By Michelle Gunderson for Living In Dialogue – The children in my first grade classroom play. There are no academic centers where a teacher rings a bell and children move from activity to activity. That might look like play, but it is not. We have body breaks where we sing and dance, but we do not call it play because it is not. We play – pure and simple – and it is self-selected, student-driven, and sustained for 60 minutes so that the play is deep and meaningful. Last week as I watched one of my students lost in play, washing one of our baby dolls, I was reminded how vital play is to a child’s sense of well-being, language and physical development, and sense of identity.
By Eliza A. Webb for Truthout – A new investigation by the US Attorney’s Office has uncovered evidence of long-lasting corruption within the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system and has charged 12 current and former Detroit principals with fabricating invoices, evading taxes and taking $1 million in bribes and kickbacks from the district’s vendors. This newly unearthed scandal is wholly unsurprising to the teachers of Detroit, who have seen corruption and injustice dominate the city’s education system since 1999, when state-appointed emergency managers were first given the power to override Detroit’s elected school board.
By Anthony Cody for Living In Dialogue – In 2011, the Save Our Schools March was the first-ever national protest focused on K12 education. In 2016, we are going back to DC again. The 2011 rally and march was a seminal event for the movement to resist corporate education reform. This protest resulted in the launch of many of the groups that are active today. And many of those groups are coming together once again in the Save Our Schools Coalition.
By Rory Fanning for TomDispatch – Early each New Year’s Day I head for Lake Michigan with a handful of friends. We look for a quiet stretch of what, only six months earlier, was warm Chicago beach. Then we trudge through knee-deep snow in bathing suits and boots, fighting wind gusts and hangovers. Sooner or later, we arrive where the snowpack meets the shore and boot through a thick crust of lake ice, yelling and swearing as we dive into near-freezing water. It took me a while to begin to understand why I do this every year, or for that matter why for the last decade since I left the military I’ve continued to inflict other types of pain on myself with such unnerving regularity.
By Mitchell Robinson for Badass Teacher Association – While the reformers claim to be all about using “data-driven-decision-making” and basing their policies on the results of research findings, there is virtually no data or reputable research to suggest that any of their policy strategies have any validation in the research literature. So where can we look for examples of successful policies and practices that offer the promise of actually addressing the problems caused by the education reform agenda?
By Jaime Franchi for Long Island Press – The parking field at Stony Brook University overflowed with minivans and sedans of parents and educators who’d gotten last-minute word of a “listening tour” critical to informing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new Common Core Task Force about necessary modifications to the controversial education program—and ultimately, helping shape policy across the state—flooded the campus. Filled to capacity, New York State troopers directed the still oncoming traffic to impromptu curbside spots…
By Levi Gahman for ROAR Magazine – The story of the Zapatistas is one of dignity, outrage, and grit. It is an enduring saga of over 500 years of resistance to the attempted conquest of the land and lives of indigenous peasants. It is nothing less than a revolutionary and poetic account of hope, insurgency and liberation—a movement characterized as much by adversity and anguish, as it is by laughter and dancing. More precisely, the ongoing chronicles of the Zapatista insurrection provide a dramatic account of how indigenous people have defied the imposition of state violence…
By Micah Uetricht for Vice News – Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey has probably thought long and hard about whether it’s a good idea for his union to go on strike Friday; the risks are high. But in hearing him talk about it last week, you couldn’t tell. “We are going to strike over things that judges might consider illegal, but we consider moral and right,” he said at a public-sector union conference in New York. “There might be judges that disagree with us…” He shrugged. “But we disagree with them.”
By Alan Singer for The Huffington Post – On Wednesday, March 30, at a press conference scheduled for New York City Hall, a coalition of opt-out groups will demand that School Chancellor Carmen Fariña take steps to inform parents of their Opt Out rights. According to NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) there has been “Enough with inequitable access to information; enough with partial and outright misinformation; enough with the talking points from State ED!
By Diane Ravitch for The Huffington Post – It has become conventional wisdom that “education is in crisis.” I have been asked about this question by many interviewers. They say something like: “Do you think American education is in crisis? What is the cause of the crisis?” And I answer, “Yes, there is a crisis, but it is not the one you have read about. The crisis in education today is an existential threat to the survival of public education. The threat comes from those who unfairly blame the school for social conditions, and then create a false narrative of failure.
By Michelle Strater Gunderson for Living in Dialogue. Chicago, IL – I sat in the House of Delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union on Wednesday night waiting to be counted as a yes vote for our April first strike. I was number 39 out of 486. It is not common to be called out individually to vote at our union. Most of our motions are passed through open outcry – we are usually that united. But this night was different. A division of the house was called and voting members of the union were asked to go to opposite ends of the hall in order to physically represent their vote. At the beginning of our debate on whether or not to strike on April 1, I was the first to speak. I called for the strike to be approved by a two-thirds vote – not the usual 50% plus 1 per our union rules. It was imperative that the CTU walk out of the meeting with a super majority yes vote. There is no way to build a successful strike with a divided house.
By Anthony Cody for Living In Dialogue – The rise of Competency Based Education as a supposed alternative to schooling driven by standardized tests is prompting an interesting debate. I first wrote about CBE last November, in response to a version offered by tech-ed entrepreneur Tom Vander Ark.My primary concern was that teacher and student autonomy will inevitably suffer when learning is defined as a series of outcomes, and systems are built to constantly monitor student progress towards these results.
By Robin D. G. Kelley for Boston Review – In the fall of 2015, college campuses were engulfed by fires ignited in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. This is not to say that college students had until then been quiet in the face of police violence against black Americans. Throughout the previous year, it had often been college students who hit the streets, blocked traffic, occupied the halls of justice and malls of America, disrupted political campaign rallies, and risked arrest to protest the torture and suffocation of Eric Garner…
By Laura Flanders for the Laura Flanders Show. The teachers sent out pictures of something that’s had a hard time getting seen: the social cost of austerity.The teachers secured attention from at least one national candidate – Hillary Clinton who pointed out such conditions wouldn’t be tolerated in more affluent places. Majority Republicans in Michigan’s Legislature threatened new laws to make it easier to crack down on protesting workers. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, it’s worth reviewing how the Detroit schools got into such a fix. The system wasn’t always broke. According to analysis by the Citizens Research Council, a Michigan based policy group, the Detroit schools were enjoying a surplus in the 1990s. Now, 41 cents of every dollar appropriated for students is being spent on servicing city debt.