Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thoughts by Choco Gonzalez Meza

Status Update
By Choco Gonzalez Meza
For all my friends, whether close or casual, just because, One of the longest posts I will ever do.. and the most real, too. Everyone will go through some hard times at some point. Life isn't easy. Just something to think about...did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who take care of others all the time are ...usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I'm sorry, and Help me? Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile and see how much pain they may be in. To all my friends who are going through some issues right now--let's start an intention avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now. If I don't see your name, I'll understand. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy and paste this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends just for moral support. I know some will!! I did it for a friend and you can to. You have to COPY & PASTE this one, NO Sharing! Be encouraged!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jersey Jazzman: Civil Conversations Are Honest Conversations

Jersey Jazzman: Civil Conversations Are Honest Conversations: Via Peter Greene , I see that Andy Smarick , formerly of the New Jersey Department of Education, is quite vexed at the idea that someone&#39...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Too Much - Images of Inequality - Progress & Promise

John Oliver
Comedian John Oliver, the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, last weekend ended his latest charming rant against America’s wealth gap with a brilliant send-up of the rigged lottery the American economy has become. The 14-minute video of Oliver’s performance would quickly go viral online. A little pinched on time? Start watching at the 12:09 point, the beginning of the lottery segment.
Web Gem
Against Monopoly/ This research-rich site zeroes in on the intellectual property rackets that contribute so much to the concentration of contemporary corporate power and wealth.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives may be getting serious about checking executive pay excess. At least a little. Last week, House Democratic leaders unveiled a package of reforms designed to spotlight what Democrats will accomplish next year if they gain a House majority this November. The package includes a proposal — the “CEO/Employee Pay Fairness Act” — that would deny corporations tax deductions on any CEO pay over $1 million unless “they give their employees a raise.” House Democratic leaders gave no further details on the proposition. The good news here: House Democrats have never before as a group hinted they would in any way support linking tax code provisions on CEO compensation to worker wages. Whether this proposal signifies anything more than rhetorical progress on that front will have to await the details.

TOO MUCH - Greed at a Glance & Petulant Plutocrat of the Week

The one thing you’ll never find on Craigslist: a billionaire. So where do deep pockets go trolling online for bargains? They click their way to “POSH,” the online classifieds that come with an annual $24,000 subscription to the Bloomberg terminal. You’ll find these terminals all over Wall Street. Heavy-duty financial industry types simply cannot live without the constantly refreshed Bloomberg market stats. But investment bankers need a little escape time, too, and they can get plenty of it from POSH. Among the recent POSH listings: a dressage horse for $40,000 and a 15th-century Italian castle for just over $27 million . . .
Stanley FischerU.S. Justice Department officials last Monday announced a $7 billion fine on banking giant Citicorp for its “egregious” mortgage misconduct before and after America's 2008 financial meltdown. The reaction in Citi’s executive suites? Relief. Citi shares actually rose in price after the fine went public. Citi execs have plenty of other cause to celebrate. None of them have yet been personally indicted for Citi’s frauds and cover-ups. Nor have they had to disgorge the windfalls they pocketed during the subprime years. Among the windfall recipients: current Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fischer, who has of late been speechifying against breaking up America’s biggest banks. Fischer’s three-year stint as a Citi exec helped him build, says Bloomberg News, a personal fortune now worth up to $56.3 million . . .
What’s summering in the Hamptons like? Fantastic sunsets from oceanfront manses that list for $20 million. What’s working a Hamptons summer like — as a nurse or a gardener? Journalist Frank Eltman has just told that not-so-pretty story. Few workers, he notes, can afford to live anywhere close to their jobs in the Hamptons, that stretch of Long Island shore 80 miles east of Manhattan where the awesomely affluent congregate every July and August. Commutes on the traffic-clogged local roads regularly run three hours round-trip. All that wealth in the Hamptons drives up prices on more than housing. Milk and eggs run double the prices elsewhere on Long Island. Southampton’s food pantry is now helping 6,000 people per year. Income disparities in the Hamptons, former pantry director Mary Ann Tupper says simply, have become “tremendous.”

Quote of the Week
“No state has ever lost revenue by raising taxes on rich people.”
Michael Mazerov, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Governing, July 16, 2014

Paul GosarArizona congressman Paul Gosar likes to tell his constituents that “I live just like the rest of you folks.” He doesn't. Gosar's lawmaker salary alone runs five times his district’s median income. Gosar also owns “substantial real estate,” plus a local business and a dental practice. His total net worth runs north of $2 million. A fortune that “modest” won't by itself, of course, gain Gosar entry into top plutocratic circles. What will: his push last week to slash funding for the IRS. A Gosar House floor amendment to ax the IRS budget by $353 million passed on a voice vote. Gushed Gosar: “I am ecstatic.” Gosar’s move cuts a quarter of the resources the IRS can devote to keeping tabs on tax cheats. The IRS already only audits 0.4 percent of partnership returns, a tax return category near and dear to the hearts of wealthy tax evaders.

Too Much - July 21

Simple numbers can sometimes tell incredibly powerful stories, as tax analyst Bob Lord demonstrated once again last week. Start with 100,000, the approximate population of Lansing, Michigan and Burbank, California. Residents of those cities spent about 100 million hours or so working last year.
For that 100 million hours, the Phoenix-based Lord points out, each city’s residents earned about $3.5 billion.
David Tepper last year took home that same $3.5 billion. He labored no more than a few thousand hours — as a hedge fund manager. He spent his working hours shuffling the investments of America’s most financially fortunate.
What kind of nation, Lord wonders, values the work of one individual as much the work of an entire city? We wonder, too. In this week’s Too Much, more musings on the fruits of our labor — and their distinctly less-than-wonderful distribution.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Russ on Reading: I Blog; Therefore, I Am

Russ on Reading: I Blog; Therefore, I Am:        Descartes said, “I think; therefore, I am.” I want our students to say, “I read and write; therefore, I can think.” Rene Descar...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

All Things Education: A DCPS Teacher Resigns

All Things Education: A DCPS Teacher Resigns: A few summers ago at the  SOS March & National Call to Action , I met a young and enthusiastic, but independent-minded and healthily-sk...

Friday, July 4, 2014

CURMUDGUCATION: Dancing into the Apocalypse

CURMUDGUCATION: Dancing into the Apocalypse: I'm writing this now so that I can read it to myself when the first day of school rolls around. Sometimes you have to be your own moti...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Teacher Unions - California Tenure Law - The Vultures 

By  Rodolfo F. Acuña,

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu's decision in Vergara v. California blames teachers, for the failure of poor and minority students to close the education gap between them and their affluent peers.

Treu argues that California laws allow public school teachers to secure tenure after 18 months shielding "grossly ineffective teachers," and concludes that minority and poor students are disproportionately impacted by bad teaching.

The judge draws parallels between his opinion and the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that supposedly ended "separate but equal" laws. However, sixty years after Brown the Los Angeles Unified School District is still one of the most segregated districts in the country.

While I agree that incompetent and perverse teachers should immediately be terminated, the finger waving has to be put into context, and the penalties of crooked and perverse corporate executives and politicians must also be addressed and how they disproportionately affect the poor and the minorities’ opportunity to get an equal education. After all teachers did not create the income gap.

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, says "[The decision] doesn't change the fundamental problem, which is who in the world is hiring these people who are not qualified?"

I hate hypocrisy and I am offended by the pious 'students matter' pretensions of the plaintiffs' attorneys. I am offended by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy's scapegoating teacher unions for the district's abuse scandal. Deasy said he wanted one thing from the Legislature: the ability to quickly fire offending teachers inferring that bad teachers were being shielded by tenure.

Deasy's claim to fame is that he worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a foundation that has gained access and the Gates the reputation of reformers largely based on its distributing huge amounts of money to cash starved school districts. Deasy has never been a classroom teacher and knows little about pedagogy.

AGREED: layoffs should not be based solely on seniority. However, after 60 years of teaching I know the system and can say that teacher assignments are more often based on favoritism. Wealthy schools generally have more fully certified and experienced teachers than poor schools. Moreover, rewards such as merit pay are based on the preferences of administrators rather than the needs of students.

Race is a factor, but it is rarely considered in teacher training programs. Student needs should not solely be at the discretion of an administrator; a greater voice has to be given to the community.

Ok, schools are failing, but what is the CONTEXT as to why? For example, teacher training institutions fail to adequately prepare teachers. Has teaching improved in the past ten years? Surely this failure is not because we don't give enough tests.

FOLLOW THE MONEY. Students did not initiate the suit. It was pushed and financed by a Silicon Valley millionaire. It is part of a well-financed campaign promoted by billionaires that include Bill Gates, Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. They want public schools to be run like businesses, i.e., WALL STREET? They promote charter schools and privatization.

The Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner who represented the students, said that an estimated 3 percent of public school teachers in California are 'highly ineffective', estimating a loss of $11.6 billion in lifetime earnings for students with a poor education. Demographer Donald Bogue has tied student achievement to father's income. Moreover, even with an education, has the vaunted private sector created well-paying jobs? CONTEXT!

Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres (Tell me who you hang with and I'll tell you who you are). Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., the lead attorney, is a hired gun for right wing interests. He served on the legal team that worked to overturn California's Proposition 8 (banning same-sex marriage). Boutrous hypocritically says "This system is harming students every day. When students are denied this lifeline when they are told that they are incapable of success or when they are denied the basic building blocks of an education the effect is catastrophic."

HYPOCRISY? Who created the separate but unequal society?

Los Angeles public institutions are for sale. Billionaire and philanthropist Eli Broad has gained unprecedented power. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg told CBS, "Eli Broad sets the standard..." Broad is a feared and admired dictator, spreading around a half-billion dollars worth of cultural improvements.

Sounds good but he and his billionaire cohorts now control the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). Intent on privatizing the public schools they have suppressed investigative reporting. PBS once the voice of reform has been silenced by the Walton family (Walmart), Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, and Rupert Murdoch.

The cabal has donated big bucks to right wing advocacy groups, think tanks, and elected school board members and local, state and national politicians.

PBS has blacked out critics such as Historian Diane Ravitch, whose book is title is "Public Schools for Sale?"

The privatizers push for charter schools, vouchers (frequently called "opportunity scholarships"), business-style management, high-stakes testing to evaluate students and teachers, weakened teachers unions, and "parent trigger" law to allow disgruntled parents to turn public schools into privately-run charter schools.

The billionaires supply the cash, they hire guns such Michelle Rhee (former Washington, D.C. school chief who now runs Schools First, a corporate-funded lobby group), Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America), Geoffrey Canada (founder of Harlem Children's Zone), and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The innocuous Gates has donated billions to privatize public schools. No wonder Gates pushed the film "Waiting for Superman" that was shown at the national PTA convention. Some have wondered if the PTA's decision to promote the film has anything to do with its receipt of a $1 million donation from the Gates Foundation. Gates' solution to the budget crisis is for school districts to cut pension payments for retired teachers.

Make no mistake the Broad and Gates cabal seeks to privatize public education; it is no less greedy than the Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that attempted to seize political control of Arizona, Wisconsin and Ohio with the goal of privatizing education, the prisons, and the state governments. The cabal's goal is to destroy trade unions, seize control of pension funds and pay no taxes.

BLAME: Teacher unions have allowed the corporate raiders to control the narrative. Free and independent trade unions are the only force strong enough to take on the corporate raiders. They cannot match the billionaires' club money power, but they can slow them down. Unions are an important check on the greed of the Kochs, ALEC and the Broad cabal.

History shows that the Russian and Mexican Revolutions were subverted by the absence of independent trade union movements. True democracy depends on them.

However, trade unions must clean up contradictions if they want public support. In order for tenure to survive union members must get rid of bad teachers and promote the interests of communities they serve. Teachers must serve poor schools with the same intensity and vigor that they do more affluent schools. They are also going to have to demand better teacher preparation.

Today the Latino student population is a majority in many school districts, and teachers are not only going to have to adapt to this new reality but also advocate for the interests of the new majority.