Jennifer Berkshire writes in this post about the educational awakening in Arizona, the result of #red4ed and the teachers’ revolt of 2018.

Proposition 208 is on the ballot. It calls for a 3.5% tax increase on people earning over $250,000 a year, to be used to raise teachers’ salaries and hire more teachers. Surprisingly, 60% of voters appear to favor the measure, including a sizable number of Republicans.

She writes:

That taxing the rich to pay for schools would emerge as a cause with bipartisan support in 2020 is not a complete surprise. More Arizonans now identify education, not immigration, as the top priority facing the state, reflecting mounting concern with schools that are notoriously underfunded, teachers who are poorly paid, and a teacher shortage crisis so severe that 28 percent of the state’s classrooms lack a permanent teacher.

Education has become a potent political issue since #RedforEd protests shone a harsh light on the condition of Arizona’s schools in 2018. After a historic teacher strike, educators doubled down on electoral organizing. Democrats gained four seats in the state House of Representatives that year. Now they’re poised to tip the House and possibly the Senate in their favor. If they succeed, voter dissatisfaction with the GOP’s embrace of controversial policies aimed at dismantling, defunding, and privatizing education will be a major reason.

A similar pattern is playing out in other key battleground states, including Michigan and Texas. In these states and others, the gulf between voters who believe in taxpayer-funded public education and GOP candidates who are hostile to it has created an opening for Democrats.

For decades, Arizona has been a petri dish for free market education experiments. Charter schools, publicly funded private schools, education savings accounts that allow parents to spend taxpayer funds on a dizzying array of education “options” with little state oversight or accountability—the Grand Canyon State has them all...

As school choice offerings in the state have ballooned, they have increasingly competed for funding with traditional public schools. “It all comes out of the same funding bucket, and the bucket wasn’t that big to begin with,” said Sharon Kirsch, research director for the grassroots public education advocacy group Save Our Schools Arizona...

That hands-off, regulation-free vision is precisely what an array of deep-pocketed interest groups in Arizona are pushing. Organizations like the Americans for Prosperity, funded by Charles Koch and the American Federation for Children, founded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are a major presence in the state. More recent arrivals to the school choice lobbying space include Yes Every Kid, which is another Koch project, and Love Your School, an offshoot of the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy.

Said Kirsch: “I’m not sure most people have any idea that these groups are essentially running education policy in Arizona...”

Berkshire points out that teachers are running for office, and their prospects look good. Arizona may be about to throw off the shackles of one-party rule that has crippled the state’s public schools and turned it into a free-market for privatizers, religious zealots, rightwing nuts, libertarians, and profiteers.

A handwriting expert analyzed Trump’s signature and was shocked by what he saw.

https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/27/1990192/-Trump-s-Handwriting-Analyzed-By-Expert-in-1988

Larry Buhl of Capitol & Main explains the LAUSD school board elections. They are shaping up as the nastiest and most expensive in school board history.

As usual, the combatants are charter school billionaires, who want more charters, versus the United Teachers of Los Angeles, who are fighting for public schools and to protect the gains they made in the strikes of 2019.

The charter side has far outspent the UTLA and their allies. The charter lobby has been entirely responsible for the vicious attack ads, especially those against incumbent Scott Schmerelson, a veteran educator. Early charter flyers against him were anti-Semitic. He was falsely accused of inflating his salary as a board member (an independent commission sets the board’s pay). Schmerelson was targeted with a barrage of lies. He was endorsed by every Democratic Club and labor union in his district, as well as the Los Angeles Times.

The biggest edge of the pro-charter forces is money. With the support of billionaires, their candidates are amply funded.

A pricey proxy war between rival factions — charter school advocates and L.A.’s main teachers union — is playing out in two runoff races that could determine control of the Los Angeles Unified School District board. On one side is United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). On the other are California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) and charter allies Alice and Jim Walton; philanthropist and major charter backer Eli Broad; and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Because the two races could tip the balance of power on the board toward teachers unions and traditional schools, or to charter schools, both sides are spending an unprecedented amount of money on their candidates – and, in the case of the charter-friendly candidates, to attack their opponents.

Both sides have been spending increasingly larger amounts to influence the outcomes of LAUSD races, and this year’s race has now eclipsed 2017 as the most expensive in L.A. history. Most of the ads are created with money from independent expenditure groups, called IEs or just outside spenders. These groups face no fundraising limits, and the candidates, whose campaign money is dwarfed by the influx of IE cash, aren’t allowed to influence the IE ads or approve their content. Legally they can’t coordinate with IE groups at all.

In 2020, IEs have spent more than $13 million on just these two board races. That’s $10 million more than IE money spent on all 2020 Los Angeles City Council races combined. And charter school advocates have enjoyed a lopsided financial advantage. Pro-charter forces have already spent far more than they did in 2017. The total spent on negative ads by pro-charter IEs on all LA school board races this year tops $5 million, about ten times more than money spent by UTLA and allies. And the L.A. City Ethics Commission site shows that a new mailer has gone out nearly every day in October.


Since 2010, North Carolina has been controlled by radical Tea Party extremists intent on privatizing and monetizing every public service. They have passed numerous laws to authorize school privatization (charters and vouchers) and to punish public school teachers.

Stuart Egan, NBCT teacher in North Carolina, urges the vast majority of the public who send their children to public schools to vote for pro-public school candidates. He specifically urges a vote for Jen Mangrum, who is running for State Superintendent.

Stuart Egan describes what’s at stake in this post:

Long before Mark Johnson was elected state superintendent, people like Phil Berger and those he controlled began to institute “reforms” into public education without fear of reprisal.

Those reforms turned a once progressive state system of public education into one of regression. Eliminating longevity pay, taking away graduate degree pay and career status from newer teachers, revamping the salary scales,  and cutting teacher assistants were just a few of the actions taken to “reform” public education.

What Berger and others also started in 2011 and continue to champion today is making North Carolina the literal working laboratory for ALEC-inspired reforms that are targeting the vitality of public schools and enabling a variety of privatization initiatives that are padding the pockets of many at the expense of taxpayers.

In fact, in under a decade, NC has become the nation’s Petri Dish for harmful educational reforms.

petri.png

These “reforms” are not original – just maybe some adjustments to make them especially “effective” in North Carolina.

All of these so-called “reforms” have failed wherever they were implemented. It’s time to turn out the privatizers and entrepreneurs and vote for legislators who are dedicated to public schools.

Vote for Jen Mangrum for State Superintendent!

John Loflin of Indianapolis writes about the money flowing into the city’s school board elections from out-of-state billionaires and their usual front called Stand for Children.

Loflin writes:

To whom it may concern:

Just in case you have not seen this Recorder story, “Political groups give over $200,000 to Charter friendly candidates for IPS” here’s the link: Political Groups Give $200,000 To Some Candidates In IPS Board Race.

This inordinate, almost obscene, amount of money–notably from out of state donors–just to run for a board seat in a school district with just 31,000+ students, raises deep concerns about how democratic is the institution of public education in Indianapolis: http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Purchasing-the-2012-2014-and-2016-IPS-school-board-elections.pdf.
Who is flooding Indianapolis with such large amounts of money?

We know Stand for Children/Mind Trust are now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, using a 501c4 in Oregon, to elect their candidates. We also know that Stand for Children, the Mind Trust, Rise Indy, and the Teachers Alliance for Equitable Public Schools (TAEPS) are all part of the same group of people out to buy and control IPS. They’re funded by conservative white billionaires like Michael Bloomberg or Alice Walton who will never step foot in Indianapolis. And they use state legislation created by the conservative/right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 

Check the diagram connecting all the dots “Out of state ed reform money floods into Indiana communities.”https://www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org/2020/10/25/out-of-state-education-reform-money-floods-into-indiana-communities/?fbclid=IwAR0YlnDEXVJorGXk1It7xIpnRSlp9FBEtISSVZjZOh7r415toXBRF7DqlEY

Inline image

Now Bart Peterson’s PAC, Hoosiers for Great Public Schools, is in the mix,
IPS candidate Mr. Kenneth Allen $$

https://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/ips-school-board-candidates-biography-raises-questions

http://ofm.indy.gov/CampaignFinanceAPI/Document/Index?documentName=IPS+School+Board%5cAllen%2c+Kenneth_schbd-msdips_2020-10-14_CFA-4-PE.pdf  $102, 333

http://ofm.indy.gov/CampaignFinanceAPI/Document/Index?documentName=IPS+School+Board%5cAllen%2c+Kenneth_schbd-msdips_2020-10-14_CFA-11.pdf   +$21,000=$123,333Search IPS candidate’s campaign finance records here:https://www.indy.gov/workflow/search-campaign-finance-records
A closer look at Bart Peterson’s Hoosiers for Great Public Schools PAC which has $400,000.00

https://campaignfinance.in.gov/INCF/TempDocs/411150e6-8fb6-4c1e-aaf6-c25bd5769224.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1-MfMLKt7Lyan4RHG_M2VglDQ6cQqXq5oKCfJ5J_p5A_2a2HVOYjypqBk

Rise Indy PAC has $559,995.00https://campaignfinance.in.gov/INCF/TempDocs/7a1c3a86-0c53-419d-a8a0-efe4588f2660.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1Sew-TmY98x3s3ROeqd-ZE6Dd2AadxFzeKpYN9awQQp5vu2cGr4kuJrHUHere’s the article “Who paid to make IPS the 2nd most privatized school district in the US?”

https://dianeravitch.net/2020/04/30/tom-ultican-who-paid-to-make-indianapolis-the-second-most-privatized-school-district-in-the-nation/Here’s an essay I wrote, “Does Indianapolis actually want an entirely privatized school district?http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Does-Indianapolis-actually-want-an-entire-privatized-school-system.pdf
Let’s have a public conversation about why someone needs $123K to run for school board, and if we have a democracy or a corporatocracy.

John Harris Loflin

Parent Power–Indianapolis affiliate of Parents Across AmericaEducation-Community Action Team

317.998.1339

Peter Greene says that Secretary DeVos should either “help or hush,” which is certainly more civil than, say, help or shut up.

DeVos has threatened to cut off funding to schools that don’t open fully, but fortunately she lacks the authority to shut any school for not following her orders. She spends her time campaigning for charters and vouchers, and has nothing to offer the public schools that the vast majority of students attend.

Greene describes two events where DeVos touted her privatization agenda.

Then he wrote:

While you’ve been out slamming public schools at events like the two above, you’ve made it clear what your interest is–promoting school vouchers. You keep plugging your scholarship tax credit plan, and keep insisting that the pandemic underlines how badly families need choice, as if one of the available choices were a school that is completely immune from the covid spread. 

It’s seems hard to believe that you could make people more angry at you than they already were (I understand that you don’t care–I’m just saying). But here we are with the school house on fire, and the head of education is using it as an opportunity to sell her personal brand of asbestos gloves.

I suppose it should be clear after all these years that we can’t expect any help from you for public education. And it’s a sign of the times that it makes sense to type a sentence like “the United States secretary of education cannot be expected to support public education in the United States.” So sure– no guidance, no assistance, not even a sympathetic pat on the shoulder or a half-hearted attaboy. Certainly not a “These are really difficult times– what can we on the federal level do to help you?”

But if you’re not going to help, can you at least hush? If you are not going to be part of any sort of movement to help public schools, can you at least not be out in the front lines of people trying to attack it? Is that really so much to ask? Just, you know, hush. Just let the people who are actually doing the work of public education in this country have one fewer voices bussing in their ear declaring that they stink and they’re failing and we should be giving them less support and instead buying everyone a pair of these asbestos gloves. 

Either pitch in and help us get through this, or, if you can’t bring yourself to so that, just sit down and hush. 

Those of you who have followed this blog for many years know that I don’t put much stock in twelfth grade NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores. Having served for seven years on the NAEP governing board (the National Assessment Governing Board), I know that twelfth graders are a perennial problem. Unlike students in fourth and eighth grades, the seniors know the test doesn’t count. They are not motivated.

Bearing that in mind, it is nonetheless surprising that the recently released NAEP 12th grade reading and math scores have barely budged since 2005.

Even if kids aren’t trying hard, their scores should have gone up if they were actually better educated.

I argued in Slaying Goliath that NAEP scores for fourth and eighth grade have been flat for the past decade. And these kids are doing their best.

NAEP scores show the abject failure of “education reform” inflicted on students and educators since passage of No Child Left Behind. NCLB, Race to the Top, VAM, charter schools, vouchers, merit pay, Common Core: a massive failure.

It’s time to throw out the status quo. It’s time for a new vision. It’s time to respect educators and stop tying their hands and giving them scripts. It’s time to end the regime of test and publish.

Are you listening, Joe Biden?

Economist Emily Oster of Brown University has become the go-to expert on the risks that children might get COVID. She has written widely in the popular press and been quoted extensively by others about the low risk of reopening schools. Oster is an economist, not a public health expert.

Writing in The American Prospect, journalist Rachel Cohen quotes many public health experts who disagree with Oster. She writes that Oster’s datasets are incomplete and flawed. There is more uncertainty about the risks to children than Oster reports, she writes.


But she concludes by giving Oster credit:

Oster, unlike others and to her credit, does acknowledge that some people will get sick and even die if schools reopen. In addition to emphasizing the social, emotional, and academic harms students face by missing in-person school, Oster says we accept mortality risks in normal times, like allowing people to drive cars, have swimming pools, and avoid the flu shot. “There will be some in-school transmission, no matter how careful we are,” she wrote in July. “This is the unfortunate reality. Some of these people may get very sick. If we are not willing to accept this, we cannot open schools.”

“The Economist” is a highly respected British publication that is conservative in the old sense of the word (e.g. supports tradition and responsibility, opposes racism and profligate spending).

Its editorial board endorsed Joe Biden.

Our cover this week  sets out why, if we had a vote, it would go to Joe Biden. The country that elected Donald Trump in 2016 was unhappy and divided. The country he is asking to re-elect him is more unhappy and more divided. After almost four years of his leadership, politics is even angrier than it was and partisanship even less constrained. Daily life is consumed by a pandemic that has caused almost 230,000 reported deaths amid bickering, buck-passing and lies. Much of that is Mr Trump’s doing and his victory on November 3rd would endorse it all. Mr Biden is Mr Trump’s antithesis. He is not a miracle cure for what ails America. But he is a good man who would restore steadiness and civility to the presidency. Were he to be elected, success would not be guaranteed—how could it be? But he would enter the White House promising the most precious gift that democracies can bestow: renewal. 

As the pandemic was surging in mid-April, CNN reports that Jared Kushner told Bob Woodward that Trump had “cut out” the doctors and scientists and taken control; the pandemic would soon end, and Trump would reopen the country.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/28/politics/woodward-kushner-coronavirus-doctors/index.html

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner boasted in mid-April about how the President had cut out the doctors and scientists advising him on the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, comments that came as more than 40,000 Americans already had died  from the virus, which was ravaging New York City.

In a taped interview on April 18, Kushner told legendary journalist Bob Woodward that Trump was “getting the country back from the doctors” in what he called a “negotiated settlement.”

Kushner also proclaimed that the US was moving swiftly through the “panic phase” and “pain phase” of the pandemic and that the country was at the “beginning of the comeback phase.” “That doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot of pain and there won’t be pain for a while, but that basically was, we’ve now put out rules to get back to work,” Kushner said. “Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors.”

Trump would reopen the country, he said in tapes interviews.

The statement reflected a political strategy. Instead of following the health experts’ advice, Trump and Kushner were focused on what would help the President on Election Day. By their calculations, Trump would be the “open-up president.”

Kushner describes Trump’s victory over the Republican Party as a “hostile takeover.”

What a stable genius!