Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ed Beat -- Mouths of Babes (Toddlin' Town!); Premonitions; Forging Success; Solidarity; The Privates

"A Child Shall Lead Them":
A "True" Chicago boy speaks up. This is what he's talking about
MSNBC reports, after a heavily protested meeting where multiple people had to be thrown out, the Chicago Board Of Education voted 4-2 to close 49 schools and one high school program in the largest round of school closures that a single American city has ever attempted. 
At one point, a man wearing a shirt from the Chicago Teachers Union stood up and walked out mid meeting saying "This is a farce. If you care about children, you should leave now."
Opponents object to the closures because they say it disproportionately affects black students, that it will disrupt their educations, and that some students might have to cross gang territory. 
Supporters say this is necessary just to keep the system solvent, and to try to fix the schools that remain.  
Chicago is the nation's third-largest school system, and it is beset with issues rooted in the same unwillingness of the "majority" culture to expend necessary resources on educating minority children which afflicts big-city schools everywhere.

Karen Lewis, spokesperson and official for the Chicago teachers' uninon, had this to say:
"Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.
“This is bad governance. CPS has consistently undermined school communities and sabotaged teachers and parents. Their actions have had a horrible domino effect. More than 40,000 students will lose at least three to six months of learning because of the Board’s actions. Because many of them will now have to travel into new neighborhoods to continue their schooling, some will be victims of bullying, physical assault and other forms of violence. Board members are wishing for a world that does not exist and have ignored the reality of the world we live in today. Who on the Board will be held responsible? Who at City Hall will be held responsible?<
Echo answers: NOBODY!Who benefits?

WAL-MARTNo, really! At least one of the schools being closed will give way to a new, urban/south side big-box store.
The Walton Family Foundation, a big charter school booster, facilitated all of the recent school closing hearings which pitted thousands of people against the city’s drastic and unproven school reform measures. ILLUSTRATION: Walmart action at OvertonMarchers gathered at Overton Elementary School, one of 53 elementary schools on the list of proposed closings by the mayor's office and CPS, for a short program led by Susan Hurley, executive director of grassroots labor group Jobs With Justice. Protestors then proceeded to the Walmart construction site, where speakers including Overton parents and Walmart workers called on the Walton family to stop funding efforts to close Chicago’s public schools. Numerous drivers passing by honked their horns in support.

Zombie Pigs & Angry Birds: Especially when the prime mover in Chicago's educational circus is the notorious O'bot-sycophant-asslicker, Rahm Emanuel, who'd rather provide DePaul University with a huge, new, urban basketball facility than support the city's troubled and poor youth.
It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus. These aren’t the actions of a mayor. They’re the actions of a mad king.
If you want to understand why Mayor Rahm has approval ratings to rival Rush Limbaugh in Harlem, you can point to priorities like these. The school closures are taking place entirely in communities of color while the city’s elite feed with crazed abandon at an increasingly sapped trough. As Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union chief who led a victorious strike last September fueled by rage at Mayor Rahm, said, “When the mayor claims he is facing unprecedented budget problems, he has a choice to make. He is choosing between putting our communities first or continuing the practice of handing out millions of public dollars to private operators, even in the toughest of times.”
The plan spends $173 MILLION to build a facility for a PRIVATE, third-rate, third-tier hoops program as the anchor for the whole, new facility.

Dystopia!: A distopic education critic, Anthony Cody predictst that, "by 2018 all teaching will be strictly controlled, with frequent testing, classes monitored and taped for regular inspection, and teacher evaluation based, among other things, on value-added analyses of student test scores, and videos evaluated by outsiders." Steve Krashen, emeritus professor of Education at Southern Cal, thinks Cody's being too optimistic: "
 The goal of the war against teachers is to eliminate the concept of teaching as a profession, to be replaced by temps (eg Teach For America) and eventually be replaced largely by technology (ultimate goal of flipped classrooms). The reason is 100% financial -- so that the .01% can grab nearly all of the money teachers earn as well as profit from electronic/virtual teaching.
Hs further speculates that "the reformers will continue to expand testing, will charge students for taking the required tests, and in fact make it illegal for students not to take the exams."

Meanwhile, teacher and student resistance to the imposition of meaningless, expensive, distracting, useless tests in the swchool day isgrowing, prompting responses from the Business elites and their sock-puppets in school administrations, who see the privbate sector as the best prospective source for the funding that will keep them fat. Private actors in states as different as New York and Texas have opened the school governance project up to the influences of big business, to force the so-called "Common Core Curriculum." In New York state, recently:
Amid complaints of disruption and angst in the classrooms, the state's major teachers union launched a petition drive asking parents to protest the use of a new set of standardized tests.
Now, state Education Commissioner John King has enlisted business leaders in what might be seen as a counteroffensive.
King urged a roomful of corporate decision-makers to support the tests and, more importantly, the new Common Core approach to learning embraced by New York and 46 other states.
"We need the entire community to support the standards," King said Thursday during a talk hosted by the Center for Economic Growth.
At the end of the hour-long discussion, CEG Executive Director Michael Tucker urged those in attendance to sign a pledge saying they would support the Common Core by writing letters to the media and generally talking up the concept.
Such efforts are the latest front in the battle for public opinion — and possibly legislative intervention — over the Common Core and its exams, which will also play a role in how teachers are evaluated.


 "Failing schools" are those which do not cram enough test preparation into the school day to compensate for and/or overcome the disadvantages inflicted on mainly poor students by the systemic marginalization of many schools by districts and/or state boards. In Alabama, a former professor of education, Dr. Allison Grizzle, has returned to her first love, the classroom, to try to be a force in the debate over what constitutes "succdess" and "failure." The State teachers' association recognized her recently. Her pedagogy--modeled on "engagement"--seems to be a model for success at ANY level.


Solidaridnosk! There are no few number of Facebook "pages" which focus on educational issues, and this one of the more recent additions. See, also, Dump Duncan.


The Privatizers never sleep. That's because there is a HUGE pot of money to be extracted from the public schools, under any number of noble-sounding rubrics. In Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, locals are set to establish a "military-focused" charter High School, to prepare students for inspiring careers killing, maiming and oppressing brown people the world over in the name of Global Capital.

What do the chateristas want and when do they want it? Everything, now. Here's a comprehensive overview from 2010 from "The Left Business Observer."

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