Friday, January 30, 2009

Why is Latino and Asian History left out of California History Textbooks?

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
Cesar Chavez. Nov.9, 1984.

Textbooks in California are selected by the State Board of Education based upon recommendations of their Curriculum Committees and the state frameworks and standards, in this case the History /Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
The framework is revised each 7 years. The framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. In 2009, the History /Social Science Framework is up for re consideration.
It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation. The current Framework reflects the historiography of the 1950’s. It was written in 1986 by senior scholars, they in turn were educated in the early 1970’s or before. It is substantially out of date.
The view of history that won out in California was crafted by neoconservative historian Diane Ravitch and supported by Paul Gagnon and former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig, among others (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995). Gary Nash of UCLA was a participant in the later effort to establish national history standards.
The 1987- 2005 Framework expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and additions of photos such as of Cesar Chavez . Latinos currently make up 48.1 percent of California’s student population and Asians make up 8.1 %.

The dominant neo conservative view argues that textbooks and a common history should provide the glue that unites our society. Historical themes and interpretations are selected in books to create unity in a diverse and divided society. This viewpoint assigns to schools the task of creating a common culture. In reality, television and military service may do more to create a common culture than do schools and books.
Conservatives assign the task of cultural assimilation to schools, with particular emphasis on the history, social science, and literature curricula. Historians advocating consensus write textbooks that downplay the roles of slavery, class, racism, genocide, and imperialism in our history. They focus on ethnicity and assimilation rather than race, on the success of achieving political reform, representative government, and economic opportunity for European American workers and immigrants. They decline to notice the high poverty rate of U.S. children, the crisis of urban schooling, and the continuation of racial divisions in housing and the labor force. In California they decline to notice that Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and Latinos as well as Asians contributed to the development of this society.
This consensus conservative viewpoint history dominates textbook publishing in California , but these partial and incomplete histories do not empower students from our diverse cultural communities. By recounting primarily a consensual, European American view, history and literature extend and reconstruct current White supremacy, sexism, and class biases in our society. When texts or teachers tell only part of the story, schools foster intellectual colonialism and ideological domination (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995).
As citizens of California we have an opportunity to insist that California history, and the nation’s history, be accurately taught in the schools. The process begins with revisions to the History/Social Science Framework for California Schools. The other way to achieve this long overdue revision is to pass legislation requiring revision. We should not be writing history by passing legislation. Rather, the History/Social Science Framework Committee should perform the tasks of revision with care. Their first meeting is Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, in Sacramento.
More to come on this topic.
Duane Campbell

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Economic Stimulus and the schools

January 28, 2009
Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education

By SAM DILLON: the New York Times
WASHINGTON — The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.

Critics and supporters alike said that by its sheer scope, the measure could profoundly change the federal government’s role in education, which has traditionally been the responsibility of state and local government.

Responding in part to a plea from Democratic governors earlier this month, Congress allocated $79 billion to help states facing large fiscal shortfalls maintain government services, and especially to avoid cuts to education programs, from pre-kindergarten through higher education.

Obama administration officials, teachers unions and associations representing school boards, colleges and other institutions in American education said the aid would bring crucial financial relief to the nation’s 15,000 school districts and to thousands of campuses otherwise threatened with severe cutbacks.

“This is going to avert literally hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and chairman of the House education committee, said, “We cannot let education collapse; we have to provide this level of support to schools.”

But Republicans strongly criticized some of the proposals as wasteful spending and an ill-considered expansion of the federal government’s role, traditionally centered on aid to needy students, into new realms like local school construction.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Getting Accountability Right

Getting Accountability Right

By Richard Rothstein
The federal No Child Left Behind Act has succeeded in highlighting the poor math and reading skills of disadvantaged children. But on balance, the law has done more harm than good because it has terribly distorted the school curriculum. Modest modifications cannot correct this distortion. Designing a better accountability policy will take time. We cannot and should not abandon school accountability, but it's time to go back to the drawing board to get accountability right.

The first step is to understand today's curricular distortion. It has arisen because No Child Left Behind holds schools accountable for only some of their many goals. When we demand adequate math and reading scores alone, educators rationally respond by transferring resources to math and reading instruction (and drill) from social studies, history, science, the arts and music, character development, citizenship education, emotional and physical health, and physical fitness.

This shift has been most severe for the disadvantaged children the law was designed to help, because they are most at risk of failing to meet the math and reading targets. But they are also most at risk of losing curricular opportunities in other domains. In these other areas, NCLB has widened the "achievement gap."

President Barack Obama has vowed to correct this distortion. He has noted that NCLB "has become so reliant on a standardized-test model that ... subjects like history and social studies have gotten pushed aside. Arts and music time is no longer there. So the child is not having the well-rounded educational experience I benefited from and most in my generation benefited from." We must change No Child Left Behind, he has said, "so that the assessment is one that takes into account all the factors that go into a good education."

Although some Democrats and Republicans want to ignore the law's goal distortion, observers with varying policy perspectives share the new president's view that NCLB requires a radical reconsideration. The Center on Education Policy, headed by Jack Jennings (formerly an aide to Democrats on the House education committee), has publicized the loss of instruction in social studies, science, the arts, and physical education, especially for disadvantaged children. Chester E. Finn Jr. and Diane Ravitch, who served as federal education officials in Republican administrations, complain that present policy means only "top private schools and a few suburban systems will stick with education broadly defined." While rich kids study a wide range of subjects in depth, they write, "their poor peers fill in bubbles on test sheets." There is a "zero sum" problem, Finn and Ravitch say, because "more emphasis on some things ... inevitably mean[s] less attention to others."

Yet public discussion of the law's upcoming reauthorization focuses almost entirely on correcting flaws in math and reading measurement: substituting "growth models" for fixed levels, modifying the 2014 deadline for attaining student proficiency, standardizing state definitions of proficiency, modifying "confidence intervals" in reporting. While these steps may improve the sophistication of math and reading data, none addresses the goal distortion caused by exclusive accountability for basic skills.

Designing accountability tools that require satisfactory performance across a balanced set of outcomes requires a significant federal research-and-development effort, which could build on prior experience. When the National Assessment of Educational Progress was developed in the 1960s, it measured a broad range of cognitive and noncognitive knowledge and skills. NAEP abandoned that breadth when its budget was slashed in the 1970s, however, and never restored it.

To see whether students learned to cooperate, for example, the early NAEP program sent trained observers to sampled schools. In teams of four, 9-year-olds were offered prizes (such as yo-yos) for guessing what object was hidden in a box. Students could ask yes-or-no questions, but all team members had to agree on each question asked. NAEP rated the students on whether they suggested new questions, gave reasons for viewpoints, or otherwise demonstrated cooperative problem-solving skills. It then reported to the nation on the percentage of children capable of cooperative problem-solving.

For teenagers, NAEP assessors provided lists of issues about which young people typically had strong opinions. Students had to collaborate in writing recommendations to resolve them. For 13-year-olds, lists included topics such as whether they should have curfews for getting home, and for 17-year-olds, the age eligibility for voting, drinking, or smoking. NAEP rated students on whether they took clear positions, gave reasons for viewpoints, helped organize internal procedures, and defended another's right to disagree.

Early NAEP understood that teaching civic responsibility involved more than having students memorize historical facts. So in 1969, during the era of the civil rights revolution, the assessment asked teenagers what they felt they should do if they saw black children barred from entering a park. NAEP reported that 82 percent of 13-year-olds and 90 percent of 17-year-olds knew that they should do something constructive, such as tell parents, report it to a civil rights or civil liberties organization, write letters to the newspaper, or take social action such as picketing or leafleting.

The early version of NAEP also assessed 17-year-olds' ability to consider alternative viewpoints, by asking them to state arguments both for and against a heated public issue of the time, such as whether college students should be drafted. It asked 9- and 13-year-olds if something reported in a newspaper might be untrue. It also asked teenagers if they belonged to any nonschool clubs or organizations; interviewers followed up with questions to verify answers' accuracy.

To assess commitment to civil liberties, NAEP asked teenagers if someone should be permitted to say on television that "Russia is better than the United States," that "some races of people are better than others," or that "it is not necessary to believe in God." The assessment reported the discouraging result that only a small minority of the teenagers thought all three statements should be permitted.

The early NAEP program also assessed personal responsibility. Seventeen-year-olds were asked what to do if, when visiting a friend, they noticed her 6-month-old baby was bruised. The correct answer was "suggest that your friend call her baby's doctor." Incorrect choices included "ignore the bruises because they are none of your business." A follow-up prompt said that at a later visit, bruises remain and "you are now suspicious that your friend may have hurt the baby." Students were asked what to do now. The correct choice was "call the local child-health agency and report your suspicions."

Certainly, if school systems were evaluated by such results, not simply by math and reading scores, incentives would shift. National reporting of low scores on the civil liberties questions, for example, could spur demands that schools do a better job on citizenship; then, the incentive to drop cooperative learning in favor of test prep in math and reading would diminish.

Designing a new accountability system will take time and care, because the problems are daunting. Observations of student behavior are not as reliable as standardized tests of basic skills, so we will have to accept that it is better to imperfectly measure a broad set of outcomes than to perfectly measure a narrow set. We will have to resolve contradictory national convictions that schools should teach citizenship and character, but not inquire about students' (and parents') personal opinions. To avoid new distortions, we'll need to make tough decisions about how to weight the measurement of the many goals of education.

The time to start on these difficult tasks is now, but the new administration won't have to begin with a blank slate. Looking back at the early National Assessment of Educational Progress can start us on a better path.

Richard Rothstein ( is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute. This article summarizes an argument from his recent book, co-written with Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder, Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (Teachers College Press).
From Ed Week.
If we are going to do accountability, at least we should do it right.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lowry's Benediction


[Lowry] ended his prayer with a nice twist on the old school-yard chant - to the old schoolyard rhyme: If you're white, you're all right/If you're brown, stick around/If you're yellow, you're mellow/If you're black, get back.
Dr. Lowery prayed instead for the time when "Black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, and the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what's right."

The multitude of conservative bloggers who called Lowry's ending "race bating" never took the time to explore where he was coming from. One of the favorite words in Obama's speech yesterday, for me, was when he said we should be "curious." Too bad our educational system beats that out of people.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Schools and the stimulus plan

Schools Would Get Big Boost in Stimulus Plan
By Alyson Klein- Education Week

Cash-strapped school districts could see an unprecedented $100 billion infusion of federal aid under a massive economic-stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats this week.
The overall measure, put forth Jan. 15 by the House Appropriations Committee, is aimed at providing a $825 billion jolt to the stumbling U.S. economy, and to help avert what could be draconian cuts in state and local programs, including education.
The more than $100 billion in federal spending for education in the stimulus bill would be nearly double the entire $59.2 billion discretionary budget for the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal 2008.
The K-12 education funding would come from various components of the stimulus package. The legislation includes a $79 billion fund to help states to prevent cuts in services, the bulk of which is slated for education. On top of that, the measure outlines specific aid for school construction, support for early-childhood education, and substantial spending boosts for major Education Department programs, including Title I grants for educating disadvantaged students and aid for special education.
“We really have turned a corner here. This is a new era for education funding,” assuming the plan is enacted, said Edward R. Kealy, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, an advocacy coalition in Washington.
Mr. Kealy, who has been lobbying for increased federal education spending for more than two decades, said he had never seen dollar amounts for schools like those in the proposed House stimulus plan.
“This makes a very strong statement that providing adequate funding for education and modernizing schools is a key part of the solution to this economic crisis,” he said. “We hope this means that we can sustain that in future years. I know that’s going to be a challenge.”
Before taking office, members of President-elect Barack Obama's staff were on Capitol Hill this month, working with lawmakers to craft the measure. The House appropriations panel is slated to consider the bill Jan. 21, and the Senate was expected to release a similar plan.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

California drops to 47th. in School spending

Cal drops to 47th in public school spending
This is the budget which the Governor plans to cut by at least 3.1 Billion.
Education Week magazine, in its annual state-by-state survey of public education, gives California an overall "C" grade, but the California Teachers Association is jumping on the state's "F" in school spending, which has dropped to 47th in the nation on a per-pupil basis.

"With the dismal budgets passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in recent years, we are not surprised to learn that new figures released by Education Week...reveal that California's ranking has dropped another spot to 47th in the nation and lags the national average by nearly $2,400," CTA president David Sanchez said. He called it "appalling that the state with the eighth largest economy in the world would allow this to happen."

The Education Week data were released as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators wrestle with a budget deficit estimated at $40 billion over the next 18 months with schools the largest single item in the budget and the most contentious spending issue. Although Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders have agreed that school spending must be cut, they disagree on the extent and form of the reductions.

Although California received an "F" in school spending, its overall grade on education finance was a "C" due to its "A-minus" rating for equity of finances. The only other area in which it scored in the top ranks was in setting and enforcing academic standards, another "A-minus."

The full California summary is available here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

KIPP Charter School teachers organize: NYC

January 13, 2009
KIPP Teachers Organize
by Leo Casey. From Edwize.

In a ground-breaking development, the teachers of KIPP AMP Charter
School in Brooklyn today informed their co-principals that they were
organizing themselves into a union and seeking official recognition
from the state Public Employees Relations Board.

A super-majority of the KIPP AMP teaching faculty has signed
authorization cards with the United Federation of Teachers, well in
excess of the threshold needed for official recognition under state
labor law for public employees.

In a letter delivered to co-principals Jeff Li and Melissa Perry this
morning, the teachers said that they had decided to unionize in order
to secure teacher voice and respect for the work of teachers in their
school. We want "to ensure that the [KIPP] motto of `team and family'
is realized in the form of mutual respect and validation for the work
that is done [by teachers] each day," they wrote.

The letter stressed that the decision to organize was directly
connected to the teachers' commitment to their students. "[A] strong
and committed staff," the teachers wrote, "is the first step to
student achievement." Unionization, the teachers believe, will help
create the conditions for recruiting and retaining such a staff.

"We organized to make sure teachers had a voice, and could speak their
minds on educational matters without fearing for their job," says KIPP
AMP teacher Luisa Bonifacio.

"For us," KIPP AMP teacher Emily Fernandez explains, "unionization is
ultimately all about student achievement, and the ability of teachers
to best serve students at this crucial middle school time in their

KIPP AMP teachers believe that the high staff turnover at the school
has harmed their efforts to build a positive and consistent school
culture for their students. "There is a need to make the teacher
position more sustainable," says Bonifacio, "so that teachers don't
burn out, but are able to make a long-term commitment to the students
and the school."

KIPP AMP teacher Leila Chakravarty makes a powerful case that
organizing a union is necessary to "build a sustainable community in
our school" and address the problem of teacher turnover. "Because as
KIPP teachers we are so invested in our kids and form such close bonds
with them, because we are always available to our students by
telephone and email and spend ten hours every day with them, it is so
vital and important that they feel they can count on us, and we will
continue to be there. When they become close to a teacher who is gone
in three months because she has burnt out, it undermines the trust we
are working so hard to build."

The teachers at KIPP AMP have received strong support for their
organizing efforts from the parents and families at the school.

At the same time as the KIPP AMP teachers informed their principal of
their decision to organize, UFT President Randi Weingarten reached out
to KIPP co-founder and New York City Superintendent Dave Levin,
informing him of the developments at the school and of the UFT's
intention to enter into collective bargaining at another New York City
KIPP school, KIPP Infinity Charter School, where the teaching staff
are members of the UFT.

Weingarten told Levin that the KIPP teachers and the UFT want to work
cooperatively with KIPP to ensure that its New York City schools
provide the very best education for their students and families. She
asked KIPP to recognize the unionization of the KIPP AMP teachers
immediately so that this work could begin without delay.

"KIPP teachers want what all good teachers want — the respect, the
support and the tools necessary to do the best possible job of
educating their students," Weingarten said. "Organizing into a union
of educational professionals will give them the collective voice and
support to make that happen."

"We know that teacher turnover is a major concern across the charter
school movement," Weingarten noted. "The unionization of KIPP's New
York City schools provides a unique opportunity to create a model of
sustainable teacher recruitment, development and retention."

Since the original KIPP Academy Charter School is a conversion charter
school with UFT representation, educators at three of the four KIPP
schools in New York City will now be members of the UFT.


Monday, January 05, 2009

California History Textbooks

Happy New Year to readers.
Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
Cesar Chavez. Nov.9, 1984.

In 2009, the California Board of Education will adopt a new History Social Science Framework for California’s public schools. The present Framework was adopted in 1987 and only marginally changed since then.
The Framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. The current Framework, written in 1987, has virtually no inclusion of Chicano/Mexican/Latino history and little inclusion of Asian American history.
It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation. The current Framework reflects the historiography of the 1950’s. It is substantially out of date. There was a major struggle over this framework in 1987 and progressive forces lost.

Quality schools are an issue of civil rights. Our public schools should provide all students with a high-quality education. At present, they often do not (Kozol, 2005, Moses and Cobb, 2001). Receiving a quality education is necessary for economic opportunity, economic survival, and the development of a democratic community.
Multicultural education is part of a movement of school reform whose aim is to provide quality education for all and to make schools more democratically inclusive. Its intellectual roots lie in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the ethnic studies movements of the 1970s, and the struggles for bilingual education (Banks, 2008).
Someone makes the decisions to plan the curriculum. A committee selects goals, objectives, materials, learning strategies, and the processes for student evaluation. Then the teacher in the classroom makes decisions on how the curriculum is delivered.
A curriculum is developed based upon the writers values and views of goals for the society. It is adopted based upon the decisions of state or district decision makers. It is taught based upon the values and views of the teachers and relevant learning theories. Even today, in the period of standards and testing, the teacher in the classroom makes significant curriculum decisions each day.
The curriculum has often been the battleground for U.S. education. Advocacy groups, business groups, religious reformers, teachers and their unions and elected officials have sought to use the curriculum to define and to direct schooling. Multicultural education enters into the conflict over the curriculum because a multicultural social justice perspective most often reveals a conflict between the promises of education for a democracy and the view of the society taught as accurate and complete in the existing courses taught in the schools.
Curriculum change or improvement can be pursued as a means of trying to move a school from one level of achievement to another. In the decades since 1990, testing has become an increased component of schooling. The testing emphasis drove many schools in low-income areas to eliminate the arts, science and social studies in an effort to focus on improving reading and math scores. Since 2001 school districts, usually in a drive to respond to demands of the NCLB act and those of state education departments, have increasingly decided to adopt packaged curriculum and materials from commercial publishers who promise to raise test scores in reading and math . The alternative would be for districts to engage their own teachers in development of materials for the students in local schools.
Curriculum change involves choices. A major emphasis of the 1980s and 1990s was to upgrade the high school curriculum for college preparation. A result of this emphasis was the sharp reduction—almost elimination—of vocational education programs in some states such as California. Yet fully 80 percent of all high school students will not graduate from college. It was an ideological choice to decide that we should design the high school curriculum as if all students were going to college.

The development of multicultural education calls for a re-analysis of curriculum basics and a revision of the textbooks and curriculum experiences where appropriate. We need to recognize that many curriculum decisions are based on ideological choices. . From a critical theory point of view, knowledge is not neutral. Knowledge is power. Those who control the access to knowledge , including publishers, bureaucracies, teachers and the curriculum, control a source of power in our society.
A part of the effort of multicultural education is to rewrite the curriculum and textbooks so that all students—members of the United States’s diverse communities—recognize their own role in building our society and economy. Multicultural advocates choose to rewrite the curriculum so that all students experience a school that serves as an engine of democracy and opportunity.
Curriculum content, usually expressed in textbooks, is very important. These materials often direct and shape what students read and often outline the teaching strategies to be employed. Among other things curriculum decisions determine Whose knowledge is of most worth?
James Banks described the new multicultural curriculum efforts emerging as a transformative curriculum of empowerment. He argued that in addition to the above goals a curriculum should:
1. Empower the students, especially the victimized and marginalized.
2. Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to critically examine the current political and economic structure.
3. Teach critical thinking skills and decision making skills including the analysis of the way in which knowledge is constructed. (Banks, Multiethnic Education, 4rd. edit. 2008)
James Banks, a lifetime leader in multicultural education and a former president of both the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Educational Research Association, describes the balancing forces in An Introduction to Multicultural Education. ( 4th. Edition, 2008)
“Citizenship education must be transformed in the 21st.century because of the deepening racial, ethnic, cultural, language and religious diversity in nation-states around the world. Citizens in a diverse democratic society should b e able to maintain attachments to their cultural communities as well as participate effectively in the shared national culture. Unity without diversity results in cultural repression and hegemony. Diversity without unity leads to Balkanization and the fracturing of the nation-state. Diversity and unity should coexist in a delicate balance in democratic multicultural nation-states.” (Banks, 2008)

I applied to get on the framework committee for this revision but I was not successful. Even though I have a doctorate in the field and 35 years of experience, the State Board selected others. Of course you can not tell only from the names, but it looks as if 1 of the 18 people may be Mexican or Latino. I had strong letters of support etc.
This post begins a series on how and why the California State Framework should be changed.
I encourage all readers and policy advocates interested in justice to participate. The first meeting of the History/Social Science Revision Committee will be on Feb.4.

Duane Campbell

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hey Governor- Here is $10 million dollars !

Governor Schwarzenegger proposes to brutal budget cuts to health care, state workers, and $5.2 billion to k-12 education and to borrow billions.
Well, here is $10 million per year you can have. It’s a free-bee.
In SB 2042 in 2000 the legislature created a system where the state must continually train new teachers to replace those driven out by inadequate working conditions. One element of 2042 required the development of high stakes performance assessment of California teachers (TPA) based upon the teacher performance expectations (TPE) to be developed by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The problems with this are several. There is no evidence that TPA’s are valid measures of good teaching. To the contrary, our experience tells us that one-time all-or-nothing tests like the TPA are among the poorest possible ways to predict the likelihood that a test-taker will be an excellent California teacher.
This new test has no relationship to the crisis in school achievement of California’s failing schools. It does, however, provide career advancement for test writers and professors at Stanford and elsewhere, provide them with coffee, donuts and catered food while they meet, and keep them from having to work with real teachers in real classrooms to deal with the problems students in real schools.
It is a bridge to nowhere. A boondoggle. The state might as well fund research on developing rain forests in the Iowa prairie.
There are additional analysis of this foolish test on this blog. Just go to and use the search engine.
Hey, a million here, a million there, pretty soon you add up to some real money.
Duane Campbell,