Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Me$ico/U$ relations: Déjà vu The University of Arizona & UNAM By Rodolfo F. Acuña

Déjà vu - The University of Arizona and UNAM 
By Rodolfo F. Acuña

Carlos Slim is not the richest man in the world because of his good looks. He got there the old fashioned way, he used government resources. Slim derived his fortune from his extensive holdings through his conglomerate, Grupo Carso, that is heavily invested in telecommunications, education, health care, industrial manufacturing, food and beverages, real estate, airlines, media, mining, oil, hospitality, entertainment, technology, retail, sports and financial services.

The money maker is the telecommunication company, Telmex, that he and his partners bought in 1990 from the Mexican government at fire sale prices. By 2006, Telmex controlled 90 percent of the telephone lines in Mexico. By March 2015 Slim’s fortune was an estimated $71.2 billion much of it accumulated through privatization of publicly owned groups.

One of his most controversial ventures was ASUR (Aeropuertos del Sureste) through which Slim controls a dozen Mexican airports. Slim reorganized his various enterprises using vertical integration and market consolidation strategies.

By this time, you may be asking what does this have to do with the University of Arizona and UNAM? In February, Ann Weaver Hart, the president of the U of A, released a statement saying: “The UA has been selected by the National Autonomous University of Mexico as the site of a branch center focused on collaborative research. This new center is a culmination of a relationship of many years with UNAM in areas ranging from astronomy to arid lands studies. The UNAM Center for Mexican Studies at the UA will be a unique expression of the depth of our relationship with one of Latin America’s premier research institutions.”

Coming at the end of a two year fight over a similar arrangement between CSUN and UNAM, my first reaction was here we go again.

Most of us remember that in 2010 UNAM along with many institutions in Mexico broke relations with Arizona and the UA in protest of SB 1070 and the rabid anti-Mexican climate in Arizona. UNAM and Mexico wanted to make a statement condemning this abuse. However, five years later most were for letting bygones be bygones, and for 1070 to join the waste basket of forgotten memories.

No matter that the aftershocks of 1070 were still being felt; that Arizona was still trying to rewrite history; and the nation’s premier K-12 Mexican American Studies program had been eliminated. That the Minute Men and the Tea Party still controlled Phoenix and Governor Doug Ducey refused to repeal anti-Mexican legislation. Despite this Arizona was being given a fresh start.

Ducey led a trade mission trip to Mexico City. “At a reception he acknowledged Mexico as our friend and neighbor.” Ducey told anyone who would listen that “he was representing our Tucson Hispanic Chamber and affiliated chambers in SierraVista, Douglas and Nogales. Repeatedly during the trip, Ducey spoke to the 45 business leaders and cabinet members and Mexican guests about a “‘new day and a fresh start’ for Arizona in Mexico.”

The bottom line was Arizona trade with Mexico amounted to over $15.9 billion dollars a year. Ducey made it clear that Arizona business leaders on the trip included leaders in industries such as transportation, legal, metal fabrication, real estate development and mining products.
At Mexico City the University of Arizona and UNAM exchanged memorandums. Reading between the lines, absent were speakers addressing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s federal reforms and his self- vaunted energy reforms. There was no mention of any resolution of Los Normalistas de Ayotzinapa disappearances– and it did not seem as if anyone cared.

Even when addressing the border crisis, the focus was on the imbalance in trade between the two countries. Carlos Slim hosted a reception for over 250 business and political leaders. It was clear that human rights were not a priority of the “Hispanic” leaders who took the opportunity to take selfies with Slim.

Meanwhile, the UA center was called Mexican Studies. The prime movers, according to sources, were the Arizona Office of Tourism and the UA Eller College of Management Economic and Business Research Center. They had conducted a study that found that visitors from Mexico contributed $7.3 million daily to Arizona’s economy.

Slim had visited Phoenix in September 2014. Among the guests were the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Promise Arizona, and East Valley Patriots for Social Justice, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona, along with various other community and advocacy groups. Slim told the business leaders that they should support Ducey because he pushed for positive business relations with Mexico. Nothing was said about repealing anti-immigrant legislation.

According to accounts, before the event, Slim “was mobbed by people wanting to shake his hand and snap a selfie before the event began; he spent the majority of his keynote address talking about the changing economic paradigms in society.”
For anyone engaged in what Slim called “critical thinking,” the events were disheartening because much of the Latino leadership displayed a lack of a historical memory or ethnic pride. Failing to defend the interests of immigrants and students, they ignored the fact that the schools were being rapidly privatized. What was more disheartening was that no one seemed to care, and the leadership of the Latino community was once more rolling over. The ruling classes in the United States were only too willing to erase history so business could go on as usual.

In conclusion in order not to forget what had happened at CSUN, I spoke to several Tucson community leaders about how the idea of the center had come about. DA Morales pointed out “The UofA, now, after years of ignoring any program that seeks collaborative research with Mexican universities is awakening, but not in the humanities or social sciences....in the business college.” The business college had an economic interest much the same as the CSUN administration and College of Social and Behavioral Science had had. The only difference was that at CSUN ChS fought back.
Activists in Derechos Humanos singularly protested NAFTA since 1990. One said “of course what is happening now is the result of that great displacement and disenfranchisement of workers and their families. In Mexico, the result of Harvard and Princeton trained politicians who readily hand over their country for their personal gain; we find rhetoric of collaboration.” There is a similarity between the latter and the Arizona Hispanic business leaders. She added, “Where is the collaboration in migration? In human rights? In the drug trade?”

The source added “At one level.....[from] faculty and possibly at the Heads level, this whole thing has been kept from sight and certainly from discussion.” The professor added that Ducey’s “backers were the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce here in Tucson as well as the Eller Business College.”
Throughout this process, Slim was the main attraction, and “his role in breaking unions in Mexico, charging exploitive rates in communications and building a huge cartel were forgotten.“ Add to this ChS programs invited Slim to lecture on trade with Mexico. El diablo nunca duerme!

There are many versions of how Slim has been able to accumulate his fortune so rapidly. The stories fill the internet. Daniel Hopsicker, “Carlos Slim & the Narco-Politicos,” Madcow Morning News, Feb 3, 2009. Diligent Bureaucrat, “Privatization Billionaires,” Daily Kos, Mar 01, 2015. http://www.dailykos.com/…/13646…/-Privatization-Billionaires#
Ann Weaver Hart, President February 25, 2015, http://president.arizona.edu/newsletter/february-ua2u
“Arizona’s Fresh Start in Mexico,” 1030 the Voice, http://www.kvoi.com/hispani…/arizonas-fresh-start-in-mexico/
“UofA To Establish New Center for Mexican Studies,” Arizona Daily Independent, June 29, 2015, https://arizonadailyindependent.com/…/uofa-to-establish-ne…/
“The Carlos Slim Foundation Presents AccesoLatino.org to Top Arizona Latino Leaders,” Sep 22, 2014, http://www.prnewswire.com/…/the-carlos-slim-foundation-pres…. Patrick O'Grady, “Carlos Slim, one of world's richest businessmen, comes to Phoenix to talk trade,” Phoenix Business Journal, Apr 2, 2015. http://www.bizjournals.com/…/carlos-slim-one-of-worlds-rich…
Amelia Goe, “Carlos Slim Helu: Arizona-Mexico relations yet to reach full potential,” Cronkite News, April 22, 2015, http://tucson.com/…/article_19210689-7b3a-5354-8fb0-2a91cd8…
DA Morales, “TUSD using Mexico’s economic model? The rich get richer quicker; HT Sanchez & Carlos Slim thrive in poverty,” Three Sonorans, June 15, 2015. http://threesonorans.com/…/is-tusd-using-mexicos-economic-…/

“No Education, No Life,” a Review of Jay Gillen’s Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty

“No Education, No Life,” a Review of Jay Gillen’s
Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty
By Paul Lauter
“I did not enjoy high school much because my work in the Algebra Project taught me that I was not receiving the quality education I deserved. So each day I waited for the bell so I could leave and work in the program, where I learned so much more. I began organizing in high school and was nearly expelled for organizing a student strike. . . . most of my focus in high school was on organizing students to speak out, to demonstrate and demand quality education.” --Chris Goodman. (“No Justice No Life: Brian Jones Kicks it with Chris Goodman of the Baltimore Algebra Project,” Posted in Article Link, August 3, 2009.)
(This review was written before the events that have made “Baltimore” a symbol of racial tyranny and political malfeasance. It is not, therefore, focused on police violence nor responses to the killing of Freddie Gray and so many other black men. It presents, rather, a project designed to help empower students in schools of poverty--not on the specious theory that educational institutions can by themselves overcome discrimination, marginalization, and poverty, but because schools can, and must, be part of the solution rather than continuing to be part of the problem.)
Much of the debate going on in educational circles today concerns differing ideas about how to accomplish certain agreed-upon goals. Mainly these consist of the 3 R’s—reading, riting and rithmatic—with a touch perhaps of American history, whether seen through the lens of Selma or of Mountain View. Some wish to provide teachers with greater scope, better resources, and fewer students in the classroom. Others, the multimillion dollar “reformers,” promote a regime of ceaseless testing, managerial authority, privatization, and “teacher-proof” curricula. But suppose you conclude, based on observing the thousands of segregated Ferguson, Missouris, and Baltimore, Marylands throughout the USA, that the huge number of students in schools of poverty are ill-served by these very goals, that poor, often black and Latino, students, even if they pass every test and climb in to community colleges, will never—a few tokens aside—get an even break in 21st-century America. What then? Can the goals of schooling themselves be transformed? Can schools become sites not of failure and exclusion, but of insurgency and transformation? Can the young people now marginalized, enraged, and trapped in disastrous institutions become agents of creativity and growth—and real learning?
Such questions lie at the core of Jay Gillen’s essential book, Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty. I use the full title of Gillen’s book because, unlike most of what is being written today, it shifts focus from the adults fighting about schooling to the students themselves as the key actors in their own education. The question Gillen addresses is how might we think about the ways students can, indeed must, organize themselves, those close to them, and the many others with whom they must contend for a future. His approach is not to address the question always on a teacher’s mind—what do I do Monday?—but to propose a theory about how change and education could and already do take place even in, or perhaps especially in, schools of poverty. This book is not a manual for classroom management but a treatise on education, democracy, and hope.
At the center of Gillen’s treatise is his and his students’ experience with one of the three r’s, rithmatic, in the form of the Algebra Project. The Algebra Project was first devised by Bob Moses, a key figure in the efforts of the young organizers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to challenge and eliminate racial segregation in its most intransigent bastion, Mississippi, in the 1950s and 1960s. The Baltimore version of the Project has been highly successful, even in this society’s financial terms: students working in it have earned $2 million dollars over the last ten years “sharing math knowledge” (p. 140). It has also provided what Gillen calls a “crawl space” wherein students begin to learn how to mobilize the organizational resources necessary to confront the school boards, politicians, courts that stand in the way of their educational development. Educational and political authorities who see math as vital to 21st-century schooling are willing to provide money, some, to those who succeed in teaching it, and they interfere less with the process. As Gillen puts it, “Math hides the student insurgency as it learns how to walk.” In this way it differs from the admirable Mexican-American Studies program in Tucson, which was banned by Arizona lawmakers despite--or perhaps because of--its success in motivating and educating students to confront injustice.
A project seriously devoted to teaching math is insulated against the charge sometimes registered against radical education projects that they are indifferent to students of poverty learning the basics. Mathematical knowledge is, of course, a goal of the Algebra Project, just as the vote was the goal of SNCC organizing in Mississippi. The brilliant analogy between voter registration and learning algebra in school, which Gillen has derived from Bob Moses’ work, is apt, first, because young people are key to implementation. But for two other reasons as well: one, both are directed to changing oppressive institutions, the segregated political system in the 1960s, and the segregated school system today. And, two, both the vote and mathematical literacy are necessary to full citizenship in the technologically-driven 21st century. To vote in Mississippi of 1964 and to be able to deploy math knowledge today are important goals in themselves, to be sure. But their importance derives as much from the sense of empowerment their achievement provides, especially to those who must press through the institutional barriers to such accomplishments. Empowerment—not test-taking—is what Gillen’s book, the Algebra Project, and real education are about. To put it a bit differently, “As with voting rights, the point is to encourage students to begin to demand—of themselves and of the system—what society claims they don’t want” [Jessica T. Wahman, “’Fleshing Out Consensus’: Radical Pragmatism, Civil Rights, and the Algebra Project,” Education and Culture 25 (1) (2009), 11.]
Reading the dialogues among Gillen’s students we get a sense of their mathematical literacy, as well as a challenge to older folks who likely do not have it. Mathematical literacy has to do not with the capacity to fill in bubbles on high stakes tests, but with the ability to solve ever-new problems on one’s own and, most important, to teach your knowledge to younger students, as Algebra Project instructors do. But underlying the Project is a more fundamental goal:
What we seek to encourage, however, is the methodical rehearsal of roles that emphasize the collective purposes of the troupe, acts that self-consciously grow through demands on self and peers toward demands on a larger society. The educational system does not serve the students’ purposes now. They must learn to use the crawl spaces we make available to them to prepare for organized acts that will render that system unworkable, and compel change. (p. 132)
This passage highlights two important elements of Gillen’s book. First, it is couched in the language of theater: “rehearsal,” “roles,” “troupe,” “acts,” and the like. Indeed, Gillen develops an extended analogy between the classroom and the theater. He contrasts the kind of education he is encouraging, which he describes as a “dramatistic approach to education,” to the “technocratic approach” (p. 121) which characterizes most of today’s schooling, with its emphasis on grading, indeed monetizing, students, teachers, and even schools. This is not simply a clever metaphor. Gillen points, first, to the importance to the development of young people of trying out roles for themselves and in relation to peers and adults. “For adolescents, nothing is more important than trying on personas and rehearsing roles. They do this whether they are permitted to do it or not” (p. 132). When it isn’t permitted, their actions are generally construed as “acting out,” which is seen by authorities as a, perhaps the, major problem of students in schools of poverty—indeed in the streets of America’s towns and cities. It is met in both venues by repression, arrest, and, all too often, violence. In such dramas, hierarchies and the roles they demand are already defined, too often by the uniform, on the one hand, and skin color, on the other. Gillen’s work is to read students’ acts differently, not merely as insurrectionary, or childish, disruptions needing to be controlled, but as expressions of discontent with an authoritarian and unresponsive system, efforts to enter into more vital interactions with peers, teachers, and authorities. That involves, in practice, a more welcoming and interactive pedagogical style, which Gillen illustrates, and underlying it, a theory of classroom communications, which he develops at some length.
Classroom events, he theorizes, are usefully understood in dramatic rather than legalistic terms. As in a play, classrooms are domains in which people interact, change in relationship one to another. Legalistic terms trap and define people into particular, inflexible roles: e.g., there is the perpetrator, the policeman, the teacher, the witness, the principal, the judge, and so forth. People are able to act only within the definitions these roles impose. In dramatic terms, as in life, roles can shift, dissolve, open into new definitions: the perp becomes a baffled and enraged child reaching out for hope or at least solace; the cop becomes a slightly older, no less angry youngster acting out if not for solace or hope at least for strength. Legalistically, each has a set of predetermined lines that lead to a much-too-well-rehearsed denouement, often gunfire. Dramatically, the subtexts can be heard and responded to and the action creatively recast. The student learns to be the teacher; the teacher emerges as an accomplice; the judge is judged, or becomes a witness to actions for transformation.
In working out this theory of classroom action, Gillen draws creatively on the work of Kenneth Burke, especially his books A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950). I was myself startled to see the work of Burke, until the last few years long out of fashion—and also of William Empson on pastoral and W.K. Wimsatt on the “counterlogical”—evoked in a book at some level about teaching mathematics. In fact, some of the most persuasive sections of Gillen’s book are his readings of scenes and characters from King Lear and As You Like It. Through those readings, using concepts derived from pastoral and courtship, he recasts the drama of the classroom.
Built into the long quotation I cited above is also another kind of theory, one having to do with the process of organizing for change: “acts that self-consciously grow through demands on self and peers toward demands on a larger society.” Those familiar with instances of radical change will recognize the sequence, if not precisely the language. What is being proposed is analogous to Gandhian Satyagraha, or the non-violent direct action associated with M.L. King and, differently, A.J. Muste. Gillen formulates the process with some care: “Demand on yourself. Demand on your peers. Demand on the larger society. This is an ordered series: the first is prerequisite to the second, the second is prerequisite to the third. . . . attempts to change the unjust arrangements of a society will be crushed unless the insurgents have developed a discipline that can withstand the oppressor’s attempts to fracture their unity and weaken their organization” (p. 125). One begins with self-discipline, with the willingness to undertake tasks, like registering to vote in McComb, Mississippi, or participating seriously in inner-city Baltimore schools, that are necessary and potentially dangerous. But one cannot move to the next stage without undertaking the first oneself: one cannot propose to others that they register to vote or come to school regularly and put time and effort into learning, without attempting it oneself.
Such change requires forcefully addressing the larger society, but as Gillen is quick to point out, “it is not the demand on the larger society, but the demand on peers that is the beginning of political action. The language ‘demand on peers’ is unfamiliar. But it is another way of saying ‘self-government’ or ‘democracy’” (p. 127). Gillen is not arguing, of course, that schools or, indeed, American politics are in this or most other senses “democratic.” As he quotes Vincent Harding, “we are practitioners in an educational system that does not yet exist.” The problem is developing an understanding of how the “educational system does not serve the students’ purpose now” and a practice (to return to our original quotation)—“that will render the system unworkable, and compel change” (p. 132).
What you want to “render . . . unworkable” is, among other matters, the systematic starvation of public education, particularly in schools that serve poor and working class students. Courts order the State to provide adequate funding to the Baltimore schools, for example, but when that funding is not forthcoming, Baltimore Algebra Project activists demonstrate, march on Annapolis, engage in a hunger strike, carry out “die-ins” at meetings of school authorities. They stage direct actions to extend student bus tickets to 8 p.m. so that all can participate in the math tutoring central to the Project’s work. They organize against police violence—no small matter as we know in Baltimore and elsewhere—and put forward alternative narratives to those offered by the powers that be. They teach algebra successfully to younger students but also develop sessions on public speaking, civil disobedience, organizing tactics and the other skills necessary for pursuing their goals in the public arena. Their goals are not only teaching mathematics but demanding quality education as a “Constitutional Right,” no less important than the ballot.
I have quoted extensively from Gillen’s text partly to provide a sense to readers of the clarity of his prose. But partly, too, because—as the last sentence in the paragraph I have cited indicates—Gillen’s goals need to be seen for what they are: not the tinkering around the edges that might elevate a few students’ math test scores by some fraction, but as a radical (to the root) transformation of the system now in place to “educate” students of poverty. Gillen does not argue that public schools are somehow failing. To the contrary, he insists that “Schools for young people in poverty are marvelously successful at teaching about the scarcity of resources, arbitrariness of authority, and shunting of joy to the peripheries that characterize the society they are actually growing up into” (p. 134). The purposes of such schools is not especially learning, or rather the learning has to do with accepting particular forms of authority and power, accepting (even with rage) particular and limited stations in life, most of all accepting that it is your own limitations and not a system of hierarchy and privilege that defines your life chances (p. 89). We might wish to evoke here some of the conversation between Augustine and Alfred St. Clare in Uncle Tom’s Cabin: says Alfred: “’the lower class must not be educated.’ ‘That is past praying for,’ said Augustine; ‘educated they will be, and we have only to say how. Our system is educating them in barbarism and brutality.’” What Augustine does not see, of course, is the contravening education provided within the society of slaves, and he expresses the fear of white liberal society at what slavery was teaching its victims. But his point is nevertheless useful: however they may be failing in terms of orthodox educational yields, schools of poverty certainly do teach, and the students do learn those social meanings. That is surely one of the implications of Ferguson.
But students are not merely the victims of a perverse system that places them in a school to prison pipeline. They are, in fact, crucial players in the dramas of the classroom and any discussion that omits them—and most do--will miss the point. But can or even should students—and particularly students in schools of poverty—be thought about as change agents? Gillen’s answer begins, as does his book, with the reflection that, historically, it was often young people of color who carried through abolitionist activities against slavery, as well as the heroic efforts to disrupt segregation in the American South during the 1950s and 1960s. The young people who sat in at lunch counters in Greensboro, who marched in and to Montgomery, who went from house to house in rural Mississippi may provide answers to the question.
But are such historical models relevant? One might point as well to the disappeared students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' College of Ayotzinapa. Or the American draft and GI resisters of the Vietnam era. Or the women and girls of Redstockings or the earlier Bread and Roses strike. The question is sometimes posed as “how old should a child be to participate in activities for change?” That’s a reasonable question, particularly in an era in which children’s futures are being reshaped, some would say distorted, by a variety of political efforts to control schools and privatize their budgets. But perhaps the real question might better be formulated thus: what can young people, even very young people, learn by undertaking the kind of program Gillen proposes? As my epigraph suggests, his three-part sequence—place demands on yourself, on your peers, and on the larger society—entails a considerable learning process. One learns not only algebra but about the society and its politics, and not just from books and classroom curricula but from engaging in actions to change things. One learns, too, about one’s own power within a society, about the uses of language, about the critical tensions in American culture between individual advancement and shared progress. One learns, perhaps most of all, about the schools themselves, their crucial role in the implementation of the ideas of democracy, and the differences between organizing schools to train a docile workforce and organizing them to develop an informed citizenship, organizing them to enrich the few and organizing them to unshackle the many.
The importance of Gillen’s book can perhaps be seen most usefully by placing it in the context of the opt out movement. The movement to opt students out of high stakes tests is not, from one point of view, a “radical” crusade: most of those who have been active in it would probably not see it as a challenge to American capitalism, though it has the potential, I think, to undermine the authority of the “reformers.” It is, first and foremost, a brilliantly conceived act of civil disobedience. A comment on Diane Ravitch’s blog suggests its possibilities: “The students have the power and the means to squash the test.” Were that to happen in any significant measure, the impact on the effort to impose a capitalist model on schools in America, which have heretofore been governed in quite another way, would be profound. That is true because the “reformers” have hung their hopes on testing as the pivotal instrument of change. To be sure, they have tried to privatize public schools into money-making charters; they have tried to break teachers’ unions; they have promoted the authority of managers over that of the people who do the actual work of teaching; above all, they have depended on the unspoken ability of capitalism to overturn all settled relations of labor and control. That effort has been almost entirely negative: it argues that schooling in America is broken and must be replaced, one way or another. Only then will . . . well, test scores go up. That then becomes the be-all and end-all. In the final analysis only significantly improved test scores can make a case premised on . . . improved test scores. “To squash the test” is thus to cut the legs from under the effort to change the schools from above. Those who live by the test will die by the test.
Gillen’s strategy, like that of the opt out movement, is to “render the system unworkable.” But what he offers in the place of disruption and test scores is learning rooted in the empowerment of students. The idea is not to train students to fill in bubbles but to teach them algebra and geometry, as well as how power operates, how poetry means, and how schools and communities can be changed. But most of all, it is to teach them democracy. It is not that schools in America or elsewhere have ever been democratic; they are, after all, organized around the hierarchy of one or more adults and younger children. But as students learn by placing demands on self, then on others, and ultimately on the society, they are learning, too, the practice of democracy, which is finally a system in which the critical decisions about a community’s institutions are made by all the members of the community and not by absentee governors, self-appointed philanthropists, or affluent testing agencies.

To say this another way, the conflict over the schools is really a conflict about the future of America. Are our schools and communities to be ruled by the 1% and the politicians and bureaucrats they buy? Or by the 99%, who may not know algebra but who know what the “reforms” imposed on them and their children really add up to.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Who'd a thunk it? Sweden teaches us about the perils of school privatization Lawrence Goodman #EdBlogNet @idraedu

Who'd a thunk it? Sweden teaches us about the perils of school privatization
In 1992, the normally socialist democratic Sweden implemented a series of school reforms that would be the wet dream of most conservatives. Vouchers were issued to parents to send their children to any schools around the country, private or public. Companies were allowed to start for-profit schools. Private equity firms ran hundreds of schools.
The results? Exactly what any liberal would have predicted:
Test scores fell consistently starting in 1995. Source.
Social stratification and ethnic and immigrant segregation increased. Source.
The better teachers went to schools with students of higher socio-economic status. Source.
In 2013, one of the biggest private education firms declared bankruptcy, disrupting the education of 11,000 students. Some1,000 people lost their jobs. The company's total unpaid debt was around 1 billion crowns ($150 million). Source.
In 2001, a convicted pedophile set up several schools quite legally. Source.
In one study, Swedish researchers found:We find that an increase in the private school share moderately improves short-term educational outcomes such as 9th-grade GPA and the fraction of students who choose an academic high school track. However, we do not find any impact on medium or long-term educational outcomes such as high school GPA, university attainment or years of schooling. We conclude that the first-order short-term effect is too small to yield lasting positive effects.
And yet Britain used the Swedish reforms as model for their own efforts at privatization. And, of course, Republicans remain unchastened.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Annual Mandated Testing OVERKILL Quinn Mulholland of the Harvard Political Review

Quinn Mulholland of the Harvard Political Review examined the issues surrounding annual mandated testing, interviewed leading figures on both sides, and concluded that the exams are overkill. They cost too much, they narrow the curriculum, they take too many hours, they distort the purpose of education.
 Mulholland concludes:
 Given all of these problems with standardized testing, it seems that the civil rights issue is too much testing, not too little. Instead of forcing low-income schools to spend millions of dollars and countless hours of class time preparing for and administering standardized tests that only serve to prove, oftentimes inaccurately, what we already know about the achievement gap, we should use those resources to expand programs in the arts and humanities, to provide incentive pay to attract teachers to areas where they are needed most, and to decrease class sizes, all things that could actually make a difference for disadvantaged students.

This is not to say that America’s accountability system should be completely dismantled. Politicians and schools can de-emphasize testing while still ensuring high achievement. Student and teacher evaluations can take multiple measures of performance into account. The amount of standardized tests students have to take can be drastically reduced. The fewer standardized tests that students do take can incorporate more open-ended questions that force students to think critically and outside the box
 Thirteen years after NCLB’s mandates were first set into place, the rhetoric used by politicians and pundits is sounding more and more like that which the same politicians and pundits used to endorse NCLB. Congress would be ill advised to try to use high-stakes test-based accountability to narrow the achievement gap and expect a different result than the aftermath of the 2002 law. It is time to acknowledge that putting an enormous amount of weight on standardized test scores does not work, and to move on to other solutions.
 Regardless of the outcome of the current debate, grassroots activists like [Jeanette] Deutermann will continue to fight against harmful test-based accountability systems like New York’s. “This is an epidemic,” she said. “It’s happening everywhere, with all sorts of kids, from the smartest kids to the kids that struggle the most, from Republicans to Democrats, from kids in low-income districts to kids in high-performing districts. It doesn’t matter where you are, the stories are exactly the same.”
 “We may be passive when it comes to all the other things [corporate reformers] have interjected themselves into,” Deutermann warned, “but when you mess with our kids, that’s when the claws come out.”


National Center for Fair & Open Testing
for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
cell (239) 699-0468
for immediate release,
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Nearly half a million SAT takers, whose June 6 exams were disrupted by a timing mistake, are scheduled to receive controversial scores from that administration on Thursday, June 25. The test’s owner, the College Board, has announced that results from two of the test’s nine sections will not be reported.
The College Board asserts that the unprecedented scoring process is justified. However, the test-makers have offered no evidence to support that claim. Independent experts have expressed skepticism about the validity and reliability of any reported results.
A federal, class action lawsuit has been filed and several more are in process. The College Board has offered a free retest on October 3.
“The College Board’s response is far from sufficient,” according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). The group’s Public Education Director, Bob Schaeffer, explained, “Test-takers, family members, educators and attorneys who contacted us do not trust that reported SAT scores will accurately represent student performance. Some need reliable results before the October retest to qualify for scholarships and special programs. Others seek compensation since a significant portion of their answers are not being scored.”
FairTest urged the College Board to:
– Offer a free retest early this summer, not nearly four months from now in October, for students who need scores sooner;
– Offer to cancel scores and refund all registration fees from the June 6 SAT to those who neither trust the reported scores nor want to retake the test;
– Rebate a portion of the registration fee to all test-takers because less than 80% of all the questions they paid for are being scored; and
– Make any studies and/or data they have to support the claim that June 6 SAT scores are valid and reliable available to independent experts for review;
The June 6 SAT timing error was caused by an inconsistency between instructions in the proctor’s manual and test-takers’ booklets. The students’ forms said they had 25 minutes for the sections in question. However, the proctor’s manual allowed just 20 minutes to complete the same items. As a result, timing for the sections varied among test sites.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

National Family & Community Engagement Conference - IDRA's i3 PTA Comunitario and Amplifying Community Campaigns highlighted

Dr. Nancy Chavkin on i3 PTA Comunitario presentation as part of a panel of family engagement projects.

Aurelio Montemayor and Laurie Posner
Amplifying Community Leadership for Funding Equity & Curriculum Quality
National FCE Conference – Chicago

Conference participants learning to Twitter and connect on the internet.



Amplifying Community Leadership for Funding Equity & Curriculum Quality 2 Complex Campaigns

Aurelio Montemayor and Laurie Posner Amplifying Community Leadership for Funding Equity & Curriculum Quality

National FCE Conference – Chicago

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Spite Cheats Texas Taxpayers by: Libby Shaw "an unspeakable and an unforgiving contempt for poor and sick people"

Spite Cheats Texas Taxpayers

by: Libby Shaw

Fri Jun 12, 2015 at 19:53:37 PM CDT

Most of us know by now that Texas Republicans, Texas Tea Party Republicans and the Texas Taliban have an unspeakable and an unforgiving contempt for poor and sick people. We also know Texas conservatives are not in the least bit concerned about the dire human consequences of its leadership's failure to accept federally expanded Medicaid, though such would not cost the state a dime. One has to hand it to the self-serving snake oil dealers that have been duping Texas voters for decades.Governors like Rick Perry and Greg Abbott have successfully campaigned against the federal government, President Obama and the evil Obamacare.
Except that Obamacare hasn't been so evil for the formerly uninsured.

According to the Gallup polling firm, the uninsured rate in Texas fell by 2.5 percentage points between 2013 and 2014 - it's now at about 24.4 percent. Community health centers in Texas have gotten $470,331,234 for services, extended hours and more providers, and 10,694,840 Texans who had pre-existing conditions are able to get coverage.According to the White House, 832,334 people in Texas have received a tax subsidy to help pay for their insurance. These subsidies are being challenged in a case at the U.S. Supreme Court - King v. Burwell. Justices are expected to rule by the end of this month on whether it's legal for people to receive these tax credits in states that use the federal health insurance marketplace. Texas is one of those states.
The Republican party as a whole has been on a relentless crusade to gut social insurance programs such as Social Security. It labels social insurance programs such as Medicare and Social Security as entitlements in order to give the false impression that both are handouts when in fact all working people pay into these programs every month for as long as they work.
The Party that stands by tax cuts for the rich and failed trickle down economics, intend to pay for the tax cuts by raiding the Social Security fund. Gutting a program in which seniors can barely survive by earning an average income of $17,000-$24,000 annually would be devastating for millions of Americans.
But Republican politicians merely shrug and revert to their Party's prepared talking points.
We also know Texas Republican policies can be especially cruel for poor women. The recent mean-spirited abortion law punishes the least among us.

The vast majority of teens involve at least one parent when deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy. There are only between 200 and 300 teens a year who can't find a parent or cannot safely involve one in their excruciating decision about whether to have an abortion. This mean-spirited law is all about punishing them, the very least among us.
Yes indeed. The holier than thou Texas Taliban that wears its Christian values on its sleeve has fled as far as it could from the compassionate value of "What would Jesus do?" straight into the Koch church of greed and ALEC imposed pro-corporate, anti-consumer, anti-union doctrine. A church in which a Koch manufactured Jesus (the fat cat money guy) is a ruthless free market capitalist who punishes the poor and the sick. His believers do as they are told.
So, knowing that Texas Republicans cannot be swayed, or shamed, for that matter (unless one were to get caught w/a hooker, male or female) by the inhumane conditions of poverty, chronic illness, unwanted pregnancies and early death, perhaps the compassion bereft can be reasoned with on a fiscal level. I mean, this is the Party that crows about its fiscal responsibility.
Except the TX GOP lost much of its fiscal swagger by it's leadership's spiteful decision  to refuse to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This is probably the dumbest decision the Texas GOP has made in a very long time. All because GOP ideologues like Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and others are blinded by their hatred for the President.
The sole reason for failing to expand Medicaid for millions of Texans is nothing more than spite. Texas business leaders know it.  The Harris (Houston area) Co. Judge (R) knows it. Healthcare professionals know it. Many of the state's journalists know it too. Last week Houston Public Radio interviewed healthcare professionals at the Baker Institute at Rice University.  The consensus among experts? There is no rational reason to refuse to expand Medicaid.
So how can we convince the cruel, stubborn doofuses that their stupid spitefulness is costing the state billions?  
Libby Shaw :: Spite Cheats Texas Taxpayers
The only way to jolt of these ideological Republicans out of their spiteful stupidity short of outing them for personal misconduct or criminal acts is by fomenting the fear of a potentially informed and rebellious electorate.If Texas taxpayers wake up to the fact that the state leadership's failure to expand Medicaid is robbing them of their tax dollars many could think twice before voting for politicians whose policies are cheating them.
For taxpayers are paying for services they will not receive.

Texas, Florida, Georgia, and other GOP-led states rejecting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion are costing their residents billions of dollars by making them pay taxes into a system from which they won't benefit, according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund.Obamacare gives states general federal funding to expand their Medicaid programs to all residents making up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). According to the study, the funding designated for states accepting the expansion is so substantial that it will be, on average, more than double the amount that states currently receive for transportation funds.
But since Medicaid is financed through general tax revenue, all Americans - irrespective of whether or not they live in a state participating in the expansion - will pay into the system. Consequently, Texas residents will see over $9 billion flow out of their state in 2022 to help fund the expansion in states that accept it; Georgia taxpayers will lose out on nearly $3 billion; and Florida's rejection of the expansion will cost residents over $5 billion:
Texas taxpayer dollars are going to states, like California and New York, that did expand Medicaid.  I cannot imagine why any rational, taxpaying citizen would be happy about this. Nor should it be lost on the more informed residents in large urban areas of the fact that the hospitals serving the poor are financially strained to a breaking point.
Flood waters recently overwhelmed and devastated parts of  Houston and areas in Central Texas.  While the state's recently adjourned 84th Legislature did little to address the state's education, infrastructure and transportation needs, the state's flood victims could at least count on FEMA to have their backs.
Obama bashing TX conservatives should not worry.  For the POTUS is a far bigger man than the former and current Governors.  President Obama and FEMA won't throw Texas taxpayers under the bus.
The same cannot be said for the Texas Republican Party.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Not all tests are bad - If we throw out accountability-- schools will rush back to math basics. #EdBLogNet @idraedu

A colleague in Texas writes:

Before we start throwing babies out with the bath water --- 
Take a look at the math test for 5th grade 

It's NOT, absolutely NOT, a rote mathematics test that can be prepared for with drill and kill sheets (although I'm sure some are trying). 

This test looks very sophisticated.  Don't we want this kind of sophisticated thinking?

If we throw out accountability-- schools will rush back to math basics.

If we can solve the mess of HIGH stakes testing and keep the pressure on schools to prepare kids for sophisticated thinking AND include college as part of an accountability system then we may move forward.

It strikes me that these tests are being designed to stop people from trying to TEACH to the test-- but the system seems to know no other way of addressing the problem. 

AND the more I read progressive bloggers-- the more obvious it becomes that they just don't think kids can perform. 

This guy wrote http://roadkillgoldfish.com/texas-kids-shocked-by-scores-on-new-math-staar/

Which seems to please a lot of 'progressives'- personally I thought it was crap. 

And I was not surprised to see that this same guy wrote this 



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lamenting the state of “leadership” in pubic education "Democracy" #EdBlogNet @idraedu

From the blog by "Democracy"
 Part 1
 I’ve been commenting on this blog for a while, lamenting the state of “leadership” in pubic education.
 The fate of Joshua Starr in Montgomery County, MD is a good example. Starr was actually trying to bring more equity to the system, he wanted to de-emphasize testing, he opposed merit pay, and he was collaborative, generally. A teacher rep said Starr made sure teachers were “included in the decision-making process for most major decisions.” Still, Starr seemed to favor the Common Core, and in an interview with NPR he bragged about the county’s “SAT and AP scores.” Sigh.
 Starr’s replacement was to have been Andrew Houlihan of Houston, who later withdrew his name from consideration.
 Houlihan’s dissertation was on the use of data. He has described himself as “a big data person. I love using data to make decisions.” Except, apparently, Houlihan never really understood what the “data” said. He bragged about an Arnold Foundation grant that, he said, was “transforming” the recruitment of teachers. And he bragged about Houston’s merit pay program – ASPIRE – that, he said, rewarded “our most effective educators” for “accelerating student progress.”
 The Arnold Foundation is a right-wing organization founded by a hedge-funder who resists accountability and transparency in derivatives markets but calls for them in education. Its executive director, Denis Cabrese was former chief of staff to DIck Armey, the Texas conservative who now heads up FreedomWorks, the group that helps to pull the Tea Party strings and gets funding from the billionaire arch-conservative Koch brothers.
 Fairfax County recently hired Karen Garza, who was also in Houston. Garza led the ASPIRE program, a pay plan that was funded (in part) by the Broad, Gates and Dell foundations, the very same groups that fund corporate-style “reform” and that support the Common Core. And while researchers point out the dangers of value-added models, noting that they “cannot disentangle the many influences on student progress,” Garza said they were “proven methodology” that are both “valid and reliable.”
 Fairfax and Montgomery, by the way, are considered two of the better school systems, nationally.
 Part 2
 Meanwhile, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) recently concluded its Spring conference, titled “Inspiring Leadership for Innovation.” The conference was focused on “college and career readiness,” “leadership skills essential to changing school cultures,” and “superintendent success stories.” The featured speakers were Jean Claude Brizard and Marc Tucker.
 Brizard has been a failure as a superintendent in Rochester and Chicago. According to a columnist who followed him closely, Brizard “engaged in gross misrepresentations of data and sometimes outright lied. He made promises he didn’t keep. He did one thing while saying another.” As to his two failed superintendencies, Brizard admits that “there were some mistakes made.”
 Marc Tucker says that he wants high-stakes tests in grades 4, 8 and 10, and “the last exams would be set at an empirically determined college- and work-ready standard.” Additionally, “every other off year, the state would administer tests in English and mathematics beginning in grade 2, and, starting in middle school, in science too, on a sampling basis. Vulnerable groups would be oversampled to make sure that populations of such students in the schools would be accurately measured.” Tucker wants all schools systems to take PISA, because he thinks that the test scores of 15-year-olds are somehow tied tightly to economic growth and competitiveness. You know, jobs.
 Sigh. Tucker just keeps regurgitating the same-old song, all over again: college and career “readiness.” To Tucker, that’s why public education exists. He says nary a word about citizenship.
 And what about those jobs? The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that most new jobs created in the United States over the next decade will NOT require postsecondary education. These are jobs like personal care aides, retail clerks, nursing assistants, janitors and maids, construction laborers, freight and stock movers, secretaries, carpenters, and fast food preparers.
 In addition to its Spring fling, VASS selected its 2016 superintendent of the year. While the award comes from VASS, a VASS-selected panel –– comprised of the state superintendent of instruction, and the heads of the Virginia Education Association, state PTA and state school boards association, the state ASCD, and the directors of the state associations of secondary and elementary school principals –– picked the winner. In other words, the top education “leaders” in the state –– those who should be familiar with research and evidence –– were responsible for choosing the state’s “best” superintendent.
 A few years back, this recently-named “superintendent of the year” forced a test-score-tracking software program called SchoolNet on teachers. She was advised against it because of its problems, but she went ahead anyway. It ended up being a $2 million-plus failure. SchoolNet was later bought by Pearson. The superintendent is still withholding 268 SchoolNet-related emails from public scrutiny, claiming they are “exempt” from the Freedom of Information Act.
Part 3
 This VASS-award-winner’s school division sent out what it called a “leadership” survey several years back. It was a skewed-question survey designed to produce pre-determined results. But it did allow for comments. And they were instructive. They included comments such as “..this is the worst leadership the county has ever had,” and “Honesty, integrity and fairness are lacking,” and “…teachers have very little voice, and “…the system does not care about me or most other employees as individuals, and “county schools leaders seem to be increasingly inept and far-removed from the day-to-day realities of public education.” Again and again and again, commenters said these things about the top “leadership:”
 “does not listen to teachers…”
“does not ask what people think before it accepts major policies…”
* “…teachers are not listened to…our opinions have been requested and ignored…”
* “…when I offer my opinion, i has been dismissed.”
* “l..leaders seek input, but then usually, disregard the opinions of those not in agreement with the administration…decisions are made top-down before input is received.”
* “decision making is so top-down — stakeholders are seldom consulted…”
* “…decisions have already been made…”
* “…teachers feel that their professional judgment is not valued…”
* “most administrator are arrogant…and remove themselves with any type of collaborative dialogue with teachers.”
* “…they do not want to hear complaints, or you are labeled as a troublemaker…”
* “the county asks its employees for input but these requests are superficial…the decision have already been made by the people ‘downtown’…”
* “you ask people to think critically but we must toe the party line…”
* “We are not asked what we think…it is common knowledge here that you are not allowed to address concerns that may be negative…”
“I see few examples of teachers being involved in decision making.”
 A blue ribbon resources utilization committee recommended a climate survey of the schools years earlier, noting that one had been done repeatedly in county government. Teachers asked for a climate survey in the schools too, and even offered to help write one. A climate survey still hasn’t been offered.
 This “superintendent of the year” forced STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) “academies” on all of the county high schools. The original claim was that research showed a STEM “crisis” in America, and that this move was “visionary.” Norm Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin – which has laid of thousands of STEM workers – was invited to the schools to make his STEM spiel. When asked for the “research,” the superintendent couldn’t produce any. There’s a reason for that. The research shows there is no “crisis,” no “shortage.” In fact, there’s a glut.
For example, Beryl Lieff Benderly wrote this stunning statement recently in the Columbia Journalism Review (see: http://www.cjr.org/reports/what_scientist_shortage.php?page=all ):
“Leading experts on the STEM workforce, have said for years that the US produces ample numbers of excellent science students. In fact, according to the National Science Board’s authoritative publication Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, the country turns out three times as many STEM degrees as the economy can absorb into jobs related to their majors.”
 When VASS selected this “superintendent of the year” for 2016, it noted certain “indicators of success.” What were they? It cited an increase in the “number of students enrolled in AP courses” and SAT scores that were higher than the state average. Never mind that the SAT is not tied to the school curriculum and that this school division is one of the most affluent in the state. There is no better predictor of SAT score than family income.
 The research on SAT – and ACT – and AP courses finds that they are mostly hype. The SAT and ACT just don’t do a good job of predicting success in college or life. Moreover, research finds that when demographic characteristics are controlled for, the oft-made claims made for AP disappear. In the ‘ToolBox Revisited’ (2006), a statistical analysis of the factors contributing to the earning of a bachelor’s degree, Adelman found that Advanced Placement did not reach the “threshold level of significance.” Other research finds that while “students see AP courses on their transcripts as the ticket ensuring entry into the college of their choice…there is a shortage of evidence about the efficacy, cost, and value of these programs.”
 This is the current state of public education’s “leadership.”
 Unlike the Allstate commercial, I don’t think we’re in ‘good hands.’