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Jamelle Bouie is Right: John Lewis and John Dewey ARE Kindred Spirits

July 31, 2020 Leave a comment

NYTimes op ed columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote a column today praising John Lewis and comparing his advocacy for civil rights with John Dewey’s advocacy for democracy. The column compelled me to leave this comment:

John Dewey would weep to see how public education has devolved. The tests we administer to “measure” schools have no relationship to the skills required to sustain democracy today. Worse the test-and-punish system in place since the advent of NCLB does nothing to really Dewey’s view of a democratic society “…where each person could develop their “distinctive capacities” to the fullest and then use them for the sake of their communities” When schools eliminate the arts to relentlessly focus on improving test scores they do nothing to develop the “distinctive capabilities” of thousands of students and, as a result, deny communities of their services.

America’s democratic spirit is sapped when the classrooms are focussed exclusively on boosting standardized test scores. A comparison of the offerings available to students in “successful” schools– those serving children in affluent families— with those available to students in “failing” schools– those serving children raised in poverty– illustrates how test-driven metrics plays out in an anti-democratic fashion.

Lawmakers Warn ‘Onerous’ New USPS Loan Terms Imposed by Mnuchin ‘Could Accelerate Demise of Postal Service’

July 31, 2020 Leave a comment

Privatization of public services accomplishes two long held GOP dreams: it lowers taxes and undercuts the power of unions who represent the interests of workers. This paragraph captures what is going on here:

“Undermining and degrading the Postal Service helps frustrate the customer, which sets the stage to privatizing it,” Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, told The Intercept. “The Trump administration is on record for raising prices, reducing service, and reducing workers’ rights and benefits.”

And how does this relate to schools? The test-and-punish model imposed by NCLB, reinforced by RTTT, and sustained by current Federal legislation resulted in nearly 100% of public schools receiving “failing” grades, undermining public credibility for their performance. Consistent underfunding of Federal mandates and the devastating revenue losses at the State level as a result of the economic collapses of 2008 and  2020 have degraded the facilities. At the same time, the cuts to school budgets combined with the teaching-to-the-test mentality prevalent in public schools has degraded the programming and taken the joy out of schools further degrading them in the eyes of “the customer”— in this case parents. All of this sets the stage for privatization….

And, if you thought schools were struggling in 2020-21, wait until they begin working on their 2021-22 budgets… especially now that the federal government’s latest stimulus package is stalled…

Source: Lawmakers Warn ‘Onerous’ New USPS Loan Terms Imposed by Mnuchin ‘Could Accelerate Demise of Postal Service’

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Time for ISPs to Show They REALLY Believe Black Lives Matter

July 31, 2020 Leave a comment

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Gizmodo, a technology oriented website, published the post above describing a letter the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund sent to 20 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) asking them to provide financial relief to families with children who are relying on remote learning. The NAACP estimates that nearly half of the Black students and 40% of Latinx students may lose internet access because their parents are unable to pay the bills due to the economic collapse.

In its letter, the LDF points out how ISPs have “recently spoken out against racism and inequality,” but “decisive action” is needed more than words. There are many challenges to meeting the technological needs of every student in the U.S., but it’s not something that schools can do alone.

If the ISPs REALLY believe that Black Lives Matter they can put their money where their mouths are.