Friday, December 24, 2010

How to create your own education reform organization- and a good paying position for yourself

How to Create a Faux Grassroots Education Reform Organization in 12 Easy Steps!
  2. Put two or three of those words together in any order (possibly linked by a preposition like "with," "of," "for," or -- if you want to be really with it -- use "4″ instead of "for"!).
  3. Add an exclamation mark at the end!
  4. Create a slick website -- be sure to include engaging photos of multiracial kids on your front page.
  5. Write a fierce and positive mission statement that no one can disagree with, like: "We want all kids to achieve excellence in school!" Or, "We want an excellent teacher in every excellent classroom teaching excellence to excellent kids in excellent schools!" Or "We don't want any child left behind by mean, terrible teachers and left with no option in life but prison."

Democrats ? for Education Reform 2

There is a well done article on the group Democrats ? for Educational Reform on the front page of the Sacramento Bee today.  There is more on here.
There is no evidence that the group has improved schools.  Politicians have seldom improved schools.  Improved schools require teachers working together.  There is some evidence in my book, Choosing Democracy, and in the effort of Quality  Investment in Education Act schools sponsored by CTA.
A positive side of the effort of Democrats? For Educational Reform is that they point out, create a megaphone, to describe and criticize the failure of some of our schools, particularly urban schools. 
Instead of talking about the most basic cause- the lack of adequate funding for schools and for school reform- they offer a series of ideas centered on the problem is the teachers unions.  Well. No.  The problem is the significant under funding of California schools as well developed in prior posts and in the suite Robles v. California.  And, given the current state budget, the underfunding of schools is going to get much worse.
In the last two years the k-12 budget “solutions” have cut 4.6 billion dollars from the schools. We have larger classes and fewer teachers.  School reform has stopped- except for the politicians hot air.  School funding makes up a total of 30% of the state budget.  Any crisis in the state budget and any cuts in the state budget will make school budgets worse.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fetishizing School Chiefs Hurts Kids

by Randy Shaw, 2010-11-22
Cathleen Black has had an extraordinary career as a media executive, but it was not until New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg designated her as the city’s new public school chancellor that she became an almost household name. On November 19, three New York Times reporters teamed up for a front-page story on Black that also took up an entire inside page, as the paper elevated a story for its New York section into national news. Is Black’s appointment so critical for NYC public school kids to justify ongoing national coverage in the Times? Can she make up for the ongoing cutbacks in school funding, increased class size, and lack of demonstrated progress of the corporate-backed emphasis on school testing? Unfortunately, the media’s excessive and irrational devotion to Black and other school chiefs as saviors for the nation’s school kids ignores these realities. The truth is that neither Black, nor any other school chief, can overcome inadequate school funding by running schools like corporate turnaround specialists, and fetishizing their importance distracts from schools real needs.

Education has to be the only field where rising to the top requires no experience. Careers spent in the profit-driven corporate world are not only not disqualifying, but are now identified as the best backgrounds for public school leadership.

This bizarre phenomenon could not have emerged without the media exalting this new breed of education leader. And the harm caused by such fetishizing of school chief’s was made particularly obvious last week by two stories involving the New York City public schools.

Rising Classroom Size v. Star Quality

Natomas (Sacramento) Teachers take pay cut

Sacramento area teachers agreed to a 7.5% wage cut to keep the state from taking over the financially strapped district. The story is in the Sacramento Bee today.
How did we get into this fix?  Well, first was the economic collapse caused by the bankers and the real estate fraud artists.  That took 13 Trillion from the economy crashing the U.S. and the international economy.  That produced a dramatic drop in sales tax and property taxes and a California economic crisis.  School funding reveals the nature of crisis.  In the last two years the k-12 budget “solutions” have cut 4.6 billion dollars from the schools. We have larger classes and fewer teachers.  School reform has stopped- except for the politicians hot air.  School funding makes up a total of 30% of the state budget.  Any crisis in the state budget and any cuts in the state budget will make school budgets worse.  The crisis will get worse.
California will need to raise taxes to fund the schools and to repair the social safety net.  Anti tax radicals and Republicans  oppose any tax increases.
Natomas was one of the early casualties.  Many more will follow- even with the teachers giving up salary.  The states and California are in a downward spiral and it will continue for at least 3-4 years.  The children, and the working people are paying for the robbery of the financial classes. And, they just held up unemployment benefits until the Republicans gave them a $700 Billion tax benefit.  This is how an oligarchy rules.
More at

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Sacramento Bee and the legislature continue to fail our schools

Today's Sacramento Bee (Dec. 3)  editorial calls for an infusion of new leadership to keep Natomas Unified from failing.  As described yesterday in the post below - Natomas is not failing.  It is under funded as are almost all schools districts in the state.  The Bee editorial board calls for "civic leaders"  to let Natomas Unified teaches know that they should settle and take a 7.9 % pay cut to balance the budget.
However, California school budgets are all in crisis and they will continue in crisis for several years as a consequence of the economic collapse of the housing market and the financial heist of Wall Street. ( See "the Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One" in the archives of choosing democracy blog.)
I would like to see the "civic leaders", including the Bee editorial board insist that the state adequately fund our schools.  Poll after poll show that the tax payers want their schools adequately funded, but the legislature has refused, and has been unable to fund the schools in this crisis. The Robles-Wong suite against California on school funding makes these points well.
This kind of crisis will engulf more and more school districts.  Those unwilling to take on the corporate elite- like the Sacramento Bee editorial board- will continue to call for the teaches to take the pay cut.  The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission chaired by Phil Angelides will soon make their report showing who really caused the crisis and who profited from the economic crisis. The Bee calls for new leadership but does not call upon the financial insiders to be held accountable and to pay for the crisis they have created.  The students will have a reduced education and the Bee will castigate the teachers. That is our future for the next few years.