For daily updates on issues of schools and democracy, please go to our blog at www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com
UCLA Report Finds California The Most Segregated State for Latino Students State Has Little to Celebrate 60 Years After Brown v Board of Education
A community based budget for Sacramento City Unified June 2014.
RE: Local Control Accountability Plan Draft (LCAP)
June 5, 2014.
We, the undersigned organizations, write to respectfully request your support for the consideration of these community needs into the district’s draft LCAP. These issue areas represent the concerns of our community members as found in our conversation with them through community town halls and our own surveys.The Sacramento City Community Priorities Coalition is pleased to submit to the Sacramento City Unified School District for its 2014-15 Budget. We, the Coalition members: Black Parallel School Board, Building Healthy Communities, Hmong Innovative Politics, Hmong, Mein Lao Community Action Network, La Familia Counseling Center, Making Cents Work, People Reaching Out, Sacramento Area Congregations Together, Sacramento Council of PTA, and the Democracy and Education Institute have worked to obtain input from our communities and there results are the three main priorities for both the LCAP and the LCFF. They are:
While we commend the work that the SCUSD has done to gather parent input in their draft LCAP, we urge SCUSD to go even further in engaging parents, especially those who are limited English speakers and those who have been impacted by the school closures. SCUSD's Public Education Volunteer program collected 1,291 survey responses from an abundance of sources across the district. While this number is noteworthy, it is important to point out that our SCUSD has more than 43,000 students overall and many of their parents remain disenfranchise.
Further changes to state standards, Academic Performance Index (API) and school evaluations make it even more urgent and incredibly important that the LCAP is done correctly this first year.
Sacramento City Community Priorities Coalition. June 5, 2014.
Ethnic Studies in California Schools
Assemblyman Luis Alejo, California Assembly
Re: Support AB 1750 (Alejo)
Dear Assemblyman Alejo: April 28, 2014
As Director of the Democracy and Education Institute, I write in support of AB 1750 –Ethnic Studies, and to offer our assistance in this work.
Given California’s increasing diversity, it is vitally important that students receive knowledge of the various ethnic groups in our state and that they learn to work together toward building our democracy.
California has one of the largest and most diverse student populations in the country. In fact, traditional ethnic minorities account for over 71 percent of the student population—with Latinos alone accounting for over 52 percent. Given California’s annual increase in diversity, it is especially important that students build knowledge of the various racial and ethnic groups of our state. Incorporating ethnic studies courses into standard high school curriculum is a means to accomplish this.
The Democracy and Education Institute has been working on this issue since 2009, and I have been working on the issue since 1986.
As a part of the effort to include Ethnic Studies I encourage you to concentrate on expanding Ethnic Studies in the History/Social Science Framework for California public schools. This state document determines what is taught in our schools and what is included in the textbooks. There is almost no Mexican American history in the document. There is a 9th grade elective course that could be offered. Your bill should assist in that the CDE should report on the number and the nature of Ethnic Studies offerings.
The current Framework was written in 1986 and published in 1987 after a great deal of controversy. The Framework is supposed to be revised each 7 years. The Framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. In 2009, the History /Social Science Framework was up for re consideration but the process was halted by the budget crisis.
The 1987 History Framework still in use in our schools today expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and additions of photos such as of Cesar Chavez . As you know descendants of Latinos currently make up 50.1 percent of students in California schools.
During the winter and spring of 2009, a committee of educators appointed by the State Board of Education met in staffed working sessions to review the current History-Social Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria and to recommend revisions to the document. The committee met in a series of two-day public sessions which were well attended by professionals and civic advocates concerned about the content of history and social studies education in California. I and others gave testimony. My own effort, and that of my colleagues, was to focus on the failure of the current framework to adequately describe the history and contributions of the Mexican American people to California history.
The state fiscal crisis of 2009 stopped all work on this revision. Your bill AB 1750 should assist in re-opening the discussion.
I can tell you that the Curriculum Framework Committee listens when legislators make suggestion.
Based upon my own experience of following this issue for decades, I am concerned that you bill as amended only asks the State Department of Education to commission a report on model programs and standards. For your information, the SDE frequently creates committees that lack substantive diversity and particularly expertise in ethnic studies.
The 2009 review committee, which performed in a professional manner, had a total of two Hispanics on a committee of 22. It was clear that they did not invite well informed members. However, they did listen and make positive recommendations.
It is particularly important to act on ethnic studies before new national common core standards are adopted, predicted for 2016. Common core standards have been established in Math and Literacy and are producing major changes in curriculum textbooks and teaching in California. There are no (national) Common Core standards in History or Social Studies at this time.
The process for developing common core standards has been to look at existing standards in the states and adopt one’s state’s work or to integrate several states.
History standards in Texas, Arizona, and California, among others, lack the inclusion of even the most minimal history of Mexican American people. When the profession gets around to writing Common Core Standards in History and Social Studies, if they turn to our state standards, unless we amend these standards, we can anticipate that they will adopt the current standards that fail to include Mexican American history. Adoption of such standards would put in place starkly inadequate standards for the nation for the next decade.
I served as a professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at CSU-Sacramento for over 35 years. I have written and published curriculum. I would be pleased to work with your office in developing plans for advancing your bill AB 1750. For example, I could recruit articulate local teachers to testify for the bill. Please let me know if we can be of assistance.
Cordially, Dr. Duane E. Campbell ,Democracy and Education Institute
California School Budgets Change
Funding of California’s k-12 public education system is changing fundamentally as a result of Assembly bill 97, the Local Control Funding Formula, designed to send additional funds to districts where Gov. Brown believes “the need and the challenge is greatest.” The law requires that parents, students, teachers, and other community members be involved in the process of deciding how new funds are spent. Ed Source has an excellent guide to these changes. http://edsource.org/wp-content/publications/10-questions.pdf
Some schools will get much more money to educate their kids. It is critical that teachers, parents, and educational advocates get involved now. The centerpiece of the change is the Local Control Funding Formula. . Ed Source has an excellent guide to these changes.
Dr. Duane Campbell , Director of Democracy and Education Institute presented on “The Crisis in Democracy and Education” to the UNA-USA, Sacramento Chapter, in May 22,2014. Those attending were glued to their seats asking questions.
“Funding of California’s k-12 public education system is changing
fundamentally. Some schools will get much more money to educate kids. It is
critical that teachers, parents, and educational advocates get involved now.
The centerpiece of the change is the Local Control Funding Formula,
designed to send additional funds to districts where the need and the challenge
is greatest. The law requires that parents, students, teachers, and other
community members be involved in the process of deciding how new funds are
spent. Ed Source has an excellent guide to these changes:
“The promotion of democracy should be a central goal of schooling.
Teachers should promote and cultivate democratic values. One way we promote democracy is to teach about civic responsibility, the electoral process, and the U.S. Constitution. A second way is to teach using social participation and service learning strategies. A third way to promote democracy in the classroom is by developing in students a preference for fairness, justice, and mutual respect; these are issues of classroom management. “
“The current testing regime of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and the proposed testing of Common Core State Standards, only measures math, reading, and at times English. They do not measure progress toward democracy.
The testing emphasis and the segregation of California schools blocks teachers from having the time to promote democracy.” (Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education, Campbell, 4th. edition. 2010) !
The ACLU of California and Public Advocates have prepared materials in English and Spanish to assist community members to understand the Local Control Funding.
Sacramento City Unified’s plan for Local Control Funding is here.
· LCAP Timeline and Process- Within a PowerPoint presentation, which the district provides on its website, SCUSD outlines its LCAP development process, Community Planning Process, timeline, and lists potential community partners to engage with in LCFF implementation.
Other districts will have their plans up on web sites or School Board Agenda.
The Governor’s proposed 2014-15 budget includes Proposition 98 spending per K-12 student of nearly $9,200, an increase of almost $1,800 – or nearly one-quarter (24.2 percent) – from 2011-12, after adjusting for inflation. With this significant increase, spending per student would nearly return to where it was before the recession. ( See the California Budget Project )
Districts now have more money, and a new process for deciding how and where to spend the money.
A goal of the Local Control Funding Formula is to give local school districts more authority to decide how to spend education dollars, and hold them accountable for getting results. Districts are now deciding on how to spend these increased dollars. And, districts are required to get parental and community sign off on the plans. At a talk last week at Sac State I made the point that this is a time to insert yourself into the discussion. Find out what is happening in your district and attend the meetings.
Protect Public Education
Students at Franklin High in Elk Grove, California made a video on school reform that won a CSPAN award, including Duane Campbell, Director of the Institute for Democracy and Education. Here is their video.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Ukgy2IUbeFE?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Corporate "news" about schools.
The apparent “news site” the Hechinger Report, http://hechingerreport.org carries a post alleging that the current law suite on teacher tenure is a good thing. http://hechingerreport.org/content/californias-students-get-their-day-in-court_14786/ Feb. 19 date.
They are in part funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Their self description is Informing the public through quality journalism.
If you follow the link on the story, it goes back to tntp and Michelle Rhee. New Teacher Project
This is how our news is manufactured.
See posts on the Vergara case on the blog; www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com
For an alternative view of corporate constructed reform, see the Economic Policy Institute student by Gordon Lafer. April, 2014. http://www.epi.org/publication/school-privatization-milwaukee/?utm_source=Economic+Policy+Institute&utm_campaign=0abab57900-EPI_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e7c5826c50-0abab57900-55956753
July, 2014.NEA outgoing Presiden Van Roekel describes the corporate "reformers"
On January 9, California Governor Brown proposed a budget for the 2014/2015 fiscal year. It will be subject to changes until July 1 when it should pass and become the state budget.
The California Budget Project describes one of the major issues for schools.
1. The Governor’s proposed budget eliminates outstanding obligations to K-12 school districts and increases funding for the state’s new education funding formula. Specifically, the Governor’s proposed budget:
o · Eliminates $5.6 billion in outstanding debt owed to schools. The Governor’s proposed budget provides more than $2.2 billion in 2014-15, and $3.3 billion in 2012-13 and 2013-14 combined, to repay previously deferred payments to K-12 school districts, which reached $9.5 billion at the end of 2011-12.
o · Provides $4.5 billion to continue implementation of the state’s new education funding formula. As part of the 2013-14 budget agreement, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) restructured the state’s education finance system. The LCFF provides school districts a base grant per student, adjusted to reflect the number of students at various grade levels, as well as additional grants for the costs of educating English learners, students from low-income families, and foster youth. The Governor’s proposed budget provides $4.5 billion to fund LCFF grants for K-12 school districts and charter schools in 2014-15, and $25.9 million to fund LCFF grants for county offices of education – all of which include cost-of-living adjustments.
What does this mean for you and I. First, this is not a gift. These allocations are required repayments to the schools for debts owed under Prop. 98.
How will this budget be allocated? Most of this is up to the individual school districts and boards of education. As you know school budgets were devastated by the economic crisis and these “deferred payments” made it worse. Now, how to rebuild.
We, the people, passed Prop. 30 in 2012 to adequately fund the schools. School funding has not been restored- yet. California currently ranks 49th. of the 50 states in counselors per student, 49th. in students per classroom, and 50 of the 50 states in librarians per student.
Teachers and public school advocates should argue to first provide adequate class size and counselors and librarians for the existing schools. They should restore an environment for teaching and learning. Note the inadequate class sizes and the lack of counselors preceded the economic crisis. Then, districts should provide social workers for all low income schools to develop programs to lower the drop out rates.
It will be a difficult battle to restore and improve learning conditions for all students. There is much to do.
Important essay. What is Wrong With Common Core ? Stan Karp. in Rethinking Schools.
An excellent video explanation by Dr. Wayne Au
"Recolonizing Our Classrooms:
The Race and Class Hypocrisy of Corporate Education Reform"
VIEW THE VIDEO STREAM:
His talk starts at 27 minutes.
How can we work to oppose the corporatization of pubic education? Here is a start. Class Action.
After many delays, Class Action: An Activist Teacher’s Handbook is finally ready. Backers of the initial Kickstarter (and those who order within the next week) should receive their print copies by the end of the month. The booklet will be distributed to educators and school support staff in Chicago, New York, Portland, Newark, Washington DC, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and elsewhere in March to help support rank-and-file activity.
Our project with the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus and other allies ran long — the final supplement is 118 pages, more than the 50 we had budgeted for. But it was so fantastically designed by Remeike Forbes, and the photography by Katrina Ohstrom and written contributions by CTU President Karen Lewis, economist Dean Baker, Jacobin editors Megan Erickson and Shawn Gude, Joanne Barkan, Lois Weiner, and many others were so strong, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut it down more or reduce our planned run.
For those who can’t afford to contribute — feel free to enjoy and distribute the digital edition of the booklet. We hope it’s of some use.
The Paucity of Dan Walters’ Commentary on School Issues. Dec.20, 2013.
The column by Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee entitled “California’s School Wars Heat Up” in the print edition for Dec.20, and “Powerful Factions Go to War Over Direction of California Schools,” http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/20/6015661/dan-walters-powerful-factions.html in the on line version seriously and deliberatively misinforms. Walters’s columns are reprinted in newspapers throughout the state.
He frames the conflict between the School Establishment ( school administrators, elected officials, CTA] vs. the “School Reformers”. These are indeed two of the powerful factions, but not at all the complete story.
To understand the distortion lets see who these “reformers “ See additional posts on this website.
The cadre Walters’ calls reformers are not reformers. They are a corporate financed advocates of a system that uses scores on high-stakes tests to punish students and teachers while generating profits for corporations such as Pearson. They are well financed salepeople. In most cases they do not work in schools, rather they work in lobbyist offices financed by the Waltons, the Gates, and others. See here https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/Home/corporate-funded-reform
There is at least one additional group who Walters ignores- the social justice equity oriented based school reformers who have been working in schools for decades to improve school opportunities for low income and minority children for decades.
There are numerous examples of this groups, here https://sites.google.com/site/chicanodigital/home/the-creation-and-demise-of-bilingual-education-at-csu-sacramento-2, and here https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/and CABE, Ca-Name, Raza Educators, and the movement within both CTA and CFT known as social justice unionism.
On the national level these approaches are well represented in the Broader, Bolder Approach, Rethinking Schools, the Shanker Institute and others. Diane Ravitch has been writing well about some of these efforts.
Walters’ essay reflects the similar narrowness in the media as it portrays the U.S. political struggles as only between the Democrats and the Republicans . This media narrowness- created and funded significantly by corporate ownership of media functions to move the society in the direction of restricting democracy. See, Democracy Inc. Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism by Sheldon Waldon, (2008) and Digital Disconnect; How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, by Robert McChesney (2013) .
Digital Disconnect readers benefit from McChesney’s long critical scholarly record of studying corporate journalism as an imbedded form of corporate capitalism and its challenge to democracy. As he says, “capitalism imposed its logic” ( p.89).
Most media, as illustrated by Dan Walters in today’s column with reporting and opining on “inside baseball’ at the state capitol, are not objective observers. Walters is in fact an integrated and important part of the campaign to turn public schools (and other public institutions) over to even more corporate influence and corporate control. This narrow frame of media coverage corrupts our democratic system and needs to be opposed.
I have been fortunate to have served to prepare over 600 new teachers and educational leaders who are currently working in Sacramento area schools and educating children. Some are becoming administrators and college professors. These teachers and educational leaders are not considered in the narrow framing of opinions presented by Walters’, but they constitute a significant cohort of persons immediate knowledge of the school reality and who are working for substantive educational reform.
Duane Campbell is the Director of the Democracy and Education Institute. Sacramento.
What Does PISA Tell US? Dec. 3, 2013
Note particularly the evidence by Carnoy and Rothstein
By Tim Walker NEA. Dec.3, 2013.
The 2012 results for the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released on Tuesday and the standing of U.S. students changed little since the last time the test was given in 2009. The United States ranked 26th in math, 21st in science and 17th in reading. PISA is administered every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). More than 510,000 15-year-olds students in 65 countries and education systems took part in the 2012 test.
Students in Shanghai-China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea scored the highest in all three subjects. Switzerland and the Netherland also ranked near the top. Finland continued to perform well, although it’s standing slipped from 2009.
The fact that the United States hasn’t mustered any better than a barely average ranking has always triggered alarm among many policymakers, who see the performance as irrefutable proof that our schools are failing to prepare students for the 21sst century. Exaggerating the significance of the PISA results unfortunately feeds the agenda of proponents of market-based “reforms.”
While it’s tempting to look at top line numbers and draw dramatic conclusions, the PISA data is enormously complex and can take months to evaluate and analyze properly. Many experts caution against overreaction and urge policymakers to treat the rankings with a healthy dose of skepticism.
The PISA test can still tell us many things, says NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, but the results are certainly not proof that we need to accelerate voucher programs, continue ineffective high-stakes testing, and scapegoat teachers. U.S. students won’t rank higher on PISA, Van Roekel explains, until the nation properly addresses poverty and its effect on students.
“Our students from well-to-do families have consistently done well on the PISA assessments. For students who live in poverty, however, it’s a different story. Socioeconomic factors influence students’ performance in the United States more than they do in all but few of the other PISA countries,” says Van Roekel.
In 2012, Martin Carnoy and Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute analyzed the 2009 PISA data and compared U.S. results by social class to three top performers—Canada, Finland and South Korea. They found that the relatively low ranking of U.S. students could be attributed in no small part to a disproportionate number of students from high-poverty schools among the test-takers. After adjusting the U.S. score to take into account social class composition and possible sampling flaws, Carnoy and Rothstein estimated that the United States placed fourth in reading and 10th in math – up from 14th and 25th in the PISA ranking, respectively.
In defense of public schools 2014
There are few institutions more directly rated to our state and national prosperity and our democracy than public schools. Now, a few states, primarily in the South, are dismantling public funding in order to create for profit options for private schools. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/education/states-shifting-aid-for-schools-to-the-families.html.
It is not surprising that this rejection of public education as a route to prosperity for all comes from the South and states dominated by Republican legislatures. In my opinion, Arizona, Indiana, Texas, and Alabama can go ahead and decline if they so choose, however we need to set up some borders and tariffs, and perhaps trade agreements to prevent their move to “free market” choices from imposing vast new costs on the states which continue to want democracy and prosperity. Remember, free market ideology is what brought us the economic crisis since 2007.
Public schools have significantly contributed to U.S. prosperity for the last 100 years and they have fostered our national unity. It is accurate that some public schools are failing- particularly those serving low income and minority children. But, there is no evidence that privatizing will improve these schools. The managerial models brought into public education from the corporate world have failed. They have not improved student well being, student achievement, nor democratic opportunity.
The arguments for privatization are based upon the myths of a “rational market”, or the rational market hypothesis. Loyalty to this ideology created the recent economic crisis. There is no evidence that more competition leads to more equality. It only leads to improved opportunity for selected groups – now funded at state expense. It doesn’t even seem to lead to improved schooling for the great majority of students. There is no evidence that more competition leads to more democracy nor more democratic institutions. This is the neo liberal myth.
The current era is time for a change for our society and in our schools. This generation must renew our democratic society. We face marked crises in government, politics, families, communities and in the schools. Business interests promote a neo liberal agenda that provides them with more profits while starving the public sphere of the society. Public schools have a particular responsibility to reverse these crises and to renew our democratic society. The first mission of pubic schooling is to equip all students for the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship – and many of the schools in low income areas are presently not fulfilling this mission. If we do not solve the problems of low performing schools our democracy is endangered. For our democracy to survive we need to create schools that value all of our children and encourages their educational achievement.
All children need a good education to participate in our democracy and prepare for life in the rapidly changing economy. Making schooling valuable and useful is vital to prosperity for all. Lack of quality education is a ticket to economic hardship. The more years of school that a student completes, the more money they are likely to earn as adults and the better their chance to get and keep a good job. Unemployment is highest among school dropouts as is incarceration for crimes. When we fail to educate all of our children, the high costs of this failure come back to hurt us in unemployment, drugs, crime, incarceration, violence and social conflict.
We need to invest in urban schools, provide equal educational opportunities in these schools, and recruit a well prepared teaching force that begins to reflect the student populations in these schools. We must insist on equal opportunity to learn, without compromise. When we do these things, we will begin to protect the freedom to learn for our children and our grandchildren, and to build a more just and democratic society.
Many schools serving urban and impoverished populations need fundamental change. These schools do not open the doors to economic opportunity. They usually do not promote equality. Instead, they recycle inequality. The high school drop out rates alone demonstrate that urban schools prepare less than 50 percent of their students for entrance into the economy and society. A democratic agenda for school reform includes insisting on fair taxation and adequate funding for all children. We cannot build a safe, just, and prosperous society while we leave so many young people behind.
At present there is not a political agreement to make the necessary investments to bring about substantial school reform in public schools. The U.S. government and your state government will not make the necessary investments to improve education, nor to improve health care or to rebuild the economic infrastructure. The proposals to shift public funds to private schools is not reform. It is a major move in the wrong direction. Their plan is to fix public education by giving the money to private education.
Note; July, 2013. New York State is currently preparing a new Social Studies Framework. Like California's 1998 Framework, it does a disservice to Mexican American students and Mexican American history. As we argue below, it is urgent that California rewrite its History/Social Science Framework now. If we wait until 2016, the current outdated and biased framework will be included in efforts develop common core standards in History and Civics. That is what is happening now in the New York effort.
Note: Sacramento advocate Michelle Rhee is implicated in the developing influence buying scandal at the California State Capitol with Senator Calderon.
Also see: http://choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com/2013/11/papering-over-public-k-12-school-reform.html
How Wall Street Power Brokers Are Designing the Future of Public Education as a Money-Making Machine
Ana Simonton, Alternet. December 5, 2013 |
Given that Arthur Rock has a net worth of $1 billion, lives in California and spends his time heaping money on tech startups (with the mantra, “Get in, get out,” as his guide), a local school board race in Atlanta, Ga. seems an unlikely candidate for his attention.
Yet there is his name, on the campaign finance disclosure reports of four candidates—two of whom were elected in November, and two who won a runoff on December 3—for the board of Atlanta Public Schools. On each report, two columns over from his name, the sum of $2,500 is listed, the maximum allowable amount.
The APS race was a pivotal one for Atlanta, a city still dealing with the fallout of a cheating scandal  that thrust its public school system into the national limelight. Only two incumbents were re-elected to the nine-seat board.
The biggest question facing the board of newcomers is to what degree they will embrace charter schools. Last year, Georgia voters passed a constitutional amendment that enabled the creation of a state-appointed commission authorized to bypass local and state school boards in approving new charter schools. Critics say the measure passed because the text on the ballot, written by governor Nathan Deal, referenced “parental involvement” and “student achievement,” but not the specific authorities of the commission. In this climate, APS, which already has the most charter schools of any Georgia school district, will only avoid becoming the next laboratory for corporate education reform with significant pushback from the new school board.
That’s where Arthur Rock comes in. And a lot of other rich people, too.
Rock is not the only name on the reports with financial power and a less than obvious connection to Atlanta Public Schools. Greg Penner  of the Walmart empire, Dave Goldberg of the Sheryl Sandberg empire (they’re married), and Kent Thiry of the DaVita kidney dialysis empire (it sounds inglorious, but he pulls in $17 million annually), are among the names that had some Atlantans scratching their heads this election season.
Posted by Leo Casey on April 17, 2013
Last week, in “Is There A ‘Corporate Education Reform’ Movement?”, I wrote about the logic of forming strategic alliances on specific issues with those who are not natural allies, even those with whom you mostly disagree. This does not mean, however, that there aren’t those – some with enormous wealth and power – who are bent on undermining the American labor movement generally and teachers’ unions specifically. This is part one of a two-part post on this reality.
The American union movement is, it must be said, embattled and beleaguered. The recent passage of the Orwellian named ‘right to work’ law in Michigan, an anti-union milestone in the birthplace of the United Auto Workers and cradle of American industrial unionism, is but the latest assault on American working people and their unions. Since the backlash election of 2010 that brought Tea Party Republicans to power in a number of state governments, public sector workers have faced a legislative agenda designed to eviscerate their rights to organize unions and bargain collectively in such states as Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire and Virginia.
Fueling these attacks is an underlying organic crisis that has greatly weakened the labor movement and its ability to defend itself. Union membership has fallen from a high point of 1 in 3 American workers at the end of WW II to a shade over 1 in 9 today.  At its height, American unions had unionized basic industries – auto, mining, steel, textiles, telecommunications – and had sufficient density to raise wages and improve working conditions for members and non-union workers as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for 2012, organized American labor has fallen to its lowest density in nearly a century. Today, American unions have high density in only one major sector of the economy, K-12 education, and in that sector unions are now under ferocious attack. 
Even this stark description understates the true depth of the crisis. At the end of WW II, public sector workers in the ranks of organized labor were a small fraction of their private sector counterparts. Today, that relationship is dramatically reversed: 4 in 11 American public sector workers belong to a union, while only 1 in 15 private sector workers are unionized. Public sector workers are organized at more than five times the rate of private sector workers. The explosive growth of public sector unions in the late 1960s and early 1970s took place just as private sector industrial unions were beginning to hemorrhage from a ‘race to the bottom’ fueled by technological change and a deeply flawed model of economic globalization dominated by corporate interests (see here, here, and here).
These trends were reinforced by weak labor law that was increasingly tilted against the rights of workers and poorly enforced, a development condemned by Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and Amnesty International. In this context, the emergence of the leading public sector unions – the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) – masked a great deal of the blood-letting to the industrial unions that had been the heart and soul of the American labor movement from the New Deal onward.
For decades, public sector unions have decried the harm done to American working people as a result of the decline of private sector unions. Others have pointed to the long term economic damage done to the U.S. by this anti-union campaign. The mounting economic inequality that has plagued the United States since the 1970s is, in significant measure, an artifact of the shrinking political and economic power of the American labor movement, a phenomenon that tracks with the decline of the once mighty industrial unions. 
But, until recently, public sector unions believed that the nature of their members’ work provided important protection against the economic globalization that has decimated private sector unions. It is not possible, after all, to offshore the nursing of critically ill patients, the policing of communities, or the teaching of reading to children in the same way that unionized manufacturing jobs have been sent abroad to low-wage, authoritarian settings that deny workers the right to organize into free, independent unions. That difference was sufficient, many believed, to prevent public sector workers from being drawn into the ‘race to the bottom.’
The great economic downturn of the last five years has shown this belief to be an illusion. The loss of union density in America’s private sector, with the resultant decline of salaries, benefits and working conditions, has left public sector workers and their unions vulnerable to a politics of fear and resentment, which seeks to cast them as a privileged class.
One telling example can be found in the attacks on public sector workers’ retirement plans. The decline of industrial unions has been accompanied by the systematic dismantling of private sector workers’ “defined benefit” pension plans, which had guaranteed retirement security to generations of America’s unionized workers. Unionized public sector workers, who for the most part still possessed such plans, were then exposed to a right-wing campaign arguing that government could not afford such ”rich” retirement plans. A demagogic appeal was made to private sector workers: “why should a teacher, a nurse or a firefighter have such retirement benefits, when you, who finance that retirement with your taxes, do not?” Similar attacks were launched on public sector salaries and health insurance, in hopes of fueling a backlash movement that would weaken public sector unions and leave their members with diminished real income and living conditions. 
In a coordinated campaign, corporate-financed advocacy and “think tank” groups launched an attack on the due process rights of public sector workers, such as teacher tenure, with the objective of forcing workers into nonunion, ”at will” employment. If successful, this campaign against public sector unionization would leave workers in the same diminished condition as their private sector brethren.
The campaign against public sector workers and their unions reached a crescendo in the aftermath of the 2010 elections that swept Tea Party Republicans to power in numerous states. Fearful that the demographics of 21st century America were stacked against them (and the long-term electoral prospects of the Republican Party), Tea Party activists opened up two major fronts in their fight to retain power: On the one hand, they advocated for “voter suppression” laws, designed to make it more difficult for core Democratic constituencies – people of color, immigrants and the poor – to vote. On the other hand, they pushed forward on “union suppression” laws, designed to undermine the core strength of the American trade union movement in the electoral arena – public sector unions. In the wake of the 2010 midterms, as the nation followed the gripping struggle of public employees in Wisconsin to retain their right to free association and collective bargaining, similar battles were being waged in state capitols across the nation. In each and every state, the theme of public employee privilege was played out with a strategy to incite fear and resentment.
To appreciate the full power of the forces now arrayed against American unions, consider that, at the height of the Wisconsin struggle, 9 of the 10 individuals on the Forbes list of the top ten richest Americans were actively financing part of the campaign against public sector unions. With U.S. income inequality at the highest levels since just before the Great Depression, it appears that the nation’s corporate elite are intent on delivering a coup de grâce to what remains of the American labor movement.
- Leo Casey
 Research shows that there is no evidence that “right to work” laws enhance productivity, encourage innovation or create jobs; they do, however, tend to lower wages and labor standards. Unions, on the other hand, can serve to generate higher wages, which leads to higher consumption and demand, and thus greater economic activity.
 This and subsequent data on union membership trends is drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual report on the subject. For the latest report, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Union Members – 2012” available here. The high point of the American trade union movement preceded the 1947 passage of the Taft-Hartley Act by a Republican-Dixiecrat dominated Congress that overrode a veto by President Harry Truman. Among other things, Taft-Hartley authorized the passage of state “right to work” laws, with the goal of keeping multiracial unions from gaining a significant foothold in the Jim Crow South. The CIO’s Operation Dixie, a post-WW II campaign to organize unions in the South, was thwarted in significant part by right to work laws passed in the Deep South. The recent passage of right to work legislation in Indiana and Michigan is significant in the extension of right to work laws into what had been labor’s heartland.
 For measures of union density, see the chart at UnionStats. The only comparable rates of density to K-12 education are found in considerably smaller sections of the public sector, such as fire fighters, and parts of the transportation industry, such as flight attendants.
 See Timothy Noah, The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2012. See also Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld, “Unions, Norms, and the Rise in American Wage Inequality” available here.
How Walton and Broad Foundations direct Sacramento School "reform".
See the excellent analysis by Seth Sandronsky following:
Last December 3, the California Fair Political Practices Commission recommended fining Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a Democrat, $37,500 for improperly reporting donations to his multiple nonprofit groups. The political watchdog agency agreed to this penalty at a Dec. 13 meeting. The donations included a total of $500,000 between Jan. 19, 2012, and June 5, 2012, from the Walton Family Foundation to Stand Up for Sacramento Schools, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit school reform group that Johnson founded in 2009 with a commitment of $500,000 from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
The money trail, however, goes beyond Mayor Johnson’s untimely reporting of donations to his nonprofits. His local education reform efforts illustrate a broader national trend: corporate funding of education reform via nonprofits to alter public schools. In an era of a growing income gap between corporate America and the general public—the one percent and 99 percent, in the words of the Occupy Wall Street movement—the power of corporate-funded philanthropy to shape public policy has become part of the social landscape. In the case of school reform, breaking public-sector unions is high on this elite agenda. Consider the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nonunion behemoth based in Bentonville, Ark. This family had a net worth of $115.5 billion in 2012, according to the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America. Its foundation “invested” close to $160 million in K-12 education reform across the U.S. in 2011: http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/about/2011-grant-report. Read the detailed and valuable report.
Victories for schools in California elections.
We defeated the billionaires efforts to crush organized labor and to continue the anti tax radicalism.
We defeated the anti labor proposition 32.
We passed Prop. 30, to fund schools, universities and social services. This is a floor under austerity. It raises taxes on the rich to pay for services. It does raise sales tax by ¼ of percent – but 90% of the tax increases are on the rich . A tax of 1-3 % on those who make over $250,000 per year.
Democrats for Educational Reform.
Gloria Romero -- The former Senate leader remains bitter from her loss in the Supt. of Public Instruction race two years ago. Formerly favored by labor, a member of CFA. Her harsh videos and ads against Prop 32 joined with others in the anti union effort. She actively campaigned for Prop.38, the anti teacher union effort on school funding. Prop. 38 – the Munger Inititative- was qualified and funded substantially to take resources and votes away from the effort to fund education in Prop.30. She lost.
Former California State Senator Gloria Romero is the State Director of Democrats for Education Reform.
The anti union nature of Democrats for Education Reform were also demonstrated by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. He is the Chair of the Obama Administration’s Mayors Committee on Education and husband of Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of Washington D.C. schools. He remained silent on the effort to pass Prop.30 to fund California Schools.
On the other hand. DSA Chair Dolores Huerta was an active pro-union voice for No on Prop.32 and Yes on Proposition 30. She made videos and ads and spoke at rallies with the campaigns.
It is valuable to know who are your allies, your opponents, and those critics who drain campaign energy.
Also: See, What was Mayor Kevin Johnson doing during this election. http://choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com/2012/11/what-was-kevin-johnson-doing-during.html
An important issue seeking democratic analysis.
An initial analysis of some of the issues in Massive-on line education as advocated by Jerry Brown in place of adequately funding higher education.
In the MOOC philosophy, education is understood fundamentally as a transfer of information, in line with the computational understanding of cognition in which the mind is a processing device being fed input and generating output. This is a twenty-first-century version of what Paulo Freire called the “banking method of education,” a model that Deweyan humanists and practitioners of critical pedagogy have long repudiated as reactionary and disempowering.
Open Online Courses (MOOCs) they offer. The New York Times education section dubbed 2012 “The Year of the MOOC,” and the paper’s celebrity columnists Thomas Friedman and David Brooks have been hailing MOOCs as a “revolution” and a “tsunami.” Time announced in a cover article on MOOCs that “College is Dead. Long Live College!” and USA Today assured us somewhat less hyperbolically that “college may never be the same.”
Editor’s note. I am an ardent advocate of the use of technology in promoting quality education, but that is not the same as MOOCs. To examine the differences I took one of the MOOCs courses from Stanford. It was clearly pre collegiate in nature.
In my own professional life and in my book, Choosing Democracy, I argue for both critical thinking and the development of strong democracy. MOOCs courses promote neither. They are best suited to a very fixed nature of learning, usually able to behaviorize such as math or other sequential learning.
In 2010, the U.S. college graduation rate ranked 34th. out of the 34 countries in the OECD survey . In 2010, the U.S. high school graduation rate ranked 21st. our of the 26 countries in the OECD survey. OECD is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ( the advanced, industrialized countries.)
In 2011, the average Canadian citizen was wealthier than the average U.S. citizen, and all residents of Canada have government insured health care.
One of the things the right wing does is keep organizing. While we rest and recover from an election such as California Prop. 30, they are off on their next campaign. They do this by having hundreds of advocates. So that while some recover, others launch their next campaign.
The Common Core: Educational Redeemer or Rainmaker?
by Julie L. Pennington ,Kathryn M. Obenchain ,Aimee Papola & Leia Kmitta — October 12, 2012
The Common Core State Standards are poised to guide U.S. educational practice and assessment for the coming years. This commentary examines the framing of the argument for the new standards by the constructors of the CCSS and how the alignment of resources during the implementation phase is tightly ensconced within the organizations who drafted the standards.
Framing education as in need of additional rigor and collective cohesion, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are now promoted as a redeemer for educational reform while No Child Left Behind quietly fades into the background. As states are currently invited to pursue “relief from provisions of …(NCLB)” (http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility), the CCSS are poised to preside over a movement to (what are self-described as) more rigorous, more communal and more state-led standards and assessments (http://www.corestandards.org/).
The California Budget Project does excellent work in analyzing the state budget. They say state spending per K-12 student will rise in the current (2012-13) fiscal year and in 2013-14 due to voter approval of two revenue measures – Proposition 30 and Proposition 39 – last November, according to the Governor’s proposed 2013-14 budget. Yet even with this increase, per student state support for public schools will remain much lower than the 2007-08 level, after adjusting for inflation.
The full report is at
By Lee Fang Posted on November 17, 2011, Printed on January 9, 2012 . An excellent piece.here: Selling Schools Out | Corporate Accountability | The Investigative Fund
If the national movement to "reform" public education through vouchers, charters and privatization has a laboratory, it is Florida. It was one of the first states to undertake a program of "virtual schools" — charters operated online, with teachers instructing students over the Internet — as well as one of the first to use vouchers to channel taxpayer money to charter schools run by for-profits.
Joe Williams heads Democrats for Education Reform and its sister organization, Education Reform Now.DFER advisory board member Joel Greenblatt is a protégé of fallen junk-bond icon Michael Milliken.Hedge-fund manager John Petry, a DFER board member, co-founded the Harlem Success Academy Charter School with Eva Moskowitz.
BY MICHAEL HIRSCH | PUBLISHED DECEMBER 16, 2010
Obama Administration proposals for ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act)
Read the report (download) at http://edgov/policy/edsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint/edu
Excellent teaching resource. Fighting for Democracy: Who is the "WE" in "We The People"? See the teachers' resources. Provided by The National
Center for the Preservation of Democracy. http://www.ncdemocracy.org/ Uses the diverse perspectives of seven
different participants in World War II to illustrate the impact of the war on struggles for democracy here at home.
Historic Lawsuit Challenges California’s Unconstitutional Education Finance System
A historic lawsuit was filed in May against the State of California requesting that the current education finance system be declared unconstitutional and that the state be required to establish a school finance system that provides all students an equal opportunity to meet the academic goals set by the State.
The case, Robles-Wong, et al. v. State of California, was filed in the Superior Court of California in Alameda County. Specifically, the suit asks the court to compel the State to align its school finance system—its funding policies and mechanisms—with the educational program that the State has put in place. To do this, plaintiffs allege, the State must scrap its existing finance system; do the work to determine how much it actually costs to fund public education to meet the state’s own program requirements and the needs of California’s school children; and develop and implement a new finance system consistent with Constitutional requirements.
The lawsuit was filed by a broad coalition, including more than 60 individual students and their families, nine school districts from throughout the State, the California School Boards Association (CSBA), California State PTA, and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).
The Institute applauds this initiative.
California Education Statistics
• 49th among all states in student-teacher ratios. (Digest of Education Statistics
Source. California School finance lawsuit. http://www.fixschoolfinance.org/
See page. Historic Law Suit
Why there are few funds for schools - the economic crises of the states
The current economic crisis has forced the cutting of higher education, of k-12 education, and of social welfare systems. What caused this crisis ? It was caused by the greed and avarice of the financial class and aided by the politicians of both major political parties.
Major banks and corporations looted the economy creating an international meltdown. Now, they have been rewarded with bail out money. The crisis was not caused by students, teachers, public employees nor recipients of social security. Now we have cuts in parks, in universities, in nurses, libraries. School children did not create this crisis. Foster care children did not create this crisis.
The major bankers, finance capitalists in the U.S. robbed the bank last year – and the federal treasury. They took hundreds of billions of dollars – and you and I will have to pay for it. Goldman Sachs alone took $10 Billion. For example, Ken Lewis of Bank of America received an 81 million dollar pension. They have not even been punished. One thing we should do is arrest the top 100 executives and CEO’s of these companies, give them a fair trial, and throw them in jail. Until we arrest some people – there will be no real changes.”
Our financial system as a whole crashed not because of one bank. Goldman Sachs certainly played a major role as did JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and CitiCorp, along with the many corporate finance institutions like Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, WaMu, Depfa. We had a systemic breakdown because nearly all of our policy makers, academics, politicians, and pundits promoted a failed, self serving ideology of self-correcting financial markets.
(Including specifically the econmics profession ) Finance profiteers walked off with big bucks while contributing to the crash of the system. The looting continues to this day.
So, the financiers robbed the banks and created the Great Recession. – and the government allowed them to do so. Government policy, including the work of Geithner, Summers, and both the Bush and the Obama Administration, regularly placed the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interests of working people. Our economy was looted –we lost $11 Trillion. Now, working people are losing their homes. Over 10,000,000 jobs have been lost. Over 15 million people are unemployed. . Nationally, unemployment for African Americans is over 15.4%, for Latinos it is over 12.7%. For African Americans and Latinos under 25 years of age; it is over 25%. That is young people in the African Americans and Latino communities are in a Depression.
42 of the states have financial crises. We will have fewer teachers, fewer police officers, cuts in needed health care, cuts in school spending—all because a small cadre robbed the banks. Today, this same group is making millions in bonuses and special payments, while the economy remains stuck in a recession.
If you want some detail on how this was done, see:
Paul Krugman. The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008. (2009)
Dean Baker, Plunder and Blunder; The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy. (2009)
Nomi Prins. It takes a Pillage; Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street. (2009).
Advocate for teachers voices to be heard.
I was giving a speech on the political control of public schooling to a forum here in Sacramento. A teacher in the conference asked, “ I understand your points on NCLB, on multicultural education, on Race to the Top, and on testing, but what can we do about these things?”
What a great question.
We need to propose alternatives. There are numerous clear voices to explain the education crisis, the economic collapse and the health crisis. We need to magnify and extend these voices. Unfortunately money buys access and power both in Washington and in Sacramento.
The appointment of Arne Duncan was symptomatic of the problems. He represents the kind of corporate/media approach to reform. Where do these policy proposals come from? The Race to the Top proposals come from legislators and lobbyists whose own self interest guide their recommendations, not the interests of students in schools.
Why then in schools do we allow politicians, lobbyists, and other “experts” who are not teachers and have not worked in classrooms for over ten years, and who have not taught children, to make the basic decisions about schooling. As a starting point, clearly those establishing our policies do not understand testing and its limits. (See Bracey, 2009).
A major problem with our campaigns for a democratic approach to schooling is that most of the media has been sold a mindset or framework of accountability. Corporate sponsored networks and “ think tanks” such as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Bradley Foundation, the Olin Foundation, the Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation and their access to the media is not likely to change. The domination of the accountability frame within the media and political circles must be opposed.
In the current era of media downsizing and consolidation, when corporate domination of the news “business” has increased, the remaining reporters and editors rely more and more upon press releases, public relations campaigns and advocacy organizations. Public relations campaigns- including those of the government- are regularly passed off as news. ( See Robert W. McChesney, Digital Disconnect, 2013) The reduced number of journalists depend upon a narrow range of opinions of people in power with a bias toward seeing the schools through the eyes of the corporate elite. The children of the corporate elite rarely attend public schools.
There are many advocacy strategies. However, the most important is to share and magnify teacher voices. Politicians make bad decisions – such as the current budget cuts, or an over reliance on testing- because they are not listening to teachers voices. Instead they are listening to paid consultants, and “experts” from the corporate establishment.
Newspaper writers and other media writers make the same mistake. They call their favorite “source” which just happens to be a corporate promoter like Arne Duncan, Michele Rhee, or one of the “experts” at elite universities. Note: few professors in the elite universities work with teachers. They are several steps removed from the classroom. You can read more about this on the blog Choosing Democracy http://www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com and searching for PACT. Or here: http://sites.google.com/site/assessingpact/
The most basic strategy is to insist on teacher participation in the development of policies. Get the politicians and the corporate shills out of the classroom. – they have failed our children.
Why California students do not understand Chicano/Latino history.
The Institute has been working for the last two years to change the California History/Social Science Framework for California Public Schools to include the significant contributions of Mexicans and Chicanos to the history of the state. The Framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. The current Framework, written in 1987, has virtually no inclusion of Chicano/Mexican/Latino history and little inclusion of Asian American history. Frameworks are to be revised each 7 years.
More on this in the Chicano / Mexican American Digital History Project site.
We have worked in a variety of schools and universities since 1969, always working with some of the most disadvantaged students. Our efforts have been to improve schooling for the oppressed.
California public schools are in crisis- and they are getting worse. This is a consequence of massive budget cuts imposed on the schools by the legislature and the governor in the last four years. Total per pupil expenditure is down over $1,000 per student. The result is significant class size increases. Students are in often classes too large for learning. Supplementary services such as tutoring, art, and drop out prevention classes have been eliminated. Over 14,000 teachers have been dismissed due to the budget emergencies. (see above)
Over 48% of the children in California public schools are Chicano/Latino or descendents of Mexican/Latino parents. The Chicano drop out rate has not significantly changed in 30 years. All children need a good education to participate in our democracy and prepare for life in the rapidly changing economy.
We need to invest in urban schools, provide equal educational opportunities in these schools, and recruit a well prepared teaching force that begins to reflect the student populations in these schools. We must insist on equal opportunity to learn, without compromise. When we do these things, we will begin to protect the freedom to learn for our children and our grandchildren, and to build a more just and democratic society.
The many voices for corporate designed school reform fail in part because they do not include a strategy for addressing the effects of poverty. We need strategies to address poverty and strategies to engage parents and teachers to take responsibility for student learning. The fake reformers claim poverty is not an issue but it is – and budget cut backs make it worse.
We are necessarily political. That is where the money is.
The Institute for Democracy and Education (Sacramento), is a network of scholars and students, professionals in schools and public agencies, advocates, community activists, and youth. We use research and advocacy as tools to empower individuals, build relationships, and create knowledge for civic participation and social change. We seek to link our public university with committed educators and supportive community alliances to challenge the pervasive racial and social class inequalities in the Sacramento region and in California.
Our task is to preserve and extend a vision of democratic possibility in education. Central to this task is preserving quality public schools.
We seek to provide a clear analysis of economic issue in the schools and in our society in their real world context- not from the perspective of the corporate elites and their loyal servants in the media
The institute’s work advances a complex understanding of the causes and costs of underfunding our schools and of educational inequality. We begin with the premise that all students have a fundamental right to a quality public education that enables them to graduate from high school prepared to become active citizens.
We believe that teachers are part of one of the most valued professions we have in educating future generations in the discourse, values and relations of a democratic society.
The campaign of the right, and of the anti teacher efforts are to weaken the autonomy and the authority of teachers by controlling salaries, tenure, unions and decision making. These must be resisted to preserve quality schools.
The Institute for Democracy and Education is an independent, non partisan research and advocacy organization established in 2009 to promote debate on the important issues of democracy, education and schools.
The Institute’s advisor board includes Duane Campbell, director, author of Choosing Democracy, Dolores Delgado Campbell, historian and senior scholar, and Paul Burke, sociologists, and research scholar.
Dr. Duane Campbell- Director. The Institute can be reached at email@example.com .
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