Friday, March 30, 2007

SF Cesar Chavez Day - Linking Human Rights Struggles Here and Abroad

In San Francisco Cesar Chavez day always starts with a community/labor breakfast and ends with a march, rally and community festival. Thanks to the United Educators of SF for their hospitality and the organizers like Eva Royale of the UFW [in photo above], Karl Kramer of the SF Living Wage Coaltion, and Frank Martin Del Campo of LCLAA and others for another great event.
One of our adminstrators, and former Cesar Chavez Elementary School Principal Pilar Mejia [see photo above] received a rousing standing ovation as she quoted Paulo Freire and asked attendees to support liberatory education and to teach for social justice.

The Coalition on Homelessness, SRO Family Collaborative, and others also linked Chavez and the UFW to the ongoing fight for dignity for the thousands of homeless families in San Francisco. The Chinese Progressive Association, CCDC, Home Away From Homelessness and others also supported the kids and families as they demanded that City Hall fund programs for homeless and near homeless children and families in the City.

Above is Peabody Elementary School parent Jenny Freidenbach who also happens to be the Director of the Coalition on Homelessness speaking out for dignity for homeless children, parents and families at the rally. She said housing rights for homeless people and everyone is a human right.

At Noon, some of my SF State students and Filipino community and anti-war groups also convened a People's Tribunal at the Philippines Consulate to call for an end to US Funding of the human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Donning a black judge's robe community leader Rachel Redondiez read off a number of human rights abuse charges against President Bush and the President of the Philippines. And one by one the crowd gave a guilty verdict. The SF action followed a 13-page verdict read before about 300 people inside a church in the Hague, Netherlands, on March 25 where the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) found both Philippine President Gloria M. Arroyo and U.S. President George W. Bush, Jr. and their respective governments as responsible for gross and systematic violations of human rights, economic plunder and transgression of the Filipino people’s sovereignty. The verdict, read at the conclusion of the five-day second session on the Philippines by François Houtart, Session President, described the extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, massacres, torture and other atrocities allegedly committed by the Arroyo government as “crimes against humanity”.
Pictured in the photo below is Balboa High School teacher Art Concordia and his son at the San Francisco rally.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

California Faculty Union Preps for Strike - Sets April 9-13 for 6 campuses

As we prepare for the Cesar Chavez holiday and the last week before Spring Break at San Francisco State our student activists are still organizing and preparing for solidarity actions in the event of a possible strike. They are also planning actions to oppose the fee hikes and resist top-down decision-making by Chancellor Charlie Reed and the CSU Trustees. Our union leadership announced today that Cal State Los Angeles , CSU Sacramento , CSU San Marcos , CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU East Bay, and the California Maritime Academy Would be First Campuses Where Faculty Will Strike from April 9-13.
CFA Vice President Kim Geron of CSU East Bay and other leaders of our union will continue working towards a settlement. But if April 6 arrives and we still don't have a fair contract after 23 months of working towards it we will definitely be striking.

If there is no deal, our schedule for the first week of strikes will be:

Tuesday-Wednesday, April 10-11:
Cal State Los Angeles & California Maritime Academy

Wednesday-Thursday, April 11-12:
CSU Dominguez Hills ( Carson / Los Angeles County ), CSU East Bay ( Hayward ), CSU Sacramento & CSU San Marcos ( San Diego County )

Lillian Taiz, CFA Vice President and Professor of History at Cal State Los Angeles stated, “We believe it is in the best interests of everyone, including Chancellor Reed and his administration, to settle this contract. We have the necessary guidance from the fact finding report that we believe makes it possible to reach such a settlement.
“However, we have been disappointed before. We’ve been pushing this rock up the hill for two years. We are 10 feet from the top. We can’t stop now. The Chancellor made a promise; he’s got to live up to it.”
More info -

20 San Francisco Schools with low income kids receive federal academic achievement awards; SF Muralist Josef Norris/Kid Serve's newest school mural

Bravo to 20 of our San Francisco public schools that have been named as recipients of the federal Title I Academic Achievement Award for the year 2006-07! My daughter's school which is over 75% low income [free or reduced lunch eligible] families and mostly English learners is one of the awardees.

Each award-winning school qualifies for Title I funding, a federally-funded program designed to improve the academic achievement of socioeconomically disadvantaged students. There are nearly 6,000 Title I schools in California.

The criteria to qualify for the award have become more rigorous each year. Title I schools must demonstrate the achievement level of twice the schoolwide Academic Performance Index (API) growth target and twice the API growth target for the socioeconomically disadvantaged subgroup for two consecutive years. Schools also must have made Adequately Yearly Progress for two years in a row, and at least 40 percent of the enrolled students in each school must meet the
poverty index.

SFUSD schools receiving the award for 2006-07 are:
Frank McCoppin Elementary - Francis Scott Key Elementary - Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary - Sheridan Elementary
Garfield Elementary - Sherman Elementary - George R. Moscone Elementary - Spring Valley Elementary
Glen Park Elementary - Sunnyside Elementary - Gordon J. Lau Elementary - Sunset Elementary
Guadalupe Elementary - Sutro Elementary - Harvey Milk Elementary - Ulloa Elementary
John Yehall Chin Elementary - Visitacion Valley Elementary - Lafayette Elementary - Yick Wo Elementary

For more information about the Title I Academic Achievement Awards, please visit

Josef Norris/Kid Serve Mural Sparkles at Frank McCoppin Elementary School in San Francisco's Ricmond District - District One
That's not Diego Rivera. It's local San Francisco muralist extraordinaire Josef Norris of Kid Serve putting the final touches on a sparkly new mosaic school mural at McCoppin Elementary School in San Francisco's Richmond District. Students in 1st and 3rd grade classes, parents, community volunteers, and a few community artists all lent a hand to create this amazing piece of public art in our City.
As a muralist, Norris is best known for the "Performing Arts Mural" located at the Performing Arts Garage at Gough and Fulton Streets. He just completed a huge mosaic mural overlooking the Kid Power Park at 67 Hoff Street (near the 16th & Mission Street BART Stations.) See his Woody Guthrie Mosaic to the right. Josef Norris has been a recipient of the California Arts Council Artist in Residence Grant for three years from 2000-2003. He has supervised youth murals for the California Consumer Services Agency, California County Fairs, Marin Arts Council and the Ninth District Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Check out Josef Norris' work at:
Norris has created murals at 6 of our San Francisco middle schools, one high school and 13 elementary schools. For a map of his incredible work including the Jefferson Elementary School mural on 19th Ave at Irving, Franklin Middle School/Gateway High School Mural off Geary Blvd in the Fillmore District, or others at Flynn, Moscone, Harvey Milk, Starr King, Visitacion Valley, Buena Vista, Bessie Carmichael, Junipero Serra, Sunset, E.R.Taylor Elementary Schools, Horace Mann, Denman, James Lick, Enola Maxwell, Aptos and Vis Valley Middle Schools - see

The McCoppin Mural began with a field trip to San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park in January and ended today with the finishing coat added to the mural and clean up. Over the past few months I and hundreds of other parents, students, and community members contributed to the public art piece.

More on Kid Serve Murals -
The kids and parents and teachers loved working with Josef. Below Mccoppin PTA president Danny Mangin and Norris work on the huge 2 story mural earlier this week. We took the scaffolding down this morning and will hopefully unveil the mural sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Beyond Prisons Day - Free Chol Soo Lee and Stop the Deportation of Eddie Zheng

Prisoners Rights groups from all over California have organized activities in Sacramento and up and down the state to raise awareness about the Prison System and the need for alternatives to incarceration and more funding for schools and preventative programs in our communities.
On campus today at SF State former San Quentin death row inmate Chol Soo Lee walked among us and calmly talked to Prof. Grace Yoo and my Asian American Studies students about his life - 10 years of which were ripped from him by the criminal justice system after he was framed for a Chinatown gang murder in 1973. Various universities are planning forums on Chol Soo's life and the history of the movement to free him led by the Chol Soo Lee Defense Committee, Sacramento journalist K.W. Lee, Attorney/Activist Ranko Yamada and the young legal activists in San Francisco, Sacramento leader Jay Yoo, Dr. Luke and Grace Kim of Davis Asians for Racial Equality, former LA School Board member Warren Furatani and many others. Lee is working with community activists and students from UC Davis and SF State to write a book about his experiences. The Defense Committee was one of the first national Pan-Asian coalitions and had strong representation from not only Korean American churches but also militant student and community groups, professional associations, and small businesses.
Lee did not seem bitter for losing 10 years of his life, but he did speak passionately urging students to "give back to your communities." Carry the torch for yourselves and your community. Be successful, but always be able to look back and say 'I did something positive for humanity," he said.
Lee might be known to some in the mainstream from media accounts of his ups and downs since his release in 1983 and from the Hollywood film True Believer with James Woods and Robert Downey Jr. which relegates Lee and other Asian Americans to the margins and our struggles for equality and justice as invisible while glorifying the work of well-meaning white attorneys like SF'sTony Serra. Better representations of Lee and his significance come from award winning Sacramento reporter Sandra Gin Yep's 1984 Chol Soo Lee: A Question of Justice or even 20:20's news clip on the case.

Lee was released almost exactly 24 years ago today and his case is an important one for Ethnic Studies and the broader struggle for a more humane criminal justice system in America.
Like Lee, former prisoner Eddie Zheng also did time at San Quentin. But Eddie wasn't on death row, but he was serving 7 years to life for a crime he committed when he was 16 years old. During the next 16 years Zheng committed himself behind bars to turning his life around and acknowledging his mistakes and the pain he caused to others. He also worked with other inmates to create better educational opportunities and living conditions inside as well. On Saturday night 3/31 many community supporters will be joining Eddie to celebrate his release from prison and to build a stronger community of support for him as he fights to remain in the US as the federal government seeks to deport him.

The Beyond Prisons Day organizations included - All of Us or None, CURB - Californians United for Responsible Budget, Critical Resistance, Books Not Bars/Ella Baker Center, Education Not Incarceration, and many others.

Click here for how you can Help Stop the Deportation of Eddie Zheng

Monday, March 26, 2007

Oakland Teachers Endorse Campaign to Dismantle NCLB

Oakland Education Association Endorses Educator Roundtable’s Drive to Dismantle NCLB
The Educator Roundtable announced yesterday a new partnership with the Oakland Education Association [OEA]. The move marks a historic break from CTA and NEA leadership and may be the beginning of a much larger, national rift in the nation’s largest teacher’s union. Over 28,000 parents, teachers, students and community members nationwide have quickly signed on to the Roundtable.
NEA leadership seeks to modify NCLB, but in Oakland modifications are not enough. NCLB has forced 31 of Oakland’s public schools into restructuring as charter schools.
Oakland is not alone. In California 700 schools face restructuring this year. What OEA wants to know is “where is CTA and NEA leadership?”
“People in Oakland see this as a takeover….Schools that were anchors in their neighborhoods are shutting down, increasing the instability in those neighborhoods,” explains OEA executive board member Jack Gerson.
There is no evidence supporting the claim that “charter schools” educate any better than public schools, nor is there any research supporting NCLB’s requirement that schools use supplemental educational services. There is plenty of evidence showing that NCLB has forced thousands of school districts across the country to outsource public education.
Oakland is the first local teacher’s union to reject NEA leadership and to publicly endorse the Educator Roundtable’s position. The Educator Roundtable seeks to replace NCLB with more democratic models of educational reform.
More on the Educator Roundtable

I also liked Mike Klonsky's Small Talk critique of Senator Ted Kennedy's liberalism and the "bipartisan mess" re NCLB:

Here's all we need to do, according to Sen. Kennedy, to polish up the NCLB diamond:

  • "strengthen our academic standards and assessment methods to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills necessary for today's knowledge-based global economy"
  • "improve accountability by helping states modernize their curriculums from prekindergarten through high school so that all students graduate with the education they need to pursue a college or technical degree, participate in the workforce or serve in the armed forces"
  • "help states develop better assessments to track the progress and growth of all students, including students for whom English is a second language and students with special needs"
  • "We must expand and fortify the teacher reach that goal, a greater federal investment is needed"
  • "Finally, we can't just label schools inadequate. We must help them improve"

Well, hell, if that's all that's wrong; I mean if the only "flaws" in the law are that it hasn't really closed the achievement gap, that it just labels schools as "inadequate" and doesn't really help them improve; if it's just immigrant kids and special-need kids who aren't dealt with fairly; if we're just talking poor accountability, outdated curriculum, lack of adequate resources and few provisions for improving teaching and learning, then what's all the fuss about? Tweak it and pass it. More

"Fact Finder" in CA State University Faculty Dispute sides with union - urges raises and settlement

Following yesterday's 10-day extension of our contract, I am hopeful that the California State University administration will now 'face the facts' and settle a fair contract with faculty throughout the state.
We are urging Chancellor Charlie Reed and the Trustees of the CSU system to accept the fact-finder's recommendations and settle the contract now so that we don't have to strike.
“We call on the Chancellor of the CSU to return to the bargaining table and settle an agreement now based on the fact finder’s report,” said John Travis, CFA President. “If he refuses then he forces us to proceed with a strike. That is not what we want and it’s not what the CSU needs.”
To view the fact finder's recommendations as well as the fact finding reports from both CFA and the CSU administration please visit:

This is the message I and other faculty from SF State received via email late yesterday from management:
The CSU Board of Trustees today deferred a decision on fact-finding recommendations. The faculty contract has been extended until April 6, 2007 to allow the parties to use the fact-finding panel's report as a basis for settlement. There will be no concerted strike activity during this period.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Freedom Schooling from SF to Sacramento to Chicago

SF Freedom School founder Kathy Emery blogs about the Sacramento State University Multicultural Conference which featured Duane Campbell and keynote speaker Sonia Nieto. See Emery's Freedom School Blog and her Education and Democracy website.
During the second session, I gave my spiel on how the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School Curriculum was an important topic for those interested in critical pedagogy since it is a study of how theory and practice interact. ...As Myles Horton argues, movements escalate by their nature and one has to be creative and flexible to respond to those moments when it is time to escalate.
Emery has been also working with activists in Chicago to re-establish Freedom Schools there drawing from materials such as the original 1964 Freedom School Curriculum.

Friday, March 23, 2007

CA College Teachers Making History - National Labor Coalitions Join in Support

Although we don’t want to strike, if Chancellor Charlie Reed, CSU Board of Trustees Chair Roberta Achtenberg the CSU Trustees do not come to their senses, we will move forward to historic two-day rolling strike actions at our 23 campuses throughout California.

See the broad support growing for our California Faculty Association or CFA from the Change to Win coalition of the labor movement. See also the letter signed by the presidents of some of the largest and most important unions and academic organizations in the nation NEA, SEIU, CTA and AAUP and the support from John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO.
Left in SF is calling for Support for University of California Custodians as well.

Join the Picket to End Poverty Wages for UC Custodians!
Saturday, March 24, 5:30 to 7:00 PM., Ft. Mason, Buchanan and Marina at the UC’s Annual Gala fundraiser
Join members of AFSCME Local 3299 for a picket against poverty wages at the University of California. Custodians from several UC campuses will converge at the UC’s Annual Gala fundraiser for a picket. Help send the message to UC’s donors that the San Francisco community will not tolerate poverty wages here. Your support on the picket line is critical to bring UC workers out of poverty!
The Gala will be held at at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The entrance to Fort Mason is at the intersection of Buchanan St and Marina Blvd, plenty of parking available on site.

Stanford report #4 - Misunderstanding Incentives; Ignoring Reasons for the Evisceration of School Funding

Stanford Report #4
Understanding the Incentives in California’s Education Finance System, Duncombe, William and Yinger, John (2007), Syracuse University.

In two sections -- [my comments in blocks and italics; boldface is my highlighting their text]

I. UNDERSTANDING INCENTIVES [summary of state financing follows the incentive section, which is the reverse of the actual report #4]

[From Appendix D]
A ten percent increase in the API requires a 7.1 percent increase in spending, all else equal. We combine this result with various assumptions about school district efficiency to obtain estimates of the cost of reaching the 800 API target. [and this is useful info how?]

[HOW DO THEY ARRIVE AT THESE KINDS OF CONCLUSION?! Look at a paragraph from another part of the paper below to see how they deal with assumptions upon which they base these math formulas -- notice “but this adds amazing complexity” which they don’t do because they need to keep the math formula “manageable” – so human actions, motives, behavior are simplified so they can fit it into a math formula that predicts human behavior, ie what kind of tax would the voters support????]

. . . Finally, this issue is complicated because it introduces another margin—whether or not to increase property taxes. All existing models have a single margin and that margin determines the tax price. We don’t think it makes sense to have two tax prices. It might it make sense for a voter to pick the smallest tax price (that is, to increase the revenue source with the smallest impact on her). But this adds amazing complexity to the model and to the empirical work. We would have to calculate two tax prices and use the smallest—both in determining monitoring and in the demand model. To keep the analysis manageable, we assume that voters do not perceive borrowing for operating expenses to be the relevant margin when they make their monitoring decisions. Instead, they see money raised through this route as a contribution to augmented income. This assumption is somewhat awkward because the alternative margin, the parcel tax, requires a 2/3 vote and is rarely used. But the restrictions on borrowing for operating expenses are severe and the parcel tax logic is straightforward, so we keep the parcel tax at the core of the model. This leaves open the possibility that borrowing for operating expenses is a “margin” in the demand equation. In other words, the possibility of borrowing for operating expenses might influence the demand for school quality either through a price incentive or though augmented income, depending on voter perceptions. We can estimate it both ways.

An education cost equation indicates the amount of money a district must spend per pupil to obtain a given level of student performance. This type of cost equation is analogous to a cost equation in private production, which is a central tool in economics. [Output = API score, Input = teachers’ salaries. ] . . . A cost equation indicates how much a school district would have to spend to achieve a given performance level if it used the best available technology, that is, the best available teaching methods and management policies. We cannot observe costs in this sense, however, but instead observe actual spending, which may not reflect the best available technology. To put it another way, the dependent variable in our analysis, spending per pupil, is equivalent to educational costs divided by an index of school district efficiency. As a result, we need to control for efficiency to preserve the cost interpretation of student characteristics and other cost variables. . . . . spending on art is likely to a source of inefficiency in the production of mathematics performance. Our main analysis measures school district performance using API.

[I don’t even know where to start with taking apart all the horrific assumptions that underly the statements in the above paragraph]

[do they really believe that this kind of talk is helpful??] School officials in high revenue/high performance districts may work especially hard to maintain the performance level in their district despite the decline in their revenue. Similarly, school officials in low revenue/low performance districts may be able to use the relatively large increases in their revenue limits to increase their relative performance even without being relatively efficient.


[the report summarizes prop 13 and Serrano, but doesn’t explain how the commercial real estate loopholes have contributed to an evisceration of school funding – without explaining that, they don’t reveal an important way to increase funding – close the commercial loopholes in prop 13. PICO attempted a campaign to do so several years ago, and CTA began a campaign last year. Both were told by the CBR not to do it and were stopped by the power of CA CEOs]

Proposition 13 sets the parameters of the expected local contribution . . . . In a fundamental sense, these restrictions on local supplementation transform “local” revenue into “state” revenue, that is, they take decisions about the property tax and other local revenue sources out of local control.. . . the Serrano decisions reduced revenue-limit differences across districts . . . . the amount of revenue is much higher in New York, but that, in some cases, the variation in revenue is higher in California. . . . [the variation] shows up in state categorical aid and in federal revenue.

… heavy reliance on categorical aid, as in California, gives state lawmakers more control over the allocation of school district budgets, but it also limits local flexibility and innovation and raises the share of resources that are devoted to bookkeeping instead of education. This trade-off is recognized in California. The six AB 825 block grants, which were passed in 2004, each combine several categorical aid programs and give school districts more flexibility in deciding how to spend the aid funds (Goldfinger, 2006). We believe these block grants were a step in the right direction. . . . . Categorical aid programs may therefore add to district inefficiency not only by adding constraints, but also by being unpredictable.

this “poverty gap” [Ed trust’s study between 25 districts with most and 25 with least poverty] is considerably lower in California than in the average state or the average big state. Nevertheless, this gap is still quite large, $534 per pupil, and it is larger than the gap in other West Coast states, $309 per pupil.8 To some degree, the relatively small absolute poverty gaps in California reflect the state’s relatively low spending per pupil. [and why are there high poverty and low poverty districts to begin with ...? oh, that's not part of the discussion is it?]

Overall, there is still plenty of room for debate about the features of each component in the California state revenue system, but the mix of revenue sources does not appear to be in need of a major overhaul. . . . Table 7 also indicates that taxes other than the property tax make up a very small share of local school revenue in California, as they do in other states. . . . the main source of this difference appears to be that in California, unlike other states, private educational foundations make large contributions to public schools in several school districts. . . . the parcel tax provided 8.0 percent of local non-property-tax revenue in 2002-03, compared with 5.6 percent in 1995-96. This growth in the reliance on this tax is likely to continue, because the parcel tax is one of the few revenue sources with clear expansion possibilities, but the 2/3 voting requirement obviously has minimized reliance on this tax up to now. . . . According to the criteria developed by public finance economists, a parcel tax is a poor substitute for a property tax. First, a parcel tax does not meet basic standards of fairness . . . it is very regressive.

Revenue from private foundations is distributed in a relatively inequitable manner, because districts with richer residents can attract more contributions. Unlike state aid given to wealthy districts, however, these contributions do not come out of the same budget that must provide funds to the neediest districts. Moreover, private contributions may be difficult to regulate; even if contributions directly to schools were prohibited, parents could make equivalent contributions through tutoring, art, music, sports, or other programs run outside the school system.

The foundation amount in California is not adjusted in any way for the higher cost of education in some districts. This situation is consistent with the Serrano guidelines for a minimal revenue-limit deviation across districts, which is expressed in terms of actual spending per pupil, not in terms of real spending per pupil (that is, spending per pupil adjusted for educational costs). The California approach is not consistent, however, with the central normative argument for a foundation formula, which is an education finance system should lead to an adequate student performance in every district. This view requires not only a decision about the resources needed to reach this performance level in a typical district, that is, a decision about the basic foundation amount, but also a decision about the best way to account for variation across districts in the cost of education.

[notice in this paragraph the paradigm IN which they are operating—the criterion for creating an incentive for financing should be “performance level” – in other words, standardized test scores. ]

[photos from Rethinking Schools]

CSU Strike - Student Fee Hikes, Executive Compensation & Perks, Fair Contract for Faculty

As we prepare to strike, California State University Faculty are doing our best to get the word out about our issues -
Scandalous?! Who wants to be a millionaire in the CSU system?
Compare our Executives' Salaries with the rest of us who teach for a living:

More sleuthing at

Executive Compensation: What's this I keep hearing about the CSU 'fat cats' and all their Executive Compensation and Perks?

• Last fall, the CSU Trustees awarded campus presidents and the top administrators in the Chancellor’s Office 19% increases in compensation -- including salary increases averaging 13.7% per person.
• At their January 2007 meeting, CSU Trustees will vote on another 4% salary increase proposed for the same executives.
• With these raises:-the average 2-year salary increase = $42,000-salary paid to the top execs in 06/07 will be 19% more than in 04/05
• By contrast, since 2002, CSU faculty received only a 3.5% raise, in July 2005.
• Compensation increases awarded to some executives in 2005 totaled more than the annual salary paid to full-time faculty.
• CPEC estimates that CSU faculty are paid 18% lower, on average, than their peers at similar universities around the country.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Largest higher education strike in US history - California faculty union builds unity with students and communities

As we prepare for the largest higher education strike in US history, California State University faculty are building stronger long-term alliances with students and communities. Unity is crucial for victory in our fight for a fair contract and our students' fight for a real voice and to stop the huge fee increases recently approved by the CSU trustees.
Our CFA board last night voted unanimously to authorize our strike. Already field organizers are making plans with our student and community allies to shut down our campuses if necessary.
For great student perspectives on how student learning conditions are interconnected with faculty/staff working conditions - see this student produced video - Listen to the Students.
One of my former students Peter Lauterborn who also writes for has started a facebook group -" I will not cross the picket line" to help students stay informed about the strike preparations at SF State and all over California. Already numerous student leaders and others are working to build stronger alliances with faculty as well. Student organizers are going class to class to make presentations to inform students of the potential strike and what it means for their future.
While the SF Chronicle seems to be burying the strike story on the back pages, the Sacramento Bee has been featuring great investigative reporting on faculty conditions and executive perks and local organizing at Sac State.

• 94% vote to support a strike; voter turnout is 81%; bargaining crisis inspires 1,300 new members to join the union
Any lingering questions about the solidarity and resolve of the California State University faculty were answered resoundingly Wednesday by the results of the first strike vote in the history of the California Faculty Association.
A stunning 94% of the voters agreed that the CSU’s professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches should initiate rolling walkouts if the CSU administration continues to reject bringing their salaries in line with their peers across the country.
More than 8,000 voters—an extraordinary 81% of the CFA membership—turned out to send an unmistakable message to Chancellor Charles B. Reed.
...The pro-strike-authorization numbers rang across all 23 CFA chapters. On only one campus was the vote in favor of striking as low as 79%.
An equally telling number is the 1,300 faculty who have been moved to join CFA during the recent months of the bargaining crisis and impasse. Taken together, the landslide strike authorization and the union’s growing ranks leave no doubt that faculty have the capacity to shut down the university if an agreement cannot be reached, and reached quickly, said CFA Vice President Lillian Taiz.
“There will be hundreds of faculty and supporters from other unions on the picket lines,” predicted Taiz, a leader of CFA’s field operations, “and we think they will be joined by students and staff who are as fed up as we are.”

Sampling of the media coverage of today’s historic developments.

CFA’s news release about the strike vote

CFA Board votes to implement rolling strikes on all 23 CSU campuses as 10-day “quiet period” ends
On Wednesday evening the CFA Board of Directors met and, by unanimous vote, made it official, turning the strike authorization into a strike plan with teeth.
The Board empowered the CFA officers and Field Team (who organized the strike vote) to make a final decision on which days and which campuses will begin the two-day walkouts in the initial round of job actions. Out of necessity, planning has been under way for months.
The first walkouts are expected in April but may occur sooner. Once the fact-finder’s recommendations are made public this Sunday, at the conclusion of the 10-day “quiet period” mandated by state law, the faculty are legally entitled to undertake job actions—to go on strike.
The expectation is that Chancellor Reed will ignore the recommendations of the fact-finding report and quite possibly attempt to unilaterally impose working conditions on the faculty.
If he does either, a strike will begin shortly thereafter.
* * *

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

94% of CA Faculty Union members authorize strike in US's largest higher education system

It's now official - we [over 8000 members of our union statewide] voted overwhelming - 94% - to authorize our union leadership to call for and organize rolling strikes as early at the first week of April to win a fair and equitable contract for teachers throughout our California State University system, the largest higher education system in the country. The strike would be a first in the CSU system. CBS is claiming that this could be the largest higher education strike in US history - since the CSU system represents 23 campuses and some 23,000 faculty and 400,000 students.
SF History - But our union went out on strike here at SF State in January 1969 for a fair contract, but also to support the Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front during the Third World Strike here, the longest student strike in US History.
As Working Californians Blogger Julia Rosen notes, we faculty members from the CSU campuses want to minimize the disruption to our students education so we are planing for rolling strikes sometime in mid-late April. For updates see

From the SF Chronicle -
California State University faculty members have authorized their union leaders to call a strike if needed to pressure CSU's top executives into a labor contract that the union views as more favorable to the school's 23,000 educators.
If there were a strike, it would be the first at the nation's largest four-year public university.
Ninety-four percent of the union members who participated in the election voted to permit a strike, union President John Travis said today during a news conference at CSU Dominguez Hills. He said that 81 percent of the California Faculty Association's
membership voted in the strike election on the university's 23 campuses. ..
"I call upon this chancellor to return to the table and negotiate in good faith," said state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who is also a faculty member of the university but on the leave. "Let's let the negotiation get started."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stanford report #3 - Power, CEO's and 'Getting Along to Go Along'

Evolution of California State School Finance with Implications from Other States, Kirst, Michael, Goertz, Margaret, and Odden, Allan. (2007), Consortium for Policy Research In Education (CPRE).

[by the way, Kirst wrote a paper a while back about how educators could influence policy: tell the legislatures what they want to hear in short sound bites!!]

[below are quotations from this report -- my comments in brackets - my research is at my website]

California has created an aligned system of standards based reform in numerous ways, but has never integrated its basic finance system with what students are expected to know and do.

California has one of the highest academic standards of any state (Education Week, 2006.) However, there needs to be some explicit linkage between state finance design and state academic standards policies.

Public opinion studies by Rich Neimand (2006) suggest that California public opinion may respond positively to a comprehensive finance plan clearly focused on high standards and individual outcomes.

a coherent comprehensive solution and compelling message has the best chance of convincing a skeptical, but concerned, public. Themes such as standards, accountability, transparency, and efficiency should accompany proposals for more money. Policy framing needs to emphasize children rather than the needs of the education system.

In sum, California’s school accountability and finance systems that are both centralized should be linked to each other.

[no challenge of the standards based system here – makes one think, who is the real audience for this paper? Whose agenda is this study promoting? Certainly those who support high stakes testing – since this paper’s stance was, how can we change the finance system so that it makes high stakes testing policy more effective, more legitimate. The author compares others states but doesn’t really point out that the overall trend throughout the US is decreased spending on education - - it is just most dramatic in CA. I think there is a relationship between standards based reform and the financial mess we are in – and that relationship is embedded in the rhetoric that says that you don’t need a lot of money when you have high expectations in the form of terror by testing]

But the first step must be to throw the current system out and not try to patch it. There is nothing much that is useful to start with in the current non-system.

[the most frightening statement in this report]: only a handful of experts understand the intricacies of the current finance system.

Legislation in 1972 established the basis for the current state general aid formula, but the state has been transformed in many ways since then.

The finance system is more centralized than almost any state system in the nation.

The result of Proposition 13 is even more state control of all school policy, because state politicians believe that they need to regulate a system that is state financed, but traditionally locally- controlled in other policy areas.

Moreover, state assumption of control of about 80% of total school funding meant that local schools became hostage to the state's volatile sales- and income-tax revenue streams. Even the 1995-2000 economic boom did not raise the state's per-student spending enough to reach the national average. Some districts have resorted to non-profit fundraising foundations and parcel taxes, but these fund-raising devices are not widespread and serve relatively affluent small districts. Voters recognized the schools' plight, and in 1988 passed Proposition 98, which earmarks a specific proportion (about 40 percent) of the state's general-fund revenues for K-12 schools and community colleges. But when state revenues decline, the school-aid guarantee declines as well despite Proposition 98.

Categorical aid represents about a third of the money Sacramento spends on schools. Each categorical program created a constituency of beneficiaries that lobbies to preserve it….Local school officials lack money to clean bathrooms, but have some categorical funds for adult education they cannot spend easily within the school year.

After Prop. 13, some California parents concluded they should use private money to help finance local schools. California foundations sprouted all over the state, but particularly in high income suburbs. Public school foundations have grown steadily since the early 1980s (foundations raised more than $70 million in 2004). Now California has nearly 600 local school foundations, by far the most in the nation.

California has never seriously considered a weighted pupil formula like Florida or Kentucky uses to adjust for different pupil needs. Pupil weights allow local discretion in program design in other states, but state lack of confidence in local policymakers has resulted in state specification of education interventions through categorical programs.

[but WSF doesn’t guarantee increased per pupil spending and could be used to justify continuing underfunding!!]

This state confidence issue has deepened and continued to build for many years. For example, Democratic Governor Gray Davis in 2000 said local control of education was a “disaster” and created many new categoricals. Some of these were incentive programs for local school bonuses if school test scores went up. But the incentive programs did not have much impact on local teacher behavior (PACE, 2000), and were eliminated when the state budget declined in 2001. In 2006, Republican Governor Schwarzenegger created 22 new categorical programs in such areas as art, music, and counseling. These new categorical program requirements add to a gigantic and bloated state education code.

But why has such an outcry not led to a substantial overhaul similar to New Jersey, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Wyoming?

[perhaps because California is much, much bigger than these states and the political power structure is very different??? This report says that the problem fundamentally lies with these reasons:]

1. Who must, and who has the right to, initiate state policy action?
Experience reveals that policymakers’ answers focus especially on the roles of the legislature and governor. In California, leadership by the governor has become crucial for a large-scale change in school finance.

2. What are the unacceptable policy initiatives? Again, experience shows that unacceptable state policy ideas trample on group, regional, or big- city interests; challenge dominant economic interests; or promote unorthodox approaches. Even limited inquiry among top state policymakers will provide agreed-on accounts of what policy ideas will not be feasible. In California, Prop. 13 is viewed as immutable and categorical aid is a prime state intervention tool. Rarely are finance incentives related to pupil performance utilized. Proposals to reorganize most categorical grants into a few bloc grants have been rejected by the state political system for decades.

[notice that these factors are all implied to be of equal influence – but why is prop 13 seen as immutable? When CTA attempted to challenge it, the large property owners association told them to scuttle it and CTA backed down in the face of overwhelming political power – academics don’t talk about POWER. High stakes testing was the promotion of an “unorthodox approach” – no?]

3. What are the appropriate state policy actions? Experience again points to such rules as: to get along, go along; carry out informal rituals that will recognize and define the boundaries of power; mobilize everyone who can benefit from a proposed policy, or conversely mobilize those who stand to lose something. Many of the major interest groups are used to Proposition 98 as the key framework and underpinning for California school finance. Interest group politics result in policy that the public may not endorse or feel involves them (Neimand, 2006).

[no 3 applies to those coopted by the system – those who want to climb up the ladder, who place “getting along to go along” as their primary strategy for self promotion – who created and runs that system? CEO’s!!!! – who are effectively organized in CA in the CBRT or CBEE]

In California and other states, such attitudes about acceptable policy ideas have a dual effect; they keep the policy environment predictable, and they help policymakers build group cohesion that produces incremental education finance changes.

[again, CEO’s want the landscape to be predictable – hence their hostility to democracy—since capitalism is unpredictable, they want to control their costs, their labor pool as much as possible]

A majority of the public thinks the school finance problem is too big and complex to be addressed by the current mélange of politicians and entrenched interest groups. California has 6.3 million pupils and spends over $60 billion for K-12 operations. The public believes education problems are caused more by inadequate parenting than school finance shortcomings. Moreover, the public does not trust that money raised by state taxes and sent to Sacramento will come back to their local classrooms. The public believes there is substantial waste in local public schools, and want a finance system focused on pupil outcomes. The California public does not respond much to current finance reform symbols like equity, adequacy, or the need to fully fund Prop. 98. Equity implies redistribution of state funds among school districts with a lowest common denominator result. The public believes that adequacy is a minimum standard that will not enable high enough pupil outcomes.

[“the public” – those polled – voters? Who shapes public opinion? What were the assumptions of the pollers? How were the questions asked? These “opinions” are very gross generalizations at best, inaccurate and highly manipulated at worst]

Monday, March 19, 2007

California State University Faculty Strike Looming - I don't want to strike, but I will!

San Francisco State and our California State University System is the largest system of higher education in the US with some 400,000 students and 46,000 faculty and staff spread out onto 23 campuses throughout our state. On Thursday we wrapped up a strike vote within our union that many predict will overwhelmingly authorize our union leadership to set strike dates throughout the state sometime in April.
Our students are taking the lead in building solidarity with faculty in support of a fair contract and our mutual opposition to the huge fee hikes just approved by the CSU Trustees on Wednesday. We are building stronger faculty/staff/student alliances to ensure a brighter future for our communities and the CSU system.

Voting by CFA members on whether to authorize a strike against the CSU administration continued yesterday, March 12, and runs through Thursday, March 15, on the Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge, San Francisco, San Jose and San Luis Obispo campuses.
These seven CFA chapters, which include some of the largest, supplement the 16 where voting concluded last week. The final vote tally will be announced next Wednesday, March 21.
To review, nearly two years of talks on a new collective bargaining agreement broke down over the summer. Chancellor Charles B. Reed has misrepresented both the size of the pay raise offered and the strings attached to it. Under the current offer, the salaries of CSU professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches would continue to lag seriously behind those at comparable institutions—this despite a consensus that the pay gap, documented by the California Postsecondary Education Commission, should be eliminated.
Throughout our impasse, the CSU administration and Trustees continue to hammer students with fee increases and hand out executive raises, perks and golden parachutes in a pattern that has sparked statewide citizen and media outrage.
For more context on the scandals within the top eshelons of the CSU systems and their pro-big business boosters - see the site. See also info on SF State grad and now State Senator Leland Yee's efforts to bring sunshine into the CSU decision-making process.
On Wednesday we [CFA] will announce the outcome of the strike vote. We have spent the last 22 months negotiating for a labor agreement with the CSU Administration and has not been able to reach a labor agreement. According to the California Postsecondary Education Commission, the CSU faculty is paid 18% less than comparable institution salaries around the country. Since 2002, faculty salaries have remained stagnant while the Administration has raised its own salary 23%.

Stanford Report #2 - From Local to State Control of Education

Financing K-12 Education in California: A System Overview, Timar, Thomas (2007), University of California. Davis.
[a few quotations from the second paper of the $3 million report from Stanford. I described this situation in my dissertation in 2002, for free!!]

From the Stanford University study
"Since the early 1970s, traditional patterns of school governance in California have changed dramatically. The presumption of local control, a system of governance based on local electoral accountability—the system in place for the previous 150 years—has been superseded by a system of state control. Decisions that used to be matters of local discretion‐‐‐among them, decisions about resource allocation, curriculum, student assessment, and student promotion and graduation—are now matters of state policy.

Districts are now subject to voluminous state and federal regulations and reporting requirements. The state tells teachers how to teach reading and tells teachers and administrators how to behave with parents. Since enactment of the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) in 1999, the state can take over “failing” schools and fire teachers and principals. As a result of governance changes over the past 35 years, there are few areas of teaching and learning that are not subject to legislative mandate. "

…“so what”
question. What difference does it make where the money comes from?....."

[they answer this question in the third section of the report, and the answer is not very clear or coherent. On the one hand, they argue that state tak over of control of funding has equalized funding in districts, but only the base level funding. A number of districts have gone bankrupt as a result and had to be taken over by the state. Why? Because the state has no mechanism to make sure that districts spend the money effectively?????? This is a crazy argument that the authors make given that the real problem is NOT ENOUGH MONEY!!!. The state tells the districts what they can and cannot spend the money on, then the authors of this report blame the district for not spending the money effectively?! So the Stanford people are saying that the problem is too much bureaucracy, but they suggest adding another layer??? The solution is for the state to continue creating the framework for finance and policy—which really means that the CBEE will create it – a fact that the Stanford study ignores. This is the real problem with academics – they think that if they are clear and rational – which they are not always anyway – that the powers that be will listen and accept their recommendations. The reality is about power – who has it (CBEE) and who does not (teachers, parents and students, and local school boards) ]
"While the state allocates about $14 billion annually to categorically funded program, those programs are rarely, if ever, evaluated for their effectiveness or audited for compliance. Schools are generally limited to providing only those services that the state funds. There is little discretionary money available to districts that want to start a new programs, they must go to the state to get special purpose funding to pay for them, as few districts have any discretionary money for new programs or services.

The current system of school finance is one that has been cobbled together in response to various pressures over the past thirty‐some years. What is missing from the resulting patchwork of policies is an underlying framework or set of principles to guide the system. As a result, the system has little coherence or clarity. For instance, the policy goal of inter‐district equalization is achieved through revenue limits, but undone by categorical programs.

[in conclusion] A healthy partnership between the state and local education agencies is essential condition of a robust, effective system of education. As a partnership, it argues for the need to develop a framework for school finance. There should be a set of principles that define state and local roles and responsibilities for revenues, program control, and accountability. A coherent framework and set of principles are clearly missing from the current system which has been built opportunistically in response to specific needs and problems. It is doubtful that anything short of a comprehensive overhaul of the system is likely to lead to its improvement." [so the problem is an inability of local districts to tailor educational policy and programs to the unique needs of their district. and the solution, then, is to continue to direct educational policy and programs from the state level????]

4th Anniversary of War on IRAQ - Blogging for Justice - YouTube & One Million Blogs For Peace

As a parent and activist I am trying to keep up with WEB 3.0 - see my 1st stab at YouTube uploading with my clip on the Asian and Pacific Islander Voice in the San Francisco March Against the War 3/18/07 on the eve of the 4th Anniversary.
I liked SF Parent and Wired Magazine Managing Editor
Leander Kahney's critique of Steve Jobs for his outspoken views that "teachers' unions are ruining America's schools" and promotion of the philosophy that schools should be run like businesses. Kahney fired back:

Jobs knows a lot about schools; he's been selling computers to them for more than 30 years. But don't you love it when a billionaire who sends his own kids to private school applies half-baked business platitudes to complex problems like schools? I'm surprised Jobs didn't suggest we outsource education to the same nonunion Chinese factories that build his iPods.

As someone who sends his kids to a struggling San Francisco public school (where 60 percent of the students are eligible for free lunches), I know for a fact that Jobs' ideas about unions are absurd, he's-on-a-different-planet bullshit.

Lastly, I have joined other social justice bloggers in an attempt to sign up
1,000,000 blogs in opposition to the Iraq War during the war's fifth year. During the next 30 days, we are
trying to sign up as many bloggers as possible.
One Million Blogs For Peace To End the War
The Concept

Between 20 March 2007 and 20 March 2008 (the fifth year of the war), we will attempt to sign up One Million Blogs for Peace. By signing up, a blogger is stating his or her agreement with The Pledge below. They will then be able to participate in various challenges launched by One Million Blogs for Peace. They will also be listed on this website with a link to their blog.

The Pledge
I believe in the immediate withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from the nation of Iraq. I believe in using my blog, in whole or in part, as a tool toward this end.

Join Us! Sign Up!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Chinatown speaks out on the 4th Annivesary of the War on Iraq; San Francisco values, culture, politics, and parenting

I love San Francisco culture and politics. I have learned in my 23 years out here that there's no better place in the world for parenting and lifelong learning than our own backyard. The weather has been in the mid-high 70's over the past week as well.
I and the rest of our Board of Education are in the midst of a major Superintendent of Schools Search in SF - interviewing parents and community leaders, holding numerous community meetings to seek input and hopefully attract a healthy pool of superintendent candidates in the next couple of months. Please join us Saturday for 2 community meetings at Martin Luther King Middle School and School of the Arts - translations and childcare will be provided. To give input into our search please take a few minutes to fill out the survey form online.

But to balance my busy life I sometimes manage to sneak out [usually after my kid is already asleep] to see movies like the incredible Pan's Labyrinth at the West Portal Theater and the well-done, yet creepy documentary on the rise of Jonestown, the Rev. Jim Jones and the People's Temple at the Red Vic Moviehouse in the Haight-Ashbury district. I was also able to hang out with some of my SF State students, colleagues and political comrades late one Sunday night as well at the very hip new Poleng Lounge, near USF, to hear GEOLOGIC [Blue Scholars], KIWI [Native Guns], DENIZEN KANE [Tree City Legends], JERN EYE [Lunar Heights] and other performers to raise money for the Stop the Killings campaign tour for human rights in the Philippines.
I have also been out to the Museum of Modern Art's exhibit on Picasso's influence on the US Avante Garde arts movements, the DeYoung Museum's incredible Ruth Asawa and modern art exhibitions, and the Cartoon Art Museum in our Yerba Buena Center area which is also home to the new Mexican Museum, Jewish, African Diaspora, and Folk Arts museums. Very late tonight I will be sneaking out again to the Center for Asian American Media Asian American Film Festival's Directions in Sound hiphop Asian American Underground Showcase at the Fillmore District's Independent featuring Neil Armstrong (5th Platoon), Vin Roc (5th Platoon, Triple Threat), EstairyDeft (, Mochipet vs. Mike Boo vs. Mike Reed (Daly City Records/Alphapup), DJ Zita (Mama, Sisters in Sound,, and visuals by: Daniel Hai (Konstrukt).

If I can wake up, early tomorrow I plan to take my daughter to the newly rennovated Children's Discovery Museum in Sausalito, a 10 minute drive from my home in the Richmond District across the Golden Gate Bridge, for a playdate with her buddies. We also will be enjoying our regular walks in Golden Gate Park around the Bandshell and for educational programs for kids at the DeYoung Museum as well.
Chinatown: speaks out against the Illegal and Imoral War on Iraq:
Tonight at 6pm youth, students and community activists from Chinatown and throughout the City are gathering at Portsmouth Square for a vigil and rally for Peace and Justice: Working Families Oppose War in Iraq on 4th Anniversary. Sponsored by CPA, May 1st Alliance, APICAW, Lt. Ehren Watada Support Committee/APIs Resist!, and others.

3/18 SUNDAY's Anti-War march and rally in San Francisco - Many of my students and my family will also be gathering at Justin Herman Plaza at 11am on Sunday at the Embarcadero BART station to join the Strength in Unity contingent which includes APICAW, BAYAN, ILPS, May 1st Alliance, Chinese Progressive Association, League of Filipino Students, and many others.

Hopefully we'll see you out there somewhere this weekend in our amazing City of progressive politics, diverse cultures, and distinctly San Francisco values.

ACORN building SF's Paid Sick Leave Prop F into a national campaign

Sasha from Left in SF blogs about how our local San Francisco grassroots campaign for paid sick leave - Prop F - led by Young Workers United, SEIU, Parent Voices, Chinese Progressive Association, May 1st Alliance and many others last Fall is sprouting legs as a national campaign spearheaded by ACORN:

When we passed Proposition F (the paid sick leave initiative) last November, I pointed out that it was a groundbreaking step forward for working people in San
Francisco, and that we would serve as a model for the rest of the US. I was right. The national group of community organizations, ACORN, is now making it a national focus. They even have gotten a bill introduced into congress bill introduced in to Congress to make it a national requirement...
More on San Francisco's historic Prop F for paid sick leave for workers.

Stanford Report #1 - welfare for scholars

The Stanford study cost what? $3 million? to tell us that "The “correct” answer to all of these questions will not be offered by any particular policymaker or scholar. . . .The answer must be provided in the form of an ongoing democratic conversation among citizens and their democratically elected representatives." from Reich's framework -- Paper#1 in the study -- I have pulled out some selected quotes from this study below.
1. Equality and Adequacy in the State’s Provision of Education: Mapping the Conceptual Landscape, Reich, Robert (2007), Stanford University. [my responses in brackets to Reich]

In school finance litigation, advocates and courts have abandoned equality and adopted the language of adequacy. . . .Along with this evolution – though not necessarily a consequence of the evolution [I think it was necessarily!] – has come a shift in attention on educational inputs (dollars per pupil, for example) to educational outputs (student achievement or, in California’s case, the API index). [in other words high stakes testing has legitimized the underfunding of schools]

“adequacy suits abandon the idea of tying districts together financially by requiring access to equal resources. Those districts that can fund a more-than-adequate education are free to do so.” [and have done so!]

[why the attraction to adequacy v equality?]
Though state education articles vary considerably from state to state, there is generally a requirement that the legislature provide a “thorough and efficient,” “uniform”, or “high quality” education to its children. This language was more amenable to an adequacy orientation rather than an equality orientation. Second, it was worries, sometime borne out in practice, that to achieve equality the state would level down spending of the wealthy districts rather than level up spending of the poorest. Given the precipitous decline of school funding in California, relative to other states, in the wake of the equalizing force of Serrano v. Priest and the tax limiting Proposition 13, the leveling down effect was seen to be of special concern in the nation’s most populous state

And moreover, despite the success of equity lawsuits in many states and the narrowing of funding gaps between districts, student achievement scores had not improved considerably. Most notably, the black-white test score gap, which had narrowed in the 1980s and early 1990s began to grow anew. One additional attraction of the adequacy paradigm, according to its supporters, was that it quite deliberately focused on academic outcomes in addition to resource inputs.

Nathan Glazer :

To be sure, the case for both [racial] integration and equality of expenditure is powerful. But the chief obstacle to achieving these goals does not seem to be the indifference of whites and the non-poor to the education of white and the poor. . . . Rather, other values, which are not simply shields for racism, stand in the way:
the value of the neighborhood school; the value of local control of education and,
above all, the value of freedom from state imposition when it affects matters so
personal as the future of one’s children. [???!!!!! But it is a matter of being able to hog a disproportionate share of the resources!!]
The equality framework has frequently been deployed to ask, “why should funding levels between districts be substantially different?” Adequacy, by contrast, incorporates educational outcomes – academic achievement – into its framework. Adequacy asks “What level of educational resources is sufficient to generate a specific set of educational outcomes?”

One fundamental distinction between equality and adequacy as applied to educational resource distribution is that adequacy seeks to ensure that all students have enough education and, if this condition is reached, will tolerate inequalities above this threshold.

In the end, then, the relevant question for citizens and policymakers seems to be whether the state’s obligation to provide education is exhausted once absolute educational deprivation, measured by some kind accountability system of state standards, has been eliminated. If this is the case, then adequacy is the right framework.
Alternatively, does the state’s obligation to provide education go beyond the production of good schools for all and require, say, that opportunities to attend college and compete for jobs in the labor market not merely be adequate but be equal? If so, then inequalities in resources and outcomes above the level of adequacy will undermine equal opportunity and only the equality paradigm will be able to address these relative deprivations.

Adequate for what? Equality of what? These are difficult questions. But it is important to realize the deep structure of what sort of issues we must address if we are to answer the question of what is the state’s obligation to provide education.
The “correct” answer to all of these questions will not be offered by any particular policymaker or scholar. . . .The answer must be provided in the form of an ongoing democratic conversation among citizens and their democratically elected representatives.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Its the Budget Stupid!

Its the budget-Stupid! Part 2

It’s the budget: Stupid!
The opening sentence of the just published report on California education says, “California’s students are far behind those in other states on many measures of achievement. On the 2005 National Assessment of Education Progress, for example, California ranked 7th lowest in eighth grade math in comparison to the 49 other states and the District of Columbia. The story is at least as bad in other subjects. California performed 3rd lowest in reading, ahead of only Hawaii and the District of Columbia, and 2nd lowest in science, ahead of only Mississippi.”

Why is that?
The legislature and governors have meddled and muddled in education, but they have not done their job. Their job is to decide upon a reasonable, fair tax system and to raise the money needed for schools. They have failed at this task for over 20 years while California’s public schools have been forced into a steep decline in quality.
Rather than facing the inadequate funding issue , they have mandated school reforms stressing standardized testing as the driving force behind schooling at the k-12 level, particularly in low income districts. The testing mania has not improved schools, improved school funding, nor improved teaching. The current low level testing tells us what we already know, students in low income schools do poorly. (Rothstein, 2004)
There is always some new advocate who has a solution to failing schools; phonics, exit exams, etc. rather than to face the fundamental political issue of grossly inadequate funding. The Governor, with a two month advance view of the study, is already trying shift the discussion
In fairness, the failure is not the total legislature. The Democratic majority has usually been willing to spend more on schools, but they can not pass a budget without the votes of the Republican minority. Thus, a small group of Republican legislators have prevented adequate school funding. And the Governor’s budget continues that pattern.
The politicians – not the teachers- deserve an F for failure.
Duane Campbell

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

CA School Funding Adequacy Report says $23-32 billion per year more needed

I am home sick today from my teaching at SF State. Our faculty union - CA Faculty Association or CFA - is conducting our first ever strike vote this week. And I and others on our campus are sick and tired also of the CSU management's failure to bargain in good faith regarding a fair contract, their millions given for CEO perks, and their behind closed door decision-making.
We don't want to strike, but we may have to for the future our our university and because our working conditions are tied to our students' learning conditions. To help us please click here.

CA Study Concludes - at least $23-32 billion more needed for Public School Education
See also Duane Campbell's comments from his Monday blog.
The long awaited and very well-financed CA schools adequacy study is going to be released today and tomorrow in Sacramento. Juliet Williams from AP did a much better job than the SF Chronicle's Greg Lucas and Nanette Asimov in giving some of the dollar figures released yesterday. But it looks like the bottom line is that it will take at least $23-32 billion more per year to provide a high quality education to all our state's students, from the wealthiest to the poorest kids.
Getting Down to Facts includes 22 studies by more than 30 researchers from the nation’s leading universities and research institutions. It was formally requested by a bipartisan group of state leaders, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, Senate President pro Tem Don Perata, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Committee on Educational Excellence and former Education Secretary Alan Bersin. To view the full set of studies released today, visit

JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press, reports:
A major overhaul of California's schools will cost tens of billions of dollars more per year, but money alone won't fix the many problems facing the nation's
largest public education system, according to a series of landmark studies to be released today.
The cost figures come from panels of educators who estimated how much it would take to bring all California schools up to a score of 800 on the state's Academic Performance Index, the state's system of gauging student proficiency in reading and math.
Two estimates, both based on interviews with educators, estimate the cost of meeting the state's achievement goals at an additional $23 billion to $32 billion a year...
California already spends nearly half its annual budget on education, a total of $66 billion in the current fiscal year, or about $11,000 per student in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Still, one estimate in the documents obtained by the AP says California might need to spend as much as $1.5 trillion a year to meet its performance goals, an amount equal to about half the annual federal budget.
... Full article
The Progressive California Budget Project also meets in Sacramento tomorrow - I am interested in their analysis of the foundation-driven study. From his Choosing Democracy Blog Campbell concludes:
The legislature and governors have meddled and muddled, but they have not done their job. Their job is to decide upon a reasonable, fair tax system and to raise the money needed for schools. They have failed at this task for over 20 years while California’s public schools have been forced into a steep decline in quality. Rather than facing the inadequate funding issue , major school reform efforts stress standardized testing as the driving force behind schooling at the k-12 level, particularly in low income districts. There is always some new advocate who has a solution to failing schools; phonics, exit exams, etc. rather than to face the real issue of grossly inadequate funding. The testing mania has not improved schools, improved school funding, nor improved teaching.