Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chicago: Planning to close schools, while opening charters

From the Chicago Tribune: Read first, CPS insists there is no school-closings list, but then check out "Document shows Emanuel administration had detailed school closing plans  and meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools pushes ahead with plans for more charter schools.

Since St. Louis gets many of its ideas, both good and bad, from Chicago, we can expect that a similar strategy is being deployed here.  It does appear that here in St. Louis, public schools continue to be discussed as targets for potential closing in some neighborhoods, while charter school advocates continue to push opening of new schools, many of which will be even smaller than the schools to be closed.

And to understand more, we could read the entire document, but the Chicago Tribune, which has long backed the top-down reform model, has not released it in its entirety.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook Tragedy: Read to Break Your Heart (Again), Diane Ravitch

On the dust-up between Diane Ravitch and a number of 'reformists' over her comments on Sandy Hook's heroic teachers:

As Jerzey Jazzman reports, TFA Vice President for Insights and Digital Media David Rosenberg attacked Diane Ravitch for her post on the Hero Teachers of Newtown, calling it "reprehensible." This personal attack may shed some light on the increasingly defensive posture of TFA and similar organizations (more than on Ravitch's post, which simply pointed out that these were union teachers doing what union teachers do), since Jerzey Jazzman concludes that Ravitch (again) gets this one right. Here's to the teachers, children, and families, of Newtown.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

More on TFA: Wendy Kopp Inflating Statistics, What's the Big Deal?

On Huffington Post, TFA founder and "CEO" Wendy Kopp stated that TFA corps members usually spend an average of 8 years teaching (which even if true would not mean that TFA is anything like a solution to our nation's education issues).  This sparked an empirically minded inquiry from EdWeek blogger Anthony Cody and a detailed analysis (and critique) of TFA's agenda by plthomasEdD at the Daily Kos.  Definitely worth reading.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Report on Charters and Special Needs Kids

Charter Schools Do Indeed Systematically Under-Enroll Students with Special Needs, According to New Review of CRPE Report

From the NEPC: http://nepc.colorado.edu/

Reference Publication: 
William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Bruce Baker, (732) 932-7496, ext. 8232, bruce.baker@gse.rutgers.edu
URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/b7hqavn
BOULDER, CO (December 6, 2012) – Several recent reports, including one from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, have found that charter schools generally under-enroll special education students when compared to conventional public schools. A new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, however, asserts that charter schools’ special education rates are much closer to those of district public schools than is described by these other recent reports.
A review of that new report concludes that, even though it was touted as reaching different conclusions – more favorable to charter schools – than past research, in fact the results are very much consistent. It confirms that charter schools are systematically under-enrolling students with special needs.  READ MORE

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rethinking TIFs: Corporate Handouts or Development Tool?

As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price


A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.....
The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Learning from the Global South: Support for Public Education in El Salvador

Allen Hines, at Upside Down World

US-El Salvador: Threats to Privatize Education Meet International Resistance

An excerpt:
"Though El Salvador’s national budget for education is dwarfed by that of United States, the investment in public education has been steadily increasing with the 2009 presidential victory of the leftist party, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), which during the civil war fought against a repressive, US-backed government. With FMLN leaders at the helm of several key cabinets, including health and education, and a slight legislative advantage over the right-wing parties, social investment has increased significantly across the board. 

The national education budget has risen from $707 million in 2011 to nearly $828 million in 2012, with a proposed increase to $882 million for 2013. Union leaders like Manuel Mira emphasize the broader social and political impacts of this investment. “Education is a necessity for a country's growth and democracy. To be able to read and write gives a person the tools to be independent, to be able to be free,” he says. “A person can analyze the reality to be able to be an actor and not just a subject in the processes of change.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Michelle Rhee’s right turn

Michelle Rhee’s right turn

By Daniel Denvir, at Salon

Karen Rice: Lays out the Truth to the Chicago City Club (Business Leaders)

Speaking to the moneyed people who think they have all the answers about education reform.  Can the truth penetrate hubris?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Arthur Camins/Washington Post: Obama, 'Change your Educ Politics'

A call for President Obama to change course on education

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More on Rex Sinquefield, in the WSJ, lunch with Karl Rove

Meet One of the Super-PAC Men

His name isn't Adelson or Koch, but he's spending millions on politics, hoping to roll back taxes and reform education.

Liberals who suspect that wealthy businessmen and political masterminds are colluding to hijack democracy might have fainted had they walked into the St. Regis hotel's lobby restaurant in New York the other day. There was Rex Sinquefield, a deep-pocketed St. Louis, Mo., native and big-time political donor, sitting across from the Republican Rasputin himself, Karl Rove. The not-so-vast right-wing conspiracy in plain public view.

Mr. Sinquefield, an index-fund pioneer, has not drawn the fear and loathing that liberals devote to the billionaire Koch brothers and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Oh, Bloomberg News referred to him as "a new American oligarch," and the New York Times recently painted an ominous portrait of him as "perhaps the most influential private citizen in the state." But no one has picketed his home, Mr. Sinquefield says, or harassed his guests. At least not yet.
He is nonetheless one of the nation's biggest conservative donors in a political year when they are much in the spotlight. So it seems like a good moment to meet one of these princes of alleged darkness in person and see the conspiracy from the inside. It turns out the inside looks a lot like it does from the outside. At age 67, Rex Sinquefield is a successful businessman and conservative who is passionate about his country and wants to turn its policies in a more prosperous direction. He'll even spend lots of his own money to do it.  READ MORE

Monday, November 5, 2012

SEEKING SWF: Teaching jobs in reformist apparatus trending white (edushyster.com)

Another of the effects of the corporate reform agenda, the whitening (and youth-ing) of the education labor force - at least to the extent that these folks stay in the profession for very long. A response to job crises among MBA and recent high-achieving college graduates: seek employment in sectors historically left to others?

From Edushyster.com:

 Single White Female
October 30, 2012 9:07 pm

"Chicago is not the only place where Education Reform, Inc. is quickly reshaping the teaching force into one that is fresher and more innovative younger and whiter. In urban areas across the country, middle-aged, middle class African American teachers are being pushed out  to make room for the flavor of the day: vanilla."
From:  edushyster2012

St. Louis panel approves TIFs for apartments and Mercedes dealership : Stltoday

St. Louis panel approves TIFs for apartments and Mercedes dealership : Stltoday

Editorial: New TIFs for high-end retailers drive city in wrong direction : Stltoday

Editorial: New TIFs for high-end retailers drive city in wrong direction : Stltoday

Friday, November 2, 2012

On the History of Education Apartheid and Black Struggle in Chicago


Educational apartheid in Chicago and the black teachers revolt of the 1960′s

Bob Simpson is a Social Media/Writer at Webtrax Studio, Studied Urban Education at Catholic University of America, and is a regular blogger at “The Bobbosphere.

”Black teachers did fight hard in Chicago, a city with a violent racial history that included a dangerously repressive political machine and screaming white supremacist mobs. Confronting Chicago’s educational apartheid policies also meant risking one’s career, no small thing, especially for those to whom that teaching position represented the first time a family member had graduated from college and emerged from Jim Crow enforced poverty. READ MORE

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thinking about Applying for TFA? Read This "Teach for America’s Deep Bench"

Teach for America’s Deep Bench
James Cersonsky, American Prospect

An excerpt below, about the underlying paradox of TFA - pushing directly and indirectly toward privatization of schools, and its alumni now involved in political campaigns pushing those agendas locally and nationally, while it also happens to be in part publicly-funded.  (It is of course also super-funded by corporate donors and foundations).  Should publicly-funded entities be pushing policies that seek to erode public education? Any political accountability or oversight from the public?

.....Because it counts on federal grants and local contracts—in sum, $43 million in 2011—TFA has to be involved in some amount of political advocacy. LEE voiced indirect opposition to TFA skeptic and Wendy Kopp persona non grata Linda Darling-Hammond when she was being considered as Obama’s Secretary of Education. In the case of Kira Orange-Jones, TFA’s executive director in Louisiana who was recently elected to the board that oversees New Orleans’ Recovery School District and approves TFA’s contract, TFA is in a position to influence its own contract from both sides.

LEE adds a new dimension to TFA’s growing empire. A selective crowd of high-achieving college graduates is primed to take over the leadership of America’s schools. This summer’s elections for Nashville’s school board, which featured a race between TFA alums, could be a preview of intra-family rivalries to come. (The winner, Elissa Kim, is TFA’s chief admissions officer and garnered near-record donations for her campaign.) And while LEE may be policy-neutral, it isn’t hard to imagine the massive proliferation of Michelle Rhees and, in turn, the entrenchment of education reform geared toward money-soaked charter expansion, “new unionism,” and test-based student achievement. In other words, what began—and is still viewed by many—as an apolitical service corps could be the Trojan horse of the privatization of public education.

Jersey Jazzman: Local Control of Schools: It's a White People Thing

Jersey Jazzman: Local Control of Schools: It's a White People Thing

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chicago: Knowles of U of C UEI talks of reform, labor, and the strike

Is there a way to support corporate school 'reform,' public schools, and the rights of teachers as professionals?

Read the transcript here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Louisiana: Big Money At Work in State School Board Elections

What is it about public schools that is now attracting so much money from conservative donors?  There are similar patterns in Missouri, at least at the local level, and at least before elections were done away with.

Why Do Some of America's Wealthiest Individuals Have Fingers in Louisiana's Education System? Matthew Cunningham-Cook October 17, 2012
"Last fall, a coterie of extremely wealthy billionaires, among them New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turned the races for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) into some of the most expensive in the state’s history. Seven pro-education “reform” candidates for the BESE outraised eight candidates endorsed by the teacher’s unions by $2,386,768 to $199,878, a ratio of nearly twelve to one. In just one of these races, the executive director of Teach for America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta, Kira Orange Jones, outspent attorney Louella Givens, who was endorsed by the state’s main teacher’s unions, by more than thirty-four to one: $472,382 to $13,815."  READ MORE....

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rex Sinquefield: New York Times covers local funder of education reform


Missouri Political Donor Thrives With No Limits
The possible future of unlimited campaign contributions is on display in Missouri, where Rex Sinquefield has emerged as the biggest giver.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

State education board grants St. Louis Schools provisional accreditation : Stltoday

State education board grants St. Louis Schools provisional accreditation : Stltoday

"As the Missouri State Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday to upgrade St. Louis Public Schools from unaccredited status, members made it clear they were far from changing the district’s governance back to an elected board."

Among the quotes worthy of a grimace (from State Board chair Herschend, who is from Branson, Missouri) 
“The local elected board is what got the school district in trouble in the first place,” State Board President Peter Herschend said."

School Reform, But From Whose Perspective?

On the disconnect between wealthy corporate reformers and the real day-to-day lives and experiences of the people they claim to want to 'reform'

School Reform, But From Whose Perspective?

By Cheryl Scott Williams, in Education Week
... But the tone, language, and proposals for change currently articulated by the most prominent "reformers" at the national level reveal both a lack of knowledge and experience of the daily realities of even the most successful public schools and a total lack of respect for the professionals now working in public education. A New York Times article by Michael Winerip last year provided insight into the genesis of the worldview of these "reformers." It was chilling in its revelation of our country's movement toward endowing decisionmaking by only a privileged ruling class of leaders whose experience in no way reflects the background or upbringing of the majority of Americans.

St. Louis Schools relish upgrade, want to achieve more : Stltoday

St. Louis Schools relish upgrade, want to achieve more : Stltoday

State approve 2 new St. Louis charter schools : Stltoday

State approve 2 new St. Louis charter schools : Stltoday

Monday, October 15, 2012

BEACON article on Tuesday's Accreditation Decision


Ever since the latest report card for the St. Louis Public Schools showed they have enough points to earn provisional accreditation, Superintendent Kelvin Adams has rarely passed up an opportunity to push for the upgrade.
Kelvin Adams
Kelvin Adams
“Seven points equals accreditation,” Adams said in August after the district’s annual progress report under the Missouri School Improvement Plan was released. “My understanding from reading the policy and the APR guidelines was that seven points equal provisional accreditation — period.”
Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, countered that what the state is looking for is not a particular number but evidence that any growth in student achievement can be sustained over a period of time, at least three years... READ MORE, it's a great piece...

BlackCommentator.com: In California: Still Another Plot Against Democracy - Left Margin - By Carl Bloice - BC Editorial Board

BlackCommentator.com: In California: Still Another Plot Against Democracy -- By Carl Bloice - BC Editorial Board

There are multiple mechanisms for reducing and restricting democratic participation through 'legal' and 'electoral' means.  This is one of them. Dissolving elected school boards is another.

Friday, October 12, 2012

TFA's Biggest Supporter Faces Spreading Labor Mobilization

Strikes at Walmart Stores, Warehouses Spread to 12 States: Is the Retail Giant in Trouble? | Alternet

"You know, I work in a Wal-Mart warehouse in Elwood, Illinois. The conditions are terrible—a lot of safety issues. We have broken equipment that was not getting repaired. They just—they push us to work at a rate that makes it even more unsafe. You know, we finally just had enough, and we started to organize. We started a petition, just asking for some basic rights. And our managers refused to take it. So, that was kind of the final straw. We decided that was it, and we walked out that day."

And why then does the Walton (Walmart) foundation give so much money to Teach for America?  Is there a connection here?

St. Louis police union president says officers don't really favor local control : Stltoday

St. Louis police union president says officers don't really favor local control : Stltoday

Bonenberger alleges that officers have been forced to publicly support the effort by Mayor Francis Slay and the billionaire businessman who backed the proposal, Rex Sinquefield.

McKee lines up five homebuilders for NorthSide : Stltoday

McKee lines up five homebuilders for NorthSide : Stltoday

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What we pay teachers/Where does Chicago (and St Louis) stand?

See the graph at:

Does Chicago seem high? Or do we really under-pay all teachers.

Starting salary for a first-year teacher in St Louis:  $38,300.
Starting salary for a first-year teacher in Clayton, MO: $41,000

Average salary at Clayton High: 65,225.

Average salary at Vashon High:  43,914.

Can you support a family on $38,300?

Or actually, 37,500...

Classroom Teachers: St. Louis Public Schools is looking for energetic, motivated people who love working with children. We need certificated teachers in all subject areas pre-school through grade 12 and counselors. Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree or higher andMissouri Certification or Proof of Eligibility for Certification. Terms of Employment: Ten-month basis. Starting salary is $37,500.00.   Applicants will receive salaries in conjunction with their degree and experience. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

More on Won't Back Down and Conservative Parent Trigger Proposal

From Mary Bottari, Huffington Post

Read more: 'Won't Back Down' Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal


Won't Back Down, is a production of Walden Media, owned by billionaire investor and right-wing extremist Philip Anschutz. Anschutz participates in the Koch brothers' secretive political strategy summitsand funds David Koch's Americans for Prosperity group, which backed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's union busting proposal and is working to defeat Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates across the country.
Anschutz bankrolls ALEC and ALEC member groups. In 2010, The Anschutz Foundation, gave ALEC $10,000 and his Union Pacific firm was an ALEC sponsor the following year. The Foundation fundedthree ALEC members who sat on the ALEC Education Task Force which approved the Parent Trigger Proposal: The Independence Institute, Center for Education Reform, and Pacific Research Institute. 
Anschutz has also supported the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which backs legislation designed to cripple unions; the Discovery Institute, which seeks to get creation "science" accepted in public schools; and the Mission America Foundation, whose president considers homosexuality to be a "deviance." He also owns the conservative magazine, the Weekly Standard.
Walden Media was one of the producers of the pro-charter documentary film "Waiting for 'Superman'." This film was criticized by Diane Ravitch as propaganda and as "a powerful weapon on behalf of those championing the 'free market' and privatization."

ON "WON'T BACK DOWN' MOVIE: "EDUCATING MAGGIE" | The Real Parents #WontBackDown Against #ALEC |

Monday, September 24, 2012

On Pensions: PSRS/PEERS Director Steve Yoakum Speech

Exclusion of Black/Latino Young Men: Where does Missouri stand? (50-59% graduation rates)

The Urgency of Now Schott Foundation: America's Education System Neglects Almost Half of the Nation's Black and Latino Male Students

New report cites need to address students being pushed
out and locked out of opportunities to learn; Schott
Foundation joins call for a moratorium on out-of-school

The research for this report was conducted by Michael
Holzman. It was edited by John Jackson and Ann Beaudry,
with assistance from Emily Dexter and Kalycia Trishana
Watson. The report was designed by Patrick St. John.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education


Thursday, September 20, 2012

St. Louis schools and union pledge unity for provisional accreditation : Stltoday

St. Louis schools and union pledge unity for provisional accreditation : Stltoday

Chicago Teachers Union | South Town Star: Miller: CTU plays school reform group for suckers

Chicago Teachers Union | South Town Star: Miller: CTU plays school reform group for suckers

The non-profit 'reform' organization Stand for Children spent a lot of money to influence Illinois legislators,  changing the threshold needed to strike by public unions to 75%.  Then, with the mayor's support, they  moved to implement a number of measures that, according to CTU, run contrary to good teaching.  See Stand for Children director Jonah Edelman brag about having outsmarted the unions on this video.  So, now post-strike, with significant public support for the teachers' unions, what has been gained by this heavily funded attempt to undermine teachers' unions?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicago Chooses Sides: Poll Shows Public School Parent Support for Strike

63-65% support the strike, among Latino and African-American parents.

Those opposed: a slight majority (52%) white, a slight majority (52%)  whose kids go to private schools. Still pretty close to even, but sort that out for us.... these folks with kids in private schools are opposed because...?

Chicago Chooses Sides

From Harold Myerson, The American Prospect "The chief takeaway from this poll is that the anti-union education-reform movement doesn’t extend to most parents of children in unionized public schools. So long as this movement persists in its anti-union jihad, even as America’s children become increasingly minority, education reform may condemn itself to remaining a movement of the white upper-middle class. The voting breakdown in the 2011 Washington, D.C., mayoral election between the defeated incumbent Adrian Fenty, who, with overwhelming white establishment support, backed school chief Michelle Rhee in her war on the city’s teachers’ union, and the victorious challenger Vincent Gray, who won a clear majority of black voters, tells the same story as that in this poll of Chicago voters. Confined by its ideological suppositions to the white professional ghetto, the education-reform movement, powerful though it may be, will repeatedly subvert itself in its efforts to transform America’s schools."

State board to review accreditation status of St. Louis schools : Stltoday

State board to review accreditation status of St. Louis schools : Stltoday


From the STL Post-Dispatch Editorial Board:

Editorial: State should honor St. Louis accreditation request

September 16, 2012 12:15 am  •  

When discussing the process by which the state accredits, or unaccredits, public schools in Missouri, Chad Beffa uses a war analogy.
"There is no exit strategy," Mr. Beffa says.
Mr. Beffa is one of the elected members of the board that used to oversee the St. Louis Public Schools. Since 2007, when the schools lost state accreditation and a Special Administrative Board was appointed to take over, the elected board has been mostly toothless.

School Reform in Chicago: New Kind of Apartheid?

From the Occupied Chicago Tribune:


And, since St Louis often follows in Chicago's footsteps, are we heading the same way?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chicago Teachers Union, Pending Strike

Chicago Teachers Say They'll Strike for the Kids

Theresa Moran
|  August 28, 2012


Video from earlier this summer: