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Education

school2A couple of items.
 

So evidence that charter schools have yielded academic gains in New Orleans or anywhere else are muddled at best. Nevertheless, establishment Democrats…argue charter school skeptics are the ones driven by ideology and twisting of facts.
 
There’s a reason for the desperate arguments promoted by…charter school proponents.
 
Just as the general public supports progressive proposals for universal health care and minimum wage, surveys find that Americans have increased confidence in public schools while support for charter schools has dropped by double digit percentages among Democrats and Republicans.
 
Now there’s some facts for you.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

There has never been more opposition to high stakes standardized testing.
 
Yet the corporate controlled media is pretending that the resistance is over.
 
Parents are refusing to let their kids take these tests at the same or even greater numbers than ever.
 
Fewer states require high stakes tests as graduation exams and/or use them to evaluate their teachers. Across the nation, states are cutting the size of standardized tests or eliminating them altogether. And more state legislatures passed laws explicitly allowing parents to opt their children out of the tests.
 
Yet Education Week published an article a few days ago called “Anti-Test Movement Slows to a Crawl.”
(gadflyonthewallblog)

Comment below fold.
 
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About the Janus ruling

by Dan Burns on June 28, 2018 · 2 comments

scotus2A couple of items:
 

A 2015 study found strong empirical evidence that unions may help children move up the economic ladder.
 
According to the study, the New York Times reports, “Children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. The size of the effect is small, but there aren’t many other factors that are as strongly correlated with mobility.”
 
The positive impact of unions on children’s upward mobility isn’t exclusive to low-income children, the Times reporters note, and they extend beyond families with union workers to nonunion families too.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

After holding steady for decades, the percentage of American workers in all jobs who would say yes to join a union jumped sharply this past year, by 50%, says a new, independent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The evidence is clear: The popularity of the labor movement is surging as more people want to join unions than ever before. Every worker must have the freedom to negotiate in a union over pay, benefits and working conditions.
(AFL-CIO)

Comments below fold.
 
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school3This first one summarizes a lot of material on a reality that even many who are pro-public schools just do not seem to want to face. That is, the ultimate goal of the deformers really is to dumb down future generations of voters so that they will buy into continued kleptocratic, war pig rule, as far too many of their parents and grandparents do now.
 

After five years of research and the publication of The One Percent Solution, (University of Oregon Prof. Gordon) Lafer concluded that by lobbying to make changes like increasing class sizes, pushing for online instruction, lowering accreditation requirements for teachers, replacing public schools with privately-run charters, getting rid of publicly elected school boards and a host of other tactics, Big Business was aiming to dismantle public education.
 
The grand plan was even more ambitious. These titans of business wished to completely change the way Americans and their children viewed their life potential. Transforming education was the key.
 
The lobbyists and associations perfected cover stories to keep the public from knowing their real objectives. Step one was to raise fears about an American educational crisis that did not, in fact, exist. Lafer notes, for example, that the reading and math scores of American students have remained largely unchanged for forty years. Nonetheless, the corporate-backed alarmists worked to convince the public that the school system was in dire condition.
(Institute for New Economic Thinking)

(Two weeks ago) Congress released funds, held up for years, that support public schools in rural communities.
 
Federal lawmakers failed to reauthorize funding for the Secure Rural Schools Act (SRS) in 2015, leaving more than 4,400 rural schools that are on or near federally protected lands short on critical funding.
 
SRS was introduced in 2000 to replace taxes and timber sales revenue. But funding for the program expired in December 2015, and the last payments were delivered in March 2016.
(Education Votes)

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319484_10150274658633247_1013005_nPlease, please stick to your guns on this.
 

Gov. Mark Dayton issued an ultimatum Monday as the Legislature’s session entered its final week: Without emergency funding for schools he won’t cut a tax deal. Republicans said they wouldn’t meet his demand…
 
“My position is that I will not engage in any negotiations on a tax bill or sign any tax bill until we have an agreement to provide emergency school aid,” Dayton said, stressing that his proposal is needed to stop schools from shedding staff or ditching programs.
(MPR)

Update: As of Thursday morning, Governor Dayton is indeed sticking to his guns. Which is a great thing, for all Minnesotans, even if too many haven’t the sense to realize that.
 
A reality check on Minnesota school funding, and other remarks, below the fold.
 
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An idea for business schools

by Dan Burns on May 5, 2018 · 0 comments

greedSomething to perhaps peruse while lounging on the deck this weekend. Best thing I’ve read online in months. It’s called “Why we should bulldoze the business school.”
 

Having taught in business schools for 20 years, I have come to believe that the best solution to these problems is to shut down business schools altogether. This is not a typical view among my colleagues. Even so, it is remarkable just how much criticism of business schools over the past decade has come from inside the schools themselves. Many business school professors, particularly in north America, have argued that their institutions have gone horribly astray. B-schools have been corrupted, they say, by deans following the money, teachers giving the punters what they want, researchers pumping out paint-by-numbers papers for journals that no one reads and students expecting a qualification in return for their cash (or, more likely, their parents’ cash). At the end of it all, most business-school graduates won’t become high-level managers anyway, just precarious cubicle drones in anonymous office blocks.
 
These are not complaints from professors of sociology, state policymakers or even outraged anti-capitalist activists. These are views in books written by insiders, by employees of business schools who themselves feel some sense of disquiet or even disgust at what they are getting up to. Of course, these dissenting views are still those of a minority. Most work within business schools is blithely unconcerned with any expression of doubt, participants being too busy oiling the wheels to worry about where the engine is going. Still, this internal criticism is loud and significant.
(The Guardian)

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abanschoolTwo items.
 

“I thought this just happened to me.”
 
That’s the refrain from dozens of teachers who reached out to NPR — via email and social media — in response to our investigative story about serious problems with a federal grant program that, they say, have left them unfairly saddled with thousands of dollars of debts they shouldn’t have to pay.
(MPR)

Surprising results from a new survey of teachers reveal the depth of “financial strain” classroom professionals face. These include high levels of college debt, stagnation of already subpar pay, increasing housing and childcare costs, rising health insurance premiums and prescription costs, and escalating out-of-pocket expenses for their own classroom supplies.
 
More than half of the respondents resorted to second jobs to try to close the gap between what their teaching jobs paid versus their actual cost of living.
 
The revelation teachers are financially struggling wasn’t what was surprising about the survey. Recent news of teacher “red-state rebellions” in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona have brought great depths of attention to the economic plight of teachers who are walking off the job in Republican dominated states because of years of education funding cuts. No, what was surprising about this survey was the teachers weren’t in a red state at all; they were in true-blue Vermont.
 
The sad truth is financial austerity that has driven governments at all levels to skimp on education has had plenty of compliance, if not downright support, from centrist Democrats who’ve spent most of their political capital on pressing an agenda of “school reform” and “choice” rather than pressing for increased funding and support that schools and teachers need.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

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abanschoolThis one is full of good – indeed, essential – advice.
 

While progressives lament their recent failure in an Illinois primary to knock out Dan Lipinski – a conservative, anti-abortion, Congressional Democrat who voted against the Affordable Care Act – they mostly fail to note where and how they won elsewhere in the state…
 
These victors had a number of things in common, including endorsements from labor unions and progressive advocacy organizations. But another startling commonality among at least three of the four candidates was a strong support for public schools – Ortiz, Ramirez, and Johnson all made increased funding for public schools key stances in their races. Ortiz and Johnson are public school teachers, and Ramirez pledged to “protect our public-school system from corporate interests which attack teachers and students to destabilize public neighborhood schools and profit from privatizing education.”
 
Contrast the victors’ strong stances for public schools to Lipinski’s failed challenger, Marie Newman, whose education platform was about “education that leads to real jobs” – a position suitable for a Republican candidate to run on.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

And plenty of GOPers seem to be going out of their way to make themselves vulnerable on this. That will likely also be the case here in Minnesota.
 

A little more than a year ago, Betsy DeVos assumed her post as secretary of education, eager to roll out the first-ever national school voucher program. But that was before reality came crashing in (March 23).
 
Congress, in its omnibus spending bill, rebuked the proposal by DeVos and President Trump to redirect scarce public dollars from public schools to private schools with a voucher scheme. Trump and DeVos pursued their voucher plan despite volumes of research that shows vouchers do not work, that they undermine accountability to parents and taxpayers, and that they have failed to provide opportunity to all of our students. Lawmakers did not include in the spending bill the $250 million private school voucher initiative the president and DeVos sought, as well as their $1 billion program designed to promote charters, on-line schools and home schooling.
 
That Trump and DeVos were unable to get their priority funded in a Republican-controlled Congress speaks to the distrust of the American public, 90 percent of whose children attend public schools…
 
The rejection of DeVos by Congress notwithstanding, there are several gubernatorial candidates who want to pursue her voucher agenda.
(Education Votes)

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mncapitol2Namely, with Medicaid work requirements. A tiny, perverse part of me kind of wishes that Governor Mark Dayton actually would sign it (not really, but you know what I mean), presuming that it gets through the Senate with its big old 1-vote GOP majority. Because, for example, from last July:

 

James Acker is a Donald Trump supporter deep in Minnesota Trump country. Cass County voted two-to-one for Trump over Hillary Clinton in last fall’s presidential election.
 
Acker and some of his neighbors, however, are not sold on what they’ve heard from Trump and other Republican lawmakers on Medicaid. The federal health safety net plays a crucial role here and many residents are worried now about the GOP’s push to remake health care and how that will affect them and their communities…
 
Many in Cass County are watching intently. Despite the overwhelming support for Trump, people are wary about changing a program that for many is a life-or-death necessity.
(MPR)

This is about another really intellectually stellar proposal:
 

OK, Minnesota State Legislators: What is going on with SF 2487? It requires schools to adopt a “written academic balance policy” that must “prohibit school employees, in their official capacity, from requiring students or other school employees to express specified social or political viewpoints for the purposes of academic credit, extracurricular participation, or as a condition of employment,” among other things.
 
On its face, this seems simple enough. But what does it mean? I understand that, as a professional educator, I won’t be telling my students that they should vote for a specific candidate. I don’t know any professional teacher who would do that. Of course we wouldn’t say “only conservatives are allowed on the debate team,” or “only socialists are allowed to try out for the basketball team.”
 
But what is a “social viewpoint?” Is Black Lives Matter a social viewpoint? Because that’s not really negotiable: the lives of my black students, friends, colleagues, and fellow citizens do matter, unequivocally. How about supporting LGBTQ students’ rights to have a safe place to learn, or that their lives matter? Is that a social viewpoint? Because that’s not really negotiable either. How about “women are equal to men?” There are so many different things that fall under the idea of “social viewpoint” that are basic rules of safe classrooms and healthy schools.
(Adventures in Distraction)

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studentdebtThis article is really good, but something important needs to be added.
 

Picture the United States without student debt. It’s a country with a larger, more vibrant economy than the one we have today. It’s a country where more than a million people, including many people who never went to college, have jobs they would not otherwise have.
 
A new report from Bard College’s Levy Economics Institute concludes that this bold idea – cancelling all outstanding student debt – would help the entire economy and create more than a million jobs.
 
To those who say we can’t afford to cancel this debt, the report poses a new and different question: Can we afford not to?
(OurFuture.org)

Yes, when we get progressive governance, canceling student debt must be a top priority. But if commensurate goodies don’t manifest for those who didn’t/don’t go to college and therefore have no student debt, there is unlikely to be progressive governance for long. The point of putting the left in charge is to see that everyone except the 1% is better off.
 
As to what those commensurate goodies for those without student debt should be, I don’t presume to specify. Why not ask them?
 

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Praise for St. Paul teachers

by Dan Burns on February 21, 2018 · 0 comments

schoolsThe author of this, Jeff Bryant, is a leading pro-public schools researcher and writer.
 

St. Paul teachers want to do “phenomenal things” for their students. At least that’s what Nick Faber of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers tells me. But what’s been holding back him and his fellow educators are the same obstacles to progress in many of our communities: a culture of financial austerity combined with a political lack of will to tax corporations and the wealthy.
 
But Faber and his union brothers and sisters may have just taught progressives a valuable lesson in how to take on those impediments and win, not just for students and schools but for the common good of our communities.
(OurFuture.org)

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