Sunday, January 31, 2016



1.  "The Senate could vote on a bipartisan compromise bill to renew child nutrition programs in the next few weeks; the House has yet to take up child nutrition reauthorization, but may do so next month. The Senate bill largely preserves the current guidelines for healthy school meals, expands the farm-to-school program, enhances the summer food program, and provides an extra snack for kids in child care settings."

2.   "President Obama will release his FY2017 budget proposal on Feb. 9, followed by the House Republican budget resolution before the end of the month."

3.  FEDS threaten opt out parents and fuel the opt out movement




Glimmer of hope against more charters in Massachusetts from State Senator President Stan Rosenberg against the proposals from charter-lover Gov Charlie Baker.

Horrible news from the Ohio General Assembly. HB420 was proposed to ensure that students who opt-out do not count against schools/districts. It was highjacked and is still in the House Ed. Committee. Amended House Bill 420 proposes to set into law these words, “No employee of a school district or public school shall negligently suggest to any student, or parent, guardian, or custodian of that student, enrolled in the district or school that the student should choose to not take any assessment prescribed by section 3301.0710 or 3301.0712 of the Revised Code.” Violation of this law is termination, loss of license, and a criminal record.



Unions Can’t Just Be About What We’re Allowed to Do: Social Justice Unionism

By Steven Singer, Director of BATs Research/Bloggers Committee
Originally published on his blog
If labor unions were an animal, they’d be an old hound dog napping on the porch.
They’re slow to get up and chase away burglars but they do like to howl at night.
Most of the time you don’t even know they’re around until the dinner bell rings. Then that ancient mutt is first to bolt into the kitchen to find a place at the table.
It’s kind of sad really. That faithful old dog used to be really something in his youth.
He was fierce! He’d bark at trespassers even tearing them apart if they threatened his patch of land.
Old Uncle Sam used to yell at him and even threaten the pooch with a rolled up newspaper, but that dog didn’t care. He had a sense of right and wrong, and he didn’t mind getting into deep trouble fighting for what he thought was fair.
Today, however, the only thing that really riles him is if you threaten to take away his ratty old bone.
Let’s face it. Unions have become kind of tame. They’re housebroken and not much of a threat to those people waiting in the shadows to rob us blind.
Some people say we’d be better off without them. But I don’t agree. Even a decrepit canine can act as a deterrent, and thieves sure are frightened of dogs.
They didn’t get us all that by sitting politely at the table with their hands crossed. They didn’t do all that by contributing modest sums to political campaigns. They didn’t do it by obsessively protecting collective bargaining at the expense of all else.
Unions used to take to the streets. They took over the job site. They marched with signs and placards. They exercised people power.
And the government was scared of them. The President called out the army to get them back to work. Lawmakers hired mercenaries to break strikes with clubs and guns. But eventually Congress passed laws to placate them.
Unfortunately, That was a long time ago.
For decades the pendulum has been swinging against us. Federal and state laws have become increasingly restrictive. They want to tell us when we can strike and how long. They want to tell us when and if we can collect dues. And – frankly – they want to tell us to just disperse and do whatever the bosses want – because the business class has already bought and paid for our politicians.
For decades we’ve heard to their propaganda on TV, the radio and the print media. Well-paid shills have poured their poison in our ears about the evils of the labor movement. They’ve spoken these lies so often lots of people believe them.
Workers used to fight to make sure everyone got a fair deal. Now the working man has been brainwashed to focus instead on making sure no one else gets more than him. And the bosses are laughing all the way to the bank.
Union membership is at the lowest it’s been in a centurySo are wages adjusted for inflation. A family of four used to be able to get by comfortably on one salary. Now it can barely make ends meet with two.
Yes. There’s no doubt about it. We need unions today more than ever.
But for unions to survive, they must change. They have to become a reflection of the membership and not just of the leaders.
During this presidential election cycle, we’ve seen our largest national unions – theNational Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsing a candidate without bothering to actively poll their members. We’ve seen them speak for us on policy decisions without asking our opinions. We’ve seen them act just like the corrupt politicians who we should be fighting against.
Yes, it is time for a change. No longer can our unions be run from the top down. They must be run from the bottom up. They shouldn’t tell us what to do. We, the membership, should be giving orders to them.
Moreover, we need to stop obsessing about collective bargaining. I’m not saying that’s unimportant. But it can’t be the only thing we do.
Our unions used to be in the midst of larger social movements. We were part of the Civil Rights movement. We were part of the push for desegragation. We were part of the fight to protect children and provide them a decent education.
We need to continue that today. And in some places we are already doing that! Look to Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. Teachers unions in those urban areas are fighting not just for better pay and benefits but for the communities they serve.Detroit teachers en mass are calling off sick to protest horrible conditions in the schools. Chicago teachers are marching in the streets with the community to demand indictments for police murdering their black and brown students.Philadelphia teachers are supporting students who walk out of class to protest state disinvestment and toxic testing.
THIS is what unions should be doing. We should be fighting for social justice. We should be a central part of the struggle to turn the tide against corporatization, privatization and standardization of our country’s public goods. We should be marching hand-in-hand with BlackLivesMatter activists. We should be in the front lines of the fight to save our environment and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.
We must be part of the community and not apart from it. We must share in the struggles and goals of those we serve. We must be an example of the old truism that arising tide raises all ships. After all, the word “union” literally means together. By definition we must all be in this together or else we’re not even really a union.
And to do this we have to stop being so concerned with what they tell us we can do.
We live in a democratic society. The government gets its power from us, from our consent. That means that if there are enough of us, we trump their corrupt laws. They only get to make those laws because we say so. And court decisions – evenSupreme Court decisions – mean nothing next to the court of public opinion.
The bosses buy the politicians and tell them to legislate us into a box. It’s time to break out of that box. We can’t be afraid to take our power back. We shouldn’t be afraid of our government. Our government should be afraid of us.
How do we do it? Organize.
If you belong to a union, roll up your sleeves and get active. Run for office. Convince like-minded folks to join you. Take over your local. Spread to your national.
If you don’t belong to a union, start one at your jobTalk to your co-workers. Talk about the benefits for each of you and your neighborhoods. Fight for your rights.
I know. It’s a whole lot easier to complain. Real change, though, takes real work.
We used to know these things. Somewhere along the line we forgot.
So wake up, you yeller cur dog, and get off the porch. Take to the streets.
Because the surest way to take back our country is to take back our unions.
The Sub-Prime Education Crisis
Part 3: Bubble Trouble for Marsh
By Terri Michal

This is the final series of Terri's amazing look at the sub-prime education crisis.  To read Part 1 and Part 2 click on the following links.  Thank you to Terri for all her amazing work, advocacy, and determination for children, teachers, and public education!
~Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director BATs

It’s easy to see the role of the banks, mortgage companies, traders, and our Government in the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Just as easily we can see the roles of the CEO’s, non-profits, corporations, and our Government in the sub-prime education crisis.
I think it’s time we look at OUR role in all of this.
We, the general public, hold some blame in the mortgage crisis. We wanted to believe we could have the American Dream of home ownership and that we could afford the homes that the mortgage companies were all too eager to sell to us, with the help of our Government of course. Because of this many of us ignored our common sense, asked few questions, and quickly signed on the dotted line.
Working class America paid a high price for this when the housing bubble popped.
So far we are playing the same role in the education crisis.
The reform efforts and messages that are being put before us are packaged so slick, often co-opting the civil rights movement and using terms that make us feel hopeful about the direction we will be headed once they are implemented. They also take much of the burden and responsibilities off of us and, instead, place all of it squarely on the shoulders of our teachers. Our hectic and fast paced lives give us the prefect reason to accept these ‘truths’ without much examination. Just like with the mortgage crisis, we want to BELIEVE it is as simple as they say and that we can have it all with little effort.
Unlike the mortgage crisis, however, the story in education is not over.
Will we continue buying into these ridiculous reforms created by people that have agendas other than educating our children? Are we going to continue to ignore the fact that they are pushing things like charters, vouchers, and VAM on us even though there is no evidence that proves any of it is effective? Will we continue to allow this artificial bubble of failure to surround our children and our public schools?
As long as the bubble exists this small fraction of our population will continue to feed off of our public education system. They have found there is much money to be made in the failures of our students and teachers.
The financial world and our government wrongfully believed that the housing bubble would never burst. They knowingly sold the American people goods under false pretenses for their own financial and political gain.
Now we have the corporations and our government believing that this education bubble will never burst. They believe they can continue to build false narratives to keep the people satisfied and silent while they reap the financial and political benefits.
I believe it’s time to take action and burst their bubble before another generation of children is lost.
We desperately need to take our public schools back from the “one size fits all” plan, which was created by the wealthy with the aid of our government, and return them to our communities.
The first thing we need in order to accomplish this is the belief that we can out vote the lobbyists and vote out the legislators that support these anti-public education policies.
To do this, communities must come together. We need a grassroots movement to educate and motivate everyone, not just teachers, not just parents, everyone, to vote smarter, speak out, and get involved in education. Just as all of us were affected by the financial collapse caused by the sub-prime mortgages, all of us will be affected by the public school collapse caused by the sub-prime education being forced upon our children.
Here is an excellent starting point: An organization of corporate heads, lobbyists, and legislators from across the country, including many from Alabama, meet secretly to write state legislation. ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) helped write the Accountability Act, our charter law, and is now involved in writing Sen. Del Marsh’s RAISE Act.
Call Sen. Del Marsh and tell him we want NO part of an education bill written by these entities that see our children as profit margins, not people.
Next call your neighborhood school and volunteer to read to the kids an hour a week. You will be amazed by what you learn.

Oh yes, and please, thank a teacher!

Terri Michal advocating for Alabama children, teachers, public education, and social justice!

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Sub-Prime Education Crisis
Part 2: It’s All About The Bubble
By Terri Michal

Many people are asking themselves, what is happening that would lead elected officials from all over the country to create, and/or vote for, such harmful and anti-public school legislation?
To understand it, I feel we need to take a step back and look at the larger machine at work. For a moment we need to stop debating charters, vouchers, tenure, merit pay, test scores and data collection, and instead look at the current education reform movement as a whole.
In doing so I realized that the same ideals, methods, and hidden agendas that are driving the current education policies have already left a big ugly scar on the American people. We all know it as the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Simply change a few of the player’s names, substitute the word education for housing, and everything becomes clear.
Let’s start with the housing bubble:
In 1977 Lewis Ranieri worked with members of the Federal Government to create a system that would make far more money available for home mortgages, hoping to give every American an opportunity to own a home.
For 30 years, through both Republican and Democrat leadership, the concept put in place by Ranieri and our Federal Government continued to morph. Under influence of the traders, mortgage companies, the banks and our Government, this program went from a well-intentioned thought to one of the worse financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Believing that the ‘housing bubble’ would never pop, these financial entities became increasingly bold in their efforts to amass wealth by granting riskier mortgages and eventually crossing the line into illegal activities. The Government was complicit in the finance world’s actions by creating policies to expand home ownership that had no regard for proper lending principles.
Under these risky loans, made possible by American businesses and our Federal Government, we, the American people, were being set up for failure. No one seemed too concerned however, fortunes were being made and the government looked great under the high home ownership numbers.
Eventually seven men, who worked inside the world of finance, realized that the housing bubble could, and would, burst. They understood the plan that began in the 70’s no longer existed. In its place was an unsustainable web of CDO’s and bonds and high risk mortgages.
Seeing this these 7 men embarked on plans of their own to profit once the bubble burst. They were literally betting against the success of fellow Americans, mostly poor and middle class, to maintain their mortgages in an effort to increase their own wealth.
In 2008 it happened, the bubble burst and the subprime mortgage crisis began.
Some banks closed, many were bailed out, and people were arrested but worst of all, the American people suffered greatly, foreclosing on over 5 million homes.
Now let’s compare it to what is currently happening in education:
In 1983 the Federal Government, believing that all children deserve a high quality public education, released the report ‘A Nation at Risk’ detailing weaknesses in our educational system. This quickly leads to corporate partners coming to the aid of our struggling school.
In the 30 years since ‘A Nation At Risk’, and through Democrat and Republican led Government, the concept of partnering with businesses to raise the quality of education has continued to morph. Under the influence of billionaires, Corporate CEOs, non-profits, and our Government, educating our children has turned into a money making venture, raking in huge portions of our 500 billion dollar education market.
Just like our Government’s concept of ‘Everyone deserves an opportunity to own a home’ ended up looking little like the original due to greed and a desire to create a false narrative about our country’s financial strength, the intent of ‘All children deserve a high quality public education’ has been lost due to the desire to amass wealth by creating a false narrative about our under performing schools.
The Government has been complicit in these efforts through the creation of legislation that allows these CEOs, billionaires, and non-profits easier and wider access to our public schools, and a greater influence in policy making. No better example than our Congress amending NCLB in 2010 to state: “the term 'highly qualified teacher' in NCLB includes a teacher who meets the requirements of [the Department of Education regulation]. Section 163thus provides that an alternative-route teacher who merely 'demonstrates satisfactory progress toward full certification' is 'highly qualified' within the meaning of NCLB” In layman’s terms: They lowered the qualifications of teachers in our high poverty schools to allow a corporation, Teach For America, easier and broader access.
Just as the mortgage companies and traders became bolder in their methods, so have the corporations, non-profits, and elected officials efforts in education. The false narrative being created by them often conflicts strongly with what we know beyond a doubt is right, yet they are able to boldly make statements without hardly a challenge.
For instance, we have the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, telling us that standardized testing kindergartners is ok because we want to be able to tell them by third grade if they are, or are not, college material. We are even being told that a highly standardized education can serve all individual children, yet we look at our child and we see a uniqueness that we do not want squelched. And we are told by Sen. Del Marsh that a bill that attacks teachers will attract higher quality teachers to our state.
Yet these comments are, largely, met with silence.
How can this happen?


FEB 1-FEB. 29

BATs your support during our Fall Fundraiser was amazing.  We were able to raise enough money to file the BAT Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in the Friedrichs vs. CTA case and we were able to put an ad blasting the USDOE in the Washington Post Express.  Here are links so you can see both items.

For our Winter Fundraiser we are focusing on two items

1     Putting ads inside of metro buses in Seattle, Detroit, and Philadelphia that impress on supporting  public education and not privatization.

2     We are beginning to raise money for  the Summer Coalition rally and march that will be held in DC this summer from July 8-10.  BATs is proudly in coalition with many education and social justice groups from around the country to plan what will be an historic event in DC.  We need to be able to kick in our part for the financing of this amazing event.   You can go here to read more about the July three day event.

BATs is a 501c4.   None of our staff are paid, we are all volunteers.  The money we raise goes to spreading our message and fighting off privatization.  We are asking BATs, for our Winter Fundraiser Drive, to commit to a monthly donation ($5, $10, $15, $20, $25) in honor of someone who has inspired you ( a child, a teacher, a parent).  We will place your name and who you are honoring on our  BATs Honor Wall.  This wall will be placed on our website for all to see at the end of February.   


If you would like to send a check please make it out to The Badass Teachers Association, Inc and send it to P.O. Box 1390, Bellmore, NY, 11710.

#BelieveinBATs because we believe in strong public education for all children and we believe in fighting the privatization efforts.  We cannot do it without your support!

**Donations are not tax deductible**

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Anonymous post:
Two hard working ENL students took 8 hours to complete the CC ELA yesterday. They needed to use Spanish/English dictionaries throughout. They started at 1:15, and left at 9:15pm, defeated and exhausted. The admins were devasted watching the students suffer. Although the admins did their best to help alleviate the students' stress and discomfort, they could not help but feel guilty for their complicity in the abuse of the most needy students in public education. When the test ended, the two admins went to shake the students' hands for their hard work. The students gave them teary-eyed hugs for caring enough to stay. This test could keep them from graduation. NYSED and Regents; this is on you. This is the cost of snapshots of district test scores that cannot measure what those students' endured. What lesson did those students learn? What achievement gaps are eliminated by these abusive tests? We must do better and cannot if NYSED continues the use of the abusive tests with no alternatives."

The Sub-Prime Education Crisis
Part 1: Set Up For Failure
By Terri Michal

This is Part 1 of a three part series. We will publish Part 2 Friday and Part 3 on Saturday! 

Have you been scratching your head lately, wondering what in the world is going on in education?
In Alabama we have a charter law that allows charter schools to fill their student’s classrooms with employees that are exempt from state teacher certification requirements and an Accountability Act that allows public tax dollars to support private schools.
There are laws that have set up commissions that take power away from elected state and local school boards and place it in the hands of politically appointed persons. Yet, as they weaken local school boards they still refuse to make any policies restricting the amount of testing these local boards implement. THAT, they say, would be ‘overreach’.
We also have a State School Board that thinks it’s A-OK for folks with just a high school diploma, or its equivalent, to teach part time in our public schools.
Until last year’s 1 million dollar allocation, Alabama hadn’t allocated any money for our school’s libraries since 2008.
In 2014 Alabama was ranked number two of all the states that have not returned to pre-2008 spending. We are spending 20% less per student then we did in 2008. Yet, since 2013 we have diverted $54 million dollars from the education trust fund for school vouchers.
We have elected officials and administrators that willfully mislead parents. For example; It took not one, but TWO orders from the Governor to force our state superintendent to tell parents they could legally opt out of state assessments and parents across the state are still being given misinformation by principals and local superintendents.
Now, in the 2016 legislative session, we have the RAISE Act. This is an act that is based on VAM (Value Added Measures) and ‘performance pay’ for our teachers. Both of these things have been proven to be ineffective in raising the quality of education for America’s children because they create a high stakes testing atmosphere, causing teachers to ‘teach to the test’ just to retain their job. RAISE will drastically increase the instructional time lost due to so much testing and test prep.
The RAISE Act also demands yet ANOTHER commission to further weaken our State DOE (Where is our State Superintendent’s voice in all of this anyway?) and suck money away from the Education Trust Fund. Out of the 21 people that will make up this commission less than half come from an educational institution, out of those almost all are Higher Ed. This will leave us with one or two people representing k-12, yet this commission will make decisions that impact our k-12 children greatly!!
We must ask ourselves, what about THEIR children? Where do the children of legislators, board members, CEOs, and millionaires go? What kind of instruction do their children receive? Do they have testing and test prep 1/3 of the year? Do their kindergartners give up recess for test prep? Have they lost Music and Art classes? Do they have 30+ children in their elementary classrooms? Do they have teachers without education certificates?
Why do our children have a different set of rules than theirs?
It’s almost as if we are being set up for failure.
That’s an insane idea though, isn’t it? It’s hard to believe that a small, select group of Americans have the power to amass wealth by making decisions and implementing legislation that will, with high probability, negatively impact millions of other Americans. This idea borders on a conspiracy theory, yet somehow it all seems so familiar…

Terri Rector Michal fighting for schools, equity, and equality in Alabama!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

An Epic Battle for Public Education: A Frontline View

Pixabay Public Domain
Pixabay Public Domain

Governor Tom Wolf is battling for fair funding for Public Education. It’s an epic battle in Pennsylvania and part of the war on Public Education across America.  It involves us all.
In spite of the facts that legislators have failed to propose an acceptable budget, and that the budget is 7 months overdue, Governor Wolf is standing strong against politicians’ attempts to further slash public education.

It’s not just about the money.  It’s also about how the budget is allocated to districts.  It’s also about politicians trying to link requirements for their increasing micromanagement of individual schools.

Politicians have failed in Philadelphia Schools.  So…close schools?    

State-­level politicians have a clear, 15-year track record since they took over the School District of Philadelphia.  Their record is one of stunningly consistent academic starvation with simultaneous fiscal disaster.

Fifteen long years ago, the State created the ‘School Reform Commission’ (SRC) to eliminate local control in Philadelphia.  The State appoints the majority of SRC members.  The SRC has hired multiple “outsider” CEOs with multiple organizational structures.  CEOs have come.  CEOs have gone.   Teaching staff is at all-time lows.   Vacant positions remain unfilled.   Substitute teachers decline to work here.   Class sizes increase.  Course offerings only decrease.  Teachers have been working without a contract since 2013.  Building conditions are atrocious,  even dangerous.  Charter school approvals mushroomed to one third of total schools, draining public funds disproportionatly, without public consent.  School District bonds are now junk. Equal access for children is ignored.  Politicians’ persistent, precise underfunding of Public Education, in Philadelphia in particular, is a prime cause of our condition.  A contrived disaster.

Now, part of the Senate’s latest “solution” is to amend the State School Code (H.B. 530).  It’s part of the illogical wrangling in backrooms over our State Budget.

Senators’ amendments to the School Code would require the State to directly takeover or close five individual schools every year.  This further political invasion of education ignores input from thousands of troops, or “boots on the ground.”  An arrogant, punitive attack on our one district.  Politicians making decisions and laws about academics and schools instead of the experts:  educators?

Representatives separately propose also destroying  the ‘fair funding’ formula developed by the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC).  More HERE.  The BEHC’s fair funding formula was an overdue response to Pennsylvania’s  allocation  system,  which ranks worst in the nation for fairness.  Nevertheless, Representatives are now trying to strip fair allocation, of whatever budget, via their amendments to H.B.1327.

It’s not like we’ve asked for Cadillac funding.  As one example from ‘base funding’: my elementary school students haven’t had a new reading curriculum or textbooks for more than 13 years.

Nevertheless, inept politicians want to force more and more state-level bureaucracy into sectors where the State is ignorant and has in fact, already failed.

It is impossible to continue silently enduring simplistic views of learning and teaching practice (by non-­practitioners).  Politicians’ simplistic “solution pills” to “fix” education, instead continue generating more and more collateral damage:  academic damage, systemic damage, financial damage, social damage, personal damage, and more.

Is the School District better off today, or worse off, after 15 years of State management?

Flickr amboo who
Flickr amboo who

I ask, “What secret solution does the State have?”

Newsflash:  There is no simplistic, quick fix, or someone would have done it long ago.

There are no capital programs, no curriculum programs, no materials or supplies, no teacher incentives or punishments, no longer hours, no charter business plans, and no “common core” or “standardized” testing program, nor even school closings that start at the core of the learning process.  Instead they all focus on the periphery.

Teaching is an expert achievement of experienced professionals.

Learners, the children, are the center.  Children are people.

Learning is a complex, personal process. The learning process and its timeline for children varies infinitely, as does human experience.

Facilitating learning, or “teaching”, the wide range of learners and learning styles and learning paces which can be found in a typical Public School classroom is an expert’s art, a “practice” of experienced professionals.

It takes highly trained, highly competent people to work with people —  work with 30 people, every day, in one room, all day, day­-after-­day, facilitating ever faster learning.

Whether we choose to accept the truth, or adopt the pol’s simplistic view of children and teachers (people) as ‘widgets’ defines the battle.

Complexity:  Widgets or people?

As one single example of one key complexity (there are many others), children in our Public School classrooms have massive rates of trauma, described by a U.S. Department of Justice report as an “epidemic” and by past Surgeon Generals as “national crisis.”

The Center for Disease Control(CDC) says it is critical to understand.

One part to understand is that childhood trauma affects all classrooms. Childhood trauma includes childhood abuse, neglect and household dysfunction.  For a narrative view (“Jasmine”), click HERE.

Childhood Trauma is an injury to a child.   It is not an issue of good/bad behavior.  It is not poverty.  It is not an ‘urban issue’.  It is not a ‘color issue’. The CDC’s own prodigious study was fielded in beautiful, suburban San Diego.

Further, neuroscience tells us that it can be physiologically impossible to learn for those children in ‘fight or flight’ mode, defending against complex trauma.

Frustration Pixabay, Public Domain
Pixabay: Public Domain

Public health research illuminates shocking rates of childhood trauma.   Rates as high as English Language Learner (ELL) percentages and as high as those students with Individual Education Plans (IEP).  Across our city, the rate of childhood trauma is higher than the combination of IEPs and ELLs.  Tens of thousands of trauma-impacted children. Dramatically more than can be accommodated by individual ‘504 Plans’, given current staffing.

Students with IEPs and ELLs are funded and accommodated. Childhood trauma is not.  Ignorance or inaction is reality for tens of millions of children, nationally.

The result:  trauma-­impacted children are blocked from equal access to an equal quality, public education.  That is morally wrong.  That is a blatant civil rights violation.

Just one example of complexity.

Political action would be correctly served by protecting civil rights of children now being denied equal access.

Pixabay Public Domain
Pixabay Public Domain

All these children are coming to our classrooms in a few hours.

We need training, resources, strategies and support to teach each of them.  Putting politicians from the state more directly in charge has not — and will not — solve anything.

We are Public Education.   Stop shooting at us.   Join with us. 

Governor Tom Wolf is making a courageous stand to defend public education.

Governor Wolf is an amazing breath of fresh air in a national ocean of “contrived failure” claims about Public Education.

Wolf’s battle to restore Public Education, as a vibrant, funded, civil right is our battle; a national battle.  It’s crucial that we all support his principled stand for Public Education.

Now more than ever.

Flickr - Governor Tom Wolf
Flickr – Governor Tom Wolf

We can do it. Write the politicians in this battle.

Ask them to defend Public Education, stand with Governor Wolf and reject amendments to H.B.s 530 and 1327.

From out-of-state? write the Co-chairs of the BEFC HERE.

More ways to join the battle:

Twitter: @GovernorTomWolf

Sample note:

“Dear   politician,  or Dear BEHC,

As an ardent supporter of Public Education, I enlist in Governor Wolf’s epic battle to defend Public Education and to forge fair allocation of adequate funding.  It’s a battle for us all.  Reject amendments to H.B.s 530 and 1327.  It’s time to get to work.  Submit a fair budget.  

Regarding Charters, the choice is NO in Nebraska
By:  Anonymous Nebraska Citizen!

There have been several efforts to legalize charters in Nebraska. Although these efforts have overwhelming failed, there is a new resurgence in the state as the legislative session convenes for the 2016 session.

Why are public schools successful in Nebraska? Nebraska Statute 79-234 states that Open Enrollment allows parents to choose any traditional public school for their child, regardless of location. Oftentimes transportation may be included if a child chooses to attend a public school not in their attendance area. Due to this option, and a tradition of strong community support for Nebraska public schools, there has been a history and a future of extremely successful Nebraska Public Schools and School Districts. 

Unfortunately, there is a new non-profit group, “Educate Nebraska”, looking to compromise the state of Public Schools in Nebraska. This group began appearing in newspapers and local media in early January. In addition to their media appearances, they have launched a flashy new website. Educate Nebraska was started by their current executive director Katie Linehan. Linehan has ties to Success Academy Charter School in Harlem. This should raise a warning  flag. Why would Linehan be so interested in Nebraska schools when a majority of her teaching career was done at a charter school in New York? Does this out of state background in education make her a viable source to influence drastic decisions regarding public schools in Nebraska? It’s comparable to someone with a teaching background in Vermont lobbying for drastic changes to education policy in Arizona…it doesn’t add up. 

One of my greatest concerns about “Educate Nebraska” is the lack of transparency in regards to funding. While reviewing the remaining staff of “Educate Nebraska”, there are several ties to TFA. Perhaps that could be a clue. It's interesting that a nonprofit group, which did not exist a month or so ago, has an extremely flashy website, hired staff and advisors, has held rallies, released communications, met with the pro charter Governor of Nebraska, and is able to lobby legislation, without any mention of donors. There have been several attempts to inquire about the funding of this group via social media and direct email, but the public has still not been provided specific answers.

Nebraska has weathered charter efforts in the past, and will continue to do so. It is the interest of the state. Educate Nebraska, and similar organizations popping up throughout the U.S. should be kept on the radar, but I feel the best interest of the children will be considered, and traditional public schools will prevail and adapt, re-energize, and continue to be successful and the best choices for ALL children in the U.S.    


Top 10 Reasons School Choice is No Choice

By:  Steven Singer, Director of BATs Research/Blogging Committee

Originally published on his blog
On the surface of it, school choice sounds like a great idea.
Parents will get to shop for schools and pick the one that best suits their children.
Oh! Look, Honey! This one has an exceptional music program! That one excels in math and science! The drama program at this one is first in the state!
But that’s not at all what school choice actually is.
In reality, it’s just a scam to make private schools cheaper for rich people, further erode the public school system and allow for-profit corporations to gobble up education dollars meant to help children succeed.
Here’s why:
1) Voucher programs almost never provide students with full tuition.
Voucher programs are all the rage especially among conservatives. Legislation has been proposed throughout the country taking a portion of tax dollars that would normally go to a public school and allowing parents to put it toward tuition at a private or parochial school. However, the cost of going to these schools is much higher than going to public schools. So even with your tax dollars in hand, you don’t have the money to go to these schools. For the majority of impoverished students attending public schools, vouchers don’t help. Parents still have to find more money somewhere to make this happen. Poor folks just can’t afford it. But rich folks can so let’s reduce their bill!? They thank you for letting them buy another Ferrari with money that should have gone to give poor and middle class kids get an education.
2) Charter and voucher schools don’t have to accept everyone
When you choose to go to one of these schools, they don’t have to choose to accept you. In fact, the choice is really all up to them. Does your child make good grades? Is he or she well-behaved, in the special education program, learning disabled, etc.? If they don’t like your answers, they won’t accept you. They have all the power. It has nothing to do with providing a good education for your child. It’s all about whether your child will make them look good. By contrast, public schools take everyone and often achieve amazing results with the resources they have.
3) Charter Schools are notorious for kicking out hard to teach students
Charter schools like to tout how well they help kids learn. But they also like to brag that they accept diverse students. So they end up accepting lots of children with special needs at the beginning of the year and then giving them the boot before standardized test season. That way, these students’ low scores won’t count against the charter school’s record. They can keep bragging about their high test scores without actually having to expend all the time and energy of actually teaching difficult students. Only public schools take everyone and give everyone their all.
4) Voucher and charter schools actually give parents less choice than traditional public schools
Public schools are governed by different rules than charter and voucher schools. Most public schools are run by a school board made up of duly-elected members from the community. The school board is accountable to that community. Residents have the right to be present at votes and debates, have a right to access public documents about how tax money is being spent, etc. None of this is true at most charter or voucher schools. They are run by executive boards or committees that are not accountable to parents. If you don’t like what your public school is doing, you can organize, vote for new leadership or even take a leadership role, yourself. If you don’t like what your charter or voucher school is doing, your only choice is to withdraw your child.See ya.
5) Charter Schools do no better and often much worse than traditional public schools
Pundits and profiteers love to spout euphoric about how well charter schools teach kids. But there is zero evidence behind it. That is nothing but amarketing ploy. It’s like when you’re in a bad neighborhood and walk past a dive that claims to have the best cup of coffee in the city. Yuck. Surely, some charter schools do exceptionally well. However, most charters and almost all cyber charters do worse than their public school counterparts. Fact.
6) Charters and voucher schools increase segregation
Since the 1950s and ’60s, we used to understand there was no such thing asseparate but equal education. Before then we had Cadillac schools for white kids and broken down schools for black kids. The Supreme Court ruled that unconstitutional. But today we have Cadillac schools for rich and middle class kids (most of whom are white) and broken down schools for the poor (most of whom are black or brown.) After making tremendous strides to integrate schools and provide an excellent education for everyone, our public schools have been resegregatedCharter and voucher schools only make this problem worse. They either aid in white flight or leach away minority students. This just makes it easier to give some kids a leg up while keeping others down.
7) Charter and voucher schools take away funding at traditional public schools
It costs almost the same amount of money to run a school building of a given size regardless of the number of kids in it. When students leave the public schools for charter or voucher schools, the public school looses valuable resources. It now has less revenue but the same overhead. So even if you found an excellent charter or voucher school to send your child, you would be hurting the chances of every other student in the public school of having their own excellent education. This is what happens when you make schools compete for resources. Someone ends up losing out on an education.
8) Properly funding parallel school systems would be incredibly wasteful and expensive
We could fix this problem by providing adequate funding for all levels of the school system – traditional public schools, charters, voucher schools, etc. However, this would be exorbitantly expensive. We don’t adequately fund our schools now. Adding additional layers like this would mean increasing national spending exponentially – maybe by three or four times the current level. And much of that money would go to waste. Why have three fully stocked school buildings in one community when one fully stocked building would do the job? I don’t imagine residents would relish the tax hike this would require.
9) School choice takes away attention from the real problems in our public schools – poverty and funding equity
We have real problems. More than half of public school students live below the poverty line. They are already several grade levels behind their non-impoverished peers before they even enter kindergarten. They need help –tutoringcounseling, wraparound services, nutrition, etc. The predicament is even more complicated by the way we fund our schools. Throughout the country, poor districts get less money than wealthy or middle class ones. Thestudents who go to these schools are systematically being cheated out of resources and opportunities. And instead of helping them, we’re playing a shell game with charter and voucher schools. The problem isn’t that parents don’t have several excellent choices. If they’re poor, they often don’t have one.
10) School choice is not supported by a grass roots movement. It is supported by billionaires.
The proponents of school choice will tell you that they are only doing the will of the people. This is what parents want, they say. Baloney. While there are individuals who support school choice, the overwhelming majority of money behind this movement comes from conservative billionaires actively trying to dismantle the public education system. They want to steal the public system and replace it with a private one. They don’t care about your child. They just want to steal the hundreds of billions of tax dollars we pay to educate our children. This is not philanthropy. It is a business transaction meant to screw you and your child out of your rights.
If we really want to ensure every child in this country gets an excellent education, the answer isn’t school choice. Instead, we need to commit to supporting our public school system. We all need to be in this together. Yes, our schools should look at the needs of each child and tailor education to fit appropriately. But that shouldn’t be done in parallel school systems. It should be done under the same umbrella. That way, you can’t defund and defraud one without hurting all. It can’t just be about your child. It has to be about all children.
That’s the only choice worth making.