Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some interesting privatization connections in regards to the LAUSD District 1 race

First published April 15, 2014 on Los Angeles Independent Media Center

"There is No Immoral Depth They Won’t Go In Pursuit of Their Agenda" — Celes King IV

Photo credit: Crenshaw Cougars Fighting Reconstitution. Stop Deasy from destroying any more school communitiesI have a piece coming out in the LA Progressive about the District 1 Special Election. They said it should run tonight or tomorrow. In it I endorse Sherlett Hendy Newbill and I also lend my political support to the other three educators in the race. Moreover, I address the three opportunists who are being financed by the billionaire privatizers and their Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC). The privatizers are crafty. They're running three candidates simultaneously, without letting on that they're all being backed by the same organizations.

Here are some new facts that I didn't know when I wrote the article, but may be of use.

Regarding the Alex Johnson Campaign an ally sent me the following (I'm keeping them anonymous for now):

Curious why no one is mentioning how the same brigade that was pushing for an election is now pushing for Alex Johnson - their Facebook page has even morphed from demanding an election to exclusively covering the Johnson campaign: https://www.facebook.com/EmpowerDistrict1

Bear in mind that it was the usual NPIC suspects who pushed for the Special Election: Urban League, Inner City Struggle, United Way Greater Los Angeles, and Parent Revolution. Given what I've already uncovered about Johnson, It's no wonder that he's their candidate of choice, while Hayes is their backup candidate. Parent Revolution was an early backer of Hayes, but has since shifted to the frontrunner, Johnson.

However, don't think that Reality TV's Omarosa Manigault isn't also in their circle. I know many of you have had the unpleasant experience of coming across the California Charter Schools Association's (CCSA) K. W. Tulloss at various events. He works for the CCSA's Families That Can division. He also works for FBI snitch and corporate charter school cash cow Al Sharpton. I was looking up some information on him and came across this quote in the Los Angeles Wave:

Tulloss also brought reality show personality Omarosa Manigault into the fold, making her one of his assistant ministers. [emphasis mine]

The crooked charter "minister" is also quite close to school privatization advocate Mark Ridley-Thomas—Alex Johnson's patron. The late African American Civil Rights leader, Celes King IV, called Tulloss the "The Leading Local Black Face of the Charter Schools/Corporatize Public Education Forces". While King's entire OpEd is worth reading, this excerpt describes Tulloss' duplicity and deceptiveness best:

When Tulloss spoke before the school board and the media Tuesday he never once identified himself as a paid organizer of the California Charter School Association. Instead he identified himself as the president of National Action Network, with popular black activist Najee Ali standing beside him. Using civil rights groups like NAN-LA to provide a black face for their corporate agenda is a textbook tactic of the privatization forces. It allows them to wrap their agenda, which is not in the best interest of students or communities of color, in the language and image of the civil rights movement.

The sums of money the neoliberal corporate school privatizers are throwing into this race have already outpaced anything the community can keep up with. All we have is truth to speak to their power!


NPIC Poverty Pimps and Privatization Pushers unhappy I finished school and have time to expose them again


Friday, April 11, 2014

Elect the Mother/Teacher/Coach Sherlett Hendy Newbill to LAUSD School Board Contribution Challenge!

I was just about to make my second contribution to Mother/Teacher/Coach Sherlett Hendy Newbill's campaign when I remembered how effective Sean Abajian and Suzie Abajian's challenges always are for fundraising. Therefore, even though I can't afford either of these amounts, I'm willing to donate another $40 if I can find five other people to do so. Better still, if we can get ten people that want to keep the corporate privatizers from taking over the #LAUSD District 1 seat who are willing to chip in $50 each, then I'll do the same. So who is willing to accept my challenge? Let me know here, or in private and once I get my 5 or 10 co-contributors, we'll make the donation! Of course, if your willing to donate much more, then please go now: http://www.hendynewbill.com/#!contribute/c6s5

We're almost at five, let's try to reach the ten mark. Pledges are okay, let's get 10 @ $50 to really help her. Her competitors Hayes and Johnson are getting $1,100 a shot contributions from charter school tycoons, right-wing bankers, and real estate developers. Plus, there's this: 195 contributions for $113,051 to Alex Johnson Campaign. NOT ONE teacher, principal, librarian, or social worker on the list!


195 contributions for $113,051 to Alex Johnson Campaign. NOT ONE teacher, principal, librarian, or social worker on the list!

Only in a city run by the vile Eli Broad could a candidate like Johnson, who only views LAUSD as a political stepping stone, be considered a viable candidate for such an important position. Johnson is getting $1,100 a shot contributions from charter school tycoons, right-wing bankers, and real estate developers. 195 contributions for $113,051 to Alex Johnson Campaign. NOT ONE teacher, principal, librarian, or social worker on the list! It's beyond disgusting, it's deplorable.

Former LAUSD District 5 candidate, the distinguished Dr. John Fernandez, had this to say about Johnson:

This does not surprise me at all Robert. At a recent candidate's forum at UTLA, I submitted a question commenting that District 1 has been historically represented by an African American but that the students in District 1 now comprise 70% Mexican/Latino student population. I asked what were the three main issues affecting Mexican/Latino students in District 1? All Mr. Alex Johnson could say was they needed resources. Mr. Johnson could have stated that Mexican/Latino students need a culturally relevant and responsive education, they need bilingual cross cultural education, teachers must be trained to teach Mexican/Latino students, textbooks must used to highlight the achievements and contributions of Mexican/Latino students, Mexican/Latino students must be provided with high tech vocational training and teachers must provide English language strategies—all the very things that African American students need.

I am going on record to say that Alex Johnson is a coward. As the runner up in the 2013 LAUSD election, I've made/sent dozens of phone calls and emails to his campaign requesting policy positions. I have tried to contact his campaign for over a month. All attempts have been ignored, because he won't know his policy positions until Eli Broad and John Deasy tell him what they are.


We're in this struggle against neoliberalism collectively, each of us doing our part…


K12NN: United Way's Corporate NPIC Astroturf was thick in front of LAUSD last Tuesday

First published April 11, 2014 on K-12 News Network

"By what logic does United Way engage in an activity that is shunned by all the other charities?" — Professor Ralph E. Shaffer

UWGLA executives Ryan Smith and Jason Mandell. Photo credit LA Times, converted into a fair use meme by this article's author.

Amid all the misleading and mendacious reports in the corporate media about Tuesday's desk charade, there is one revealing Los Angeles Times photo of so-called "students" setting up desks on Beaudry Boulevard in front of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). A photo featuring United Way Greater Los Angeles' (UWGLA) executive staff members Ryan Smith and Jason Mandell, two poverty pimps pulling down six figure salaries, who are running the whole show. Astroturf like no other. For people needing a background on how the UWGLA operates as an both an extension of its plutocrat donors' agenda, and as a propaganda megaphone for right-wing think-tanks, see this essay.

UWGLA's "CLASS" coalition of reactionary Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC) staged this event in support of their Broad Foundation informed priorities for Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) dollars. As one prominent Silver Lake activist, Ken Sitz, astutely pointed out: "you know it's not a grassroots protest when there's not a cohort of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) present to menace the demonstrators." This publicity stunt was pulled off by these well paid professionals with the full knowledge and complicity of John Deasy, whose LCFF priorities are identical to that of the NPIC. After all, Deasy works for the same people. One of the more perceptive observations of the fund-to-advocate paradigm comes from K12NN's founder, Dr. Cynthia Liu:

The United Way of LA is chief enforcer of Eli Broad's corporate takeover of public Ed agenda. He's the reason why I created the term "weaponized philanthropy" to describe how lefty-liberal groups in this city are under his sway. There's NO good reason on earth the ACLU or LGBT Youth groups would support John Deasy except for the fact that they get money from UWGLA and much of that money comes from Broad.

It is somewhat ironic that the well funded NPIC staffers claim they set up all the desks to represent "all the students that drop out each month", without discussing their own complicity in policies that push students out of school. Namely, a narrowing of curricula because of the costly drains of the testing-industrial-complex like DIBBELS and Common Core State Standards. Additionally, Deasy and his allies' systematic closure of ethnic studies, and other programs that appeal to student interests. At the end of the day the United Way advocates for neoliberal policies and privatization actions that exacerbate poverty, segregation, and inequity in Los Angeles—things that all contribute to the push-out of LAUSD students. If that's what UWGLA considers—according to their tag-line—"creating pathways out of poverty", then it's even more evidence of the old adage that: "Philanthropy is not progressive and never has been."

The Occupy United Way! group was created in 2011 to oppose UWGLA functioning as the tax deductible public relations and lobbying arm of the 1%.


Vote STAY for 90026 Echo Park GEPENC this Saturday!

Vote for Kwazi Nkrumah
for President, Greater Echo Park/Elysian
Neighborhood Council (GEPENC)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kwazi Nkrumah: Long-time Echo Park resident and life-long community activist and Human Rights advocate. 
Founder of the Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles; former Chair of KPFK Community Advisory Board; 
2-time Board Member of GEPENC, he has served as Budget Rep to the City, 
Regional Liaison to other Neighborhood Councils and currently chairs our Parks, Public Works and Environmental Concerns Committee. 
Kwazi has worked to fight mortgage foreclosures, extend protection for renters, and is a strong proponent of human rights for the homeless.  
Kwazi opposes the destructive impact of both the re-opening of the Scott Avenue gate and the Barlow Plan on Elysian Park and our community.
 He is working for more balanced development that limits economic displacement and preserves the historic multi-cultural character of Echo Park.

Vote for Kwazi Nkrumah for President of GEPENC!

Saturday, April 12, 2014
Edendale Branch Library, 2011 Sunset Blvd., 10am-4pm

(Go to echoparknc.org for more info.)


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Responding to Karin Klein of the LA Times' 'Why my family is opting out of the Common Core testing'

First published April 9, 2014 on School Matter

"The U.S. can do a much better job evaluating children, teachers and schools. That's why protests against standardized testing misuse and overuse are exploding across the nation."—FairTest

Read Professor Chomsky's Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of PropagandaThe Los Angeles Times' long time school privatization cheerleader Karin Klein penned an interesting piece today entitled Why my family is opting out of the Common Core testing. The following is my response to her editorial:

Ms. Klein:

For roughly a decade you've mocked both education experts and activists who have maintained that high-stakes standardized tests narrow the curriculum, and now you've had an epiphany? Your newspaper, the one that recklessly published pseudoscientific VAM scores from those selfsame tests, and has been the biggest cheerleader of the testing-industrial-complex, is now suddenly concerned with the "socially responsible" thing to do? Call me cynical, but I'd posit that this one editorial does not absolve either of you of your complicity in the long string of neoliberal corporate reforms that have been inflicted on an entire generation of children with your blessings.

I'm glad that you're sparing your own child the abject effects of this year's test. However, I recall sitting across a table from you in early 2013 when you conducted the school board endorsement interviews and having to endure your scoffing at me for suggesting that we end the high-stakes standardized test regime for all students. Your exact words were "if we do that, we'd go back to the 'Johnny Can't Read' days." I remember how astonished I was that a professional journalist covering education could be so ignorant of pedagogy that they'd cite Flesch's right-wing phonics garbage as their defense of the unholy policy trio of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core State Standards.

So don't expect those of us who have been trying to defend all children from the effects of standardized tests—the worst of which robs them of that very fleeting joy of learning—to welcome you aboard. Unlike your offspring, privileged in every regard, there are countless other children who have had their opportunity to love learning stolen by mind numbing test preparation in the name of profits and propaganda.

Robert D. Skeels


11 Reasons for Congressional #TESTHearingsNow


K12NN: American Statistical Association has just released a very important document on Value Added Methodologies

First published April 9, 2014 on K-12 News Network

"The President of the United States and his Secretary of Education are violating one of the most fundamental principles concerning test use: Tests should be used only for the purpose for which they were developed. If they are to be used for some other purpose, then careful attention must be paid to whether or not this purpose is appropriate" — Gerald Bracey, PhD

VAM/AGT and other neoliberal corporate reforms have all scientific validity of phrenology. They’re just as racist as well. The American Statistical Association (ASA) released their ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment today. While their spokesperson explicitly said they neither support, nor oppose the use of so-called "Value Added" methodologies, the actual document provides strong support to those who oppose this wrongheaded use of statistics to make high stakes decisions effecting the lives of students, educators, and our school communities. Too bad the amateur statisticians at the Los Angeles Times were able to commit their egregious acts several years ago before this document was released. It's also too bad that LAUSD recently implemented one of these seriously flawed models, one that will abjectly harm students' education and further undermine the morale of our professional educators for years to come.

Some important excerpts from the document (all emphasis mine):

Estimates from VAMs should always be accompanied by measures of precision and a discussion of the assumptions and possible limitations of the model. These limitations are particularly relevant if VAMs are used for high-stakes purposes. (1)

VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, or schools. Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality. (2)

In practice, no test meets this stringent standard, and it needs to be recognized that, at best, most VAMs predict only performance on the test and not necessarily long-range learning outcomes. Other student outcomes are predicted only to the extent that they are correlated with test scores. A teacher’s efforts to encourage students’ creativity or help colleagues improve their instruction, for example, are not explicitly recognized in VAMs. (4)

Attaching too much importance to a single item of quantitative information is counter-productive—in fact, it can be detrimental to the goal of improving quality. In particular, making changes in response to aspects of quantitative information that are actually random variation can increase the overall variability of the system. (5)

The quality of education is not one event but a system of many interacting components. (6)

A decision to use VAMs for teacher evaluations might change the way the tests are viewed and lead to changes in the school environment. For example, more classroom time might be spent on test preparation and on specific content from the test at the exclusion of content that may lead to better long-term learning gains or motivation for students. (6)

Overreliance on VAM scores may foster a competitive environment, discouraging collaboration  and efforts to improve the educational system as a whole. (6)

The majority of the variation in test scores is attributable to factors outside of the teacher’s control such as student and family background, poverty, curriculum, and unmeasured influences. (7)

The VAM scores themselves have large standard errors, even when calculated using several years of data. These large standard errors make rankings unstable, even under the best scenarios for modeling. (7)

A VAM score may provide teachers and administrators with information on their students’ performance and identify areas where improvement is needed, but it does not provide information on how to improve the teaching (7)

All in all, the document is an academic condemnation of the VAM/AGT pseudosciences that have been ushered in by neoliberal corporate education reform project. While the ASA is populated with actual scientists and statisticians, we can be sure that the corporate reform crowd will be quick to try to refute the document. Here the tag-line of a recent article in Salon by Paul Rosenberg is apropos: 'Like global warming deniers, "education reformers" have nothing to  lose and everything to gain by sowing confusion'.

For a copy of the ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment see http://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf. For additional information, please visit the ASA website at www.amstat.org.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Wrapping up a lot of hard work at UCLA, looking towards next steps

Thank goodness I only had to do this for two quarters. At my age working full time, attending a top ranked R1 university, and getting two-to-three hours of sleep a night in order to earn those grades was beginning to take a serious toll on me physically. Spending every waking moment on the weekends studying didn't do much for my normal household duties either.

A 3.315* is not good enough to get into any UCLA humanities graduate programs, but would be considered excellent for candidacy at the CSU. Still trying to figure out next steps, but Peoples College of Law just might be my next destination.

In fairness, my Glendale Community College GPA was 4.0, and there were some serious extenuating circumstance that led to me dropping out of honors program status at UCLA. Such is life for commuting, working, non-traditional students.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

SKrashen: Beware of STEM Fever

SKrashen: Beware of STEM Fever: Sent to the Register-Guard, April 2, 2014 Before Eugene's educators continue with their plans ("Leaders eye transforming academy ...


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Know Any Social Justice Oriented UCLA Students? Get Them to #resistTFA

First published in LA Progressive on March 28, 2014

I wrote the Op-Ed following this introduction for the Daily Bruin when I first returned to UCLA as an undergraduate last September. It was patently ignored by the editorial staff, as were my requests for modification guidelines to get it published. While I have a haunting suspicion that some of the editorial staff may have been protecting Teach for America (TFA), I got so busy with my course-load that I was unable to pursue it any further. When I contacted the UCLA Student Organizations Leadership and Engagement department before the winter break, they informed me that if I wanted to start an organization I needed two fellow students and had to apply during a one week window. Once more overwhelmed in the winter by my course-load, commute, and full time job, I missed that window entirely.

Students United for Public Education #ResistTFA CampaignIn the meantime a grassroots movement against TFA and neoliberal corporate education reform has grown around much of the work Students United for Public Education (SUPE) has initiated. In mid-February SUPE staged the #ResistTFA campaign on twitter, and it became the top trending item that day. The campaign received national attention, and forced TFA to issue a written response. Although in the middle of a researching for a paper, I was able to tweet a shot I took earlier that day in Powell Library, and dig out an old shot of when I served the empire to point out that even boot camp is longer than TFA's "training." The campaign continued well after the twitter storm. It was so successful, that within weeks the corporate bellwether was publicly discussing increasing the length of their training. While the goal is the abolishment of TFA altogether, getting them to discuss the harm they cause by foisting unprepared and untrained missionaries on low income children is quite a feat.

United Students Against Sweatshops TFA Truth TourSUPE's #resistTFA efforts have now been joined by United Students Against Sweatshops, another national group, that has launched a "'TFA Truth Tour' to Expose Dark Side of Corporate Education Reform". They embarked on a 15 campus tour to expose TFA's role in neoliberalism and privatization.

EmpowerED: Los Angeles Student Power 2014 conferenceHannah Nguyen, the student discussed in my original article below, has been organizing non-stop. She was one of the panelists for the Network for Public Education's 2014 National Conference, and is the executive director of the EmpowerED: Los Angeles Student Power 2014 conference being held this Saturday, March 29, 2014.

This brings us to the original piece. I'm still tasked with trying to create a SUPE chapter at UCLA. However, I declared for Winter of 2014. As of now I am an unofficial graduate (it's not official until UCLA puts it on my transcript). The good news is now I finally have time to do things like mow my lawn and organize students groups. The bad news is that while I'm technically still a UCLA student for a few more weeks, we really need current students to step forward and take up this mantle. I'm making an appeal to any current Bruins, or anyone who knows one, to get in touch with us at SUPE and help make this a reality. The original article, rejected by the student newspaper, still contains the case for why UCLA, a public university, should be one of the main fronts of resistance against the corporate onslaught against public education as embodied by TFA.

The window for starting a new UCLA group this spring is from 9am on April 7, 2014 to at 5pm on April 11, 2014. The instructions for doing so are online. I'm still willing to mentor young activists doing this. I'm also willing to help hand out flyers and talk to students on the weekends. Jackie Goldberg teaches at UCLA, and would probably be willing to be one of the signatories if two students approached her. Let's work to make UCLA a campus willing to defend the public commons! Let's resistTFA!

Students United for Public Education recruiting Bruins

Robert D. Skeels is a Senior in Classical Civilization, he writes about education policy for Schools Matter

I'd like to introduce an exciting student organization that many of my fellow Bruins will want to get involved with. Last year a Rutgers student named Stephanie Rivera met with University of Wisconsin-Madison students named Michael Billeaux, René Espinoza Kissell, and Dan Suárez. The result of their meeting was the founding of an organization called Students United for Public Education (SUPE).

Advocating for public education, and establishing itself as a bulwark against corporate neoliberal education reforms, SUPE grew quickly and garnered support from progressive educators and activists everywhere. The distinguished Professor Diane Ravitch gave SUPE and Rivera her blessings. The renowned National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provided Rivera space to publicize SUPE. I promoted SUPE at various sites when I ran for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education last winter. SUPE has established alliances with several widely recognized national education organizations including Parents Across America and the Network for Public Education.

You may have heard of Hannah Nguyen. She is the courageous student organizer who confronted controversial school privatization advocate Michelle Rhee at Rhee's recent local promotional event. The YouTube video of the exchange went viral, and several people, including Dr. Ravitch, wrote about the occurrence. Nguyen is much like Ravitch in that she started off supporting neoliberal education reforms, but later recognized their destructive effect on our schools and communities. She is now a powerful advocate for authentic reforms and for a student voice in all education policy discussions.

I first "met" Ms. Nguyen online in May as we were both critiquing the destructive activities of the Walton Family Foundation funded school privatization group, Parent Revolution. It was then I learned Nguyen was a national organizer for SUPE. I mentioned to her that I had just been readmitted to UCLA after a nineteen year hiatus. She told me that she was establishing a local SUPE chapter at USC, and asked me if I'd be interested in doing the same at UCLA. I contacted my friend and Schools Matter colleague Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus at USC, and we met with Nguyen to lay the foundation for Los Angeles based chapters. After organizing our respective universities, the goal is to reach out to the local California State Universities, Community Colleges, and high schools.

I've been tasked with establishing the UCLA chapter of SUPE. I need help. We're looking for students who care deeply about public education and want to change the discourse about our schools. SUPE's goals and beliefs can be found on their website and on the NEPC announcement page. They are founded on progressive principles that, among other things, reject school privatization, corporate control, teacher bashing, and the misuse of standardized tests. SUPE embraces equity, educating the whole student, use of culturally relevant curricula, and advocating pedagogical practices that are long proven to work.

As a middle aged 90026 commuter undergraduate with a full time job, mortgage, wife, sponsees, and already overcommitted with copious community activism and volunteer work, I'm best situated to serve an advisory role for students able to take on the lion's share of the organizing work. However, I know there are students who would be thrilled to establish a Bruin chapter of SUPE, and defend public education from forces that are wont to privatize the system from K-12 through the university.

SUPE's current project is their Students Resisting TFA Campaign. As a major component of the neoliberal reform project, Teach for America (TFA) enjoys both widespread hype in the corporate media and financial support from ideologically charged donors like the Walton Family Foundation. Numerous progressive education advocates including P.L. Thomas, Gary Rubinstein, Susan Ohanian, and others have shown that regardless of stated intentions, TFA serves as a reactionary force, exacerbating inequity and inequality in our schools, and often serving as a means of undermining organized labor. Some of the strongest testimony against TFA comes from their former corps members. Students Resisting TFA provides resources to help prospective TFA candidates reconsider their interest in the program.

SUPE is on facebook, twitter, and their website is currently being revamped. I hope you join us in the struggle to defend public education.

Right to left, Hannah Nguyen, Robert D. Skeels, and Dr. Stephen Krashen
Right to left, Hannah Nguyen, Robert D. Skeels, and Dr. Stephen Krashen


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mother, Teacher, Coach. Sounds like the perfect candidate to steward our LAUSD school board

Sherlett Hendy Newbill for LAUSD District 1 | Teacher Mother Coach


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Youth Internships For Spring, Summer and Fall (SPRING INTERNSHIP STARTS APRIL 5th)

Youth Internships For Spring, Summer and Fall (SPRING INTERNSHIP STARTS APRIL 5th)

Internships leading to apprenticeships, for youth 17 years old and up

From the Ground Up:  http://csuinc.org/programs/from-the-ground-up/

Want to learn how to take an active youth leadership role in your community: sign up for CSU’s From The Ground Up seasonal internships.

Learn an array of skills such as:

  • Growing your own food 
  • Presenting and conducting outreach
  • Business acumen and social marketing
  • Understanding social justice and how it connects to your community.

From The Ground Up Internship is an educational/learning program giving YOU the opportunity to learn new things that help you to open your mind. Progress in the community involves progress amongst young people, which means progress in you! By going through the internship you become more engaged with your community and with CSU’s work and can move on to become an apprentice and remain part of the FGU alumni program. If you are interested please either complete the application form (if you have one) or send an CSU@CSUInc.org and ask for an application form for the next available internship.


Obama: You can start by stopping deportations now!


Cheryl Ortega of UTLA: SB 1174 and Civil Rights

Language rights are human rights

Tonight's UTLA House of Reps meeting will take up the question of whether to endorse SB 1174 (Lara). Senator Lara's bill proposes to put on the ballot in 2016 a repeal of Prop 227. This is seen by bilingual supporters and researchers statewide as a first step in returning full language rights to the students of California. These are the words of Dr. Patricia Gandara, Director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA:

Rather than to describe the legislation as "undoing 227", presenting 1174 in the positive, about what it will DO positively and that is to give both parents and teachers the freedom of choice, something that has been denied to them over the last 15 years.  Teachers will be able to choose to use the most effective pedagogies and parents will be able to choose the best programs for their children.  To have put this decision into the hands of people who had no expertise and no stake in the outcome was a real abuse of democracy.

Over the last 15 years while California has become an increasingly diverse state with an economy that is increasingly dependent on our commerce and relations with other nations, we have also developed a whole new body of research that illuminates the amazing benefits of multilingualism.  We now know that students who graduate as bilinguals will have significantly better job prospects—a recent survey shows that 2/3 of California employers—across all types of industries—prefer to hire bilinguals over monolinguals—the bilinguals will get the jobs!; we know that young bilinguals will earn more money and hold higher level positions than equally qualified monolinguals; that Latino bilinguals will graduate high school and go on to college at higher rates than monolingual Latinos, and based on a new study that followed students in both bilingual and dual language programs in San Francisco (where they continued their bilingual programs) compared to English immersion, from kinder to high school—the bilinguals reclassified to English proficient at higher rates and scored higher on ELA than English immersion students (I can provide the study).  All of these benefits are in addition to what had already been established—the cognitive and social-emotional benefits of bilingualism. — Professor Patricia Gandara

Senator Lara intends to present his bill, 1174, to the Senate Education Committee in early April. To have UTLA's endorsement would weigh heavily in his favor. To have UTLA vote it down would be seen favorably in the eyes of those in Sacramento who oppose language rights.

PACE voted (with no dissent) to recommend endorsement. The Board of Directors also voted unanimously in favor of recommendation.  We strongly urge you to be at the House tonight to help pass this language rights endorsement.

In unity,
Cheryl Ortega - Director of Bilingual Education
Marina Salas - Bilingual Education Committee Chair


Fortunately LAUSD District 1 voters can choose educators instead of the opportunists and ethically challenged candidates

My comments on KPCC's "LA school board candidate responds to questions about credentials"

Fortunately District One voters will have a range of professional educators to choose from instead of Alex Johnson — a political opportunist who views LAUSD as a career stepping stone, or Genethia Hudley — whose claims that myriad errors in her CV are mere oversights. Those educators include: Hattie McFrazer, Sherlett Hendy Newbill, Rachel Johnson, and George McKenna. LAUSD needs professionals on the board that understand the nuances of policy and the impact their decisions make on pedagogy.

While it is entirely legitimate to vet a candidate's CV for accuracy, and Ms. Hudley-Hayes certainly suffers from the same dishonesty issues as John "nine-credit-hour-PhD" Deasy does in this regard, it is more of interest that Alex Johnson's camp initiated these allegations. Why would the billionaire backed Johnson need to launch such attacks? Perhaps it is because he is infinitely unqualified to hold the seat himself. Having no substantial background or knowledge regarding education, his only recourse is to deflect attention from his own record. There isn't a single policy position on his website, and his campaign has dodged questions about policy and stances on pedagogy. Johnson offers a bevy of vapid platitudes, but those won't address the crucial issues faced by LAUSD.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education 11th Biennial Conference

Starting May 09 2014, 09:00 AM — Ending May 11 2014, 04:00 PM

Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education 11th Biennial Conference

Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education

The 2014 Trinational Conference to Defend Public Education joins teachers and education activists from Mexico, Canada and the US, to review the struggle to defend public education since NAFTA in 1994, and to plan for the future. Hosted by the Chicago Teachers Union.

  • Friday Daytime: School and union visits to K–12 or higher education institutions
  • Friday Evening: Public dialogue on public education and movements in 3 countries
  • Saturday: 9:00–10:15 a.m.—Plenary discussion on the Trinational struggle
  • Workshops (Choose Two, 10:30am-12:30pm, 1:30pm -3:30pm):
    • Standardized testing & Evaluation—its effects, and campaigns in opposition
    • Precarious employment in K-12 and higher education
    • Student organizing on rights, funding, and other student issues
    • Alternative education programs and pedagogy
    • Teaching in minority communities
    • Building democratic, activist unions
    • Technology and education
    • Social Activities in the evenings
    • REGISTRATION: $100. www.trinational-usa.org


What the CCSS profiteers are subjecting my nephew and his peers to


Monday, March 24, 2014

Echo Park STAY's GEPENC voter guide and appeal for support

Currently, Standing Together Advocating for our Youth (STAY) is being kept alive and afloat with the help of YJC & Stop LAPD Spying and approximately 10 people from Echo Park. All of us are are volunteering endless hours for justice to our communities. BUT we cannot do this alone! Please, come support us at least for the Campaign elections for the Neighborhood Council April 12. Every single one of us are volunteering our time, energy, resources and money to get the STAY voice in our neighborhood council. NO ONE gets paid, we do this for love and passion of our communities. Please, if you can just come and vote that would be great. If you receive this email, we will be adding your name to a list that will allow you to vote even if you don't live here, because you have volunteer many hours! Please please vote for us!!




Standing Together Advocating for our Youth (STAY) website

Standing Together Advocating for our Youth (STAY) facebook


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mark Naison: Time to Close The Gates

Professor Naison has given me permission to reprint any of his public posts. This one really inspired me.

Time to Close The Gates

When historians review the last 20 years, the rise of Bill Gates to the position of education power broker supreme and the most important single person shaping public education policy in the US will be one of the most curious phenomena they study. Here is a man who never taught a day in his life and never attended public school who presumes to know how to reshape public education in the United States. More astonishingly, he has managed to convince a cross section of the nation's political leadership—in both parties—and most media pundits that he is the right man for the job, even though not one of his ideas, when put into effect, has achieved the promised results. Is there any precedent for this in American History. Has any other person ever achieved this kind of power over social policy, whereby he can organize a dinner and have 80 Senators attend?

In my judgment, Gates rising influence over education policy is not the sign of a healthy society, and I suspect future historians will concur. He is basically a snake-oil salesman whose great wealth has turned him first into a false prophet, and more recently into a new kind of policy dictator.

Let's hope the American people wake up and see the damage he is doing.

— Mark D. Naison, PhD is Chair of African and African-American Studies at Fordham University


Open note to Bill Gaffney of Steve Barr and Bill Gates' Teacher Action Network

Mr. Gaffney:

Last time we spoke you were very angry that I had exposed your ties with Bill Gates and Steve Barr's privatization organization. That's understandable, since no public school teacher would want to be associated with wealthy individuals bent on privatizing education. You abruptly left our conversation with the following statement:

Bill Gaffney: Please become a real teacher and then we can talk. Sorry you lost the campaign for school board.

I wanted to respond, but was very busy with both my course-load at UCLA, and my full time job. Now is my chance to return your pleasantries.

Sorry you lost the campaign for UTLA President, and I'll become a "real teacher" so we can talk just as soon as Bill Gates and Steve Barr do.

Your attempts to silence those that speak truth to power are hypocritical at best when your exhortation to become a "full time classroom teacher" would also have to apply equally to all of the politicians, corporate education reformers, and nonprofit industrial complex operatives meddling in education if it was to have any weight.

Moreover, for all your mocking of my school board run, at least I garnered a double digit percentage of votes. In fact, I managed to triple your vote percentage without the backing of one of the world's wealthiest billionaires. Put another way, you were the candidate for the 1% and your colleagues voted accordingly.

I would like extend to you my sincere wish that you sit down with the social justice crowd and listen to the case against school privatization. I'd be willing to make the case to you if you were willing to listen. I'm clear that you're not the enemy, the people you work for are. At the end of the day Steve Barr's involvement with education has netted him millions of dollars, while my involvement with public education has earned me the thanks of my community.

Best of luck in your future endeavors

Robert D. Skeels

2014 UTLA Election Information Center
Candidate Votes Vote%
Bill Gaffney 323 4.55
Los Angeles Unified School District 2, 2013
Candidate Votes Vote%
Robert D. Skeels 5,244 15.2

More like a union president who fights for billionaires and corporate profits!

Conversation With Bill Gaffney by Robert D. Skeels


Saturday, March 22, 2014

John Deasy created a culture of secrecy and intimidation in our school community

Plutocratic priest of privatization, LAUSD Superintendent John DeasyA colleague located this brilliant letter from a Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District parent in 2010 reminds us of how Deasy's neoliberal scorched earth policies on behalf of his masters Broad and Gates is nothing new. Sadly, SMMUSD parents had the political savvy and the wherewithal to run Deasy out of town, but not before he used their tax dollars to give convicted felon Robert Felner a huge sum as an incentive towards awarding him a "PhD" with only nine credit hours of coursework. United Way Greater Los Angeles' vile Elise Buik and her lapdogs Ryan Smith and Jason Mandell wouldn't have been able to pull off the same dog and pony show in support of Deasy in SMMUSD, there just aren't enough unemployed parents willing to pretend to support Deasy for a free lunch and t-shirt on the Westside.

This excerpt from the letter is classic in that it sums up the mendacity of the Los Angeles Times editorial board and Deasy's dark "culture of secrecy and intimidation," all in a single paragraph.

Today's LA Times editorial ("Head of the Class: New L.A. Supt. John Deasy clearly has changes in mind," Jan. 11, 2011 ) calls Deasy "inclusive" and "affable" and "a collaborative leader." Previous LA Times reports on Deasy make no mention of the role he played in bringing secret deals to Santa Monica-Malibu, which is still in the process of recovering. Many parents here continue to feel that Deasy created a culture of secrecy and intimidation in our school community. I thought when Deasy arrived that he would bring much needed educational reform to special education, but instead Deasy brought in Tim Walker.

Letters: Deasy Brings Back Tainted Legacy by Robert D. Skeels


New Content at SusanOhanian.Org! March 22, 2014

Susan Ohanian's email from this week merits reproduction here. If you haven't signed the petition, please do so right away.

I've spent the entire week—dawn to midnight— pestering people about the White House petition: My message is not quite 'Sign or die.' But close.

As I mention in 'White House Petition to Stop Data Obscenity,' I'm not so naive as to 'believe' in petitions… particularly petitions to politicos. I started this one to the White House hoping to get media attention. I also started it as a first step for teachers not yet willing to take to the streets to DO something besides whine. But the numbers are showing that  never mind take to the streets; teachers won't even take to putting two initials on a petition.

I'm very discouraged.

Also very angry. I think I've run out of excuses. I don't mean to be insufferable here, but teachers desperately need to figure out the difference between whining and resisting.

As the authors of 'Digital Ocean proclaim, 'Assessment is ultimately about gathering evidence to support claims we wish to make about learners.'

And to support claims they wish to make about teachers, too. All that standardized testing is very much to support claims Bill Gates, the Business Roundtable, et al want to make about teachers.

You should read Digital Ocean—brought to you by Pearson. They say part of the paper is 'aspirational.' Be warned about what THEY wish for and keep a barf bag nearby: http://tinyurl.com/nvbc78w

The bibliography includes a reference to the Journal of Educational Data Mining.

Eggplant is back, as well as some other noteworthy items—such as the police coming to a Colorado house over a threatened opt-out-of-test.

Direct the Department of Education & Congress to Remove Annual Standardized Testing Mandates of NCLB and RttT


Eva Moskowitz's secret to charter school "success?" IEP discrimination, just like all charters.

Success Academy parent's secret tapes reveal attempt to push out special needs student


LAUSD Coalition for School Reform Rogues Gallery Profile: Eli Broad

Eli Broad (rhymes with toad)

John Deasy's puppet master Eli Broad here with his other acolyte, Arne Duncan

An accountant by training, Eli Broad made a killing peddling track homes during the housing bubbles with his firm KB Home. Later he was also the CEO of Sun Life, which he sold to toxic mortgage derivatives powerhouse AIG, Inc. When AIG received over $170 billion in TARP bailout funds for their credit default swap (CDS) loses, Broad pocketed tens of millions as an AIG preferred shareholder. Although he’s often cited as a philanthropist, Broad has mastered the art of using non-profits as a tax shelter to push through his ideological and business aims — particularly in the education sector. Looking to infuse the remains of the public sector with the corporate mindset, Broad established the The Broad Residency in Urban Education and The Broad Superintendents Academy. [1] These organizations recruit corporate executives, ex-military officers, and other non-educators to take the place of educators in various positions in the school system. The Broad Foundation typically pays for their placement and salaries, which meets little resistance by the impacted districts. His vision for school closures, reconstitutions, and widespread privatization has caused irreparable damage to public education and undermines any semblance of democracy.

[1] http://j.mp/YYIPe1

Originally published on tumblr


The secret as to why organizations like Ben Austin's Parent Revolution are so well funded.