Jeff Bryant writes here about promising developments in New Mexico. where educators are reimagine the future of schools.

Not many people would think of New Mexico as an educational paradigm. Its test scores and very low, and it’s child poverty rate is very high. It endured eight years of a Republican Governor who believed in Je Bush’s ideology of high-stakes testing, test-based evaluation of teachers, and choice. That model produced no improvement, but quite a lot of teacher alienation.

Bryant interviewed the state president of the NEA,who filled him in on the union’s dreams for the future.

“I think we’re all going to be different after this,” Mary Parr-Sanchez told me in a phone call, “but I don’t know how.” Parr-Sanchez is the current president of NEA-New Mexico, the National Education Association’s affiliate in the Land of Enchantment, and “this” of course is the profound trauma of schooling amidst COVID-19…

Our current governor [Michelle Lujan Grisham] is showing impressive leadership, but our previous governor of eight years drove education into the ground,” she said, referring to former Governor Susana Martinez, whose administration’s response to the economic downturn during the Great Recession was to slash education spending, expand privately operated charter schools to compete for funding, and impose a punitive regime of evaluating teachers and schools based on high-stakes standardized testing.

Some of the heavy-handed evaluation systems Martinez championed have been repealed by Governor Lujan Grisham, but New Mexico still funds its schools less than it did in 2008.

Much of what Martinez imposed on New Mexico were pillars of education policy that started with No Child Left Behind legislation passed during the George W. Bush presidential administration and extended under the Barack Obama presidency.

“I loved being a teacher in the 1990s,” Parr-Sanchez recalled, “but since No Child Left Behind [which became law in 2002], all the joy was taken out of teaching. The test-and-punish program got us nowhere, and for the past 10 years, teachers have felt like they’ve been under assault.”

Despite these onerous policies, Parr-Sanchez saw the emergence of a different, more promising school model in her state.

“When I first learned of the community schools model, it hit me like a lightning bolt,” she told me. “I loved it because it focused on [the academic and non-academic needs of children], and the focus was on learning and a culturally relevant curriculum, not just test scores. The movement for community schools brought the joy of teaching back for me.”

Now, she is convinced the community schools model is the most promising way forward for schools as they reopen to the new realities of recovering from the fallout of COVID-19.

“In our state’s response to the pandemic, we’ve had to be very sensitive to issues of poverty, and the state has challenged districts to reach all children, including special education students and homeless students,” she explained. In this kind of emergency situation, she believes community schools have an advantage because “the model enables you to look at the whole child.” (A whole child approach considers more than just students’ academic outcomes to include attention to students’ health, mental, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions that often have more impact on students’ abilities to learn.)

“What happens during the school day is not enough to improve the trajectory of children until you deal with what is really going on in children’s lives. Are they hungry? Are they homeless? The testing agenda took us away from addressing this. Community schools can bring us back.”

This story just appeared in the Washington Post. Mattis criticized Trump. Trump tweeted a vicious insult about Mattis to discredit him. Kelly defended Mattis. To work for this sociopath is to risk your reputation. It used to be said that Mattis and Kelly worked for Trump in service to the nation, to rein in his basest, most impulsive actions. They are gone. Trump now is completely surrounded by sycophants.

Read to the end. What Trump tweeted about General Mattis is disgraceful.

President Trump’s former chief of staff John F. Kelly defended former defense secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday over Mattis’s criticism of the president’s handling of nationwide protests. Kelly also dismissed Trump’s assertion that the president fired the retired general in 2018.

“The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said in an interview. “The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused. The president tweeted a very positive tweet about Jim until he started to see on Fox News their interpretation of his letter. Then he got nasty. Jim Mattis is a honorable man.”

Mattis tendered his resignation in 2018, citing his disagreement with Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria.

On Wednesday, he released a statement criticizing Trump’s handling of protests that have erupted across the country following the killing of George Floyd in police custody last week.

Mattis accused Trump of deliberately trying to divide Americans, taking exception to his threats of military force on U.S. streets, and praising those demanding justice following death of Floyd, an African American man living in Minneapolis.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote in a statement first published by the Atlantic. Trump later criticized Mattis in a tweet.

“Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about. His nickname was ‘Chaos’, which I didn’t like, & changed it to ‘Mad Dog’,” Trump tweeted. “His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations. I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom ‘brought home the bacon’. I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!”


Over the past few weeks, Peter Greene has written several articles on the subject of “Why Teach Literature?”

He writes faster than I can post, so I am far behind.

Greene includes all of the articles in this series.

Now you can read them all in one sitting!

The full statement by General James Mattis, who was Trump’s Secretary of Defense.

James Mattis full statement

In Union There Is Strength

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.

Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more
forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.'” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.
James Mattis

Great news for public schools in Tennessee!

The Tennessee Supreme Court refused to assume jurisdiction of the voucher case and refused to grant a stay of the lower court decision overruling the state’s voucher law.

Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 20-0143-II
No. M2020-00683-SC-RDM-CV ___________________________________
On May 20, 2020, Intervening Defendants Ciera Calhoun, Greater Praise Christian Academy, Alexandria Medlin, Sensational Enlightenment Academy Independent School, and David Wilson, Sr. filed in this Court a motion to assume jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 48 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Code Annotated section 16-3-201(d). On that same date, Intervening Defendants Natu Bah, Star Brumfield, Bria Davis, and Builiguissa Diallo filed a motion to assume jurisdiction. On May 21, 2020, Defendants the Tennessee Department of Education, Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in her official capacity as Education Commissioner, and Governor Bill Lee, in his official capacity, filed a motion to assume jurisdiction. On May 21, 2020, Defendants the Tennessee Department of Education, Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in her official capacity as Education Commissioner, and Governor Bill Lee, in his official capacity also filed a motion for review of orders denying a stay of injunction pursuant to Rule 7(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rule 62.08 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. On May 29, 2020, Roxanne McEwen, David P. Bichell, Terry Jo Bichell, Lisa Mingrone, Claudia Russell, Inez Williams, Sheron Davenport, Heather Kenney, Elise McIntosh, Tracy O’Connor, and Apryle Young (collectively the “McEwen Plaintiffs”) filed a motion for leave to file an amicus brief and tendered their brief pursuant to Rule 31 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.
The McEwen Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file an amicus brief is GRANTED, and the brief lodged by them shall be accepted as filed as of the date of this order.

The Court has carefully considered each of the motions to assume jurisdiction, the motion for review of orders denying a stay of injunction, Plaintiffs’ responses in opposition to those motions, and the brief of the amicus. Based upon the current totality of the circumstances, including the relevant timeline and the procedural posture of this case, the Court concludes that this case does not warrant the extraordinary action of the exercise of the Court’s authority to assume jurisdiction. As a result, the motions to assume jurisdiction must be DENIED. For similar reasons, the Court further concludes that the motion for review of orders denying a stay of injunction is DENIED.


Harold Meyerson, editor-in-large at The American Prospect, writes here about the risks and dangers of sending the military to restore peace on American soil.

Within just a single hour on Monday afternoon, Donald Trump broke new ground for an American president in two distinct ways. First, in awkwardly and hesitantly brandishing a Bible outside St. John’s Church, he became the first U.S. president to publicly demonstrate how unaccustomed he is to actually holding a book. (“A Bible? I won’t have to read from it, will I? Is this the same one I got sworn in on? Can I just take the oath for my second term and be done with all this election shit?”)

Second, and more importantly, Trump also casually announced he’d send in the troops—which could mean federalizing the National Guard or actually unleashing the Army on America’s cities—if he thought governors and mayors weren’t sufficiently beating the crap out of protesters or rioters (it wasn’t clear which from what he said, and from the way such actions usually play out). What was clear was that he saw such action as a way to intensify his campaign against the Democrats in this year’s election: He’d come off as the tough guy (and presumably more effectual than he’s been in dealing with the pandemic and the economic collapse), while painting the Democrats as the world’s worst wusses.

It’s the absence of all calculations save the political that makes Trump’s intervention something new under the American sun. After all, presidents have sent in the troops before under a range of conditions. Rutherford B. Hayes sent in the Army to break the nationwide railroad strike of 1877, while Grover Cleveland did the same during the Pullman Strike of 1894. Interventions on behalf of equal rights have happened, too: In 1863, Abraham Lincoln sent Union troops (some of whom were still recovering from fighting at Gettysburg) to New York to suppress an anti-draft riot that had turned into a mass lynching of African Americans. In 1957, Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock to protect the first nine black children to integrate a school there. And throughout most of his two terms as president, Ulysses Grant deployed federal troops to the South to enforce Reconstruction and suppress the Ku Klux Klan. Though the actions Grant ordered were increasingly unpopular in not just the white South but the white North, too, and though Grant understood full well the depth of their unpopularity, his sense of duty and fairness compelled him to keep dispatching the troops.

It’s the absence of all calculations save the political that makes Trump’s intervention something new under the American sun.
Sometimes, a sense of duty and fairness, abetted by prudence and calculation, has kept a president from sending in the troops when powerful interests have clamored for it. I’ve written on several occasions that the most radical thing Franklin Roosevelt ever did was … nothing. When San Francisco and Minneapolis were shut down in 1934 by general strikes, American big business and conservatives demanded FDR send in the troops; many of them did the same when autoworkers illegally occupied General Motors factories in Flint, Michigan, in the winter of 1936-1937. During the San Francisco strike (at which time, Roosevelt was Hawaii-bound in mid-Pacific, on the cruiser Houston) and the other worker uprisings, however, Roosevelt declined to deploy the Army. As he told reporters, off the record but recorded nonetheless, “In the San Francisco strike a lot of people completely lost their heads and telegraphed me, ‘For God’s sake, come back; turn the ship around.’ Everybody demanded that I sail into San Francisco Bay, all flags flying and guns double-shotted, and end the strike.” By refusing to move against striking workers in 1934, FDR laid some of the groundwork for the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act one year later. By refusing to move against the GM sit-downers, he midwifed the birth of industrial unionism and the creation of a decently paid working class, which endured for the next 40 years.

But even among presidents who did send in troops, not a one did so for such purely electoral calculations as Trump—as ever, blazing a new path in America’s journey, albeit straight to hell.

Stephen Dyer was in the Ohio legislature when the state’s Edchoice voucher program started as a small initiative. Since then, it has grown, despite research showing that it provides no education benefit to students while taking money away from public schools.

In this post, he announces the launch of a program to educate the public about how vouchers harm their public schools. Every dollar allotted to a voucher school is a dollar less for public schools.

As districts face huge budget cuts in the coming school years, it behooves them to defend every dollar they can so their students have all they need to succeed. That’s why the folks at Real Choice Ohio, which fought for years to help districts cope with charter school losses to great success, have started a series of workshops to help districts educate and inform parents nd their communities about the dangers of the EdChoice vouchers to their kids and other kids’ futures.

The first pillar of these conferences deals with the overall problem facing districts and the kids theiy serve. I am helping to lead this pillar, complete with Power Point presentations and I will be moderating an all-star panel on the EdChoice and voucher problem next week.

Open the post to learn how to sign up.

The Washington Post Fact Checker, Glen Kessler and his team (it takes a team), has written a book about Trump’s lies.

James Hohmann of the WaPo writes about it here:

President Trump has made 19,127 false or misleading claims since taking office, according to a database maintained by our Fact Checker team, including more than 800 related to the novel coronavirus.

A fresh Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that only 35 percent of Americans say Trump is honest and trustworthy, compared to 62 percent who say he is not.

In addition to the worst public health crisis since 1918 and the worst economic crisis since 1933, Trump now faces the worst civil unrest since 1968. One week after George Floyd’s death in police custody on Memorial Day triggered a wave of protests, more cities have imposed curfews and more states have deployed the National Guard to restore order than at any time since immediately after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

As much as any other moment of his presidency, now is a time when Trump would benefit from being able to draw upon a reservoir of public trust or goodwill. But he has squandered the benefit of the doubt. A new 384-page book from the Fact Checker staff of The Washington Post, which goes on sale Tuesday, tells the story of how Trump became “the most mendacious president in U.S. history.”

“Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies,” by Glenn Kessler, Sal Rizzo and Meg Kelly, presents not just a catalog of false claims but a thematic guide to Trump’s assault on the very existence of objective reality. There are chapters on the president’s false claims related to the economy, immigration, the Ukraine affair and foreign policy. One chapter lays out Trump’s 10 most egregious and important false claims, including his denials that he knew about hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

One of the central insights of the book is that Trump’s whoppers have become bigger and more frequent since he took office. Originally, The Post planned to track all of Trump’s falsehoods in a database during only his first 100 days in office. The Fact Checker team documented 492 false claims in that stretch, about six a day. Editors decided to continue the project as a public service and because of popular demand. It’s become more and more time-consuming for the full-time team of four journalists: The president’s speeches got longer, he tweeted more frequently and he gave more interviews to friendly right-wing outlets that rarely challenged him. Now, they often lose nights and weekends to what they describe as “the depressing task of wading through the president’s forest of falsehoods.”

So far this year, Trump is averaging 22 false claims a day in the Fact Checker database. He’s on track to make nearly 25,000 false statements by the end of the term. Whether he gets there will depend partly on how many campaign rallies he holds this fall. A 56-page appendix of the book is an anatomical investigation of a single Trump rally from last December in Battle Creek, Mich., during which the president made 120 statements of fact that were either false, mostly false or unsupported by evidence. That was two-thirds of all the claims the president made during a two-hour monologue.

Another insight from the book is that October is the most dangerous month for the truth vis-à-vis Trump. In October 2018, before the midterm elections, the president tallied 1,205 claims. It stands to reason that this fall, when his own name will be on the ballot, the fact checkers will be as busy as ever.

There has been persistent speculation that peaceful protests against racism and police brutality may have been infiltrated by white provocateurs.

The members of this movement have attracted attention.

The police in Las Vegas arrested three white men and charged them with terrorism.

Three Nevada men with ties to a loose movement of right-wing extremists advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities say was a conspiracy to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.

Federal prosecutors say the three white men with U.S. military experience are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests to reopen businesses closed because of the coronavirus.

More recently, they sought to capitalize on protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a white officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air, prosecutors said.

The three men were arrested Saturday on the way to a protest in downtown Las Vegas after filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles, according to a copy of the criminal complaint obtained by The Associated Press.

A 25-year-old white man was arrested for arson in Nashville after setting a fire at the city’s historic Courthouse. A white man dressed in black and wearing a gas mask smashed windows in Minneapolis, where he methodically used a hammer to break every window in an Autozone store, then slipped away.

Were they and others part of the so-called “Bougaloo Movement” of rightwing anarchists?

This is what Wikipedia says about them.

The boogaloo movement, members of which are often referred to as boogaloo boys or boogaloo bois, is a loosely organized American far-right extremist movement.[3][4][5] Members of the boogaloo movement say they are preparing for a coming second American Civil War, which they call the “boogaloo”.[3][6] Members use the term to refer to violent uprisings against the federal government or left-wing political opponents, often anticipated to follow government confiscation of firearms.[1][7]

The movement consists of anti-government and anti-law enforcement groups, as well as white supremacist groups who specifically believe the unrest will be a race war.[3][1][7] Groups in the boogaloo movement primarily organize online (particularly on Facebook), but have appeared at in-person events including the 2020 United States anti-lockdown protests and the May 2020 George Floyd protests, often identified by their attire of Hawaiian shirts and military fatigues.[1][8][9]…

Members of boogaloo groups typically believe in accelerationism, and support any action that will speed impending civil war and eventually the collapse of society.[4][6] According to The Economist, to this end boogaloo group members have supported the “spreading of disinformation and conspiracy theories, attacks on infrastructure (such as that on New York’s 311 line) and lone-wolf terrorism.”[4] Some boogaloo groups are also white supremacist and specifically believe that the “boogaloo” will be a race war,[3][1][7] but there are others that condemn racism.[13] Attempts by some elements of the Boogaloo movement to support anti-racist groups, such as Black Lives Matter, have been met with wariness and skepticism….[14]

Extremism researchers first took notice of the word “boogaloo” being used in the context of the boogaloo movement in 2019, when they observed it being used among fringe groups including militias, gun rights movements, and white supremacist groups.[1] This usage of the term is believed to have originated on the fringe imageboard website 4chan, where it was often accompanied by references to “racewar” and “dotr” (day of the rope, a neo-Nazi reference to a fantasy involving murdering what the posters view to be “race traitors”).[1][6] Researchers from the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) found that the usage of the term “boogaloo” increased by 50% on Facebook and Twitter in the last months of 2019 and into early 2020. They attribute surges in popularity to a viral incident in November 2019, when a military veteran posted content mentioning the boogaloo on Instagram during a standoff with police, and to the December 2019 impeachment of Donald Trump.[1][2] The boogaloo movement experienced a further surge in popularity following the lockdowns that were implemented to try to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, and the Tech Transparency Project observed that the boogaloo groups appeared to be encouraged by President Trump’s tweets about “liberating” states under lockdown.[3][7][19]

Robert Kuttner is editor of The American Prospect. He writes a blog called Kuttner on Tap.

If You Can Stand It, a Little More Optimism.

Now we find out what America is made of. And what we see, a week after George Floyd’s police lynching, is this:

Protests are continuing and they are increasingly peaceful, except for police violence. Protest leaders are working with local governments to contain both police rampages on the one hand and provocations and opportunistic looting on the other.

More than at any time since the civil rights era of the 1960s, white America has some compassion for pent-up black frustrations. A majority of Americans approve of the demonstrations and reject police violence. And 55 percent of white Americans tell pollsters that black anger is fully justified.

Meanwhile, Trump keeps revealing what he is made of, and his own support keeps dropping. And Joe Biden has found his inner Bobby Kennedy and made his best speech ever. I don’t care who wrote it; Biden gave it.

The focus of the election, increasingly, will be Trump’s callous and opportunistic use of a crisis that required healing. He is setting himself up for a landslide repudiation, well beyond the Republican margin of theft.

Also encouraging is the united response of governors and mayors. Trump may have the power on paper to call in the Army and the National Guard. But that is no match for the combined power of an aroused citizenry and resistant local officials. His troops can’t occupy the whole country by force.

We will see more mass demonstrations. They will be peaceful except for the efforts of rogue cops and Trump’s storm troopers to inject violence. And by fall, the consequence will be a mass revulsion against Trump.

As Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, one of America’s finest, wrote in concluding an eloquent New York Times op-ed piece:

“Let us vote against state-sanctioned violence, vitriolic discourse and the violation of human rights. In memory of George Floyd and all the other innocent black lives that have been taken in the recent and distant past, let us commit to registering black people, especially black men, to vote.”

America is stronger, better, wiser than Trump. And America will survive Trump. Then the real work can begin.