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Archive for November, 2019

Will “Caveat Emptor” Apply to K-12 Parents who are Misled by Profiteers

November 25, 2019 Comments off

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If Betsy DeVos has her way the principle of caveat emptor will apply to K-12 as well.

The NYTimes Misrepresents a Walton Funded Protest and Profiteers and Pro-Voucher Forces Smile

November 25, 2019 Comments off

As noted a few days ago in a post, a widely publicized “grassroots protest” by charter school parents was in fact funded by the Waltons, a rabid pro-for-profit-charter pro-voucher group who has successfully convinced neoliberal America that the only solution to the “failing public schools” is providing parents with “choice”. I was appalled to see a link to a video titled “Protesters confront Warren and Biden at Campaign Events” with this text explaining the nature of the protests against Warren:

“In Georgia, Senator Elizabeth Warren was interrupted by protests because of her plan to cut charter school funding.”

The text was especially appalling since the video itself had nothing to say about the “plan to cut charter school funding” and did not show one frame of footage on the protest. Rather, the video showed Ayanna Pressley eloquently and patiently explaining to the protesters that Ms. Warren was ready to listen to the substance of the protesters’ complaints but that her purpose here today was to explain how she intended to remedy the many problems facing the nation.

The NYTimes seems intent on making it sound as if Elizabeth Warren opposes ALL charter schools and intends to cut funding to ALL of them as a result. As the previous post and Ms. Warren’s campaign literature explains, she is only opposed to those charter schools that are not governed by democratically elected boards and who seek to make a profit for shareholders. It is not difficult to include that distinction in framing her position…. unless, that is, the NYTimes and other media outlets wish to oversimplify an issue to advance their own agenda.

Oregon Teachers Leaving Classrooms Over Lack of Resources… NOT “Disruptive Learning”

November 24, 2019 Comments off

My niece who teaches school in suburban Columbus OH recently posted a report from KHOU, a TV station in Houston Texas, that was reporting on the decision of many Oregon teachers to leave the classroom early. The headline of the May 2019 posting and the subhead read:

Classrooms in Crisis: Teachers retiring, resigning over disruptive learning

Teachers say they’re leaving a profession they love because of an increase in classroom disruptions.

The headline is misleading. After reading the article it is clear that the problem isn’t disruption: it’s a lack of resources. This sentence in the middle of the article says it all:

“It wasn’t the kids that made him want to stop teaching, it was the lack of resources to help them.

Teachers know what children need… and it has nothing to do with getting higher test scores, teaching coding, or spending money on guards, surveillance cameras, and “hardening” of schools. It has to do with providing help for children who show up each day distraught over the problems they face.

In our country, where we seem to feel that because SOME children can rise from adversity it is “soft” to cushion any of them when they are in school, we “harden” children the same way we harden schools. Providing visible safety measures like surveillance cameras, armed guards, wands to check students for guns, and protective fences and doors is far more appealing that spending money on invisible safety measures like more counselors, mental health professionals, and— yes– classroom teachers. Students get the message early and it is reinforced throughout their school years: the adults think it is more important to get high test scores and learn how to use technology than it is to learn how to get along with each other and to cope with stress. When students act out in school they are often acting out of frustration; out of a sense that no one cares about them and no one knows them. Time to give schools the resources they need to show students that they DO care.

Billionaire Walton Family Behind Pro-Charter School Protest at Warren Rally

November 23, 2019 1 comment

I read an account of this “grassroots protest” in another news source that hadn’t bothered to examine who funded the black t-shirts everyone was wearing or the distinction between generic “charter schools” and charter schools that are “subject to the same transparency and accountability requirements as traditional public schools.” Ms. Warren’s opposition, like that of the NAACP, is to privatized public schools that benefit their shareholders more than they benefit students:

“We have a responsibility to provide great neighborhood schools for every student,” Warren wrote in her plan last month. “We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools… We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools.”

Under the senator’s proposal, new for-profit charter schools would be banned from opening, and the IRS would be directed to investigate charter schools that operate as non-profits to ensure they don’t actually benefit for-profit interests.

Warren supports the NAACP’s proposal to allow only public school districts to authorize charter schools and would require that charter schools are “subject to the same transparency and accountability requirements as traditional public schools.”

As Common Dreams notes at the end of this article, the schools attended by the protesters would not be affected “unless they were fraudulent or for-profit.”  

And why would the Waltons be funding a protest of this kind?

One critic of the protest’s funders proposed one reason why the Waltons bankrolled the demonstration: Warren’s pledge to attack wealth inequality by imposing new taxes on the richest Americans.

Or… stated bluntly: ka-ching $$$$$$

Source: Billionaire Walton Family Behind Pro-Charter School Protest at Warren Rally

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NYTimes Editorial Board Connects the Dots Between LI Housing Discrimination and Schools

November 22, 2019 Comments off

As noted in a post yesterday, Newsday investigative reporters recently provided evidence that realtors on Long Island discriminate in a way the prevents prospective minority home owners from seeing homes in predominantly white communities and vice versa. The result: persistent segregation.

Today’s NYTimes editorial, “Jim Crow South? No. Long Island Today“, elaborates on the damage that results from this steering toward segregated neighborhoods and towns:

In a country where homeownership has long been the way to build wealth, discrimination in housing is uniquely harmful. It is the chief reason behind the deep segregation in New York’s public schools, which is among the worst in the country.It also helps explain the startling racial gap in wealth in the United States. The median wealth of white Americans is $134,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The median wealth of black Americans is $11,030.

Americans would find it unfathomable if schools or water fountains were labeled “White Only,” as was commonplace across the South just several decades ago. They would be kidding themselves to think this kind of discrimination in housing, without the labels, is any less pernicious.

The editorial board goes on to offer a solution to the problem that is on the books but not in full effect:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a former head of the federal housing department, said in February 2016 that New York would launch a “fair housing enforcement program,” using paired testing and beginning in Buffalo, Syracuse and New York City’s northern suburbs. But Newsday found that the state has not conducted any additional paired testing after that initial round of 88 tests.

Oops! I guess enforcement costs money and the Governor wouldn’t want to spend money to enforce laws that would disrupt housing patterns! Better to use the money to disrupt the way schools operate. You see both the Governor and the NYTimes editorial board see the “solution” to the “deep segregation” in NYC and elsewhere as being “disruptive faces” like school choice and the takeover of “failing schools” by privatizers.

The NYTimes editorial board has connected the dots between housing discrimination and public schools… will they connect the dots and realize that without an infusion of funds the effects of this discrimination will not be readily overcome?

$5,300,000 Incentive Offered to Business Shedding 25% of its Workforce… But There’s “Not Enough Money” for Schools

November 20, 2019 Comments off

I just read a VPR webpage post describing a recent decision by the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) to offer $5,300,000 to Marvell, a computer chip manufacturer whose operations are located in Essex Junction VT. As VPR reports:

On Oct. 31, the state approved an application for Marvell for what it calls a Vermont Employment Growth Incentive — also known as VEGI. The state agreed to give Marvell up to $5.3 million of taxpayer money over several years. But like all VEGI deals, the terms are secret.

Joan Goldstein, commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, said state officials began having conversations about VEGI with Marvell several months ago, when the company’s plans to buy Avera first surfaced.

“Marvell is a pretty global company, has real no allegiance to Vermont, and so the idea behind VEGI is to make sure that this, Marvell, would be a new company to Vermont, that Marvell would establish and keep the jobs in Vermont,” Goldstein said.

Alas for VEGI and the Department of Economic Development, days before they announced the award Marvell announced its plans to shed 700 of the 3000 jobs in Vermont.

As readers of this blog know, I find the whole practice of offering businesses tax relief or grants to be at least a secondary factor in the diminishment of funds for schools. When businesses receive a tax break they are limiting the revenue stream for funding public services like schools. When businesses receive grants, they are getting tax dollars that could be spent to improve schools. But in the topsy turvy world of local politics, it is far better to offer $5,300,000 to a company who lays off 700 workers than it is to provide that money to schools who could use it to hire 88 teachers assuming they receive total compensation of $60,000 per year.

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Cory Booker and Other “Pro-Choice” Neo-Liberals: PLEASE Speak Out Against this The Way You Have Against “Failing” Schools

November 19, 2019 1 comment

This Newsday investigative report reveals an appalling truth about “choice”: if a black family chooses to live in an affluent community on Long Island they will likely be steered away from those populated predominantly by whites. As I posted yesterday, Cory Booker and all Democratic Party Presidential candidates should be picking up the torch for integrated housing instead of picking up the torch for for-profit schools.