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#Ferguson, MO Commission Report

[From Forward Through Ferguson, A Path To Racial Equity, a report by the Ferguson Commission.] CHILD WELL-BEING AND EDUCATION EQUITY Working Group Co-Chairs: Commissioner Becky James-Hatter Commissioner Grayling Tobias (December 1, 2014 – April 13, 2015) Desired Changes: Build a region that ensures that all children and youth, ages 0-25, are thriving in their daily lives by: • Growing and developing to their full potential; • Retaining the ability to be children; and • Preparing to become fulfilled and contributing adults Secure educational achievement, fairness, and opportunity for all youth by: • Setting high expectations; • Recognizing unique differences and developmental stages; • Advancing outcome-based approaches; • Aligning and coordinating customized services; and • Producing college-ready and career-ready students Topics Explored: • School District and School Accreditation • Hunger and Food Instability • Public Education Funding • College Access and Affordability • Human Capital in Education • Social Service Coordination with Schools • Caring Adults (mentors, coaches) • Early Childhood Education • Parent Education and Engagement • Childhood Health Review the full list of calls to action from this working group in the “Calls to Action” section of the report. Sept 14, 2015 Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity by k12newsnetwork

K12NN Site Admin September 15, 2015 September 15, 2015 BlackLivesMatter, education equity, Ferguson, racial justice, whole child
Why Are State Budget Cuts to Education the “New Normal”?

When the housing bubble ginned up by Wall Street went into freefall some time around 2007-2008, housing values plummeted and with them evaporated crucial state funding for K-12 schools based on residential real estate valuation. The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities has said that for 2012-2013, the budgets of thirty states will continue to reflect shortfalls in funding and that this graph shows how losses might not be made up until 2019 at the earliest: Consider that in 2010, a number of corporate reformers plotted a hostile takeover of public education and assessed their efforts so far. In 2010, billionaire donors like the Waltons, DeVos and Gates families gathered in Houston, Texas at a Philanthropy Roundtable meeting to discuss ways to create “breakthroughs” in public education. After patting themselves on the back for promoting organizations like Teach for America and KIPP, as well as recognizing Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, they looked to the future. As they were brainstorming things to note in the current landscape, AEI’s Rick Hess suggested that unions could be co-opted by being encouraged to move from an industrial model to a “professional model”, and then offered this: The fiscal condition of states and towns will open up opportunities, too. “There’s going to be a sustained window of four to five years or longer where you’re going to find local districts with very tight budgets,” Hess said. “This is a huge moment of opportunity for funders to step up to the plate and say, ‘We’re going to help you out—but there’s a quid pro quo.’”[emphasis in the citation] That would be a textbook example of Shock Doctrine education reform right there, funded by the same billionaires who created and continue to maintain the fiscal condition of states and towns. Those same billionaires are now spending hundreds of millions of dollars to keep that window forced open while they work to shift public opinion away from traditional K-12 education into for-profit models that will present “opportunities” for a quid-pro-quo deal. Consider it a multi-pronged approach. Drive a stake into the heart of teachers unions and put proposals in front of them that will need to be “jammed down their throats”, demonize those same teachers in order to manufacture a “crisis” based primarily on flawed testing and unproven evaluation metrics. Add the online education movement amplified via ALEC and state legislatures, where online education isn’t simply an option, but is required in several states. Mix it up with a pinch of teacher humiliation, and the odor of “education deform” begins to permeate and bubble in every community. The tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina for the city of New Orleans was so textbook a case of Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein spent  a lengthy chapter detailing how the public school system was immediately replaced by for-profit charter schools. In the excerpted introduction to her book of the same name, Klein describes a conversation she had with some New Orleans residents who were at a temporary shelter: The news racing around the shelter that day was that the Republican Congressman Richard Baker had told a group of lobbyists, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” Joseph Canizaro, one of New Orleans’ wealthiest developers, had just expressed a similar sentiment: “I think we have a clean sheet to start again. And with that clean sheet we have some very big opportunities.” All that week Baton Rouge had been crawling with corporate lobbyists helping to lock in those big opportunities: lower taxes, fewer regulations, cheaper workers and a “smaller, safer city” – which in practice meant plans to level the public housing projects. Hearing all the talk of “fresh starts” and “clean sheets”, you could almost forget the toxic stew of rubble, chemical outflows and human remains just a few miles down the highway. Over at the shelter, Jamar could think of nothing else. “I really don’t see it as cleaning up the city. What I see is that a lot of people got killed uptown. People who shouldn’t have died.” He was speaking quietly, but an older man in line in front of us overheard and whipped around. “What is wrong with these people in Baton Rouge? This isn’t an opportunity. It’s a goddamned tragedy. Are they blind?” A mother with two kids chimed in. “No, they’re not blind, they’re evil. They see just fine.” One of those who saw opportunity in the floodwaters of New Orleans was the late Milton Friedman, grand guru of unfettered capitalism and credited with writing the rulebook for the contemporary, hyper-mobile global economy. Ninety-three years old and in failing health, “Uncle Miltie”, as he was known to his followers, found the strength to write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal three months after the levees broke. “Most New Orleans schools are in ruins,” Friedman observed, “as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity.” There, in essence, is the Shock Doctrine: your tragedy is my opportunity. Please do read the supplemental materials Klein provides, including the Milton Friedman newspaper editorial that proposes “vulture capitalism” as the way to rebuild New Orleans schools. This is why K12NN’s number one priority, and the priority of anyone who genuinely cares about strengthening public schools, is to fully fund existing public schools. We must repel the carrion-feeders who capitalize from misfortune, and if no natural disaster strikes, they ensure that man-made ones enacted through state legislatures’ austerity budgets, continued chronic underfunding, and cuts and triggers become the “new normal.” If hedge fund and billionaire philanthropists — who openly rub their hands in glee at the prospect of turning public schools into factory-like information delivery systems to children who are little else than sources of data — have their way, the impact of the 2007 Great Recession could be prolonged by deliberate political inaction into 2019 — long enough for profiteers to finish their hostile takeover of public schools. We cannot allow this to happen. We must continually remind each other that scarcity benefits profiteers. All cuts, no taxes ever is NOT the “new normal.” We must look to the ways that schools can and should be funded: by increasing revenue streams. Fund our public schools, or face losing a generation of young people and a vital pillar of our civil society.

K12NN Site Admin June 21, 2012 June 21, 2012 disaster capitalism, Hurricane Katrina, Naomi Klein, New Orleans, public schools, shock doctrine, state K-12 budgets
Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Resolutions re iPads TOOLKIT

So far a number of Neighborhood Councils, maybe a dozen or more, have passed resolutions asking that iPad purchases be halted and the facilities bond fund money spent on repairs to schools as originally intended. Pacoima Neighborhood Council Education Committee, resolution passed on 10/4/14 Pacoima Neighborhood Council Education Committee Resolution: LAUSD School Board re John Deasy

K12NN Site Admin October 8, 2014 October 8, 2014
Community Schools in a re-authorized ESEA

This is the Coalition for Community Schools’ fact sheet on how Community Schools work in ESEA’s reauthorization and how they should be given permanent funding status and elevated as a remedy for schools in impoverished districts.    

K12NN Site Admin July 21, 2015 July 21, 2015 community schools, ESEA, Every Child Achieves Act
Public School Districts Fight Back Against Privatization With District-Based, All-Public “Schools of Choice”

Read more about the way Grand Prairie ISD has developed schools organized around themes (like magnet schools, but with no entry tests or applications) and shown versatility in offering programs that appeal to families in the community — all done as fully public, civil rights and IDEA-compliant taxpayer-funded and publicly-accountable schools.

K12NN Site Admin January 11, 2013 January 11, 2013 school reform, varied curriculum
Millionaire/Billionaire Funders of the Charter Lobby

Who are the millionaires and billionaires interested in opening legislatures and in some cases, buying school board seats with outrageously super-sized donations, in order to force unlimited charter schools on states? Our friends at Muckety have created a relationship map that shows who’s connected to who. They used as the basis of their map the 2010 effort in Washington State to pass a ballot initiative opening up the entire state to unlimited charter schools. Not surprisingly, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and a number of other high-tech titans from within the state were the chief donors to that effort. But billionaires from around the country, like Eli Broad of California and Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City, were also contributors. //

K12NN Site Admin May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013 Bill Gates, charter industry, charter legislation, Eli Broad, Gates Foundation, Mike Bloomberg, Washington state
High School Student-Led, On-Campus Voter Reg & Education Laws

As of this writing (November 2014), 10 states have laws to enable 17-year olds to pre-register, or in some cases, to enable students to lead peer-to-peer, campus-based voter registration efforts. See here: Several states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Florida, Maine, Wisconsin, Missouri and Texas – now allow 17-year-olds to pre-register. In Hawaii, 16-year-olds may pre-register so that their voter status is automatically activated when they turn 18. Wisconsin, according to a report from New America Foundation, reaches out to young voters through a state law establishing at every high school a “registration deputy,” filled by a volunteering teacher or staff member. The article further discusses how it works in California: The statute also reiterates that the last two full weeks in the months of April and September – now known as “high school voter weeks” – be designated as “high school voter education weeks,” and it authorizes each school administrator to name one or more students as voter outreach coordinators to encourage student registration during that time. “We know that when young people experience the importance of voting and a culture of civic engagement in high school, they are much more likely to be active voters once they are eligible,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement last week. “We also know peer-to-peer education is one of the most effective ways to develop students’ interest in democracy, and we’ve seen wonderful examples of it throughout the state.” Getting the word out to the state’s nearly 2,000 schools with grades 9 to 12, however, may be the more difficult task. And, even then, planning and coordinating a school-wide voter registration event takes a willing administrator and an active student council to see it through. If your state does NOT yet have a law like this, maybe it’s time to work toward one. The way to combat voter suppression and caging is to make sure we always have a new crop of freshly registered voters who are conversant in civics and understand all aspects of the democratic process. Additional resources and reports: Project Vote has great sample legislation, research, and recommended practices for putting into place high school voter registration programs. League of Women Voters has a comprehensive toolkit and high school voter registration training manual, current as of 2013. Fair Vote has an abundance of resources in general and a very interesting section on the ability of state-recognized parties to permit 17 year olds to participate in partisan primaries and caucuses.

K12NN Site Admin November 7, 2014 November 8, 2014 high school voter registration
From COPAA (Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates): Charter Schools and Students With Disabilities, January 2012

This is a great report put together by advocates who know education law, as they’re parents and attorneys, and have children with special needs. The focus here is on charter schools, which have a notorious reputation for “skimming” or “creaming” only the most motivated and test-savvy children, and pushing children with disabilities or other challenges back into the neighborhood school system. Charter Schools and Students With Disabilities Final

K12NN Site Admin May 21, 2012 May 21, 2012
Wall Street Connections to Charter Lobbyists

Those wonderful folks at Muckety created a map that shows Wall Street 1%ers funding charter school chains in NY state and elsewhere. What’s interesting to note is that you’ll see lots of banks and “charitable foundations.” It’ll take another Muckety map to tease out the relationships between bank executives and boards of philanthropic foundations. In order to understand why charter schools are so appealing to the 1%, you’ll also want to see the New Markets Tax Credits map and how this “community development” incentive has been the accelerant fueling bank and hedge fund interest in creating more charter schools. See below.

K12NN Site Admin May 10, 2013 July 9, 2014 charter lobbyists, charters and foundations, New Markets Tax Credit, Wall Street and charter lobbyists
WA State’s I-1351: Successful K-12 Class Size Reduction

Great news for WA state coming out of the 2014 elections! Voters there passed a class size reduction ballot initiative. Provisions include: Initiative 1351 would lower class sizes for kindergarten through 12th grade and create 25,000 more jobs, including about 7,400 for teachers. The state Office of Financial Management estimates the measure would cost $4.7 billion through 2019. Mostly supported by teachers’ unions, the measure would establish limits for class sizes – 17 students for kindergarten through 3rd grade and 25 students for grades 4 through 12. Low-income schools would have smaller classes. Read about the margin of voter approval and other details having to do with the funding requirements to support this new policy change here. Bill text from the state of Washington is attached as a pdf.

K12NN Site Admin November 13, 2014 November 13, 2014 class size reduction, laws (passed)

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