A lot has been going on in the last two weeks nationally and I am now just getting caught up.

There is a lot going on in the state of Washington with Stand for Children, et al, trying to do an end run around the people by going directly to the state legislators to attempt to privatize our educational system. It worked in Wisconsin, as Jonah Edelman with Stand for Children proudly proclaimed in the video of him at the Aspen Institute so of course it will work in Washington, right? Well, that’s what he said would happen. He said that our state was next.

We’ll see. Stay tuned

In the meantime some very interesting events have been occurring around the country. One that I have to lead with today because it is so outrageous is Rahm Emanuel’s sleazy tactics in Chicago called the “Rent-a-Preacher scheme”.

From Substance News, Rahm’s bullying exposed:

In a reversal of fortunes, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s bullying and union busting tactics have been not only uncovered but challenged by state officials on the Illinois Educational Facilities Task Force and in other contexts. As a result of the January 6, 2012 hearings on the proposed closings of nine Chicago public schools, it was established again by evidence and eyewitness testimony is that Rahm Emmanuel push to turn over pubic schools to private operators is using text book union busting schemes to get what he wants, including paying poor people to carry signs and “protest” on behalf of his policies and proposals.

The most disturbing revelations of Chicago’s Millionaire Mayor One Percent was the use of paid outside agitators to hold signs, march, and speak in favor of closing public schools and Board of Education officials forging documents to push out homeless students from one school. All of the revelations have come out since New Year’s Day, although many of the details had previously been published in Substance, some as early as last summer, when Substance first exposed what is now widely known as Rahm’s “Rent A Preacher” scheme.

And while we’re on the subject of outrageous actions, check this out. From NYC Public School Parents website, Regents agree to give NY student data to limited corporation run by Gates and operated by Murdoch’s Wireless Gen

This week, the Wall St Journal reported that the NY Board of Regents approved the state’s sharing of student and teacher information with a new national data base, to be funded by the Gates  Foundation, and designed by News Corp’s Wireless Generation.
All this confidential student and teacher data will be held by a private limited corporation, called the Shared Learning Collaborative LLC, with even less accountability,  which in July was awarded $76.5 million   by the Gates Foundation, to be spent over 7 months.  According to an earlier NYT story,  $44 million of this funding will go straight into the pockets of Wireless Generation, owned by Murdoch’s News Corp and run by Joel Klein.

Something very similar to this occurred within the Seattle Public School District two years ago when our former Broad-trained superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, agreed to divulge personal student information to Strategies 360, a firm that had previously set up a faux roots organization, Our Schools Coalition, that popped up just before the teacher’s negotiations whipping up support for merit pay and high stakes testing. This figment of 360’s imagination disappeared soon after the contract had been agreed upon between the teachers and the superintendent. See Should the School District be Allowed to Give Out Our Kid’s Phone numbers, Addresses and Photo’s to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

Parents, be careful about what you sign and always ensure that your child’s information remains confidential.

This article, America’s Teachers See Growing Poverty Up Close, is a great read and brings us all back to reality, a place that folks like Rahm need to find:

ne of the things I’ve discovered in recent years is that when it comes to education policy, the last people asked for input are America’s teachers. We have a President who holds an “education summit” that includes the nation’s top business leaders and foundation heads, but no teachers; we have billionaires lobbying to privatize education and break teachers unions; we have an organization that purports to work for educational equity that encourages its recruits to leave teaching after two years because they can influence policy more by moving into other, more prestigious careers, rather than spending a lifetime as a “mere teacher.”

The results are plain to see. After ten years of No Child Left Behind, three years of Race to the Top, and twenty years of Teach for America, we have seen no change in the global standing of America’s schools and no reduction in the test score gap between racially and economically disadvantaged groups and the rest of the population.

But we lose something more than an opportunity to improve our schools by excluding teacher’s voices – we lose a chance to understand the human impact of poverty and economic distress, not only those locked in inner-generational poverty, but those made newly poor by the economic crisis. Students bring the wounds of poverty into their classrooms every day, in ways that break teachers hearts, keep them up at nights, and make the accountability protocols based on test scores that “education reformers” are now imposing seem totally divorced from reality.

On the “good news” front, California Governor Jerry Brown, after getting rid of the privatizers on the California State Board of Education soon after being sworn in, gave his state of the state address two days ago and this is what he said:

Next, I want to say something about our schools. They consume more tax dollars than any other government activity and rightly so as they have a profound effect on our future. Since everyone goes to school, everyone thinks they know something about education and in a sense they do. But that doesn’t stop experts and academics and foundation consultants from offering their ideas — usually labeled reform and regularly changing at ten year intervals–on how to get kids learning more and better. It is salutary and even edifying that so much interest is shown in the next generation. Nevertheless, in a state with six million students, 300,000 teachers, deep economic divisions and a hundred different languages, some humility is called for.

In that spirit, I offer these thoughts. First, responsibility must be clearly delineated between the various levels of power that have a stake in our educational system. What most needs to be avoided is concentrating more and more decision-making at the federal or state level. For better or worse, we depend on elected school boards and the principals and the teachers they hire. To me that means, we should set broad goals and have a good accountability system, leaving the real work to those closest to the students. Yes, we should demand continuous improvement in meeting our state standards but we should not impose excessive or detailed mandates.

To read Anthony Cody’s take on Governor Brown’s address see Jerry Brown: My Hunch is that Principals and Teachers Know the Most.

I came across this school on Friday and wanted to share this video with you of a “Small School in the Big Apple”. It reminds me of the Nova Project in Seattle.

I will once again leave you with an essay by Chris Hedges Why the United States is Destroying Its Education System. Below is an excerpt.

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.