Columnists seek to shape opinion in discussing school reform

Duane Campbell

Duane Campbell

The Paucity of Dan Walters’ Commentary on School Issues

The column by Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee entitled “California’s School Wars Heat Up” in the print edition for Dec.20, and entitled  “Powerful Factions Go to War Over Direction of California Schools,” http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/20/6015661/dan-walters-powerful-factions.html  in the on line version  seriously and deliberatively misinforms.  Walters’s columns are reprinted in newspapers throughout the state.

He frames the conflict between the School Establishment ( school administrators, elected officials, teachers’ unions]  vs. the “School Reformers”.   These are indeed two of the powerful factions competing in the California State Capitol, but not at all the complete story.

To understand the distortion lets see who these “reformers “  see the Democracy and Education Institute  https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg

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Reign of Error: Diane Ravitch’s Important New Book on Eduction

by Deborah Meier

Dear readers,

reign of errorDefinitely go out and buy Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to Americas Public Schools by Diane Ravitch, which just been launched with proper publicity. She is a phenomenal woman—sending out a half-dozen e-mails a day, two books in the last decade, and traveling to speak throughout the USA. And…while she’s younger than me, she’s old enough to have rested on her laurels. Maybe it helps to change your mind, because my exhaustion comes (in part) from feeling it’s all been said before (including by me).

Reign of Error lays out step by step the relentless thirty year drive to either centralize the education of the young—on one hand—or divest it entirely into privatized hands on the other. Finally, the two sides have joined forces on a strategy that simultaneously does both. While this coalition has many old roots, in its current form it began with the fanfare around the publication of A Nation at Risk (1983). Ravitch was, at that time, a supporter of this bold statement that more or less accused America’s teachers and school boards of a plot to undermine American health and welfare of the international scene. We were, said the signers, at risk of becoming a second rate nation if we didn’t take this crisis seriously. I asked my colleague on the NBPTS, AFT leader Al Shanker, why he had signed on. He said it was a good strategy because only in a crisis is the nation willing to put the money into schooling needed to make it really first-rate. He said—as I recall (paraphrased), ‘It’s true our schools are not as bad as the report suggests, but we are entering a new period and they either have to change dramatically or what the report accuses them of will become true. We need a smarter citizenry.’ Continue reading

How Teachers Unions Lead the Way to Better Schools

Amy B. Dean

Amy B. Dean

by Amy Dean

Diane Ravitch upends the “bad teachers” narrative.

Part of what I object to is the assumption that somehow the problems in American education are all tied up with teachers. The teachers are causing low performance, and if we could just find the ideal teacher evaluation system, we would be the highest performing nation in the world. I think that’s a false narrative.

I have a concern: Teachers are getting pummeled. Too often, they are being demonized in the media and blamed by politicians for being the cause of bad schools. Right-wing governors, power-hungry mayors and corporate “reformers”—all ignoring root issues such as poverty and inequality—have scapegoated the people who have devoted their lives to educating our children. Moreover, these forces are seeking to destroy the collective organizations formed by educators: teachers unions.

The stakes for our country could not be more profound. The labor movement and the public education system are two critical institutions of American democracy. And they are two that go hand in hand. Teachers unions have played a critical role in advocating for public education, but you’d never know it from mainstream media coverage. Therefore, there is a great need to lift up this tradition and highlight the efforts of teachers to collectively push for top-notch public schools.

To figure out how we can push forward on this issue, I talked with Diane Ravitch, one of the country’s leading education historians and public school advocates. A professor at New York University, Ravitch is a former Assistant Secretary of Education and the author of several books, including 2010’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

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Parents and teachers march for public schools

Save Our Schools

By Duane Campbell

An estimated 2000 – 3,000  parents, teachers, and public education supporters marched in Washington, D.C. and in  eleven  support rallies in other cities including Sacramento, California  on July 30. The events were organized by parent groups and other pro public education groups and supported by teachers unions.  The rally, although small by Washington standards was at least 20 times larger than the Tea Party rally held in Washington this week in support of the Tea Party’s proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to balance the budget.

There was limited media coverage of the Save Our Schools rallies.  The Save Our Schools March was organized by a wide variety of local groups and education advocates.  Speakers included Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozol, José Vilson, Deborah Meier, Monty Neill, Cornel West, and Pedro Noguera, among others.  Schools around the country are suffering from severe  budget cuts and teacher lay offs  imposed by the economic crisis and the  resultant decisions of legislatures to cut budgets. Continue reading

Save Our Schools March !

Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action

by Duane Campbell

Parents, teachers  and families from around the country say they are fed up with so-called school  “reform” policies that falsely label more than 80% of U.S. public schools as failures.  A  coalition of individuals and organizations is mobilizing for a national day of action in support of public schools. 
  
On Saturday, July 30, 2011, thousands of people will gather at the White House in Washington, DC and at locations around the nation for   “Save Our Schools” marches.   The  events are being organized by a network of teachers, parents and community activists. 
  You can contact the march efforts and locate your regional demonstration at  http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org,

“For too long, public school stakeholders have been treated like second class citizens in our own communities,” said Sabrina Stevens Shupe, a former Colorado teacher, who is a member of the March’s organizing committee. “Teachers’ knowledge has been dismissed because we are falsely presumed to be self-interested and incompetent.  Students and parents who vocally oppose the disruption and destruction of their schools are often entirely ignored.  At the same time, ideologues with little to no experience in public schools have made misguided decisions that devastate educational quality and equal opportunity.”

The Save Our Schools March is being held in response to recent destructive “reform” efforts which have undermined our public educational system, demoralized teachers, and reduced the education of too many of our children to nothing more than test preparation. Something must be done – and it must be done now!

The Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action is calling on Americans everywhere to demand: Continue reading

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