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Posts Tagged ‘Parent engagement’

Chicago Newspaper’s Characterization of “Union Win” Downplays Union’s Emphasis on Helping Students and Families

April 21, 2021 Comments off

As noted in many earlier posts, I have been dismayed to read news accounts blaming teachers unions for delays in the re-opening of public schools. As one who led school districts for 29 years, I had many instances where union leaders and I did not see eye-to-eye, but the characterizations of teachers’ unions as stymying the reopening of schools because they were “only looking out for themselves”. In many respects in many parts of this country, the teachers were not only looking out for themselves, they were looking out for the students and parents they served, students and parents whose concerns were overlooked by politicians who wanted to score political points.

A recent report by the Chicago Tribune’s John Byrne is indicative of the news media’s downplaying of the positive battles the teachers fought on behalf of their students and parents. In the account of the settlement between the union and the city he wrote:

One big win for the union in the proposed plan was the agreement to aid vaccine access for CPS students 16 and older and their families. Priority would be based on ZIP code, and access would be based on vaccine availability, with CPS providing students and families with codes for vaccine registration and blocks of appointments being reserved for them.

The fact that this was a union “win” means that the city was arguing… what? That the access to vaccines for parents and students should NOT be a priority? And if that WAS the position of the city, what does that tell the parents and students? The pandemic is laying bare many of the flaws of our system… and the fact that getting vaccines for parents and students is a ‘win” for unions tells readers all they need to know about the priorities of the politicians who lead that ciy.

Categories: Essays Tags: ,

Lest We Forget: Parents of Children on “Got To Go” List Prevail in Lawsuit Brought Against Success Academy

March 20, 2021 Comments off

In the Fall of 2015 the newspapers in NYC (and this blog) described the reprehensible practice of Success Academy when it came to dealing with children with handicaps and children who were deemed “disruptive”. Instead of providing services to those children to help them cope— which one would think a school named “Success Academy” would do— the school developed a “Got to Go” list of children whose parents were harassed to the point where they had no choice but to withdraw their children. This Lawfuel blog post describes how the school dealt with these five children:

The case charged that Success Academy engaged in practices targeting students with disabilities, in order to force them to withdraw. The practices detailed in the suit included regularly removing the children from the classroom and calling the parents multiple times daily.

“Success Academy’s harsh, inflexible, one-size-fits-all approach to discipline is at odds with its obligation to reasonably accommodate students’ disabilities,” noted Kayley McGrath, an associate in Stroock’s Litigation Group. “These children and their families were forced to withdraw from the Success Academy network not only because their educational needs were not being met, but also because they were explicitly not welcome there. This Judgment recognizes that children with disabilities deserve access to an accommodating learning environment that approaches their needs not with contempt, but with empathy.”

“Success Academy forced these families to withdraw their children by bullying and daily harassment, instead of providing a quality education free from discrimination,” said Laura D. Barbieri, Special Counsel to Advocates for Justice. “New York’s parents and children deserve better, and we are pleased these families achieved justice.”

The lawsuit awarded the parents of the children with $2.4 million… but only after they went through the grueling treatment at Success Academy and the grueling process of trials and hearings. Oh… and only after their children waited 51/2 years to get the justice they sought. These children who are now 10 and 11 years old began their efforts as Kindergartners… New York’s parents and children DO deserve better. They deserve to attend fully funded public schools that welcome them even if they present challenges to the school and even if the school needs to become more flexible to adapt to them. Public schools have no choice but to operate in that fashion. Charter schools? Not so much.

Idaho State GOP Legislators Reject Pre-School Funding Championed by Trump, GOP Governor, GOP Senators. Why? Because Pre-Schools are Converting Kids into Liberal Activists.

March 9, 2021 Comments off

In a story that defies logic but hews to the paranoid narrative of some conspiracists, Idaho legislators are turning down a $6,000,000 grant to provide pre-school preparation to 15 communities in the State. The grant, which was sought and promoted by GOP leaders at the national and state level, has fallen prey to a bizarre and baseless conspiracy theory promoted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF). Here’s the grant’s background, as described in Scott McIntosh’s editorial in the Idaho Statesman:

The federal funding is part of a multiyear grant that started under the Trump administration. Idaho Gov. Brad Little, who has set early literacy as one of his top priorities, approved Idaho to pursue the grant in 2019.

Idaho’s Republican U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo support the grant and voiced that support in a joint video statement in February.

The $6 million in funding that legislators rejected last week is the latest phase of the “preschool development grant,” which organizers say is a misnomer because Idaho is not developing a pre-K program. Rather, preschool means just that, helping children before they start school.

Idaho already received $3.3 million in grant funding in 2019 to establish local collaboratives in 15 communities around the state, from American Falls, Idaho City, Coeur d’Alene and Murtaugh to Juliaetta, Kuna, Fremont, Kendrick, Nampa and more.

The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children was designated as the state’s grant facilitator.

It’s the last sentence that led to the conspiracy theory. You see the IFF mistakenly asserted that the IDAHO Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) was beholden to the NATIONAL Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) and that the NATIONAL AEYC was promoting a liberal agenda… no… make that mandating a liberal agenda. Both of these assertions are false. But the IFF and their GOP adherents are not convinced! Mr. McIntsoh writes:

The Idaho Freedom Foundation suggested that this federal grant would be used to “indoctrinate” Idaho’s children with “social justice ideology,” “critical race theory,” transgender rights and teach them how to be “activists.”

“The central idea of these activities is that young children are increasingly acclimated to becoming activists and will be comfortable organizing for progressive leftist causes as they get older,” Idaho Freedom Foundation’s education policy expert Anna Miller wrote in a piece posted just a few days before the vote.

I’m no “policy expert”, but I would tend to believe Idahoans who are operating theses programs overseen by local boards have to say about the programming offered under existing grants. And here’s what THEY have to report:

The goal of the grant is to improve literacy and prepare children ages 0-5 for school. It’s as simple as that.

“The whole focus of the grant is family engagement and supporting families with young children,” Beth Oppenheimer, Idaho AEYC executive director said. “This is about school readiness and literacy. Nothing more, nothing less.”

In Idaho, the local collaboratives make decisions on a local level on how best to achieve those goals, Oppenheimer said.

“We’re not coming in and telling these communities what to do,” Oppenheimer said. “We’re coming in and helping them navigate leaders within their community to develop early learning communities.”

Ms. Oppenheimer emphasized that the IDAHO AEYC is in no way connected with the NATIONAL AEYC and NEITHER organization promotes the kind of brainwashing the IFF believes is occurring.
And here’e what I find sad: the elected State GOP is adopting the narrative promoted by a special interest lobbying group over the FACTS presented by their GOP colleague in the State House, their elected Federal legislators, and the President they elected in 2016. Despite the conduct of this legislature, I do retain faith in Democracy and, in so doing, would expect the 15 communities who were denied funding to help their prepare their children for school will vote these legislators out of office. The GOP governor, the GOP Senators and House members, and, yes, even the former GOP President were all doing the right thing for the children in the state. It’s time for STATE officials to follow their lead.