By Will Weissert for The Christian Science Monitor – AUSTIN, TEXAS — Top Texas education officials rejected Wednesday letting university experts fact-check textbooks approved for use in public-school classrooms statewide, instead reaffirming a vetting system that has helped spark years of ideological battles over how potentially thorny lessons in history and science are taught. The Board of Education approves textbooks in the nation’s second-largest state and stood by its vetting process — despite a Houston-area mother recently complaining that a world geography book used by her son’s ninth grade class referred to African slaves as “workers.” The publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, apologized and moved to make immediate edits.
By GS Potter for Truthout – Charges have yet to be brought against Ben Fields, the white police officer in South Carolina who slammed a 16-year-old Black student to the floor of her classroom at Spring Valley High School, injuring her face and neck and breaking her arm. Nearly a month has passed since the video of the October 26 incident went viral, and while Fields was fired from his job on October 28, he has not been arrested or charged with assault or battery under South Carolina law. Fields had previously been sued for use of excessive force and currently faces a federal lawsuit in which attorneys claim that he “recklessly targets African-American students.”
By Lee Stewart for Popular Resistance. Minneapolis, MN – On Saturday afternoon (Nov. 21) as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota for their annual convention, the floor of Exhibit Hall erupted in protest. Dozens of teachers and education professors occupied the space for over 30 mins to protest British-based publishing giant Pearson’s influence on public education in America. One particular issue that was held up at the protest was Pearson’s contribution to shaping the Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). The edTPA is a standardized test for teachers administered by Pearson in many states for teacher certification. The test has been marketed as a way to professionalize teaching, but it’s riddled with problems.
By Matthew Taylor for The Guardian – Students are stepping up their campaign against government reforms for higher education with a series of demonstrations, sit-ins and strikes planned for the coming months. Campaigners who organised a major protest in London earlier this month have called for another day of action on 26 November and a two-day strike in the new year. Deborah Hermanns, from the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts, which is organising the protests, said: “The reforms introduced by this Tory government represent the biggest attack on public education in decades
By Brendan Deady for Daily Collegian – As the clock neared 6 p.m. Friday, Filipe Carvalho, a senior majoring in economics and finance, sprawled across the floor of Center for Educational Policy and Advocacy’s office and let out an exasperated sigh. His humorous gesture was an acknowledgment of the exhaustion shared by all the students in the room. Carvalho, the policy and legislative director for CEPA, was surrounded by representatives from UMass for Bernie Sanders, MASSPIRG, the Coalition to end Rape Culture, the Student Labor Action Party and a few others.
By Laura Clawson for Daily Kos Labor – Jefferson County, Colorado, had a big win for education and democracy Tuesday, with all three members of the county’s far-right school board being recalled by voters and replaced with a completely new full five-member board. The recalled board members had been at war with local teachers—and then went to war with American history. They wanted to revamp the Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and definitely not “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
By Susan Ferris for The Center for Public Integrity – As the Center for Public Integrity recently reported, 11-year-old Kayleb Moon-Robinson, in Lynchburg, Virginia, was “slammed” down, as the sixth grader said, after a school principal asked a resource officer to stop Kayleb in a hallway because the boy walked out of class without permission. Kayleb is autistic. The officer told him to go the office. He didn’t comply immediately. And the officer grabbed him. Kayleb struggled and used some foul language—and ended up wrestled to the floor, handcuffed and charged with felony assault on a police officer, as well as disorderly conduct.
By Anthony Cody for Living in Dialogue – In recent weeks we have heard President Obama talk about the value of tests – even as he acknowledges that they have become too pervasive. President Obama suggested we should have tests that “enhance instruction,” and “enhance teaching and learning.” Unfortunately, the standardized tests his administration has promoted and continues to require do none of these things. There are, however, ways to assess learning that DO enhance learning, rather than stifle it.
Jon Greenberg for Citizenship and Social Justice – It’s finally here: the story of the Seattle Race Curriculum Controversy in print (at least 1700 words of it, anyway). I confess that Z Magazine wasn’t my first choice for publication. I haven’t read the magazine, promoted in the classic lefty documentary Manufacturing Consent, in about a decade. Then I learned that Noam Chomsky contributed to the same issue that featured this story, and I remembered why I used to subscribe. ZThe link to the Z Magazine article is here, but I decided to repost the story as a blog post so I could reinsert all of the links that disappear in print.
By Diane Ravitch for Diane Ravitch’s Blog – The Obama administration acknowledged that students are spending too much time on testing and recommended that no more than 2% of classroom instructional time be devoted to testing. Apparently the administration is reacting to bipartisan opposition and widespread parent protests against the diversion of time and billions of dollars to high-stakes testing. Public sentiment, as recorded in recent polls, opposes the overuse of standardized testing. In addition, the Times reports, the administration was reacting to a new report from the Council of Great City Schools, which found that the current regime of testing has not improved achievement.
By Staff of Badass Teachers Association – Today the Obama Administration released a statement calling for “a cap on assessment so that no child would spend more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time taking tests. It called on Congress to ‘reduce over-testing’ as it reauthorizes the federal legislation governing the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools.” The Badass Teachers Association, an education activist organization with over 70,000 supporters nationwide, are reluctantly pleased with this announcement. Our vision statement has always been to refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.
By Press TV – Police arrested 66 protesters outside a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago on Saturday, as demonstrators gathered to decry racial profiling and police killings in the black community. Hundreds of protesters marched on the McCormick Place convention center from Chicago police headquarters, to protest where police leaders from around the country are meeting over the weekend, according to the AFP. During the demonstration, several protesters reportedly chained themselves together, in an attempt to disrupt the annual convention, with law enforcement using handsaws to break through their bonds. The protest was organized by several anti-police brutality and black power groups, including Assata’s Daughters, We Charge Genocide, Black Youth Project 100, and Organized Communities Against Deportation. An increase in unlawful arrests and the killing of black people in recent years has sparked campaigns against police brutality and racial profiling in the US, including the prominent ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
By Chris Thinnes for LID – “The progressive educator,” Paulo Freire told us, “must always be moving out on his or her own, continually reinventing me and reinventing what it means to be democratic in his or her own specific cultural and historical context” (1997, cited in Darder, 2002, p. 5). Stuart Grauer, founder of The Grauer School and The Small Schools Coalition, honors this call to action in Fearless Teaching (2016, forthcoming from AERO), and leverages his experiences and insights from an admittedly privileged positionality to offer a unique lens on cultures of teaching and learning to which some of us may not have access, and in which some of us may fear to tread…
By Helen Zelon for The Village Voice – Of all the students in New York City public high schools, about 60 percent end up with diplomas. And of those graduates, about 60 percent — roughly one in every three that start high school — eventually graduate from a four-year college. Those numbers are an improvement from the turn of the millennium, when only half of city high school students graduated, despite less stringent requirements. But one group of city schools routinely outstrips these less-than-lofty numbers. The 28 schools in the New York Performance Standards Consortium network boast graduation, college-going, and college retention rates that routinely top city, state, and national averages, with a student body that is as diverse in income and ethnicity as the city as a whole.
By Diane Levin and Dr. Denisha Jones for Huffington Post. Young children have now begun the new school year, many for the first time. How many will not be allowed to finish the school year due to being expelled or miss significant time in school due to suspension for unacceptable behavior or for violating some mandatory school policy? The most recent figures available come from a 2011-2012 study from the US Department of Education found that more than 8,000 public preschool students were suspended at least once, and almost half of those children more than once. As early childhood educators who train teachers to promote the optimal development, learning, and overall wellbeing of all young children, we read these figures with deep concern.