public schools

Texas Public School Course Teaches the ‘Racial Origins Traced from Noah’

A new report put out by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund reveals that in several public school classes on the impact of the Bible on history have found classes teaching from a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian standpoint.

A Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Mark Chancey found instances of students learning a literal interpretation of the Bible, that the earth is approximately 6,000 years old and that Judaism is a “flawed and incomplete religion” with materials “designed to evangelize rather than provide an objective study of the Bible’s influence.”

TFN also found a lesson explaining “racial origins traced from Noah.”
RacialOriginsNoah More →

Roy Roberts – You’re Fired! – No More Emergency Financial Managers in Michigan

On January 9, 2013, Roy Roberts sent a letter to the members of the Detroit School Board informing them that they were in violation of Public Act 72 (a law that no longer exists). I am tired of Governor Snyder, AG Bill Schuette, and the supposedly “appointed” Emergency Financial Managers continuing to ignore Michigan Laws and using a non-existent law to justify the gutting of our cities and school systems. I answered Mr. Roberts and faxed my response to his office this morning. I will be addressing (and summarily firing) all other EFMs in the near future. We need to start standing up and taking back the control of our communities and schools. Enough is enough.

This is the letter Mr. Roberts sent to the school board: More →

Public Schools and Guns

I am a public school teacher.  The irony of teachers being the heroes this week after standing between students and a gun – is not lost on me.  

After being villainized for the last few years, I guess my main surprise is that someone else noticed that teachers are heroes.  It seems apparent to me . . .  teachers are heroes.  I work with dozens of heroes every workday.  I know many people who give everything they have – to teach students.  I’m not surprised by the events in Connecticut.  My only surprise is that the general public seemed to finally notice teachers again and find something to value about us.

I don’t expect this admiration to last long because Americans have to get back to the bottom line soon.  Someone in a corporation needs to make money.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/24/teachers-heroic-actions-i_n_2360571.html

I am a public school teacher.  The response of gun lovers this week has been – disgusting. More →

Parents Across America on “Won’t Back Down” movie

As hype for the “Won’t Back Down” movie heats up, PAA sent this message to entertainment media:

In case you are preparing to interview the stars of the controversial new film “Won’t Back Down,” or review the movie, Parents Across America would like you to be aware of the following facts:

1.       Walden Media which produced the film also co-produced the movie “Waiting for Superman”.  The people at Walden Media have admitted that they had a specific political agenda in making this film.  In an interview in the NYT, Walden’s CEO said they realized “there were inherent limitations of the documentary format,” of W4S, and they wanted to reach a larger audience through characters who struggle with issues that are “ripped from the headlines.”

2.       While the film doesn’t mention the “Parent trigger” law by name, the ads describe the film as being “inspired by actual events” and depict parents signing a petition to take over a struggling school.  Michelle Rhee and others have been showing the film in screenings around the country to promote the Parent Trigger legislation, which calls for similar measures.  In our FAQ on the movie, we provide some background about how the Parent Trigger legislation was first developed, how it has been disseminated by the right-wing group ALEC, and how it has never successfully worked to bring about true parent empowerment and why it is unlikely to do so in the future.

To read more about who to contact if you have questions about Parent Trigger laws, or if you would like to know more about Parent Trigger Laws and other practical information about our public schools, please click here

“Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

While Parent Trigger was first promoted by a small charter school operator in California, it was taken up and launched into hyperdrive by two controversial right-wing organizations: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.

What is a Parent Trigger law? The proposals have varied from state to state, but they generally allow parents at any failing school, defined by standardized testing, to sign a petition to radically transform the school using any of four “triggers.” Parents can petition to: 1) fire the principal, 2) fire half of the teachers, 3) close the school and let parents find another option, or 4) convert the school into a charter school. While the details of how the school can be “restructured” vary from state to state, the charter school option is always present. Charter schools are privately managed, taxpayer-funded public schools which are granted greater autonomy from regulations applicable to other public schools, ostensibly in exchange for greater accountability for results, but they have been criticized for uneven and mediocre track records.

The trigger is from a gun aimed at the survival of our public school system and promotion of ALEC’s education program.  To read all of this excellent article from PRWatch, please click here

To see the trailer for this movie, please click here
the link to the trailer has been removed as YouTube apparently was fearful of a complaint from FOX (ALEC member via News Corp.).  No sooner did I remove the video – per YouTube’s instructions, than we got another message from YouTube telling us that there was no claim.

This appears to be part of a campaign of attempted intimidation.  Virus attacks from sources unknown were planted on the computers of two of our researchers preventing them from getting to this site.  A virus was planted on my computer also, again by sources unknown, but I removed it before knowing what it was going to do.

We will not be intimidated or silenced in our efforts to get information to our readers.

 

 

Teachers on strike in Chicago are fighting for their students to get a quality education

When I was a kid, having a good teacher was the key ingredient to getting a good education, just as it is now. And when I was a kid my teachers were unionized, just as they are now. But now the same teachers who want the same decent wages and working conditions and the same promise of a reasonably secure retirement are accused of being the problem in our schools today. Special interests who want to push standardized testing and privatize our nation’s public schools are demonizing the teachers who oppose these measures.

…The Chicago teachers also object to their performance and jobs being tied to standardized tests. In March, education researchers from 16 universities sent a letter to Emanuel and the head of the Chicago Public Schools warning against such measures, pointing out among other things that such test-based teacher evaluations have been shown to be highly unreliable measures of teacher quality. Moreover, standardized test results are often influenced by poverty, homelessness, crime and other social issues beyond the influence of teachers. And we know this type of teacher evaluation risks creating teachers who “teach to the test” instead of the creative, dynamic teachers we need.

…Meanwhile, under the guise of “reform,” Emanuel wants to vastly expand charter schools in Chicago to eventually encompass half of the city’s education system. This amid evidence that charter school siphon taxpayer money and strong students out of public schools and leave poor students and students with disabilities worse off. But Rahm Emanuel actually hired protesters to make his proposals look good while demonizing teachers. But parents are standing with the teachers and their union.

To read this entire article which goes a long way to explaining the teachers’ strike in Chicago, I highly recommend that you click here

 

Lifelong Democrat ready for fight in Charlotte over school reform

With the Democrats, alas, are coming some of the most powerful voices in so-called education “reform” — purveyors of policies whose failures we and other Charlotte parents have experienced first hand. They bring not the patience and determination required to build up struggling schools and students, but rather a sharp critique of teachers and a steamroller philosophy that the Broad Foundation (which funds many of these groups) calls “disruptive” change.

Here in Charlotte, we are all too familiar with the damage such “disruptive” policies have done to children, schools and communities.

photo of Pam Grundy by Peter Wong

In the fall of 2010, despite pleas and warnings from students, parents and community members, our board of education voted to abruptly close a set of “failing” schools, most of which served low-income neighborhoods. As students were crowded into other schools, discipline infractions rose and test scores fell. The deep damage done to school system-community relations has yet to be repaired.

* A few months later, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) unveiled a battery of 52 new standardized tests, with the goal of testing every child in every subject, from kindergarten through high school, and then using the scores in teacher salary calculations. Our schools quickly became testing factories, and learning ground to a halt. Community protest managed to stop that madness, but we now face a similar barrage of state exams, mandated by our president’s Race to the Top initiative. Fed up with all the testing, more parents are abandoning the public schools for private institutions.

* Finally, two weeks ago, a pair of longtime CMS employees spoke out about the “crisis of heart” our district is experiencing, describing a stress-filled, dehumanizing atmosphere whose results include “too many fine educators, both novice and veteran, deciding to leave their beloved profession or questioning how much longer they can endure the stressful madness.” Statistics on principal and teacher departures from our district bear out their words.

Yet despite such on-the-ground experiences — as well as a stunning lack of evidence that these “disruptive” measures do anything to improve teaching or learning — the “reform” bandwagon rolls on, dragging federal policy along with it. The programs of the president I worked so hard to get elected have become just another obstacle.

I know many right-wingers want to dismantle our nation’s public education system, using charter and voucher laws to fragment education into a plethora of privately run institutions. When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held a summit here last spring, it felt good to be outside, protesting their attacks on public schools. It’s much harder to watch members of the party I support strike equally devastating blows, seemingly unaware of their effects.

We here at the grass roots face quite a challenge. Groups like StudentsFirst and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) spend a lot of money…We hold home-printed signs and yellow pencils crafted from pool noodles.

The difference says a lot. There’s big money in many of the endeavors these “reformers” propose: money for testing companies, for charter school management firms, for computer and software producers.

To read this entire article and sign on to their very important petition, please click here

 

For-Profit Charter Chains Pour Money into Florida State Senate Races

This past spring, the state senate deadlocked on a 20-20 vote and did not pass a parent trigger law supported by right-wingers Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee.

Even some Republican senators turned against the proposal when not a single Florida parent group supported it.

Every Florida parent group opposed it. They warned that the parent trigger was a transparent attempt by the charter operators to trick parents into handing their public school over to the charter chains.

By funding opposition to the senators who oppose the parent trigger, the for-profit charter chains are demonstrating that the parent groups were right.

To read more of this article, please click here

The Wall Street Journal Covers Up ALEC Link To Anti-Union School Privatization Law

The Wall Street Journal this morning failed to report ties between the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and controversial “parent-trigger” legislation that would allow parents to take over and convert public schools to charter schools. They also failed to report that the Journal’s parent company, News Corp, is a member of ALEC. The Journal’s treatment of the legislation also cited no criticism of the proposal, which has been described as an effort “to manipulate parents into letting [the charter school lobby] privatize more public schools.

In the July 23 article, the Wall Street Journal reported on legislation that, according to the article, “empowers parents to take control of a school if enough of them sign petitions” and convert it into a charter school. But the article failed to mention that the proposal is based heavily on model legislation developed by ALEC, a controversial right-wing group that was recently exposed as a significant influence in the pro-charter movement in Georgia.

ALEC has also been behind such controversial legislation as voter ID laws and “Stand Your Ground” legislation. After the group’s involvement in these efforts were made public, several of their corporate members left the organization. One of the corporations who remains a member of ALEC, however, is News Corp, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal. The article did not disclose the paper’s relationship with ALEC and similarly did not disclose their relationship even while shielding ALEC from critics.

In addition to not disclosing their conflict of interest, the Journal reported on the claims of “advocates” of the legislation, but made no mention of opposition by several parent organizations, including parents who wanted their initial petition signatures in favor of that legislation revoked, because “many parents said that they had been misled about what the petitions called for” as well as “harassment by some signature gatherers.” In addition, the nonprofit group Parents Across America pointed out:

Click here for the rest of the story.