Making every school a quality school – not just for the lucky ones

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In Massachusetts there is big debate brewing around raising the current charter school cap. It is on the ballot for November 2nd. “The ballot question could allow charters to expand into areas where they don’t exist now, taking millions of dollars away from successful district public schools. Under the proposed ballot question, 12 new charter schools enrolling up to 1 percent of the school-age population could be approved every year, forever, with no limit. These charters could open anywhere in the state, and there are no restrictions on how many charter schools could be opened in a single community or how much money any one district could lose to these new charter schools. The amount of money lost will grow: $100 million more the first year, more than $200 million the next year, more than $300 million the year after that, crippling our school system with every passing year.” (saveourpublicschoolsma.com)

RuthDEY’s National Advisor, Ruth Rodriguez-Fay has written a public letter to Governor Baker of Massachusetts. We have included a few snippets below, and invite you to read the entire letter here. If you are resident of Massachusetts, we strongly urge you to vote no on question 2.

 

Dear Governor:

The people of the Commonwealth wait for your leadership to protect our most sacred institution, our public schools.  We look for your assurance to families that you will use the power to make every public school the quality every child deserves.  We have followed your campaign promoting charter schools, while portraying the public schools as failing.  The “failing” based solely on a test designed with a 60% failing rate. You have shown disrespect to the thousands of teachers, families and students that have been at the helm of a system that prior to the privatization reforms, enjoyed the admiration of the nation and the world.


There are unconfirmed reports that the people behind Question 2 are some of the same who contributed to your candidacy for Governor; and they expect something in return.  It is no secret that investors have found quite profitable the Charter School Enterprise. Why, we even have foreign companies investing in charter schools.  Perhaps you might want to encourage them of a more just and equitable way to help the children of the Commonwealth.


Finally, I humbly suggest that you listen to the advice of Juvenile Court Judges that since the implementation of the MCAS as a high school graduation requirement, and the zero-tolerance policies of the Charter Schools, have witnessed a rise in their courts of majority Black and Latino youths, and over 90% failed the test. This is a classic example of what we have come to see as the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Again, consider making every school the quality school that every child deserves, not just the lottery lucky ones,

Thank you,

Ruth Rodriguez-Fay

Worcester, MA

 

For more information check out the Save Our Public Schools website: https://saveourpublicschoolsma.com/

 

 

DEY National Advisory Board Member William Crane’s Letter in the New York Times

To the Editor: Re “Crux of Grim Ruling: Schools Are Broken” (news analysis, front page, Sept. 9):

Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher’s sweeping critique of Connecticut schools did, indeed, sound like an indictment of school failure nationwide. After decades of efforts to raise standards, few policy makers see the improvement they wished for. The major problem, I think, is that the entire standards movement has focused so exclusively on goals, scores, ratings and statistical outcomes that it has overlooked the most important consideration — the child.

Children begin life curious and enthusiastic about learning, but schools have failed to nurture their intense urge to learn. Experienced teachers know that much of their art consists of building on children’s spontaneous interests, but this art has received little appreciation in recent years. To improve schools, this must be changed.

WILLIAM CRAIN

New York

The writer is a professor of psychology at The City College of New York, CUNY.  Dr. Crain is also a member of DEY’s National Advisory Board.new york times

Accessible Child Care

Sherry ClearyThanks so much to DEY’s National Advisory Board Member, Sherry Cleary, for her recent letter to the editor of the New York Times. A version of this letter appeared in print on August 2, 2016, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Accessible Child Care. We reprint it here with the author’s permission.

To the Editor:

The Wages of Child Care” (Business Day, July 13) illuminates the problem: low wages driven by the fact that the burden to pay these wages rests on young families, early in their earning capacity, and grossly inadequate public subsidy rates.

The United States needs to make a social policy change by allocating public resources to support infrastructure to ensure high-quality child care, with well-trained and well-educated teachers earning adequate compensation (both wages and benefits).

Other countries demonstrate their commitment to young families by generously subsidizing the cost of child care, enabling them to be more productive in the workplace while making sure that their children have opportunities to thrive and start school without the prevailing achievement gap, because they’ve had highly effective early childhood educators who earn professional wages.

Recent polls in the United States indicate that high-quality early childhood education for children from birth to 5 is a bipartisan priority among voters. It is time to pass legislation that includes funding that will significantly elevate compensation of those entrusted with this important responsibility.

SHERRY M. CLEARY

Brooklyn

The writer is executive director of the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at CUNY and a co-chairwoman of the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council.

DEY defends play-based learning on PBS NewsHour

Are young kids losing the brain-boosting benefits of playtime?

Earlier this month, Cat Wise from PBS NewsHour featured Defending the Early Years and the Mission Hill School in a segment taking a look at play-based learning. We are thrilled to share it here – in case you missed it!

And for a full transcript of the story go here, to the story on PBS NewsHour’s website.

Diversity and America’s Generation Gap

RuthOn July 7th, our newest member to DEY’s National Advisory Board, Ruth Rodriguez-Fay, made the following speech at the First Focus Summit that was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Today we are honored to share her powerful words, with permission from Rodriguez-Fay.

 

Diversity and America’s Generation Gap

Ruth Rodriguez-Fay  ~ Diversity Adviser of Save Our Schools

“If you don’t understand the journey of those you serve, you cannot be an advocate for justice.” – Mary Bacon

 

Mary’s quote above is essential to this presentation that I have been honored to share today.  It is critical because of the present day infusion of Corporate America into the design and construct of our public schools.  It is also more so, because those who have set their goal into restructuring our public schools have chosen to isolate certified educators, child development experts and families whose stakes are high in ensuring our children success. Instead, we have everyone from billionaires, hedge funds moguls, real estate investors positioning themselves as the saviors of what they have come to label as “failing” schools.  They have used their $$power to influence legislators into passing an education reform that goes against what we educators have been trained to do.  The disrespect to the teaching profession, especially those of us educators of color, has been unprecedented. No other profession has received such attacks as teachers have, such blatant attacks by non-educators on our ability to do what we have spent our lifetime career mastering.

The Billionaires and hedge funds moguls have waged a war against public education, especially harmful to communities of color, never seen since a century ago, when a similar attempt by Corporate was made. The nation’s largest lobbyists, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), looking for profit ventures for their investors, determined that public education was a multi-trillion investment opportunity just waiting to be tapped; and they wasted little time to begin to concoct a business-model, profit-making endeavor masquerading as education reform with business, factory-style measure, one that these bandits will never consider subjecting their own children.  My friend, today’s leading respected civil rights advocate, Rose Saunders, almost brought me to tears when she declared that, “this is the worst war ever fought on American soil, for neither the civil war, nor the war for civil rights can compare, for the casualties of this war are our precious children.”

I was hopeful when Governor Deval Patrick of MA announced his Readiness Project, seeking advice on his education policies.  I was honored to serve on his Massachusetts Comprehensive and Assessment System (MCAS) and Assessment initiative, hoping to have the opportunity to present an alternative to the damaging high-stake test forced upon all the children, one that had killed the dreams of so many children who were denied a high school diploma based on this single test.  Learning that our alternative recommendations were denied, and the state would continue with the MCAS, I confronted the Governor at his event at Framingham State University, in an audience of over 300 people, I said face to face, “Governor, I thank you for giving the opportunity to serve in your Readiness Project on MCAS and Assessment.  I am saddened that you did not accept our recommendation for alternative form of assessment, and have made the decision to continue the harmful test.  But, I challenge anyone in this room, including you Governor, to immerse yourself in Spanish for one year, then take the test in Spanish, for that Governor, is what you are asking English language learners to do.” One year of English immersion was all that former Governor Mitt Romney believed English language learners needed to compete with their English speaking counterparts; as a result, MA has continued to demand that all students must take the test, and if they fail, they do not receive a diploma.  That night Governor Patrick promised that he will look into this and pointed me to one of his staff. Unfortunately, MA English language learners still are subjected to the test!

Let us look at how one goes about privatizing public education?  First, you manufacture a crisis and instill public fear.  We saw in the Hollywood propaganda, Guggenheim’s Waiting for Superman, where teachers were blamed for everything that is wrong in the country, and posed schools and the students as “failures”, who needed to be rescued, this time by a business-style intervention.  Create a rallying cry for the need to save citizens from an imminent danger, and only they can provide the relief, in this case, since teachers are the problem, they will provide immediate relieve through their profit-making endeavor, known as Teach for America.  These are recent young college graduates, (no need to have an education degree, only agree not to join the teacher’s union), who will receive 5 weeks of training where they are advised never to associate with union, certified teachers.  These teaching interns are replacing certified, union teachers with years of experience, then are placed in the school districts with majority Black and Latino student populations. They fit right in with the Charter Schools Enterprise, who enjoy the hiring of non-union, and many non-certified teachers.  You then create a system which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  This is done through the enforcement of a high stake test that is used to deny student’s promotion and graduation, evaluate teachers based on student’s test scores, then when a school reaches the level of failing based on the test, then they come in with the claim that since schools are failing they are the only ones that can save them.

I have a challenge understanding how these profiteers positioned themselves as the savior of a system that they created.  Remember when the Bush administration went to bomb Iraq?  The campaign prior to the bombing was filled with lies about weapons of mass destruction, how we were going to save the people of Iraq from their evil leaders.  Then, after destroying the country, our government came back to the people saying that our tax dollars will be used to give Chaney’s Halliburton a no-bid contract to repair what they broke.  It is the same playbook they are using in education, create the conditions for failure until the system is broken, then claim that they alone can fix it.  In order to fix what they broke, they use an appealing language, like “innovation”, “reform,” and their favorite, “choice.”  What we have come to understand about “choice,” is that the choice is only for the profiteers not the families of children with special needs nor the English language learners.

Another form used is to deflect the truths with dog-whistle propaganda, glossy presentations that disguise the real ideology of greed under the umbrella of “freedom” and “saving children.” Once the propaganda is solidified, that is when ALEC came in.  ALEC, with funding from Bill Gates, were the mastermind behind the Common Core, who were able to forge alliances with big business and state legislators.  Another brilliance of the profiteers was to buy off both major political parties, as we now know that both Republicans and Democrats have drunk the Corporate education reform cool-aid. This was done through the creation of legislation that politically and financially benefited the stake holders in this case the Billionaires and Wall Street investors and the politicians. They also use the tactic of laundering the policies through a number of non-profit agencies and corporate philanthropy, where the origins are not easily traced.

These are the same “stake holders,” comprised of corporations who are managing charter schools and online schools and other “options” in the place of the “failing schools.” Deals are made with textbook and testing companies that schools must use, generating billions of profits for these companies, while public schools languish from lack of resources, such resources that otherwise schools could spend hiring teachers to reduce class size, or provide essential needed materials.

Charter schools claims to be the solution for the failing schools, have been shown to do no better than the schools they rob the resources from, and many have established policies that “counsel-out” students that they fear will not pass the test, and the public school from where those students come, must take them back.  They traditionally do not take high leveled special need students, nor English language learners.

Now, I want to end with this food for thought: The Common Core was designed with little to none expert educator or child development advice.  When, the President announced its early education initiative, many of us were hopeful that our Black and Latino young children will benefit from early intervention.  But, as we read the wording and began to understand what was involved, it became clear that “test and punish” was now being imposed on children who were 4 and 5 years old. To her dismay, my friend Nancy Carlsson Page, Professor of early education at Lesley University expressed her disdain, as she told me, “for now we have 4 and 5-year-olds, who should be spending their time in play activities, learning about their environment and socializing as well as developing a love for learning, forced to spend the better time of the school year prepping for a single test, a test that has been shown to be harmful and abusive to children.”

People’s March for Public Education and Social Justice 7/8/16

2016-Lincoln_Howard

Save Our Schools Coalition Set to March in DC on July 8th!

www.saveourschoolsmarch.org

For the last ten years the nation has been subjected to failed education policies. These policies have launched a national attack on our urban areas and on our public schools.

On Friday, July 8th thousands of activists , parents and youth will converge on the Lincoln Memorial for a rally and march calling for change in public education.

The People’s March for Public Education and Social Justice is being organized by the Save Our Schools Coalition. (FB at save our schools coalition). There will be conference for activists and organizers on July 9th at Howard University.

Key Concerns are reflected in the coalition’s top six demands:

  • Full, equitable funding for all public schools
  • Safe, racially just schools and communities
  • Community leadership in public schools policies
  • Professional, diverse educators for all students
  • Child-centered, culturally appropriate curriculum for all
  • No high-stakes testing

Speakers at the Peoples March Rally include Journey for Justice Organizer Jitu Brown Dyett hunger strikers parents, education historian Diane Ravitch, union leader Barbara Madeloni, the DC Labor Chorus, and Moral Movement force Reverend Dr. William J. Barber. A coalition of education activists groups — BATS and UOO, grassroots parent and youth organizations, Journey For Justice and Newark students union, American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association — are mobilizing members and friends to march for social, racial and economic justice as the basis for education justice!

Denisha Jones, Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin and Ruth Rodriguez Ray will be there representing DEY and bringing the early childhood lens to the movement.

Join us on July 8th at the Lincoln Memorial in DC to build the movement to take back our communities and our public schools for the children, families and educators who deserve them!!!

 

On July 9th further the dialogue at The People’s conference at Howard University: Save Our Schools Activists Conference: New & Experienced Organizers Working together.

There will also be a strategy meeting Sunday morning.

Highlights from Facebook and the Twittersphere: 6/3/16

DEY takes a look at news making noise on social media.

PARCC in the news for censoring critiques of the test on social media. USA Today reports:

Publisher’s ultimatum in test leak riles educators

Alan Singer poses an important question in the Huffington Post:

PARCC Gets Parked: What Testing Companies Don’t Want Parents to Know

Fantastic editorial in the Los Angeles Times recapping the failure of philanthropists acting as education experts:

Gates Foundation failures show philanthropists shouldn’t be setting America’s public school agenda

And finally, in Florida students who opted out of testing will be held back.

Florida School Officials Lose Their Damned Minds

Students who opted out of testing could be retained