Civil Rights

AstroTurf Alert: National Parents Union is Thinly Veiled Union Busting Backed by Billionaire Cash – Education Article

 How do you do something disgusting without hurting your image?     If you’re the Walton Family, you hide behind a mask.     That’s what their latest AstroTurf front group is – the so-called National Parents Union (NPU).     It’s a way to bust teachers unions, destroy public schools and profit off of students behind the guise of a friendly parents organization.     Oh, it’s all funded with oodles of cash from the Walton family and other…

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Robots Will Never Replace Teachers. They Can Only Displace Us – Education Article

 My favorite movie of all time is “2001: A Space Odyssey.”     And my favorite character is the computer HAL 9000.   In the future (now past) of the movie, HAL is paradoxically the most human personality. Tasked with running the day-to-day operations of a spaceship, HAL becomes strained to the breaking point when he’s given a command to lie about the mission’s true objectives. He ends up having a psychotic break and killing most of the people he…

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Economists Ate My School – Why Defining Teaching as a Transaction is Destroying Our Society – Education Article

    Teaching is one of the most misunderstood interactions in the world.     Some people see it as a mere transaction, a job: you do this, I’ll pay you that.     The input is your salary. The output is learning.    These are distinctly measurable phenomena. One is calculated in dollars and cents. The other in academic outcomes, usually standardized test scores. The higher the salary, the more valued the teacher. The higher the test scores, the…

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Sixteen Gadfly Articles That Made Betsy DeVos Itch in 2019
 – Education Article

  “Life can only be understood backwards,” wrote Søren Kierkegaard, “but it must be lived forwards.”  I remember reading the Danish philosopher’s “Fear and Trembling” in my philosophy of religion class back in college.   To be honest I was never a big fan of his work – I thought if the only way to truth was taking a leap of faith, how many madmen have already reached enlightenment?     But he had a point when he wrote about…

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Charter Schools, Harrisburg & Mayor Peduto Created Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Budget Deficit – Education Article

 Where did all the money go?     Pittsburgh Public Schools will start 2020 with a $25.1 million budget deficit.     Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet has asked for a 2.3% tax increase to cover the shortfall, but school directors ended up approving his spending plan without approving the tax increase.     The school board will meet on Friday to decide whether to ultimately raise taxes or make cuts including possible staff furloughs.     But in the meantime,…

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Why is Accountability Too Much to Ask of Charter Schools? – Education Article

NOTE: Not an exact quote but Allen wrote a book “Charting a New Course The Case for Freedom, Flexibility & Opportunity Through Charter Schools” that proposes just this idea.  If you hire someone to buy your groceries, you’ll probably ask for a receipt.   That’s really all education advocates want from the charter school industry.   Charter schools are bankrolled with tax dollars but often run by private businesses.   Is it too much to ask these businesses to account…

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Top 10 Lessons From the 2020 Public Education Forum – Education Article

The school bell chimed and the class shuffled home.   But the students weren’t little children.   They were Democratic Presidential candidates!   And boy-oh-boy did they get sent packing with a ton of homework!   Teachers, students, parents and community members from all over the country sat them down with instructions on how to improve the public education system.   Kudos to the candidates for agreeing to listen.   It was billed as the MSNBC “Public Education Forum 2020:…

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Public School Teacher Questions for 2020 Dem Presidential Candidates – Education Article

      What happens when you give a microphone to a public school teacher?     That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know, because we so rarely let educators speak in any context other than the classroom.     Maybe that’s why it’s so refreshing that MSNBC is hosting “Public Education Forum 2020: Equity and Justice for All”on Saturday, Dec. 14, in my hometown of Pittsburgh.     Public policy is usually made by billionaires who…

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Charter Schools Exploit Children of Color – Education Article

    Go to most impoverished black neighborhoods and you’re bound to find three things in abundance.     Liquor stores, payday lenders and charter schools.     It is no accident.     In the inner city, the underemployed compete for a shortage of minimum wage jobs, healthcare is minimal, public transportation inadequate and the schools are underfunded and short staffed.     But that doesn’t mean money isn’t being made.     In capitalist America, we make sure…

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Demand Reform to Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law – Before It’s Too Late – Education Article

  If no one answers a question, was it even asked?  Way back on August 24, 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) quietly posted a little notice on the PA Bulletin Website asking for public comment on the state’s charter school law.   This is not exactly a high traffic site.     It’s a state-run page that includes proposed rules, notices, proclamations, court rulings, actions and executive orders.  Unless you work for the state, are a journalist or…

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Teachers Are Not Responsible for Student Growth or Achievement – Education Article

 Earlier this week, I was rushed to another urgent early morning staff meeting at my school.   I had my laptop with me and was frantically trying to get everything ready that I’d need for the day.   Text dependent analysis question? Check.   Discussion guide to introduce the concept of science fiction? Check.   Questions on literacy, analogy, vocabulary and sentence structure suitable for 7th grade? Check.   The same suitable for 8th grade? Check.   And as I…

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White Billionaires Cannot Buy the Charter School Debate – Education Article

    Betsy DeVos is not woke.    Bill Gates has not been to the mountaintop.    Nor is the Walton Family Foundation concerned with promoting civil rights.    So when white billionaires pour cash to charter school lobbying groups – as the Walton’s did Thursday for charter school protestors at an Elizabeth Warren rally – it isn’t exactly convincing.    Speaking at the historically black college Clark Atlanta University, Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for President in…

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Pittsburgh Mayor’s Tantrum About School Finances Proves He Doesn’t Understand Education or Equity – Education Article

  Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is steaming mad and he doesn’t care who knows it.   On Tuesday he raved that Pittsburgh Public Schools’ finances should be taken over by the state – the same fate the city had suffered during its own economic troubles from 2004-18.   The reason Peduto thinks the school should submit to a financial recovery plan overseen by a state appointed board? School Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet is proposing a 2.3% tax increase in 2020…

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Vulture Voucher Bill Latest in Mike Turzai’s Quest to Please Betsy DeVos in PA – Education Article

 The best way to help a struggling public school is to cannibalize it.     At least that’s what Betsy DeVos thinks – and so does her Pennsylvania puppet Mike Turzai.     The Republican Speaker of the state House is expected to propose a school voucher bill Monday that will treat Harrisburg Schools as nothing more than carrion fit for plunder by school privatization vultures.     Sure the district is in state receivership after decades of neglect and…

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The Stink of Segregation Needs to End in Steel Valley Schools – Education Article

 I am a teacher at Steel Valley Schools.   I am also an education blogger.   In order to belong to both worlds, I’ve had to abide by one ironclad rule that I’m about to break:   Never write about my home district.   Oh, I write about issues affecting my district. I write about charter schools, standardized testing, child poverty, etc. But I rarely mention how these things directly impact my school, my classroom, or my students.   I…

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Are Teachers Allowed to Think for Themselves? – Education Article

 As a public school teacher, I am often told what to do and how to do it.   Go teach this class.   Report to lunch duty at this time.   Monitor this student’s progress in this way, that student’s progress in another way, differentiate the following, document this medical condition, write up this behavior, check for that kind of hall pass, post and teach these academic standards, etc., etc., etc.   Some of these directives I agree with and…

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