Friday, April 30, 2010

Condo in Florida still for sale

"Model" D.C. contract is a sham

Back in August, 2008 I wrote about "Rhee's cynical tenure-for-pay swap."
But the problem is, technocrat Rhee and Mayor Fenty are in league with Ownership Society privatizers bent on replacing public with privately managed (non-union) charter schools and vouchers for Catholic (non-union) schools. That means that the pay provisions of any new contract won’t be worth the paper they’re written on...
And then a little more than a year ago, when the deal was first officially proposed in D.C., I (and many others) warned:
Rhee wants teachers to abandon their collective-bargaining rights in exchange for a promised pay raise for those who aren't fired. The Gates, Broad, and Walton foundations have agreed to underwrite the pay raises, but only temporarily. If the union buys this, I have a condo down in Florida...
The union leadership, including local prez, George Parker and AFT chief, Randi Weingarten, under pressure from both Arne Duncan and the giant foundations, bought it. The raise-for-tenure deal was hailed as the new model for union contracts everywhere. 

But rank-and-file teachers have yet to sign on and now the cat is out of the bag. The whole deal is a sham, says C.F.O. Ghandi

George, Randi, Arne, Bill, Eli, the condo in Bradenton is still on the market. Call me.

What happens when Democrats take their lead from McCain/Palin

"Drill baby, drill?"

The worst eco-disaster in U.S. history is taking place in the Gulf. BP Oil's race to the top has even got T-bagger politicians like Gov. Jindal crying for help from BIG GOVERNMENT.

But it was just three weeks ago that Obama and the Democrats themselves were calling on congress to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to the big oil companies. This was their way of  "reaching across the aisle" to the Limbaugh Party of No.

Watching the seemingly boundless glob of crude, now bigger than the state of West Virginia, washing up the mouth of the Mississippi and on to the eco-sanctuaries of Louisiana, destroying the fishing industry and everything natural in its path, I can't help but recall Diane Ravitch's comparison of the current Arne Duncan-led ed reform to an "educational tsunami," another pathetic attempt by Democrats, to echo the market-driven policies of the neo-cons.

It seems that whenever Obama stands up and acts the way he promised to act during the election campaign, good things can happen, ie. passage of the health care bill and now potentially Wall St. Reform. But when he and the Democrats cave in and mimic McCain/Palin, it's a national disaster waiting to happen--ie. expansion of the war in Afghanistan, drill, baby drill and test baby, test.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daley gives up on his own school reform, backs vouchers

So much for Chicago school reform, Arne Duncan's "Chicago miracle," Renaissance 2010 & fixing broken schools. Mayor Daley has given up on his own reform. He's flipped and now supports vouchers, giving away badly needed public school dollars to send more students to Catholic & private schools. This, even after major studies on the nation's oldest voucher program in Milwaukee show zero net gains for students.

Bill Ayers speaks to huge Univ. of Wyoming crowd

University President Tom Buchanan (not the Gatsby character) had banned Ayers from speaking to a group of students last month, using threats of violence from right-wingers as his excuse. But a law suit initiated by student Meg Lanker and favorable ruling by U.S. District Judge William Downes  opened the university to the "dangerous" Mr. Ayers.

Result? Instead of the expected 150 ed students who likely would have shown for the earlier talk, an enthusiastic, overflow crowd of 1,200 turned out on a Wednesday evening. A handful of T-baggers picketed outside. And guess what?--the university is still standing.

Addressing the media beforehand, Ayers said he would have given the speech even if he’d been as “sick as a dog."
“Because in my view, when the people gather at the gates of an institution like this, with pitchforks and torches, and say the things that were being said, that they would burn the place down,” Ayers told reporters. “And I was told several times in e-mails that they were going to take me out to the Matthew Shepard fence and teach me a lesson. That’s exactly when I’m going to show up.” (Billings Gazette)
An important victory for academic freedom and social justice. Bill should send Pres. Buchanan some flowers.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Accountability Dept. #2

McCain, Palin, Jindal and now Obama: "Drill baby, drill!" 42K gals. of crude/day heading for Louisiana coast. Spill bigger than state of Rhode Island. May be worst eco-disaster in U.S. history. Obama now wants to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to the oil companies. Didn't McCain/Palin lose the election?

Accountability dept. #1

Western Michigan charter school board: "We didn't fire popular principal. It was our private management company."

Ravitch takes it to the 'Billionaire Boys Club'

Speaking truth to power
The “current obsession with making our schools work like a business,’’ writes Ravitch, “threatens to destroy public education.’’ (Boston Globe, "Bill Gates' risky adventure")
Gates denies he has it, plays coy
“The education system is always decided politically,’’ said Gates. “If she (Ravitch) thinks foundations are dictating, I don’t see it.’’

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two N.Y. editorials

There must be something in the drinking water inside the editorial offices of the Times & Daily News. N.Y. editorial writers are falling all over themselves to echo Arne Duncan's school "reform" message. Problem is, the message is so muddled and the writers so ignorant about the most basic notions of public education that their daily exhortations to close more schools (including colleges of education) and fire more teachers are beginning to sound comedic.

By far the goofiest, was in Sunday's Daily News. The board has joined Duncan in his assault on ed schools. Of course there are many valid criticisms of ed school programs that can be made. But their argument is that prospective teachers are learning too much theory--you know, all that crazy stuff about cognitive development, experiential learning, and (OMG!) democracy in education.  

We don't need no stinkin' theory says the DN, especially that left-wing stuff. You know, those guys they teach up there at Columbia T.C., Bank Street, and City College, like Freire (sounds like he's French or something). Just stick to teachin' 'em how to teach and forget all that other crap.
Newbie instructors too often emerge from ed school stuffed with the ideas of everyone from Thomas Dewey to Brazilian Marxist theorist Paulo Freire (author of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed") - but clueless about how to help kids learn.

That's John Dewey they're stuffing into the heads of "newbies," you idiots-- you know, our country's greatest pedagogue and philosopher, father of American pragmatism. Not Thomas Dewey, the former governor of your state--NEW YORK! This is what you get with educational know-nothings running the USDOE and the country's great newspapers.

Almost as ridiculous was Sunday's editorial in the Times, "When the system works," which posed North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg's school system as a model for implementing Duncan's Race-To-The-Top. Under C-M's new staffing initiative, super-principals are given ultimate power over teachers (they think). 
Once at the new schools, the principals are permitted to remove as many as five teachers if they consider them to be hostile to reform.

That's right. The principal can override the collective-bargaining agreement the district signed (OOPS, there is none. Don't like no damn unions down here in N.C.) and fire teachers who don't agree with RTTT. The catch-22 is that, at the heart of Duncan's RTTT reform is the firing of teachers and principals en masse. In other words, teachers can be fired for disagreeing with the plan to fire themselves and their principals. A great paradox.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Wake County has also become a model for racial re-segregation and for the abandonment of many of the hard-won gains made during the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s.

Could it be that there's a connection between racism, union busting, and attacks on democratic educational theories being taught in the best colleges of education? Of course. Not that anyone at the Times or Daily News would notice.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Maybe they mean this Dewey...

Newbie instructors too often emerge from ed school stuffed with the ideas of everyone from Thomas Dewey to Brazillian Marxist theorist  Paulo Freire (author of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed") - but clueless about how to help kids learn. (N.Y. Daily News editorial bashing schools of education)
Mass. testing madness
MCAS has a decidedly negative effect on the humanities and the arts. With the excessive preoccupation on testing in English and math (and now science), there is no room or energy for becoming human. (Anthony J. Palmer, visiting scholar at the School of Music at Boston University)
When they start talking "innovation," DUCK!
"Even if the reform bill does bring stringent regulation to derivatives — a big if — that won’t rectify capitalism’s worst “innovation” in our own Gilded Age: the advent of exotic, speculative “investments” that have no redeeming social value and are instead concocted to facilitate gambling for its own sake." (Frank Rich)

D.C. Superior Court judge questions legality of Rhee teacher firings
"The issue is now whether it was reasonable for the chancellor to believe last fall that there was a budget shortfall to justify" the layoffs. (WaPo)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ship of fools

Here's the latest from the Ownership Society

Even as Arne Duncan is predicting 300,000 teacher layoffs in what he describes as an "education catastrophe," OS cheerleaders Jay Mathews and Mike Petrilli are breaking out their pom-poms.

WaPo's Mathews ("Job losses bad for teachers, not necessarily for education") claims that devastating the nation's teaching corps, while bad for teachers (and their families and the national economy) may actually be good for education. It will make those remaining teachers more "conscientious" says Mathews.
"Schools usually compensate for losing teachers by raising class size and giving the teachers who are left more kids to handle." 
Fordham think-tanker Petrilli simply puts it this way:   
"Districts need to learn to live with less.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My letter to ed--Huntley lied

My letter on vouchers in Today's S-T. Columnist Steve Huntley had claimed vouchers raised scores.  
" after study shows students escaping failing public schools thanks to vouchers record academic gains."
P.S. I haven't been at UIC in years. Don't know where they got that.

Largest protest rocks the capitol, "Save Our State!" "Save Our Schools!"

Coverage sucks

Today's news coverage of yesterday's 15,000-strong mass protest in Springfield was pathetic. The Tribune's headline screamed, "THRONGS AT RALLY CRY: 'RAISE MY TAXES.'" If you read the online edition of the Trib, even that's story has been pulled by this afternoon. The rally, the largest ever at the capitol, never happened, it seems. My delivered Sun-Times didn't even cover the protest. The online edition? (wait...I'm checking) Nothing.

I couldn't help thinking--what if was a Tea Party ("we don't want to pay taxes for no stinking schools") rally of 500 with Tom Tancredo drawing cheers by telling the President to go back to Africa? How different the press coverage would have been, with several prime-time correspondents reporting directly from the rally and T-baggers all over the morning news shows proclaiming that they're "just plain folks" protesting big government.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

15,000 Surround Capitol in Springfield

Fred Klonsky photo

An estimated 15,000 people gathered at the Capitol in Springfield Wednesday calling for a tax increase that could stave off major budget cuts. The gathering, dubbed the "Save Our State" rally virtually shut down traffic around the Capitol building and is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations ever in Springfield. (Huffington)

Collateral damage from N.Y. school closings

Norm Fruchter describes the damage done to English Language Learners (ELL) and other fallout from Bloomberg/Klein's "reforms" in N.Y. He focuses in on the so-called restructuring of two large Brooklyn high schools, Tilden and Lafayette. 
Recent studies suggest that, as the new small schools age, their student outcomes increasingly resemble the student outcomes of the larger high schools. If this trend continues, the DOE’s large school closing/small school creation strategy may ultimately amount to continually reshuffling students rather than improving their learning opportunities.

Thousands head for Springfield

Buses are loaded with Illinois teachers.
School funding protests bringing teachers, parents, seniors from across the state.
In New Jersey, Teaneck High School students walked out of classes this morning to protest the defeat of the school budget, program cuts and teacher firings.

In St. Paul, most of the more than 350 people in attendance at Tuesday night's school board meeting wore blue T-Shirts to show support for Arlington High School, one of the schools slated to close under Supt. Silva's proposed $30 million in budget cuts.

Listen to audio: 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eason-Watkins on her way out... just as I predicted

In September, I wrote about Ron Huberman's "house cleaning" of Arne Ducan's CPS staffers. It was right about the time that Huberman dumped his new-schools chief, Josh Edelman when I wrote:
Word is that he's consolidating budget people from the various departments and is cleaning house of Arne Duncan's people. New schools/charters manager Josh Edelman went last week. Chief Ed Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins, will be next. He will replace most with Mayor Daley's people and his old team from over at CTA. But don't worry about Edelman and Watkins. Both will most likely land on their feet with Duncan in D.C.

This morning, Sun-Times columnist Sheila Foster tells us that indeed, Dr. Eason-Watkins, one of the few remaining black educators (or educators period) in the CPS hierarchy, will be leaving to run another devastated school district in Michigan City, Indiana. Edelman did end up on his feet in D.C.--not with Duncan, but running behind the broom-wielding Michelle Rhee.

At the time, Catalyst called my prediction "highly speculative." Duh! But now they too are saying that Eason-Watkins is toast in Chicago. I demand an apology.

Readers may recall Catalyst's own highly speculative reporting from Dec.'08: "Eason-Watkins to be next Schools Chief."

Glimmers of hope

Hundreds of Chicago  Public School students walked out of the their schools and made their way to protest in front of CPS headquarters.

Last week at a Diane Ravitch book event in Chicago, someone in the audience asked if there was a "glimmer of hope in the midst of the current educational tsunami striking public education?" I would have answered yes. Arne Duncan's "reforms" combined with the worst economic crisis in my lifetime, threaten the very existence of public education and public space in general. But the tsunami also seems to have awakened a resistance movement and open demonstrations of anger on the part of teachers and students not seen in 40 years.

Some glimmers:
The glimmer list grows and  may even make re-authorization of a new version of No Child Left Behind that much more difficult. Good news. Feel free to add your own glimmers here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New York's segregated, 2-tier school system

GRITtv interviews ed activist Donna Nevel

Weekend Quotables

D.C. Rhee's disappearing $34 million surplus
Weingarten, leader of the 1 million-member national union, said "three-card monte may be an acceptable game in some places, but it shouldn't be an acceptable principle to guide DCPS."The Chancellor talks a lot about performance. What we're seeing here is a lack of performance." (WaPo)
Pay-for-grades study
“Providing incentives for achievement-test scores has no effect on any form of achievement we can measure.” (Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer)
Harvard Ed School or Yogi Berra? 
 “When you are paid to do something you may not know exactly how to accomplish, it’s not clear how you respond. But if you are being offered money to do something very concrete...then that might be easier to respond to.” (Graduate School of Education professor Martin R. West)

God vs. health care reform
The volcano was God's response to Obamacare (Republican's main spokesman Rush Limbaugh)

Pat Robertson to Limbaugh: "Who put YOU in charge in charge of interpreting God's reactions to volcanoes?" (Roger Ebert Tweet)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Should we work to turn low-scoring schools around?

Or are school closings and charters the only way?

I'm in Cleveland at KnowledgeWorks annual Leadership Institute. Great crowd of educators from all over. Last night's forum, led by EdWorks' Director Harold Brown, asked if it's possible to turn around failing schools? Keynoter was Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation. He wrote the solid biography of Al Shanker and now seems like Shanker reincarnate, for better and worse. He makes a strong case for economic desegregation of schools as the key to school improvement.

He was followed by a panel of respondents that even included an educator (OMG! Thank you KnowledgeWorks), Sharon Johnson, a principal who led a turnaround at Wilson High in Cincinnati, thereby answering the framing question. Right? No, you don't have to close schools and fire all the teachers. You listening Arne? She even talked about teaching/learning issues, supports for teachers, etc... Be still my beating heart.

Mark Simon from the Tom Mooney Institute, offered a strong defense of union/district partnerships.

But the Fordham Institute's Andy Smarick, holding down the far right-wing of the panel, was having none of it. Smarick claimed that it was a waste of "human capital" to invest in low-performing schools. We should disinvest and only open new charters. It was a market-driven strategy of survival of the fittest right down to praise for the Central Falls firings and merit pay. Irony--this far-right perspective is the very heart of Duncan's Race To The Top strategy.

But that didn't stop me from having a friendly but probably existential give-and-take with Andy after dessert. Hey, I saw Diane Ravitch arm-in-arm with Bill Ayers last week at UIC. A new world is possible.


Also in Cleveland yesterday, a gaggle of T-baggers protesting tax day. I sat next to two of them in the hotel coffee shop. They were trying to win-over, recruit the waiter. "Pregnant Mexicans are sneaking across border to have their babies. We pay for it with our taxes." Waiter nods." Can I bring u some dessert?"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big victory in Florida

Teachers got the Gov's attention

Florida Republican Gov. Crist has vetoed the anti-teacher SB6 bill passed by a Republican legislature. Crist acted in response to massive and militant student/teacher protests. Lots of lessons here for us. #1 If you don't hit it, it won't fall.

Check out the Sun-Sentinel poll and you'll get an idea why Crist acted:

In support of the veto--85%
Not sure--3%

Ben in the belly of the beast

If you like good reporting, don't miss Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky's attempt to unravel the doublespeak and web of lies spun by the CPS disinformation team headed by Monique Bond. Joravsky is invited into the belly of the beast on Clark Street to get re-educated as to why the CEO's big pay increase in a time of financial disaster, "wasn't really a raise." Hilarious!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rhee lied about 'budget deficit' in order to fire hundreds of teachers

"Figures don't lie, but liars can figure."--Mark Twain

D.C. Supt. Michelle Rhee's leadership/management style, shaped in the boardrooms & classrooms of Eli Broad's Superintendent's Academy, reminds us of Enron's "smartest guys in the room" or Broad's own leadership at AIG. 

In the blink of an eye, Rhee's budget deficit turns into a $34 million surplus. All this book-cooking so Rhee could violate the collective-bargaining agreement and fire 266 teachers at will.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, even Anita Dunn's high-powered PR firm may not be able to clean up her mess. If Rhee's scheme falls apart, it could also bring down Mayor Fenty in the upcoming election. Let's see how this all plays with teachers who have to vote on Rhee's "historic" contract agreement.

Ironically, AFT prez Randi Weingarten, who brokered the agreement is now telling D.C. teachers to put this issue of the mass teacher firings aside and agree to the new contract anyway.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Inside Chicago's school "renaissance"

New I.G. investigation

Here's how they clean up high school dropout rates at CPS. They keep "ghost students" on the books long after they've left school. This is how they did it in Houston to produce the so-called "Texas Miracle" during the Bush/Paige era. Now Chicago schools do it in order to survive massive budget cuts. It's the same reason there's so much cheating on high-stakes tests. Watch  for classroom teachers to get blamed.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Don't sign SB6!


Too good for just the Twitter column
  • Wow- whirlwind tour of Chicago orchestrated by Mike & Susan Klonsky. Great people. Thanks, guys!
  • First stop Depaul, overflow crowd of students, teachers, faculty. Great response. 2 drove from Columbus Ohio, 1 from Detroit. 
  •  Next stop U of Ill, where I met Bill Ayers, posed for photo. I cd be elected President by palling around with him. Large crowd.
  •  Dinner w/ exec comm of Chicago Teachers Union. What a day. Exhausted.
  •  Sat am meeting with friends of Catalyst, terrific research journal covering Chicago Public Schools. Wish we had it in NYC.
  • Sat went to convention center for NSBA. Room packed, over 1,000, they ran out if chairs and turned away overflow late arrivals.
  • NSBA response amazing. Standing ovation. Once again, not enough books, sold out.
  • Note to Arne: Race to the Top is NCLB on steroids.


Diane Ravitch on Chicago's "renaissance"
It's 2010. Has Chicago had a renaissance yet? ... Usually when you set a goal, that's the goal you plan to meet. I've looked at the evaluations of the Chicago plans and what I've seen is that when schools are closed, communities are disrupted -- in some cases, shattered.  (Progress Illinois)

Bruce Dixon, co-founder of Black Agenda Report
There was a time and place when "school reform" meant empowering parents  to collaborate with teachers in those local schools to evaluate teacher performance and improve the quality of learning and instruction.  In the 1980s, Chicago's mayor Harold Washington acceded to the demands of the grassroots neighborhood forces that elected him, and had state and city authorities enact a radically democratic kind of school reform. (Huffington)
Alan Singer, Hofstra prof.
I never thought of Tennessee and Delaware as models for anything, except now it seems their bureaucrats are really good at filling out paper work. (Huffington)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

'Jeb Bush's Waterloo'--A Florida teacher speaks out

I received this in the mail this morning. Definitely worth a read.

Be careful what you set your heart upon--for it will surely be yours.

When he wrote the above line the great James Baldwin, who’s A Talk to Teachers should be required reading in every school of education, was doing a riff on the age-old warning to be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.

Jeb Bush has dreamed his whole political life of plunging a dagger in the heart of public education. His fond hopes were probably best confessed in his second inaugural address as Florida's governor in 2003. Bush told the rapt crowd gathered to hail him, "There will be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers; as silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill." Bush could already see it in his mind’s eye. Yes, school buildings empty of teachers, monuments to an abandoned American crusade for universal public education.

On August 9, 2010 at 2:26 a.m., the Florida House of Representatives voted Jeb Bush closer to his life’s dream than he has ever been. At the very same moment they destroyed it. Jeb Bush, like Icarus, has finally flown too close to the sun. A sleeping giant has been roused.
Jeb Bush’s Waterloo comes at the end of a long road.

First give the man his due. He is a brilliant. As a youth he sensed how important US relations with Latin America would become and he made the region the focus of his studies in college. He foresaw how important Spanish-speaking immigrant voters would someday be and he made himself fluent in the language and took a Mexican woman as his bride. Early in the movement he sensed the political power of Christian fundamentalism and so he began pretending to be a man of faith.

He would have been President of the United States before his brother George but the first time Jeb Bush ran for governor in 1994 he lost. During the campaign Bush was asked by reporters what his administration might do for Black Floridians. He made a tactical blunder. He gave an honest answer. He said, "Probably nothing". Jeb Bush got 4% of the African-American vote and Lawton Chiles beat him in a close race.

Nothing if not politically astute, during his second run for governor in 1998 Bush teamed up with the conservative African-American Director of the Urban League of Greater Miami, T. Willard Fair, to establish Florida's first ever charter school in Miami's iconic Black community Liberty City. The Liberty Charter School served as an effective campaign prop for Bush and he received 17% of the Black vote this time around. Soon after taking office Bush severed his ties with Liberty Charter and appointed T. Willard Fair to the Florida Board of Education where he remains to this day giving slavish devotion to a man who he once told, "In my judgment, there is no greater person on this Earth than you. I love you."

Ultimately when historic Liberty Charter School failed and closed its doors due to a lack of funding The Miami Herald sought reaction from Bush. He wrote back, "I am not aware of what this is about."

Jeb Bush’s political modus operandi has always been to divide the people in the service of his only true constituency—wealthy business interests. That sliver of Florida’s population has always found the public school system to be little more than a boondoggle where billions of dollars escape their clutches. So throughout his first term as governor Jeb Bush relentlessly pounded on public schools with voucher programs, charter school promotion, merit pay plans, standardized testing schemes, larger classes and less money for schools struggling with poverty and deprivation.
In 2002 Florida voters were asked to consider the re-election of Jeb Bush and the Class-Size Amendment to the state Constitution on the same ballot. Both Bush and class-size reduction won. Jeb Bush graciously accepted the will of the voters that he serve a second term as governor but never stopped scheming to reverse the class-size mandate.

Florida Today reported, “Gov. Jeb Bush rolled out of bed the morning after his re-election party with a class-size headache.” The pain had been delivered by now U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek. As the most prominent public face of Florida’s Coalition to Reduce Class Size, Rep. Meek had won the first in a series of epic political battles to genuinely improve public schools. It became a series of battles after Gov. Bush refused to accept the will of Florida’s voters. Commenting on that, Rep. Meek has said, “Floridians expect their governor to be up at night thinking of ways to improve the lives of their children – not hatching ‘devious’ plans to keep them trapped in overcrowded classes.” Meek’s reference to devious plans came from another occasion when Bush was caught telling the truth. He was unaware of a tape recorder in the room.
During the 2005 session of the Florida Legislature Bush hatched his plan to gut the Class-Size Amendment. It deviously pit rural school districts and teachers against the larger urban school districts. The idea never got out of the Legislature thanks to a principled Republican State Senator named Alex Villalobos. Bush's retribution against him was swift and vindictive. Sen. Villalobos had been a champion of spinal cord research at the University of Miami and assistance to Miami Children's Hospital. Funding for both of those projects was among $27 million in cuts directed at South Florida counties in Bush's state budget that year. Apparently unsatisfied that the vetoes had chastened Villalobos, Bush engineered his political humiliation. The man who once was in line to become the first Cuban-born President of the Florida Senate was stripped of the majority leaders post and shown to his new office in the Capitol Building—a broom closet.
The same year, as the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments in yet another attempt to win private school vouchers, proto-typical Bush-backer, Tampa millionaire venture capitalist John Kirtley bused hundreds of school skipping children and their parents to Tallahassee to rally for the governor's program. Many of the same parents and their children were recalled to the Capitol on February 15, 2006 to hear Gov. Bush announce that he would lead a drive to resurrect his thrice declared unconstitutional school voucher program by way of amending the Florida Constitution. With a sense of neither irony nor shame Jeb Bush told his predominantly African-American audience, "In Florida and the United States today, if you've got money you can make a choice. What about the children whose parents don't have the ability based on income to make that choice? Don't they have the same dreams? God gives every child the ability to learn. God does that!"
Although term limits forced Jeb Bush to give up his Tallahassee office at the end of 2006, it did not thwart his determination to keep the apparatus of state government under his control. To this day Gov. Charlie Crist can only dream of having as much influence over education policy in the state as Jeb Bush. Bush loyalists were left on the Florida Board of Education and throughout the Florida Department of Education bureaucracy. In 2007 his minions were shot through the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission which meets every twenty years and has the extraordinary power to go directly to the voters with amendments to the State Constitution. When his former chief of staff as governor, Patricia Levesque, got Bush’s anti-public schools wish list through the Commission, the two traded celebratory text messages.
Funny when State Senator John Thrasher from Jacksonville won passage of Senate Bill 6 he called Jeb Bush immediately too!
Public school teachers in Florida, 168,000 of them, have been frightened and confused by Jeb Bush's success in the Legislature. They have had to ponder over how ideas so clearly absurd and destructive could win the votes of legislators. They have asked why rationality seems to hold no sway in this matter. The short answer is of course that money trumps reason in the Legislature. In fact money trumps all! What Jeb Bush and the Chamber of Commerce and the builders and the developers want they get in the Florida Legislature.

But the teacher's initial fear is giving way to something else. They are calling in sick in Miami-Dade. Their student allies are walking out of classrooms and into the streets in protest. Their parent allies have conducted a hunger strike and marched up and down the state on their behalf. Even if Gov. Crist fails to muster the courage to veto the teachers will stop whatever legislation Bush wins in the implementation phase. I know from a quarter century of teaching experience that we run the schools in practice and while we are deferential to authority we're not suicidal. We will see to our survival and feed our families.
A sleeping giant has been roused.
Paul A. Moore
Public School Teacher
Miami Carol City High School

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ravitch in Chicago

There was a good turnout for Diane Ravitch's whirlwind book tour in Chicago. Friday, she spoke at DePaul (top) and UIC. On Saturday, she spoke to Catalyst members. Her talks were hosted co-hosted by the Small Schools Workshop.

On Saturday afternoon she spoke at the Nat'l. School Board Association (NSBA) and drew an overflow crowd.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Milwaukee vouchers did nothing to improve teaching/learning

Milwaukee's two-decade old voucher program (the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program) is a bust. 20 years, millions of dollars and lots of divisive politics funded by the extreme right-wing Bradley Foundation,  have done nothing to improve measurable learning outcomes for the city's 87,000 students.

You may remember that during the presidential campaign, the supposed benefits of Milwaukee's voucher system was used by conservative Democrats like DFER to try and force a pro-voucher position into the party's campaign platform. Their attempt failed.

Now faced with the latest studies showing that vouchers haven't improved test scores after 20 years, voucher supporters like Rick Hess are claiming that test scores don't matter. Yeah, right!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Who got to Rhee?

Rhee came to town several years with a broom, intent on sweeping away all that she didn’t like and starting fresh.That was an approach doomed to fail. --Valerie Strauss

Less than a month after Anita Dunn's clout-heavy firm was brought in to manage Michelle Rhee's battered broom-wielding persona, the D.C. school boss has finally agreed to terms with the teachers union leadership. The deal, signed yesterday came amid worries that Rhee's base was collapsing and threatening to pull Mayor Fenty down with her. They even had to bring former Baltimore mayor, Kurt Schmoke into town to mediate the deal and pitch it as a win-win. But it was clear all along that it was Rhee who was in retreat. The union, with AFT prez Randi Weingarten calling the shots for Pres. Parker, had agreed all along to negotiate a voluntary performance-pay program, so long as it wasn't based exclusively on student test scores. The shaky part of the deal was an agreement by the private foundations to underwrite promised teacher pay raises to the tune of $64 million. What happens when the private money runs out or if the foundations renege? I guess Weingarten understandably felt that in times like these, you can't look beyond the short run.

Rhee's strategy had been nothing less than shattering D.C.'s teachers union and overriding the teachers collective bargaining agreement with the district. Broom in hand, she promised her patrons at Broad and Gates, that she would close schools, turn them over to private management companies and the Archdiocese, and sweep away teacher tenure and fire teachers in mass.

The new pact, reveals the softer side of Rhee, a side that is willing to negotiate, find common ground, and make big concessions in exchange for a little face-saving. Gone, at least for now, is the daily teacher bashing. Remember when she riffed more than 200 teachers, claiming that they had "had sex with children?" Remember, Rhee's people forcing the Post to remove Bill Turque's unfavorable column?

The contract, if and when it is ratified by the rank-and-file, is a life raft, thrown by Weingarten, that Rhee (and Dunn) hope can keep her, Parker, and Fenty afloat, at least until after the elections. The new contract is already being hailed as the new national model for the Race To The Top crowd. Maybe it will push the Central Falls firings out of sight, out of mind for a while.


Hi Mike,

I thought I would let you know that Ravitch will be on WBEZ’s “848” for a CALL-IN SHOW at 9AM.
Feel free to pass this info along to folks who might have questions for her.
Thank you!
Linda Lutton ׀ Education Reporter ׀ Chicago Public Radio
848 E. Grand Ave. ׀ Chicago, IL 60611
312.948.4608 desk ׀ 312.286.3100 cell ׀ 312.948.4743 fax

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The First Symposium of the Deborah Meier Institute

Remapping Progressive Education
Saturday April 17,  8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Deborah Meier Photo

Pre-Registration Extended until Monday April 12th!

Michelle Fine CUNY, Pedro Noguera NYU

Michael Mulgrew, UFT, Juan Gonzalez, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Join the over 250 educators, colleagues and friends who have preregistered for the conference

School Sponsors:
AmPark*Art of Teaching Program of Sarah Lawrence College*Banana Kelly*Boston Arts Academy*Brooklyn International *Brooklyn New School*Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies*Bronx Community Charter School*Bronx New School*Central Park East 1*Central Park East 2*City as School*Community School for Social Justice*Earth School*East Bronx Academy*East Side Community High School*El Puente*Ella Baker*Essex Street*Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders High School*Facing History*Fannie Lou Hamer* Freedom HS*Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School*Fenway*Global Learning Community*Gotham Arts Academy*Hamilton Heights School*Humanities Prep*International High School at LaGuardia CC*Institute of Collaborative Education*James Baldwin*Landmark*Lehman Alternative Community School - Ithaca*Lyons Community*Manhattan International*Manhattan Village Academy*Middle College HS*Midtown West Elementary School*Mission Hill*Muscota New School*Neighborhood School*PS 3, Manhattan*School of the Future*School Without Walls*University Heights*Urban Academy*Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation*Validus Preparatory Academy*Vanguard*

The Julia Richman Education Complex
317 East 67th Street
New York
, NY

$20.00 - Adults
$15 - Youth - 18 or under
$15 - Groups of 10 or more from one school

Register Now