Social Justice

Don’t Fear Summer Lee. Fear the Devil’s Bargain Labor Leaders Are Willing to Make Opposing Her – Education Article

 Cancer or unemployment.   That’s the choice Pennsylvanians are being asked to make in 2020.   Do we allow hydraulic fracking to continue to destroy our environment and increase our risk of cancers and other debilitating illnesses?   Or do we clean things up and risk losing jobs?   Some labor leaders seem willing to chose the former on behalf of their constituencies.   That’s why the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council (PA AFL-CIO) voted to oppose the re-election of…

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There Are No Bernie Bros, Just Diverse Supporters Being Made Into What They’re Not – Education Article

 It’s time to call the whole “Bernie Bros” phenomenon exactly what it is – racist, sexist, homophobic propaganda.     I don’t mean that Bernie Sanders’ supporters are any of those things.     I mean that the term used to lump us all together is.     There is no monolithic group of angry straight men backing the Vermont Senator’s bid for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020. Nor was there in 2016.    A substantial portion of…

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Did Rosa Parks Really Support Charter Schools? – Education Article

  They say history is written by the victors.   But fortunes change, and sometimes you can even reclaim a figure from the past who the last round of winners had cast in an unlikely role.   Take Rosa Parks.   She is universally hailed as a hero of the civil rights movement because of her part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.   Everyone knows the story. Parks, a black seamstress in Alabama, refused to give up her seat to…

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Who Will Protect My Right NOT to Pay for Your Child’s Religious Education? – Education Article

    When I was a kid back in middle school, I had a crush on this girl, let’s call her Patty.     She wasn’t the most popular or beautiful girl in class, but I kinda’ liked her.       Of course, she had no idea I was alive.     Or so I thought, until one day she walked straight up to my desk and started rubbing my hair.     I was shocked at first, but…

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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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Why Chick-fil-A Matters in my Classroom. – Education Article

It was Christmas dinner 2017, and the talk was of a new (and only) Chick-fil-A opening in our central New York area. My family endorsed the taste of their remarkable chicken and delicious drinks. Discussions of their charity and fundraisers abounded. As I listened to the conversations, I felt myself grow smaller. It was like an out of body experience as I observed myself shrinking in importance. My views on equality and progress froze in the face of a hard…

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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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