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.
By Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post, A battle over Florida’s public education system may be reaching a tipping point, with school superintendents revolting against the state’s school accountability system and editorial boards of major newspapers now weighing in on their side. One, the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, is warning against the collapse of that system. The Florida Association of District School Superintendents issued a statement on Sept. 25 saying that superintendents have “lost confidence” in the current accountability system for students and schools, which is based on the scores students receive on the controversial Florida Standards Assessments. The superintendents called for a suspension of the accountability system and a full review.
By Patty Wetli for DNAinfo – ALBANY PARK — Hundreds of students walked out of Roosevelt High School Monday to protest district budget and staff cuts. Chanting “save our teachers” and “cut it with the budget cuts,” students were reacting to news that, in the wake of lower than projected enrollment, more than $650,000 had been slashed from Roosevelt’s budget, resulting in the anticipated loss of 10 teachers. “These are teachers we’ve grown up with and love,” said senior Kimoni Gaston, among those taking part in the walkout. The school has taken a number of financial hits in recent years, which left Gaston “afraid they’re going to shut down Roosevelt.” Students said they began organizing the walkout via text and social media after Roosevelt Principal Pilar Vazquez-Vialva shared news of the staff cuts at an assembly last week.
By Staff of Badass Teacher Association – Today the White House confirmed that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would be stepping down. The Badass Teachers Association, an education activist organization with over 70,000 supporters nationwide, celebrate this decision. Sadly, at the same time we rejoice the resignation of a man who has done more destruction to public education than any other sitting Secretary, we are horrified that President Obama has chosen to replace him with John King. John King is the former Commissioner of Education in New York. John King’s tenure in New York was one of controversy and with an established agenda of dismantling public education by using corporate education reform tactics.
By David Sirota for Reader Supported News – Google the phrase “education crisis” and you’ll be hit with a glut of articles, blog posts and think tank reports claiming the entire American school system is facing an emergency. Much of this agitprop additionally asserts that teachers unions are the primary cause of the alleged problem. Not surprisingly, the fabulists pushing these narratives are often backed by anti-public school conservatives and anti-union plutocrats. But a little-noticed study released last week provides yet more confirmation that neither the “education crisis” meme or the “evil teachers’ union” narrative is accurate. Before looking at that study, consider some of the ways we already know that the dominant storyline about education is, indeed, baseless propaganda. As I’ve reported before, we know that American public school students from wealthy districts generate some of the best test scores in the world.
By Diane Ravitch – The New York State Allies for Public Education, representing more than 50 grassroots groups across the state, denounced Governor Cuomo’s commission to review and revise the Common Core standards and tests. Yet th Cuomo commission includes no parent who opted out, no early childhood educator, but many who served on Cuomo’s last, failed commission. NYSAPE describes the commission as”donor-driven,” chaired by the same banker who chaired the last Cuomo commission on standards and tests. Opt out leaders promise to refuse the tests next spring. “The Cuomo Commission consists of many members from his first unproductive Commission and will again be led by the same businessman, Richard Parsons, despite the public’s outcry for an educator-led process. . .”
Educators, staff members, students and community members “walked-in” at 105 Milwaukee Public Schools on Sept. 18. This action was organized by the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association and Schools and Communities United, with support from dozens of labor-community organizations. Participants held rallies, informational picket lines and other events before the start of the school day and before they “walked-in” to their respective schools. Thousands across the city demanded an end to Wall Street attacks on public education. In a powerful solidarity action, similar groups organized simultaneous walk-ins at 14 public schools in LaCrosse, Wis., near the Minnesota state line. Over the past few years the right-wing-controlled Wisconsin Legislature has rammed through the greatest austerity cutbacks in the history of the state in public education — both K-12 and higher education.
By Michelle Chen in Truth Out – According to a study by the Campaign for the Future of Education (CFHE), overreliance on precariously employed faculty is devaluing higher education for teachers and students alike. Faculty activists acknowledge the consumer concerns about higher education’s value today, including poor completion rates, but link these to a cycle of underinvestment on the teaching side: The “churning of the faculty workforce…low salaries and over-reliance on part-time appointments” erode the quality and attentiveness of instruction, with long-term impacts on public institutions that have historically served the most challenged populations – the poor, people of color and first-generation college students. And as disinvestment and declining academic outcomesdeepen, the overall institutional integrity of higher- education systems erodes.
By Jesse Hagopian in Diane Ravitch – On Sunday evening, thousands of Seattle Education Association members gathered in a general membership meeting and voted to approve a new contract with the Seattle Public Schools. This vote officially ended the strike by Seattle educators, which began on September 10, 2015, and interrupted the first five days of school. This new contract contains many hard fought wins for social justice that the school district said it would never grant. These groundbreaking victories are against the abuses of high-stakes standardized testing, for more recess, and for race and equity teams in the schools are a dramatic departure from our pervious broken model of collective bargaining and hold the potential to transform educator unionism in the nation.
By Danny Feingold in Capital and Main – When California Governor Pat Brown helped create the modern University of California system in the early 1960s, he envisioned many things: a world-class structure of higher education, universal access to students from every background, a gateway to middle-class careers, cutting-edge research centers. All of that has come to pass, making UC an enduring part of Brown’s legacy. One thing Brown did not foresee, however, was UC becoming embroiled in an emblematic fight over economic inequality, with critics charging that one of the nation’s most prestigious public institutions is perpetuating poverty. The controversy over UC’s use of thousands of contract workers who earn low wages with few, if any, benefits has taken center stage in Sacramento, where legislation that would end such practices cleared the Legislature last week.
By Adrienne Bankert in ABC7 – A crowd of protesters with United Teachers Los Angeles held a rally outside The Broad on the museum’s opening day Sunday. Hundreds of parents, teachers and students clad in red T-shirts held up signs and chanted outside the new contemporary art museum, which opened its doors to the public Sunday morning. The protesters said they are not against the museum but are against Eli Broad’s reported plan to try to expand charter schools throughout the city of Los Angeles. Broad reportedly plans to put between half a billion and a billion dollars into unregulated, non-union charter schools, that could draw half of the district’s students. The teachers’ union fears these schools would not be accountable to the public, would cherry-pick their students, and keep parents from being able to interact with teachers.
By Dan Wright in Shadow Proof – A new report [PDF] by the Brookings Institution claims the recent increases in student loan defaults are tied to an increased use of for-profit colleges. Through researching information from the Treasury Department and other sources, Brookings found that “most of the increase in default is because of an upsurge in the number of borrowers attending for-profit schools and, to a lesser-extent, community colleges and other non-selective institutions whose students had historically composed only a small share of student borrowing.” During the Great Recession brought on by Wall Street’s fraudulent activity in the mortgage market, many Americans went back to school in hopes of gaining skills to improve their financial position.
By Michelle Strater Gunderson for Living in Dialogue. Chicago, IL – September 19, 2015. The hunger strike for Dyett High School ended this morning on day 34. Once again I headed to the south side to be with my friends and fellow education fighters known as the Dyett Twelve. Education activists had been told that the hunger strikers would have an announcement this morning, and many of us converged at the Rainbow Push Coalition broadcast to be there in support. I sit in the pews behind Cathy Dale and Jeanette Taylor-Ramann – two women who I have come to love and respect through this struggle. After 34 days of fasting the hunger strikers have an other-worldly presence. They seem so strong and focused, yet vulnerable at the same time.
After four months of negotiations, a five-day strike and one final all-night talk, the Seattle teachers union and Seattle Public Schools reached a tentative contract agreement early Tuesday, and school is scheduled to start Thursday for the city’s 53,000 students. By Paige Cornwell and Walker Orenstein In Seattle Times – The Seattle Education Association’s board of directors and its elected building representatives both voted Tuesday afternoon to suspend the strike, recommending the union’s membership approve the deal. The agreement will go to a full vote of the union’s 5,000 members at a Sunday meeting. The building-representative vote came after hours of deliberation, where cheers and fervent discussion could be heard outside a packed room at the Machinists Hall in South Seattle.
By Mackenzie McDonald Wilkins of Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) fasted in solidarity with organizers and hunger strikers working to reopen the Dyett High School with a green energy curriculum. This was the 9th day of the BXE fast and the 30th day of the Dyett hunger strike. BXE is fasting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) demanding an end to all new fossil fuel infrastructure permits. Their continued permitting of fossil fuel projects disproportionately impacts poor folks and people of color due to project placement (like many LNG terminals in the Gulf South that need FERC approval) and climate change (like Katrina or Sandy).