Sunday, February 28, 2016




United Opt Out Conference Highlights Dual Role of Technology in Education

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Technology is the most powerful weapon we have against corporate education reform.

It is also our greatest foe.

Such were the remarks of Dr. Stephen Krashen at the United Opt Out Conference on Friday.

The linguist, educational researcher and activist gave the opening keynote address to hundreds of people who traveled to Philadelphia for the conference.

Krashen, who is known for his work on second language acquisition and bilingual education, has been a strong critic of the test and punish policies of the Barack Obama administration.

He warned the assembly of parents, students, teachers, professors and activists about the dangers of Competency Based Education (CBE), the next big thing in the movement to dumb down public schools.

CBE is touted as a way to reduce high stakes standardized testing by allowing students to work at their own pace while on various computer programs. However, Krashen sees this is an increase in testing.

In effect, it’s testing everyday. The computer programs used in CBE are little more than the same kinds of questions you’d see on a standardized test. An emphasis on CBE would replace a robust school curriculum with never-ending test preparation and multiple-choice assessment.

In the hands of a classroom teacher, technology can be an excellent tool to help kids learn. However, top-down policies like CBE only take away educators’ autonomy and turn them into mere facilitators of prepackaged materials of dubious quality.

He noted that the National Governors Association – an organization promoting CBE and Common Core State Standards – admits that there is no research supporting this new policy. But they’re suggesting we do it anyway. In fact, provisions to increase CBE are embedded in the new federal education law – the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA).

He sees this as a massive boondoggle to swipe the $600 billion we spend on technology in schools. After all, CBE will require increasingly newer computers at every school that will need to be constantly replaced as they become obsolete.

Krashen quoted Gerald Bracey: “There’s a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things we shouldn’t be doing at all.”

There is light at the end of the tunnel though.

The same technology that is being used to pervert the education system can be used to help save it.

Krashen advised activists to use the power of social media to spread the word about CBE and other Trojan Horse reforms – policies that look like they’re helping children while actually hurting them.

“The Internet is our underground,” he said, “Facebook and Twitter are our weapons.”

Though policymakers and journalists rarely listen to experts like classroom teachers, the Internet allows us to spread our message. We don’t need anyone’s permission to speak up. We are all free to do so and should do it more often.

I know many people are scared to speak up, he said, but we can all educate ourselves about what’s happening and then share it and retweet it. We need to do more of this. We need to reach a critical mass. We need to show the world the truth and that it can’t be ignored and buried under the dominant media and political narrative being sold to the public as if it were truth.

These policies, while dangerous in and of themselves, also overshadow the real needs of our school children – namely devastating, generational poverty.

When Congress passes No Child Left Unfed, No Child Without Healthcare, and No Child Left Homeless, then when can talk about No Child Left Behind and Every Child Succeeds, he said.

Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about this issue, claiming that solving poverty would in turn solve any problems with education.

Krashen’s keynote was an exciting beginning to a conference that promises to be eye-opening, exciting and energizing to the community of people fighting to take back our schools from the oligarchy.



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How Radical Must We Be To Get the Schools Our Children Deserve? United Opt Out Musings

 

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There was a point during Chris Hedges keynote address today when I could barely catch my breath.

My chest was heaving, tears were leaking from my eyes and I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop.

The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist had his audience enraptured at the United Opt Out Conference in Philadelphia Saturday morning.

I’ve read Chris before. We’ve all read Chris before. But I had never seen or heard him speak.

It was kind of like hearing a good sermon by a pastor who felt every word he said. And that really was it – Chris FELT every word.

When I’ve read Hedges’ articles on Truthdig, I’ve found myself getting angry. He stirs me up. He disturbs me, makes me feel uncomfortable. And when I heard him speak today I was surprised that he seemed to be reacting the same way to his own words.

When he talked about teaching teenage prisoners, he was emotionally invested in the story he was telling. When he criticized American neoliberal policies, he was just as angry as his audience.

The only difference was that his sorrow and rage somehow became transformed in his throat into something akin to poetry.

He turned the struggle of the oppressed into something beautiful. He transformed the hurt in my chest into something profound. He mutated my disturbance into a sense of actions-to-be.

I won’t repeat the words he said. I’d never be able to reproduce them with anything resembling his eloquence. But I will remark on one of his closing remarks because it hit me like a splash of cold water.

Rebellion, he said, is not about changing the world. It’s about changing yourself.

When you stand up for what is right, you become a better person – whether you achieve your goal or not. In a sense, it doesn’t matter if we destroy the testocracy. But in trying, we transmute ourselves into something better.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I’d like to think so.

I don’t know if we will ever destroy the system of Test and Punish, but I know I can try. I know I can put myself on the line and damn the consequences.

All weekend at the United Opt Out Conference we’ve been talking about rebellion and revolution. There’s no weak tea here in the City of Brotherly Love. No half measures. We’ve been discussing tearing the system down piece-by-piece.

A timid voice speaks up in the back of mind, “Do we really need to do all that? Do we really need revolution just to keep our public schools and make them into something worthy of our children?”

I think I’ve been trying to answer that question for a while now. Maybe a lot of us have.

In a rational country, our demands wouldn’t be so radical.

We want public schools centered on the good of all, not the profit of some. We want educationally valid curricula for our children. We want some control over the school system – both as parents and teachers.

Is that so much to ask? Is that such a lunatic request?

And as I listened to Hedges and Dr. Antonia Darder, Dave Green, Jonathan Pelto, Dr. Denisha Jones, Ceresta Smith, Yohuru Williams, Aixa Rodriguez and many, many others, I heard another timid voice begin to answer the first.

“Yes.”

The system of standardization and privatization of public education confronts students of color and impoverished students head on. They are in the front lines. Yet few people outside of activists seem willing to admit it.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this conference has been its ability to put issues of human rights at the center of the argument. That’s the essential concept. We’re not just talking about bad education policies. We’re not just talking about schemes for billionaires to make more money. We’re talking about the systematic oppression of a group of people and the widespread complacency and complicity of the majority of the populace.

How do you combat such a monster without being revolutionary? How do you fight for your child without being a rebel?

More has happened at this conference than I can adequately put into words. I’ve met so many incredible people. Some of them I knew, some I had met before, some had only been names I had seen on my computer screen.

I will leave here Sunday feeling refreshed and energized, ready for the battles ahead.

Am I a radical?

Am I becoming a better person?

I don’t know.

But I will keep fighting.

Because I love my daughter, I love my students and I love all children everywhere.



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DARE
By:  Stacy Elizabeth Holcombe 




To those frightening young liberals...How dare you!
Dare to be "hostile. 
Dare to dream. 
Dare to question.
 Dare to demand. 
Dare to stay informed...even when knowledge and reality may discomfort.
Dare to differ from others. 
Dare to fight against injustice and inequity. 
Dare to speak truth...even when others cover their ears.
Just. Speak. A. Little. Louder.
Dare to do the right thing - not for one - but for all.
Move us forward by taking us back - back to a world that embraced a sense of humanity.
Most importantly, never give in or give up. 
Exercise your freedoms! 
DARE to vote!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

BATs LEGISLATIVE TEAM WEEKLY UPDATE




FEDERAL NEWS
Continue to fight against King's nomination!

BATS ARE ASKING EVERYONE TO STOP THE CONFIRMATION OF JOHN KING.  HE WAS HORRIBLE FOR NEW YORK AND HE WILL BE HORRIBLE FOR THE NATION! THE CONFIRMATION DECISION WILL BE RENDERED MARCH 9TH

CALL SENATOR ALEXANDER AND TELL HIM TO SAY NO TO JOHN KING  202-224-4944. Here are some talking points

1. John King disenfranchised and marginalized the voices of parents in New York by calling them “special interests groups. “ http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/14/parent-groups-in-new-york-call-for-commissioner-john-king-to-resign/ 2. When John King resigned from New York parents reacted http://www.nysape.org/john-king-resigns-parents--educators-call-for-a-new-direction-from-the-regents-and-demand-no-interference-from-governor-cuomo.html 3. When President Obama made John King Acting Secretary New York Parents were warn of the impending catastrophe http://dianeravitch.net/2015/10/02/nysape-john-king-was-a-catastrophe-in-new-york/ 4. Due to his refusal to listen to parents in New York State over 240,000 parents lost trust in the education system and refused testing for their children. http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/12/8586029/group-calls-parents-opt-out-local-assessments 5. The New York State United Teachers Association called a No Confidence vote for King in 2014 http://www.nysut.org/news/2014/april/ra-2014/nysut-votes-no-confidence-in-king-calls-for-his-removal 6. His display in the hearings of Chief Information Officer Danny Harris only solidifies King's indifference and incompetence to oversee our children’s education. https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/more-transcribed-interactions-from-usdoe-cio-danny-harris-hearing/ and here https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/investigation-of-usdoe-cio-danny-harris-video-and-transcribed-excerpts/


SEND OUR ACTION NETWORK LETTER WHICH HAS HAD OVER 2500 SENT TO SAY NO TO KING.   https://actionnetwork.org/letters/say-no-to-john-king-as-us-secretary-of-education?source=direct_link&referrer=badass-teachers-association

ALSO CHECK OUT THE BATS ELECTION SCORE CARD HERE  http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/2016/01/bat-election-scorecard-common-core.html


STATE NEWS

UTAH
Technology for All bill went through. Cost up to 100 million dollars. 


FLORIDA

The two new bills heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee today were not really new. Senator Gaetz collapsed a number of existing bills into two omnibus bills. The recess bill did not get included. The limit on capital outlay for public school facilities was included.

The second bill relates to early childhood education, open enrollment, dual enrollment, private school sports participation, and charter school accountability.   http://lwveducation.com/new-omnibus-bills-pass-senate-appropriations/


WISCONSIN 

Plan To Limit School Funding Referendums Fails In Legislature  http://www.wpr.org/plan-limit-school-funding-referendums-fails-legislature


MISSISSIPPI

Race Tension Roils Legislature, Majority Votes to End 'Privilege'  http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/feb/26/race-tension-rises-mississippi-legislature-majorit/




IDAHO
Two superintendents standing up to  local reform non profit and calling them out. Meanwhile back at the Statehouse, education issues were overshadowed by one of Idaho's own making a pronouncement on rape and pregnancy that comes right out of Representative Todd Akin's playbook. The hub bub allowed the Governor and his hand-picked State Board of Education to bring in a private medical school. The medical school is a product of the Burrell Group. Idaho physicians were not informed nor a part of the decision and are complaining that they are being treated like teachers.

The Idaho Education Association sent out a legislation alert on SB1248. This bill would allow charter schools to use different contracts for charter school teachers.  http://idahoea.org/hotline/luna-laws-creeping-back-hunger-games-teachers/


NEW JERSEY


Wednesday, February 24, 2016


How to Get Rich From Public Schools (Without Actually Educating)

by Steven Singers, Member of the BAT Leadership Team

originally published on his blog: https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/how-to-get-rich-from-public-schools-without-actually-educating/

Get-Rich

Gold!

There’s gold in them thar schools!

Don’t believe me?

When you drive by an inner city school, it doesn’t exactly look like the Taj Mahal. Does it? Even relatively upscale suburban schools wouldn’t be mistaken for a house on MTV Cribs. And some of those fly-by night charter schools look more like prisons than Shangri-La.

But I’ve got it on good authority that there’s $1.3 trillion available for someone who knows how to take it.

That someone is Harold Levy, an expert on how to get rich through school privatization.

The former chancellor of the New York City School System has begun a second career managing an investment company.

“For-profit education is one of the largest U.S. investment markets, currently topping $1.3 trillion in value,” according to the Website for one of his master classes for rich investors.

Wooo-weee! That’s a lot of money!

To put it in context, that’s more than 10 times the amount the federal government spends on education per year. And it’s all yummy profit!

So how do you get your hands on some of those delicious taxpayer greenbacks?

You gotta’ invest.

No! I don’t mean increase education budgets for traditional public schools that can barely make ends meet! I mean invest in shiny new charter schools.

Here’s how it works.

Lend money to a for-profit company to build a new charter school. If you do it just right, you’re almost guaranteed to double or triple your money in seven years.

You’ll want to take advantage of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), which began in 2000 at the end of President Bill Clinton’s administration. This will give you a whooping 39 percent tax credit. But here’s the best part, since it’s money you’re lending, you also get interest on it! And if that weren’t enough, you can piggyback all kinds of additional federal tax credits on top of that – things like historic preservation or job creation or Brownfield’s credits.

That doesn’t sound legal, does it? But it is!

In case that has you feeling queasy, you can hide what you’re doing by funneling the whole thing through a large non-profit organization like the Gates Foundation. They’ll be more than happy to help. They’ve done it for so many before you anyway.

However, make sure you whisk this money through something called a Community Development Entity (CDE). The federal website explains this can be either a “domestic corporation or partnership.” And it must have “a primary mission of serving LICs [Low Income Communities].” (Snicker!)

Here’s the best part. A CDE isn’t required to release information about who its donors are or how much they’re spending. So on paper the CDE – not you – gives the money to the non-profit, which, in turn, loans the money to a charter management organization. It’s like money laundering. No one can tell where the funds came from and thus it’s easy to escape from federal regulations or any appearance of wrongdoing.

There is a catch, however. You’re probably going to need a substantial amount of capital to put forward – at least a million bucks or so. No bank’s going to waste its time with only a few hundred thou.

This method is perfect for those who are already wealthy and want to increase their wealth or hedge fund managers out to boost their clients’ portfolios.

But maybe you just aren’t into the whole hedge fund game. Maybe you’re not the banking and investing type.

You can still make oodles of cash off public schools through real estate.

Here’s what you do – buy up cheap inner city properties that can be renovated or repurposed for charter schools. Then when a school privatization firm wants to set up shop in an impoverished city like Philadelphia, Chicago or Detroit, it needs someone like you to open the door.

You’ll get to charge the charter corporation rent and – get this – that’s not price capped! You can charge whatever you want! As long as you’ve got a good spot and no one else is trying to beat you to it, charter corporations are willing to pay bookoo bucks to get their money-making enterprises rolling!

A good rule of thumb comes from privatization expert Charter Schools USA, which recommends rental costs not exceed 20 percent of a school’s budget. However, there are plenty of examples of charter schools paying 25, 30 even up to 43 percent of their money just on rental costs! Ca-Ching!

And if you really want to boost the bottom line, open a charter school, yourself! That way you can both rent out the real estate and pay for it!

Think about it. Who sets the rental price? You do. Who pays the rental price? You do. So you can pay yourself WHATEVER YOU WANT! And where does the money come from? The taxpayers!

Doesn’t sound legal does it? But it is!

According to the Miami Herald, which conducted an in-depth investigation into these practices, many of the highest rents are charged by landlords with ties to the management companies running the schools. Property records show at least 56 charter schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties sitting on land whose owners are tied to management companies.

Of course there are so many other ways to set things up like this with a charter school. Unlike most traditional public schools, charters contract with for-profit companies for everything from curriculum development to construction. So there are many opportunities for creative investors to figure out how to both set the price and pay it TO THEMSELVES!

Moreover, every state has different laws about charter schools so check for loopholes. You’ll find ‘em!

Just don’t forget to set up that CDE to hide your shady dealings from the public. After all, if taxpayers could easily see how you’re sucking up their hard-earned money that they thought was going to help school children (Tee-hee!) they wouldn’t be happy.

And if you’re reading this from somewhere outside of the USA, don’t despair. You, too, can make a ton of money off school privatization in the United States. It’s like the Statue of Liberty says – wealthy foreign nationals welcome! (Or something like that.)

Since the Immigration Act of 1990, investors have been allowed to purchase visas for their families by investing in U.S. corporations. Just stash some cash into a hotel, ski resort or charter school and – voilà! – Move directly to GO and collect way more than $200!

It’s called the EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors. For the low price of at least $1 million -or $500,000 to a rural or high unemployment neighborhood — you can get visas for the whole family.

Sounds like some crazy new loophole – right? It isn’t. It’s been around for decades. Every year, the federal government hands out 10,000 of these visas. So while Syrian refugee children drown seeking asylum, wealthy foreign nationals get an express ticket to the US of A.

You might be thinking, ‘That gets me into the country, but where do I cash in?’ Easy. You now have a stake in a U.S. charter school and have access to all the same easy money as native-born investors.

It’s an incredibly lucrative model even for those more interested in the Prophet than profit.

Just look at Gulen charter schools. It’s the largest single charter school network in the country. More than 150 schools in Texas, Ohio, Illinois and other cities are funded by Turkish investors following an Islamic nationalist named Fetullaf Gülen. These schools are part of a “worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement in his name,” according to the New York Times.

Be warned. Many of these schools are under investigation for using U.S. taxpayer dollars meant to educate U.S. children in non-educational or otherwise shady ways. Some of this tax revenue has allegedly been spent on political and religious causes championed by the Prophet Gülen. Other funds have gone to controversial educational practices. For instance, instead of hiring local teachers, the chain is infamous for shipping in Turkish educators to the United States. As if it wouldn’t be cheaper to hire locals! And guess where the money comes from to pay for these Turkish teachers’ visas? That’s right – from the charter school’s funding!

Still. Even with a few setbacks, there’s never been a better time to invest in the privatization of public education. Sure there are financial, behavioral and educational scandals at charter schools throughout the country being discovered everyday. But fortune favors the brave!

Money is just hanging on the tree waiting to be plucked. It’s hard to walk into a charter school and not come out with pockets fit to bursting with cold, hard cash.

In fact, the only folks not making bank in this whole scheme are the teachers!

Don’t be one of them.

Teachers at charter schools – where unionizing is often prohibited – take home even less than those working at traditional public schools. And those traditional educators aren’t getting rich, either.

A new report by the Center for American Progress argues that U.S. teachers usually have bad starting pay and are unlikely to see major salary gains even after several years of teaching.

Growth in teacher salaries is especially bad when comparing the U.S. to other developed countries:
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“The bottom line is that mid- and late-career teachers are not earning what they deserve, nor are they able to gain the salaries that support a middle-class existence,” the report concluded.

There appears to be a golden rule in education: the less you actually help students learn, the more money you get to take home.

Perhaps if public schools were kept out of private hands where profit is the overwhelming motivation for everything you do, things would be different. But thank goodness that isn’t happening!

Someday people may wake up and demand more for their tax dollars and for their children. But until then…

There’s gold in them thar schools!

Don’t be a sap. Don’t be a teacher. Don’t help children. Invest in a fly-by-night charter school and get rich!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

BATs LEGISLATIVE TEAM WEEKLY UPDATE




FEDERAL NEWS

BATS ARE ASKING EVERYONE TO STOP THE CONFIRMATION OF JOHN KING.  HE WAS HORRIBLE FOR NEW YORK AND HE WILL BE HORRIBLE FOR THE NATION!

CALL SENATOR ALEXANDER AND TELL HIM TO SAY NO TO JOHN KING  202-224-4944. Here are some talking points

1. John King disenfranchised and marginalized the voices of parents in New York by calling them “special interests groups. “ http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/14/parent-groups-in-new-york-call-for-commissioner-john-king-to-resign/ 2. When John King resigned from New York parents reacted http://www.nysape.org/john-king-resigns-parents--educators-call-for-a-new-direction-from-the-regents-and-demand-no-interference-from-governor-cuomo.html 3. When President Obama made John King Acting Secretary New York Parents were warn of the impending catastrophe http://dianeravitch.net/2015/10/02/nysape-john-king-was-a-catastrophe-in-new-york/ 4. Due to his refusal to listen to parents in New York State over 240,000 parents lost trust in the education system and refused testing for their children. http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/12/8586029/group-calls-parents-opt-out-local-assessments 5. The New York State United Teachers Association called a No Confidence vote for King in 2014 http://www.nysut.org/news/2014/april/ra-2014/nysut-votes-no-confidence-in-king-calls-for-his-removal 6. His display in the hearings of Chief Information Officer Danny Harris only solidifies King's indifference and incompetence to oversee our children’s education. https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/more-transcribed-interactions-from-usdoe-cio-danny-harris-hearing/ and here https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/investigation-of-usdoe-cio-danny-harris-video-and-transcribed-excerpts/


SEND OUR ACTION NETWORK LETTER WHICH HAS HAD OVER 1000 SENT TO SAY NO TO KING.   https://actionnetwork.org/letters/say-no-to-john-king-as-us-secretary-of-education?source=direct_link&referrer=badass-teachers-association

ALSO CHECK OUT THE BATS ELECTION SCORE CARD HERE  http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/2016/01/bat-election-scorecard-common-core.html


STATE NEWS

Wisconsin
Lawmakers reach deal on voucher program  http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/lawmakers-reach-deal-on-changes-to-voucher-program/article_554279c5-9c0f-5504-bc71-77965782b489.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share


Policy Force Can Be Used to Collect Library Fees!  https://redwriting.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/in-wisconsin-coercive-police-force-can-now-be-used-to-collect-library-late-fees/

Assembly passes bill that costs districts with students who head to private voucher schools http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/assembly-passes-bill-that-costs-districts-with-students-who-head/article_bfd36d8e-fe05-5cfa-94f2-cf56b6ea335a.html

MISSOURI 
Paycheck Deception bill that would cripple public employee unions is moving through the legislature  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21786-the-latest-attack-on-public-sector-unions-paycheck-protection-in-pennsylvania-and-missouri


KANSAS
Anti CCSS bill also forbids AP and IB programs. Also for end to ALL federally mandated education programs.  


Education Committee has ‘ignored the desires of Kansans across the state, and implemented bills supporting the ideologies of the far right’  http://pvpost.com/2016/02/19/capitol-update-education-committee-has-ignored-the-desires-of-kansans-across-the-state-and-implemented-bills-supporting-the-ideologies-of-the-far-right-47603



ARIZONA
Republicans take credit for giving back what they took away!  http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2016/02/18/republicans-take-credit-for-giving-back-what-they-took-away

Decoding Ducey-Speak on Education Funding  http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2016/02/17/decoding-ducey-speak-on-education-funding

UTAH
The legislature has been passing a bill that would give $60 million in additional funding to charters, while only giving a 2.5% WPU increase to public schools. The school grading may change for the fifth time in as many years, requiring up to 90% of a school to pass standardized testing to get a good grade; and there's still a huge fight over how to elect members of the state school board--the legislators want the elections to be partisan, even though the vast majority of Utahns want them to be non-partisan.


FLORIDA
Bill requiring public schools to share money with charter schools moves forward  http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-charter-funding-house-20160217-story.html

TENNESSEE
Voucher bill is placed on the table! After 4 years, Representative Bill Dunn said, "I don't have the votes." Revenge seems to be on the menu next as a dues deduction repeal law is heating up. Some seem intent on payback for the stall of the voucher bill. One representative told teachers today that it was against the law, so a bill was necessary. What?!

Governor Haslam proposes bill to exclude TNREADY test scores from teacher evals unless helpful on the heels of massive crash of test system with Measurement, Inc. for over 100 million.


COLORADO


Proposal to strip student growth data from teacher evaluations goes down  http://co.chalkbeat.org/2016/02/18/senate-panel-rejects-bid-to-cut-use-of-student-achievement-in-teacher-evaluations/#.VsjH__krKM9







What’s a Teacher Got to do to get a Candidate Around Here?
 By Dr. Michael Flanagan, Co-Director BATs Action Committee

Dr. Michael Flanagan speaking at NYC Education Justice Conference

I have watched every debate, both democrat and republican. I sat through almost every town hall and recap of the day in politics. I read both the liberal Huffington Post and the conservative FOX News to get a sense of what both party candidates are saying. As a teacher and education activist I have waited patiently for at least one candidate to speak to the issues of public education. I am not talking about the crisis of student loan debt, although that is incredibly important. Yes, several of the republican candidates have mentioned Common Core, and some New Jersey hack has now begun calling out Bernie Sanders for his lack of support for charter schools, but other than that, crickets.
No mention of the brave Detroit teachers who risked their jobs speaking out against dilapidated conditions in Detroit schools, or the Chicago teachers who took to the streets and were arrested while protesting for their students. Silence on the take over of Philadelphia schools, the push back on charters in LA, malfeasance in Ohio, the national attacks on teachers’ pensions and union busting laws against dues collections. No discussion of the exorbitant profits that testing and tech companies are making from our education tax dollars. Why is it that no candidate has had the courage to address the opt-out movement, one of the most important civil disobedience actions of this generation? How is it that no one running for the presidency of the United States is speaking out on behalf of the hundred million parents, teachers and students who are victims of the worst education policies in American history?
I was on a conference call with members of the BadAss Teachers Association leadership when my friend and colleague Denisha Jones voiced the concern we all had. “I want to be able to say I support this candidate because of his/her stance on education”. We all agreed that millions of citizens would line up to support a candidate brave enough to speak out for our concerned parents, educators and suffering students. One would think at least one candidate must need millions of voters concerned about public education.
We do clearly hear from the education reform contingent. Gates, the Waltons, Broad, the Kochs, Murdoch, ALEC and their minions all are courted. Countless governors and legislators on both sides of the aisle have no qualms against attacking and trying to end teachers unions, privatize pensions and implement merit pay during stump speeches. They fall all over themselves seeking vouchers and the removal of caps on charter schools, regardless of the consistent examples of corruption, mismanagement and failure. Both the federal government and state governments promote bills to address the failed “Common Core Roll out” and push for better “teacher evaluations”, while at the same time making provisions for tech based comprehensive education assessment and social impact bonds, all designed to enrich the hedge funds and billionaires. But which candidate will speak of the hundred million who have been victimized and ignored since NCLB and the “school choice” scam began?
Perhaps the better question is, why are none of the candidates saying anything? The Pope makes an innocuous statement, and it is national headlines. The content of speeches to banks, or arrests from the 1960s dominate cable talk shows. Campaign mailers and photo-shopped pictures of candidates are front-page news. But the education of our children, rights of parents and dignity of our teachers is never even given lip service? That is one of the clearest examples of corruption in our government.
The bipartisan issue of our time is the pillaging of our public education system. The republicans will talk about the Common Core, but completely support charters, vouchers, tech and high stakes testing. Not to mention destruction of public sector teachers unions and raiding pensions. The democrats also cater to the hedge fund and vulture philanthropists like the Waltons, Bill Gates and TFA. No candidate will speak to the suffering of a hundred million citizens, because both parties are profiting from it. Who would have known that political parties that cannot agree on whether the sun rose this morning are in complete symbiosis on the destruction of public education?
It would stand to reason that if even one of the candidates would come and claim us, and speak to our resistance of corporate education reform, we would rally to them and practically guaranteed their win in the election. Teachers and parents will both vote and donate for the betterment of our schools and the future of our children. But the power of Wall Street and its middle managers in the federal and state governments, in conjunction with the corporate media pundits who cash the same checks, remain silent. I know they see and hear us out here, in the streets and on social media. How long can they avoid us? And what will be the ultimate cost? Where is the candidate who will support a free and appropriate public education for all children? What does a teacher got to do to get a candidate around here

Charter School Champion Hates Bernie Sanders, Prefers Hillary Clinton

By:  Steven Singer, Director of BATs Blogging/Research Committee
Originally published on his blog  https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/charter-school-champion-hates-bernie-sanders-prefers-hillary-clinton/
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Bernie Sanders doesn’t like charter schools enough.
To me that’s an endorsement.
But to Shavar Jeffries, it’s a condemnation.
Jeffries is the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a hedge fund front promoting the privatization of public education.
Despite its name, the group doesn’t represent the views of most Democrats. It represents the neoliberal branch of the party that has heavily influenced the education policy of Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, Cory Booker, Bill Gates and other prominent so-called liberals.
One can see why Jeffries isn’t Feeling The Bern. Sanders famously said THIS in January about the industry DFER promotes:
I’m not in favor of privately run charter schools. If we are going to have a strong democracy and be competitive globally, we need the best educated people in the world. I believe in public education; I went to public schools my whole life, so I think rather than give tax breaks to billionaires, I think we invest in teachers and we invest in public education. I really do.
More to Jeffries’ taste is Hillary Clinton who he says backed off on her own charter school criticism.
Back in November, Clinton correctly condemned most charter schools for not enrolling the most challenging students.
She said:
Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.
Anne O-Leary, a Clinton aide, eventually clarified these comments saying Clinton supports those charters that are both equitable and accountable.
These statements on charter schools are some of the most substantial made by either candidate on the issue.
Clinton has been lambasted in the media for her comments. Many publications – leaning both left and right – complained that she was caving in to powerful teachers unions like the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) both of which endorsed her in the primaries. On the other hand,Clinton also has been criticized for not going far enough against the school privatization industry. Some observers highlight her continuing ties to Wall Street and many of the same neoliberal figures responsible for our disastrous corporate education reform policies.
By contrast, Bernie’s comments have been met with mostly praise from his base and shrugs from his opponents.
Both candidates views on the subject have evolved over the years. Sanders has gone from being pro- to anti-charter. Clinton has gone from being pro-charter to pro-charter with some provisos.
Back in 1998, Congressman Sanders voted in favor of the Charter School Expansion Act. Now he’s against the industry. Meanwhile, Clinton has long been a champion of charter schools. Her criticism of some of these schools is a new wrinkle.
It’s nice to see the issue getting some attention.
Charter schools have increased exponentially across the country in the last two decades, but they have little transparency or accountability. As a result, monetary scandals have exploded like wildfire from state-to-state. Millions of public dollars have disappeared into private corporations’ bank accounts leaving little to show for it.
Nationally, research shows that charter schools do no better at educating children than public schools. In fact, in many cases they do a much worse job. And when it comes to cyber charter schools, the situation is even more unevenly stacked in traditional public school’s favor.
Scandals also are surfacing about how charters treat their students. Stories of harsh discipline policies and violating students rights are emerging everyday. Moreover, there are countless accusations that – as Clinton points out – many charters select only the easiest students to educate and sometimes expel struggling students before state-mandated standardized tests.
Finally, charters increase the cost of educating children in a particular district by adding another parallel school system. However, these extra costs are taken out of the traditional public school’s budget thereby further destabilizing it and forcing less services and higher class sizes for students who don’t enroll in new charters.
I’m glad both Democratic candidates are critical of this status quo.
However, Jeffries denunciation of Sanders and defense of Clinton may backfire.
If an odious organization like DFER is in favor of Clinton, shouldn’t the rest of us back Sanders?