By Claudia Rowe for the Seattle Times. As striking as the racial split is the age at which it begins: kindergarten. Statewide, more than 8,716 students younger than sixth grade were suspended or expelled in 2012-13, and patterns in Seattle suggest that a disproportionate number were children of color. (The state has not released breakdowns by race in students that young.) The reason given for these sanctions speaks to the enormous role that individual judgment plays in disciplining kids. While there were only 119 suspensions for clear-cut violations like alcohol, tobacco or drugs, schools logged a whopping 7,479 incidents for “other behavior.” The meaning of this data confounds African-American parents, who wonder whether white teachers are targeting their children and has made educators increasingly uncomfortable.
By Andy Piascik and Doug Allen in Zcomm – Anyone who has done organizing on a college campus knows the difficulty of sustaining such work. Faculty come and go, students enroll and graduate, and even the most vibrant campaigns come to an abrupt end. In the best of circumstances, organizations, particularly activist ones, seldom last more than a few years. When Doug Allen arrived at the University of Maine in 1974, he helped found the Maine Peace Action Committee (MPAC) even though he had just recently been fired for his activist work by Southern Illinois University. Remarkably, 41 years later, MPAC is still going strong, continuing, among other things, to publish its newsletter, sponsor events, tackle campus issues, and participate in broader campaigns.
By Bjorn Carey in Stanford News – One potential way to combat ongoing climate change, eliminate air pollution mortality, create jobs and stabilize energy prices involves converting the world’s entire energy infrastructure to run on clean, renewable energy. This is a daunting challenge. But now, in a new study,Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, and colleagues, including U.C. Berkeley researcher Mark Delucchi, are the first to outline how each of the 50 states can achieve such a transition by 2050. The 50 individual state plans call for aggressive changes to both infrastructure and the ways we currently consume energy, but indicate that the conversion is technically and economically possible through the wide-scale implementation of existing technologies.
By BBC News – Thousands of protesters from one of the largest teachers’ unions in the Americas met in the centre of Sao Paulo to cast their vote. It began after the state government failed to offer a salary increase. A union leader said the strike had lost force when strike payments had had to be reduced. The strikers of the Union of Official Teachers for the State of Sao Paulo (Apeoesp), had been calling for a 75% pay rise. The union represents about 180,000 teachers. Last year, in the lead up to the World Cup in Brazil, thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across Brazil to demonstrate against the spiralling costs linked to the building of the football stadiums, and corruption. Many protesters complained money was being cut from basic public services.
By Waubgeshig Rice in CBC News – Students at an Ottawa public school have unveiled four large murals to honour residential school survivors and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The four murals, called Mamawi:Together, adorn an outside wall at the entrance of Pleasant Park Public School in Ottawa’s south end. Each represents a season, according to teachings from Algonquin elder Albert Dumont. “These students are now elementary students and they’re going to go on to high school and university and colleges, but they’re never going to forget this experience,” says Dumont. “And their views and how they see First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples from now on is forever changed because of the experience they’ve had here with this art project.”
By Jennifer Baker in Revolution News – About 350 thousand people marched throughout the cities of Chile on Wednesday against proposed changes to the education system. Some 200 thousand people marched in the capital of Santiago. Wednesday’s march and Thursday’s events (below) were planned to coincide with Chile’s national men’s soccer(football) team participates in the opening game of the Copa Americas. High School students joined teachers and professors who are now on their second week of an indefinite strike. Wednesday’s events were organized by the Confederation of Chilean students (CONFECH), The college of teachers, the National Coordinator of Secondary Students (Cones) And The House Coordinator of Secondary Students (ACES). CONFECH estimated their group alone at 200 Thousand participants.
By Glen Ford in Black Agenda Report – Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education, claims his department is prepared toforgive the debts of thousands of students who attended the Corinthian Colleges, the for-profit rip-off conglomerate that filed for bankruptcy last month. Duncan chose his words carefully, claiming that the federal government is putting together a process that would forgive the loans of any student who can show that she had been defrauded by any college – Coriinthian or some other school. Duncan is, of course, lying. His own department estimates it would cost as much as $3.5 billion to provide debt relief to the 350,000 students that have had the misfortune to attend Corinthian schools over the past five years.
By Debt Collective – Just as Corinthian Colleges portrayed its programs as a path to a better life when they were in fact debt traps, the Department of Education is portraying a process that re-victimizes students as a solution to a problem they created. If Education Secretary Arne Duncan was truly “committed to making sure students receive every penny of relief they are entitled to under law” he would sign the “Order for Discharge of Federal Student Loan Debts” the Debt Collective sent him last week, immediately and automatically discharging Corinthian students’ debts. Students are entitled to receive full relief under law.
By Emma Brown in The Washington Post – New York City’s charter schools are leaving thousands of seats unfilled each year despite ballooning demand and long waiting lists, according to an analysis of public data to be released Friday. The decision not to fill seats that are left vacant by departing students deprives other deserving students of places in the schools, the report argues. It also means that charter schools can appear to be improving, according to proficiency rates on standardized tests, even as the absolute number of children scoring proficient declines each year, it says. The report, entitled “No Seat Left Behind” and issued by the Harlem-based parent advocacy group Democracy Builders, calls on charter schools to begin voluntarily “backfilling” their empty seats — or admitting new students to replace those who leave.
By Mario Vasquez in In These Times – On Tuesday, May 19, thousands of demonstrators marched through downtown Seattle to support a rolling strike by public school teachers across Washington state. The teachers are protesting what they say are unacceptably high class sizes and low pay, stemming from their state legislature’s failure to fully fund public education. Six thousand teachers and supporters from Seattle Public Schools and the nearby districts of Mercer Island and Issaquah shut down intersections for blocks in the largest coordinated action since the rolling walkout began on April 22. In total, at least 30,000 teachers in 65 striking school districts have participated in one-day strikes.
By Rachel M. Cohen in Prospect – On April 30th, faculty at North Philadelphia’s Olney Charter High School voted 104-38 in favor of forming a union, an NLRB election that Olney’s charter operator, ASPIRA, has since announced they’re challenging. Olney’s union campaign is only the latest in a small but rapidly growing wave of charter union drives nationwide. But few efforts have been as contentious, or as revealing, as this one. Ever since the campaign began three years ago, ASPIRA has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into an elaborate union-busting effort, even as the beleaguered district it’s funded by struggles with massive debt. Unionizing Olney also threatens to shine light on ASPIRA’s questionable finances, at a time when authorities at the state and district level have failed to act. More broadly, the union drive in Philadelphia reveals how charter management organizations can use lax regulation to dodge financial accountability.
By John Urquiza in Community Beacon News – About 26 activists, students and teachers gathered on the corner of Griffin Avenue and Broadway in Lincoln heights. The backdrop was the old abandoned Bi-Rite supermarket and weed covered parking lot. More than half were students from Abraham Lincoln High School who came together to voice their thoughts and dissatisfaction with the state of their neighborhood through their action, “Bye Bye Bi Rite.” 12 students organized this action as part of their internship with the Roots for Peace Program of American Friends Service Committee. This action was their strategic response to counter the effects of gentrification and their final class project. Their study, revealed 44% of the businesses were fast food, while 25% were liquor and convenience stores.
Devon Douglas-Bowers in Occupy – Students attend college to pursue their interests, broaden their intellectual horizons and make headway toward a career. While this is made difficult due to the amount of debt that many must saddle in order to earn a degree, there is also another, much stealthier problem as well: the college bureaucracy. University bureaucracies absorb large amounts of funding and undermine the alleged goal of college, which is to provide an education. But they also signal something more sinister: the neo-liberalization of education, now viewed as a business. The rise in college bureaucracy is nothing new, and has been noted for quite some time.
Teachers reported that kindergarten students from affluent households in the 2010-2011 school year were more likely to have positive approaches to learning than those whose families live below the poverty line, according to the center’s annual report, called The Condition of Education 2015. A positive approach to learning includes paying attention in class, keeping belongings organized and enthusiasm for learning. Female students, students who were older at the start of the school year, students who came from two-parent households, and students whose family income was more than twice the poverty threshold were more likely to have positive approaches to learning, according to teachers.
Just as has been happening in communities at large, campus protests against racism and bigotry—along with related types of discrimination—have become commonplace. Students at the University of Chicago hosted a#LiabilityoftheMind social-media campaign last November to raise awareness about institutional intolerance. A “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” walkout was staged the same month by hundreds of Seattle high-schoolers. Roughly 600 Tufts students lay down in the middle of traffic in December for four and a half hours—the amount of time Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after behind shot. Students at numerous other colleges did the same. Of course, there were other common themes, too. Early last fall, Emma Sulkowicz, then a student at Columbia, pledged to carry a mattress on campus daily to protest the school’s refusal to expel her alleged rapist. Soon, hundreds of her classmates joined her, as did those at 130 other college campuses nationwide, according to reports.