Friday, December 21, 2012

What we need in schools. Hint- not armed police

Greg Kaufmann on December 19, 2012 - 11:37 AM ET

A Broader, Bolder Christmas: Top Ten “Gifts” for Under the (Education Policy) Tree
Co-authored with Elaine Weiss
10. A Roof Over Every Student’s Head: Children who lack stable homes are more anxious and less focused than their peers who have adequate housing. They are also at higher risk for poor health and developmental problems, and have lower educational attainment. There is no reason why any child in the United States should not enjoy stable housing. Moreover, we end up paying more for children to sleep in cars or in shelters than we would to provide their families with apartments. It’s time to fund the National Housing Trust Fund that was signed into law by President George W. Bush but never funded.
9. School Breakfast and Lunch for All Eligible Students: Children who are hungry have difficulty concentrating and an impaired learning ability. The recession raised already unacceptable levels of child food insecurity to crisis levels. In Ohio, one in four children was at risk of going hungry in 2012. More than half of surveyed teachers told Share our Strength that they buy food to feed their hungry students. Eating school breakfasts is associated with increased math and reading scores, improved speed and memory in cognitive tests, stronger academic performance, and improved attendance and punctuality.  It’s time for schools to adopt policies like universal breakfast and breakfast in the classroom.
8. Expanded Access to Quality Pre-kindergarten: When a Nobel Laureate economist (James Heckman), chair of the Federal Reserve Bank (Ben Bernanke) and one of the nation’s best-loved billionaires (Warren Buffett) all agree that quality pre-kindergarten is the smartest public investment, shouldn’t that give us pause?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Teachers of Newtown

Choosing Democracy: The Teachers of Newtown: The Hero Teachers of Newtown by Diane Ravitch This much is clear: the teachers and staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School reacted...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

America's Teachers - Heroes or Greedy Moochers?

America’s Teachers: Heroes or Greedy Moochers at the Public Trough?

by:  Dave Lindorff

I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers.
Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. Those teachers, who are routinely being accused by our politicians of being drones and selfish, incompetent money grubbers worried more about their pensions than about teaching our children (though most, even after 10 years, earn less than $55,000 a year for doing a very difficult job that involves at least 12-14 hours a day of work and prep time counting meetings with parents), stood their ground when confronted with a psychotic assailant armed with semi-automatic pistols and an automatic rifle, and protected their kids. The principal too, a veteran teacher herself, stood her ground, reportedly suicidally charging at the assailant along with the school’s psychologist in a doomed effort to tackle him and stop the carnage.
How many of us would have had to the courage to stand in front of a closet door to keep an armed madman from finding the kids hidden behind it, as one slain young teacher, Vicki Soto, died doing? How many of us would charge at an armed shooter, to almost certain death, in an effort top stop him from further killing? How many would bravely hide in a bathroom with a class of kids when we could have run away and saved ourselves?
And this: How many of the politicians in Washington and in state capitals and how many conservative think-tank “researchers” who attack teachers as leeches and drones would have shown such heroism under fire?
Viki Soto, one of six teachers and administrators killed at Sandy Run Elementary School, died hiding her kids from the gunmanViki Soto, one of six teachers and administrators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, died hiding her kids from the gunman

My guess is damned few -- if any. Yet it appears from the news reports that not one teacher in that unionized school fled the scene and abandoned the children to their fate. They all stuck with their kids. So did the custodian -- no doubt a unionized worker earning poverty wages -- who at incredible personal risk ran through the building warning everyone of the attacker’s presence.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

California budget spends less on schools

Education may be the largest single segment of California's budget, but the state proportionately spends less of its money on elementary and high schools and colleges than the national average, according to a new Census Bureau report.
The statistic is gleaned from the bureau's annual report on state government finances, the latest of which covers 2011.
The report tallies California's "general expenditures" last year at just under $225 billion -- spending from both the state's own taxes and other resources as well as $64.5 billion in federal funds. Education is almost $75 billion of that, according to the report -- or exactly one-third, somewhat below the national average of 35.8 percent.
California's level of education spending in 2011 was fractionally lower than in 2010. Other states ranged from a high of 46.6 percent in Georgia to a low of 24.9 percent in Alaska.

Read more here: