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 |