation.org

A new report shows that half of the nation’s charter schools fail during their first fifteen years. The report concludes that nearly one million students have been stranded by charters that closed.

A newly released report by the Network for Public Education (NPE) tracked the longevity of charter schools that opened during the same year in order to determine the rate and progression of charter school failure. Analyzing a database that tracks charter schools over two decades, the report documents an astounding 50% failure rate by the close of year 15.

Commenting on the report’s analysis and findings, NPE Executive Director, Carol Burris, said, “We asked education researcher Ryan Pfleger, Ph.D. to analyze the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data to determine charter school failure rates at the 3, 5, 10 and 15-year marks. We were shocked to find that even by year 5, less time than it takes for a child to complete elementary education, 27% of charter schools are gone.”

Pfleger analyzed charter schools in the United States as far back as possible given the data available. Using enrollment numbers from the final year that the charter school was open, he documented that more than 867,000 students were enrolled in charters that closed between 1999 and 2017. “If we added closures prior to 1999 and subsequent to 2017, it is likely that one million students have been displaced,” he observed.

The study also found that charter closures were most likely to occur in the poorest neighborhoods of America’s poorest cities.

Dountonia Batts, an NPE Board member, and former Indiana charter school teacher concurred with the findings of the report, “I had students whose high school experience was completed at three different schools because of closing after closing. The marketing to the broader community is that charters are better for vulnerable students, which likely eases the collective conscience of those who benefit from the voluntary re-segregation of schools by choice. The students who often feel the hurt first are in black and brown communities where the charter product is peddled as a civil rights solution.”

Commenting on the report, historian of education Diane Ravitch concluded, “The public school should be a stable institution in every community, always there for children and families. Unfortunately, as this report shows, charter schools are inherently unstable. Charters fail for a variety of reasons, mainly because they are a market mechanism, like shoe stores or restaurants. Here today, gone tomorrow.”

The report, Broken Promises: An Analysis of Charter School Closures 1999-2017, and an animated map that shows the accumulation of failures across the United States can be found at https://networkforpubliceducation.org/brokenpromises.

The Washington Post reported this morning on a district in Tennessee that is opening for in-person instruction, even though the state is experiencing rising rates of coronavirus. Someone has to go first, and Blount County has decided to try it. The nation is watching.

The story was written by A.C. Shilton and Joe Heim, with the help of Valerie Strauss.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — It was just before 7:30 a.m. when the line of Blount County Schools buses grumbled into the parking lot of Heritage High School and began dropping off students — some wearing masks, others barefaced — into the fraught new world of in-school education during a pandemic.

At the flagpole in front of the school, two unmasked teens hugged before sitting down in a small group to chat until the bell rang. The scene of students reuniting could have been from any other first day of school in any other year. But over their shoulders, an early August thunderstorm brewed above the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains — an almost-too-perfect metaphor for what many parents and teachers here, and across the country, worry is coming.

Last week, the district began a staggered reopening, making it one of the first in the country to attempt a full return. The goal was to have everyone who wanted to return back in school by Aug. 10. On Tuesday morning, the district changed its plan, opting to allow only half the students to return on alternating days through Aug. 21 with the goal of keeping class sizes smaller while the district eases into full attendance.

The success or failure of the Blount County school district’s reopening — as well as early attempts in Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and elsewhere — will be watched closely by many of the country’s 13,500 other school districts, which will at some point have to navigate these same ominous waters.

Already there have been significant setbacks in districts that have attempted to bring students back. A day after teachers returned to work in Georgia’s Gwinnett County last week, some 260 employees tested positive or had possibly been exposed to the novel coronavirus and were told to stay home. At Corinth High School in Mississippi, in-person classes started last week, and within days five students tested positive for the coronavirus and others went into quarantine as a result of contact tracing, according to a statement by the school district. A photo of a packed Paulding County, Ga., high school hallway with few students wearing masks went viral Tuesday as many people expressed concern about how schools could safely reopen.

With coronavirus cases reported at some reopened schools, protesters take to the streets with fake coffins
For months, administrators, teachers and staff members in this eastern Tennessee district have been preparing for the best way to safely return its 10,542 students to the classroom. The plans evolved as officials responded to information about how the coronavirus spreads as well as pressure from some parents and politicians to open the schools on time. As new cases of the coronavirus increased in the county in July, more parents began wondering whether reopening was a good idea.

Finding a path that works for everyone has not been easy. According to the school district, 75 percent of students are returning for in-school learning, while the remainder have opted to continue with virtual learning.

“Although we rejoice in seeing many of our students back in school, we recognize that reopening comes with levels of concern and anxiety,” the district’s director of schools, Rob Britt, wrote in a letter to parents in late July. “Please be assured that protecting the health and safety of our students and our staff is our top priority, and we will do our best to reduce and slow the infection rate through our daily health practices.”
One of the more contentious issues in Blount County has been whether masks need to be worn all day by students. Some parents have insisted they won’t send their kids back if masks are required all day. Other parents won’t send their kids back unless they are.

While masks are not mandatory in the school’s reopening plan (the district notes that masks are not an enforceable part of the dress code), they are expected in any situation in which social distancing is not possible, such as class changes. The district plan also encourages parents to drive their children to school in private vehicles. Students who ride buses will have to sit one per seat unless they are in the same family.

As for what happens when there’s a case of the coronavirus in a child’s classroom, the district states it will notify parents only when their child has been within six feet for more than 10 minutes with a positive case. In the classroom, the district promises “thoughtful group sizes,” though there’s no clear definition of how many students that is. School district officials declined to be interviewed for this article or to say whether any student or teacher in the district had tested positive for the virus.

Depending on who you talk to here, the Blount County school district’s decision to fully reopen schools this week with in-classroom learning is either a careful and necessary return to traditional teaching or an unwise choice that could endanger many in the wider community.

For Joshua Chambers, a single father of three whose wife passed away two years ago, the return of in-school learning is a huge relief.

“I’m perfectly okay with them going back. Doing virtual was impossible for me,” said Chambers, 46, a machinist who works 50-hour weeks and has children in ninth grade, eighth grade and kindergarten.

Chambers said he thinks the district has put a good plan in place and is taking the necessary precautions to keep children and teachers safe. Like many parents interviewed for this story, he said it has been difficult to find reliable information on the risks involved. His biggest worry is that an outbreak of cases will cause the schools to be shut down again.

“A lot of families in this area, both parents work and they need to be at work,” he said. “If the schools close, it’ll be a logistical nightmare for me, and I don’t know how I could get it done short of hiring a tutor. And that’s sort of out of my price range.”

Jennie Summers has boys in eighth and sixth grade and a daughter in second. She and her husband said that even though it wouldn’t look like a normal school year, it was important for their children to be back in class with other students.

Summers studied the district’s plan and did her own research. Her main objection was to the possibility of masks being required all day in all circumstances. She was a little nervous when the kids left for their first day of school last week, but she said she was reassured after talking with them when they came home.

“We all realize it’s different than what it should be for our kids, but there’s no way to have what we want right now,” Summers said. “Most of the people I talked to had pretty good days and were pleased with what went on. It was nice to even hear the normal first-day-of-school whining from the kids.”

Her son, Joshua Summers, 13, began his first day of eighth grade at a county middle school on Friday. Everyone wore masks, there were signs in the halls reminding students to wash their hands between classes, and the class sizes were smaller, he said. Because everyone had become accustomed to wearing masks, it didn’t seem odd to him to see students wearing them in school.

“It was basically the same as last year. I was a bit nervous, but that’s what usually happens on the first day of school,” Joshua said. “Everyone was just happy to see their friends again.”

All summer long, Cindy Faller has agonized over whether to send her daughter, Ellie, to first grade in Blount County this fall. At first, as stay-at-home orders seemed to be tamping out Tennessee’s spread, she had felt hopeful about Ellie going back. In July, as coronavirus cases throughout Tennessee kept climbing, Faller couldn’t help but feel as though the odds were shifting, and not in the right direction.

Faller used to be a special-education teacher in Knox County, which borders Blount. Having experienced firsthand all the sticky fingers and hugs and body fluids that seem to be part and parcel when dealing with first-graders, Faller just couldn’t imagine how social distancing would work. “I refuse to expose my daughter to this disease at this extent, and I also don’t think it’s possible to keep them safe,” she said.

According to the state of Tennessee, since March, Blount County has had 1,186 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Of those cases, 509 are active. Right now, the county is averaging 42.07 new cases a day, a level deemed “above threshold” by the state.

Elsewhere in the state, cities and counties are all approaching school reopening slightly differently. Knox County has a similar case rate, with 843.78 cases per 100,000. Knox County, however, has decided to push back reopening until Aug. 24. Nashville, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, will begin the 2020 school year with online learning only.

Closing schools around the world could cause a ‘generational catastrophe,’ U.N. secretary general warns
Across the globe, countries such as Finland and South Korea have successfully navigated school reopenings without case spikes, especially in primary schools. Up until late June, South Korea boasted that it didn’t have a single coronavirus case spreading in a classroom.

Not every country has had that same success, though. Israel opened schools in May, but by early June officials had closed 100 of those schools as cases surged all over the country. Officials in Israel said it’s unclear how much spread happened at school vs. in the community, but at one middle and high school more than 100 students and 25 staff members tested positive for the virus.

In a paper published July 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors argue that reopening primary schools is important and that many countries have successfully opened them without dire repercussions. They note one important difference, however, between what’s happening abroad and here: In every case except Israel, countries had contained the spread to less than one new daily case per 100,000 residents. The United States has 18 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a Washington Post analysis of the data.

Tiffani Russell also researched the plans to return to school, and she and her husband decided they weren’t comfortable sending their seventh- and second-grade children back for in-school learning. The couple both work but have altered their schedules and made arrangements with a neighbor so they can stick with the school’s virtual plan until they feel in-school learning is safer.

“Not everyone can do virtual, but they shouldn’t be opening [schools] anyway, because it’s not safe for our children,” Russell said. “And you can’t just think about the kids, you have to think about the bus drivers, the workers, the teachers.”

Rebecca Dickenson, a librarian at Eagleton Elementary School and the president of the Blount County Education Association, which represents the district’s teachers, wears a mask and a face shield whenever she’s around students. While that combo gets hot, she says, by far the hardest part of the first few days has been the strict no-hugs policy. “That’s my favorite part of being an elementary school teacher,” she says.

Dickenson is 40 and considers herself low-risk, but she lives with her sister, who has an autoimmune disorder. Every evening, when Dickenson returns home from school, she de-scrubs the way a nurse might, shedding her clothes at the door and beelining for the shower.

“If I really think about it, it’s very worrying. I’m not so much worried about myself getting sick, but if I get sick and I don’t know it, if I spread it, that’s so many people I am in contact with,” she said.

How to stop magical thinking in school reopening plans

The division in the county reflects the national debate about whether schools should reopen with students back in classrooms. President Trump has repeatedly urged districts to fully reopen, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has threatened to withdraw federal funds from districts that don’t. At the same time, top health officials in the administration, including the White House’s top coronavirus coordinator, Deborah Birx, and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have cautioned about reopening in areas where the virus continues to thrive.

Last week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced the state’s plan to reopen schools, saying that “in-person learning is the medically sound, preferred option” and urging districts to make in-classroom learning available to students.

But on Monday, the Tennessee Education Association responded on behalf of the state’s teachers to call for a pause on reopening across the state because of increasing rates of new coronavirus infections.

“Educators want to get back to in-person instruction,” said TEA President Beth Brown in a statement. “However, it is prudent and not contrary to Tennessee law to delay reopening school buildings for the next several weeks, when hopefully the data shows new infections have slowed.”

For now, though, the Blount County school district is moving forward with its plan to get students back in classrooms.

Ashley McCall is a bilingual third-grade teacher of English Language Arts in Chicago Public Schools. She asked in a recent post on her blog whether we might seize this opportunity to reimagine schooling for the future, to break free of a stale and oppressive status quo that stifles both children and teachers.

She writes:

“What if?” I thought. What if we did something different, on purpose? What if we refused to return to normal? Every week seems to introduce a new biblical plague and unsurprisingly, the nation is turning to schools to band-aid the situation and create a sense of “normalcy”–the same normalcy that has failed BIPOC communities for decades.

In her memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist, Patrisse Khan-Cullors states that “our nation [is] one big damn Survivor reality nightmare”. It always has been. America’s criminal navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic further highlights the ways we devalue the lives of the most vulnerable. We all deserve better than Survivor and I don’t want to help sustain this nightmare. I want to be a part of something better.

What If We Designed a School Year for Recovery?

“What if?” I thought. What if Chicago Public Schools (CPS) did something radical with this school year? What if this fastest-improving urban district courageously liberated itself from narrow and rigid quantitative measures of intelligence that have colonized the education space for generations, and instead blazed a trail for reimagining what qualifies as valuable knowledge?

What if we put our money, time and energy into what we say matters most? What if this school year celebrated imagination? In We Got This, Cornelius Minor reminds us that “education should function to change outcomes for whole communities.” What if we designed a school year that sought to radically shift how communities imagine, problem solve, heal, and connect?

What if this messy school year prioritized hard truths and accountability? What if social emotional instruction wasn’t optional or reduced to one cute poster? What if we focused on district wide capacity-building for, and facilitation of, restorative justice practices?

What if the CPS Office of Social Emotional Learning (OSEL) had more than about 15 restorative practice coaches to serve over 600 schools? What if we let students name conflicts and give them the space, tools, and support to address and resolve them? What if restorative justice was a central part of this year’s curricula?

What If We Really Listened?

What if we made space to acknowledge the fear, anxiety, frustration and confusion students, staff, and families are feeling? What if we listened? What if we made space to acknowledge the anger and demands of students? What if our priority was healing? Individual and collective. What if we respected and honored the work of healers and invested in healing justice?

What if our rising 8th-graders and seniors prepared for high school and post-secondary experiences by centering their humanity and the humanity of others? What if healthy, holistic, interconnected citizenship was a learning objective? What if we tracked executive functioning skills and habits of mind? What if for “homework” families had healing conversations?

What If We Made Life the Curriculum?

What if we recognized that life—our day-to-day circumstances and our response to them—is curricula? It’s the curricula students need, especially now as our country reckons with its identity. What if we remembered that reading, writing, social studies, mathematics, and science are built into our understanding of and response to events every day?

She goes on to describe how this reimagining could infuse the school and the curriculum and the way teachers teach.

School reformers and billionaire philanthropists say they want innovation. Do you think Bill Gates, the Waltons, Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, and their friends would fund districts that want genuine innovation of the kind Ashley McCall describes?

Glen Brown taught for many years in Illinois public schools.

This Retired Teacher’s Concerns

This is a letter to retired teachers who knowingly disregard the current crisis that teachers confront this fall and most likely next spring because of the dangerous Covid-19 pandemic.

Let me begin by asking them a few questions:

Where is your concern for current teachers (who, by the way, are funding your pension)? Have you forgotten or lost your love and respect for what teachers do each day? Is it because of your callous self-absorption or self-regard, or is it your indolence and complicity that make you uninterested, disinterested or indifferent?

I want to know where is your protest against the dangers of reopening schools in a pandemic? Where is your outrage? Where is your moral courage? Where is your sensibility and compassion? Where is your sense of community and sense of duty? Where is your responsibility and solidarity with today’s teachers?

I want to believe it is not because you are just too damn busy enjoying your retirement to care about the prevailing and serious quandary that current teachers contend with right now.

Of course, I presume many of you could have health issues, vulnerabilities, or other responsibilities; nevertheless, many working teachers have medical problems, susceptibilities, and other obligations as well.

Now, imagine you are a teacher today.

You are afraid that you cannot teach effectively because you are afraid: You are afraid of contracting the coronavirus and infecting your family and others. You are afraid of your students contracting the coronavirus and infecting their families. You are afraid for students who ride buses and for bus drivers who bring them to school and home each day.

You are afraid that frequent hand-washing is impossible for students to do throughout the entire day. You are afraid there is not enough space in your classroom for proper distancing. You are afraid social distancing and wearing cloth masks for hours is impossible for students. You are afraid of students eating lunches without masks, passing in hallways, and congregating in bathrooms or by their lockers. You are afraid your students cannot safely “socialize” in a pandemic despite the irrational push to send them to school. You are afraid some parents will undermine your safety concerns (“This pandemic is a political hoax”).

You are afraid of airborne transmission of the coronavirus that thrives indoors, especially in closed spaces. You are afraid the windows cannot be opened or will not be opened in inclement weather. You are afraid your school’s ventilation system is antiquated or poor (where “air is not properly filtered, diluted and exchanged”); that the HVAC system has not been upgraded and will easily spread the coronavirus. You are afraid that every surface in your school will not be sanitized every day.

You are afraid your school will have insufficient Personal Protective Equipment to keep everyone healthy and safe, such as portable HEPA air purifiers for each room, N-95 masks, Nitrile gloves, face shields, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizers…

You are afraid you will not be able to tell the difference between the symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu, or the difference between the coronavirus and the common cold, or the difference between the coronavirus and common allergies. You are afraid of asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.

You are afraid your school cannot guarantee everyone’s health and safety through reliable and consistent testing and contact tracing. You are afraid administrators and the school board lack the expertise to determine health and safety measures for students, teachers and staff.

You are afraid of airborne transmission of the coronavirus that thrives indoors, especially in closed spaces. You are afraid the windows cannot be opened or will not be opened in inclement weather. You are afraid your school’s ventilation system is antiquated or poor (where “air is not properly filtered, diluted and exchanged”); that the HVAC system has not been upgraded and will easily spread the coronavirus. You are afraid that every surface in your school will not be sanitized every day.

You are afraid your school will have insufficient Personal Protective Equipment to keep everyone healthy and safe, such as portable HEPA air purifiers for each room, N-95 masks, Nitrile gloves, face shields, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizers…

You are afraid you will not be able to tell the difference between the symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu, or the difference between the coronavirus and the common cold, or the difference between the coronavirus and common allergies. You are afraid of asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.

You are afraid your school cannot guarantee everyone’s health and safety through reliable and consistent testing and contact tracing. You are afraid administrators and the school board lack the expertise to determine health and safety measures for students, teachers and staff.

You are afraid of the blatant incompetence of some of your administrators, the risky agenda of the school board, and the selfish priorities of many parents in your school district. You are afraid for your students’ lives. You are afraid of dying needlessly for the U.S economy.

You would be afraid too.

Until this country has a unified and coherent federal, state and local strategy; until the federal government increases its funding for school health and safety for all schools across this nation; until there is federal funding for parents to assist with their at-home childcare and technology and federal funding to feed disadvantaged children; until business entrepreneurs and the Trump administration (and not the schools!) solve the false choice they have created for parents of school-age children—all schools across this nation should open only on online this fall and not until this pandemic is totally under control!

Furthermore, until the morons among us stop spreading misinformation and conspiracies because of their own gullibility and ignorance; until the Creons among us cease their stubbornness and spitefulness; until the pathological narcissists among us end their gas-lighting, this unabated coronavirus will continue to proliferate, and thousands of Americans will die.

-Glen Brown

Retired Teacher

From today’s Washington Post:

President Trump threatened a lawsuit Monday after Nevada passed legislation Sunday to send mail-in ballots to all voters in response to the pandemic, claiming without evidence that the move was illegal and that Democrats were “using Covid” to win the election.

“In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state,” Trump tweeted. “Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”

The tweet was Trump’s latest salvo directed at undermining confidence in mail-in balloting, which states are increasingly embracing in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Trump floated the idea of postponing the presidential election as more states move toward mail voting.

In other Monday morning tweets, Trump continued his push to fully reopen schools, even as some of the nation’s largest districts are delaying in-person instruction amid continuing spread of the virus.

Trump also claimed that the United States is doing much better dealing with the virus than most other countries — a claim inconsistent with the facts — and blamed the media for trying to make him and the country look “as bad as possible.”

Trump’s tweets were largely at odds with an assessment Sunday by Deborah Birx, the physician overseeing the White House’s epidemic response.

During an appearance on CNN, she said outbreaks are increasing in both rural and urban areas, touching isolated parts of the country that once counted on their remoteness to keep them safe.

“What we’re seeing today is different from March and April,” Birx told CNN. “It is extraordinarily widespread.”

Marla Kilfoyle, who used to be executive director of the BadAss Teachers Association, is now the Grassroots Coordinator for the Network for Public Education. She stays in touch with grassroots organizations of parents and teachers and other supporters of public schools across the nation.

Here is her report for the month of September.

The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of 150 grassroots organizations nationwide who have joined together to preserve, promote, improve, and strengthen our public schools. If you know of a group that would like to join this powerful network, please go here to sign on.

If you have any questions about the NPE Grassroots Education Network please contact Marla Kilfoyle, NPE Grassroots Education Network Liaison at marlakilfoyle@networkforpubliceducation.org

Notes from Marla

As communities continue to struggle with school reopening plans, organizations in the NPE Grassroots Education Network are taking the lead in making sure this can be done safely and with the best interest of students and teachers in mind. As you read through this newsletter, you will see some of the amazing work that organizations are doing across the country to come up with safe, and equitable, plans to reopen school (in whatever form that looks like). On another note, Carol, Darcie, Diane, and I have been hard at work this month tracking charter schools that took COVID stimulus PPP money that was meant for our struggling small business owners. Charter schools DID NOT lose their funding stream and should NOT have taken money meant for small businesses to be able to pay their employees while closed. Please share Carol’s article in the Washington Post Answer Sheet and our Act Now Action Alert to help expose this outrageous money grab. Please help us amplify the message by sharing the Action Alert here. We are humbled by the outpouring of help that we have gotten from around the country to expose this. Again, I hope everyone is safe and well.

Keep reading!