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March 20, 2013

ALEC Promotes Vouchers in Douglas County, Colorado

Not surprisingly, the voucher program drafted and approved by this ALEC-connected group conformed to ALEC's recommendations for a voucher program in Colorado : it uses "scholarships" given to parents for their "choice" of schools; it draws exclusively on state, rather than local, monies; it is structured in a way that claims not to run afoul of the Colorado constitution's Compelled Support Clause and so-called Blaine amendments; and it is even named the "Choice Scholarship" program, in conformity with the ALEC model legislation.

March 12, 2013

Chicago Students Teach Through Their Walkout for School Safety

We want to make our schools safety the administration's priority, but that's not enough. In order to make a better future for the students who come after us, we must make voices be a permanent part of decision-making at the school and not just have administration take action upon what we request. To accomplish this, we need to teach administration to communicate more effectively with students so we can make our own decisions about our safety and our learning. They must inform students when things happen and honestly inform us which tests are voluntary tests so students can choose what will help our education and not take the tests blindly.

March 09, 2013

Interview with David Bollier: Viewing Education as a Commons

Economists and politicians have long assumed that there are really only two sectors for governing things and "adding value" -- the state and the market. Markets are seen as the vehicle for economic progress while the state deals with governance and everything else. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that there is another sector - the commons - that is at least as important to our lives and well being. The commons consists of those many resources that we share - the atmosphere, water, public spaces, the Internet, scientific knowledge, cultural works, and much more - as well as the social systems and rule-sets that we use to manage them in fair, sustainable ways. It bears emphasizing that the commons is not just the resource itself, but the resource plus the community and its self-organized rule-sets, norms and enforcement of rules. I

March 08, 2013

Chicago Students Boycott the NAEP to Demand Safety

So we acted. We talked to other seniors and got them to wear black and taught them about how they didn't have to take the test. We told them that this wasn't a service learning opportunity, and that the NAEP scores might be used against schools like ours. We talked through texting and social media. On the day of the test, we were called out of class to attend the test. Some of my classmates refused to come. We went to the location and we told the test proctor that we didn't want to take the test and asked if we could return to our regular classes.

March 07, 2013

Diane Ravitch Announces New Network for Public Education

Today we are launching a new organization, the Network for Public Education. This group will serve to connect all those who are passionate about our schools - students, parents, teachers and OTHER citizens. We will share information an research on vital issues that concern the future of public education. We hope to inspire one another as we work together and learn together about how to resist the attacks on public education.

March 05, 2013

John Thompson: Texans Debunk Test-Driven Reform

Addressing the Save Texas Schools rally in Austin on Feb. 23, Superintendent John Kuhn nailed the essence of test-driven "reform." "Some people have forgotten that good teachers actually exist. They spend so much time and effort weeding out the bad ones that they've forgotten to take care of the good ones. This bitter accountability pesticide is over-spraying the weeds and wilting the entire garden." He later rebutted a key argument of market-driven "reform," reminding us that "They say 100,000 kids are on a waiting list for charter schools. Let me tell you about another waiting list. There are 5 million kids waiting for this Legislature to keep our forefathers' promises."

March 01, 2013

Who Will the Los Angeles School Board Represent?

This campaign is going to be fascinating to watch, because it shows the raw power of the wealthy supporters of corporate education reform, and their ability to bring that power to bear on a local school board race. The issues at stake are central to the direction of education reform. Will charter schools continue to expand at the expense of traditional public schools? Will teacher evaluations give more weight to test scores? Will seniority and due process protections be eliminated? The big question hanging over all of this is who will a locally elected school board represent? The interests of its constituents - or the billionaires who paid for their campaigns?

February 26, 2013

John Kuhn: Our Schools are Touchstones, and We Will Stand and Fight to Save Them

These buildings aren't just schools, they're touchstones. They're testaments to our local values. The Friday night lights that have illuminated our skies for decades, the school gyms that have echoed with play since the Greatest Generation was young--these aren't monuments to sports. They're monuments to community. They're beacons of our local control, of the togetherness we cherish in our hometowns and city neighborhoods. We don't want education fads imposed on us by Austin or, even worse, out-of-state billionaires.

February 24, 2013

Yes, Virginia, There Really IS a Billionaire Boys Club

One does not need to be a "conspiracy theorist" to connect the dots here. We have a local school board race that has become the focus of a coordinated effort on the part of the wealthy advocates of corporate reform. This is no conspiracy. It is neither secret, nor is it illegal, thanks to rulings like Citizen's United. It is perfectly legal for billionaires to, in effect, buy up local school board races. And it is perfectly legal for them to hire "journalists" to write stories largely sympathetic to their point of view. Fortunately, it is also still legal for skeptics to point out all of the above, and suggest the voters of Los Angeles might want to think twice before they vote.

February 14, 2013

How Can Teachers Overcome Depression and Strife?

But it's not just the every day pressures that are getting to our teachers. Teaching is a highly interpersonal profession and constantly engaging in relationships means that teachers are always at the intersection of two or more histories of positive and negative experiences coloring each individual's thoughts, feelings, and actions. Negotiating these interpersonal dynamics can put a drain on anyone. But for teachers, every moment is all about relationships. Whether interacting with a student, fellow teacher, parent, or administrator - it's inescapable. And when we expect our teachers to be, not only instructional leaders, but sometimes counselors, parents, mentor-figures to students, it is no wonder they feel like they are drowning.

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