By Bruce A. Dixon in Black Agenda Report – The years long struggle on the part of parents and students and community members around Dyett High school on Chicago’s historic south side is a stellar example of long-term community building and organizing, which differs greatly from the mere activism some currently herald as “the movement.” Black Agenda Report’s Bruce Dixon interviewed Jitu Brown, a member of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High Schoolon August 26, 2015, the tenth day of a hunger strike staged by parents and community residents resisting the closing and privatization of their neighborhood high school and the intransigence of Chicago’s City Hall apparently determined to disperse and destroy their community and rebuild it for someone else.
By Michelle Gunderson in Living in Dialogue – Those who fully understand the impact of a neighborhood losing an open enrollment high school often ask what they can do. First of all, call Mayor Emanuel’s office (312 744-3300) in support of the Dyett coalition’s proposal for a Global Leadership and Green Technology school. Second, call the office of Alderman Will Burns (773 536-8103) and explain that even though this might seem like a local issue to him, the eyes and hearts of the nation are following this story. If you are in Chicago, please follow the Teachers for Social Justice website(www.teachersforjustice.org) for information about the hunger strike. Come to sit with the strikers outside their circle, listen to their stories, and support them with the power of your presence. And finally for those of you who follow a faith or spiritual tradition, Pastor Jones said to us today, “There is no such thing as praying for a person too often.”
By Diane Ravitch – It is important to remember a few key facts about the Opt Out Movement. Number one: It was created and is led by parents, not by teachers or unions. In New York, where 20% of the students refused the mandated tests, the leader of the state’s teachers’ union did not endorse opt out until a few days before the testing started. The organizations promoting the opt out were grassroots, unfunded, and parent-led. Number two: The opt out movement did not arise in opposition to the publication or implementation of the Common Core standards. It was only when parents received the results of the first round of Common Core testing that they got angry and got organized to fight the tests.
By Ifrah Abshir in Occupy – For so long we have been told that there is no funding in the district budget to give RBHS the support it needs. Built in 1960, our school is the only one in the district that has not yet received a full renovation. Just last year we had nearly 15 power outages, some of them causing us to attend school in the dark and cold, or even to close school for the day. Our school still has chalkboards, whereas schools in whiter and more affluent neighborhoods have smart boards and more advanced technological tools that enhance student learning. Each year, students here organize walk outs and protests, and attend school board and city hall meetings – but we only receive promises of a new building. Promises that go unfulfilled. Another public school policy that disproportionately affects students and families of lower income is the “Walk-Zone” rule.
By Joseph Williams in Take Part – It’s a problem that echoes the “black codes” of the nation’s Jim Crow era: African American schoolchildren nationwide are up to three times more likely than their white counterparts to be suspended or expelled from school. But a new study shows that things are even worse for black grade-school kids in the South, where they are up to five times more likely than whites to be suspended or expelled—an eyebrow-raising disparity experts say is a big factor in the school-to-prison pipeline. The assessment, made by the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, found that African American students were consistently suspended and expelled at higher rates than their peers in each of the 3,000 school districts in the 13-state region.
By Nadia Prupis in AntiMedia – When schools in California’s Sausalito Marin City District return to session this August, they will be the first in the nation to serve their students 100 percent organic meals, sustainably sourced and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). More than 500 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy in Marin City and Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito will eat fresh, local food year-round, thanks to a partnership with the Conscious Kitchen, a project of the environmental education nonprofit Turning Green. “Students everywhere are vulnerable to pesticide residues and unsafe environmental toxins,” Turning Green founder Judi Shils said on Tuesday.
By Ad Crable in Lancaster Online – Some 33 faculty members from three colleges in Lancaster County have sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that stresses the validity of climate change and endorses President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution at coal-fired power plants. The 33 from Franklin & Marshall College, Elizabethtown College and Millersville University also urged the EPA to adopt strong rules to capture methane pollution from oil and gas drilling, which they said was quickly becoming a major driver for climate change. “Without a planet that can sustain us, nothing else matters,” said Sarah Dawson, director of the Wohlsen Center for Sustainable Environment at F&M.
By Molly Knefel in FAIR – Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times (8/18/15) announced an initiative called Education Matters, “an ongoing, wide-ranging report card on K-12 education in Los Angeles, California and the nation.” The project will cover educational issues, including “the latest debate on curriculum or testing” and “how charter schools are changing public education.” The Times, owned by Tribune Publishing, will fund Education Matters with donations and grants from philanthropic organizations like the Baxter Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation. “These institutions, like the Times,” publisher and CEO Austin Beutner writes, “are dedicated to independent journalism that engages and informs its readers.”
By Daniel Lattier in Intellectual Take Out – Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (1965) has been called “a far more frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell.” In it, the French philosopher and sociologist dispels some of the popular notions about propaganda and exposes how it really operates in the modern world. In the first chapter of the book, Ellul describes some of the characteristics of modern propaganda. Eight of them appear below: 1) It Prevents Dialogue. 2) It Focuses on the Mass. 3) It is “Total”. 4) It Takes Over Education. 5) It Takes Over Literature and History. 6) It Must be Subtle at First. 7) It Must be Nonstop. 8) It Aims at Irrational Action.
By Staff of Popular Resistance. Chicago, IL – The attack on Dyett is representative of what is happening to public education and school across the country. These resisters are on the front line of saving the human right to education. We hope you will take a moment to support them. 2 Parents, grandparents, community members and supporters from around the city started a hunger strike on August, 17th. Their demand is simple. Rahm Emanuel and his appointed school board needs to follow the community’s wishes and use the now shuttered Dyett High School Building at 555E 51st St. for the innovative, academically excellent and culturally connected Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School.
By Beatrice Gitau in CS Monitor – About 60 German universities in Germany are providing free university education to the growing population of refugees who are seeking asylum in the country, German newspaper Handelsblatt reports. Some universities are offering language tuition, have waived semester fees, provide free student passes for public transport, and give access to hardship and grant funds, according to survey done last month by the German Rectors’ Conference, a voluntary association of state universities. “Migration is a task for all of society, and universities must do their part,” University of Hildesheim president Wolfgang-Uwe Friedrich explained to Handelsblatt on why he set up the program. The Washington Post notes that, “German universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October. The country offers more than 900 English-language degrees even Americans could pursue for free, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences.”
By Paul L. Thomas in AlterNet – Since the early 1980s, education platforms have been essential to political campaigns for governorships and the presidency, with education policy increasingly defining elected officials’ political legacies. With the passing of No Child Left Behind in 2001, education legislation shifted even further to national prominence, as NCLB came to represent the “power” of bi-partisan commitments to education reform. In the 2016 presidential election, education may once again emerge as a major point of debate, in part because of Jeb Bush’s legacy in Florida and in part because of the lingering political controversies around Common Core. Yet in addressing education issues candidates are likely to remain trapped inside the failed accountability mindset for reforming schools — one that privileges “standards” and “tests” as the central means of closing the infamous achievement gap.
By Anthony Cody for Living Dialogue – This week we have seen a renewed attempt to rehabilitate the beleaguered Common Core standards, just as the scores arrive in many states, largely meeting projections that they would yield increased failure rates and a wider “achievement gap.” These results are the most basic problem that the Common Core has. These standards were designed to deliver massive failure, and the tests are delivering as promised. But rather than question these results, some advocates are trying to shift the focus onto a brighter view. The headline from Think Progress is beyond belief. “People Like Common Core Better Once They Know What It Is.” But when you read the article, you discover that support for Common Core is actually continuing to drop.
By Michael Stratford in Inside Higher Ed – The messy unwinding of Corinthian Colleges was an unprecedented dance among various actors: the U.S. Department of Education, state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and buyers like ECMC’s Zenith Group — not to mention members of Congress and student and consumer groups. But another, far less visible, entity also had a strong interest in and influence on the outcome: Bank of America and a handful of other banks. The extent to which those institutions, which lent money to help keep Corinthian afloat, were involved in managing the for-profit college giant as it hurtled toward ruin is becoming clearer in the company’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.
By Walter Einenkel in DailyKos – The Atlantic has an article about the town of Baldwin, Michigan, and their decision to help the young people in their community afford college. According to the article, 10 years ago less than half of the small graduating class even enrolled in college, and the number of kids from that class actually graduating from college was two. Today, nearly every student that graduated high school is heading off to college this fall. What changed was the introduction of the Baldwin Promise, a fund which in 2009 offered to pay up to $5,000 a year for any student from the Baldwin public schools to attend a public or private college in Michigan. Now $5,000 might sound like a pittance when compared to the $31,000 private college now costs annually.