Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sherman Alexie "Arizona has made our books sacred documents now."

First published on Schools Matter

"A deepened consciousness of their situation leads people to apprehend that situation as an historical reality susceptible to transformation." — Paulo Freire

Resist Arizona Book Burnings and Racist Attacks on Ethnic StudiesThe Progressive has been compiling the responses of authors whose books were banned by Arizona bigots and arch-reactionaries Tom Horne and John Huppenthal's racist HB 2281, which, among other things, banned Ethnic Studies in Arizona schools. Of course Huppenthal and Horne's vicious legislative colonization didn't actually ban ethnic studies, it just limited Arizona's curriculum to the oppressive historical narrative of "wealthy white male studies."

Today former Schools Matter contributor Kenneth Libby tweeted the response from author Sherman Alexie, which is among the most brilliant I've seen in response to the cultural sterilization and oppression that is Arizona's pogrom against brown peoples:

Let's get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous. So, in a strange way, I'm pleased that the racist folks of Arizona have officially declared, in banning me alongside Urrea, Baca, and Castillo, that their anti-immigration laws are also anti-Indian. I'm also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world. In the effort to vanish our books, Arizona has actually given them enormous power. Arizona has made our books sacred documents now.

Sherman Alexie is a poet, short story writer, novelist, and filmmaker. His book "The Lone Ranger and Tonto's Fist Fight in Heaven," was on the banned curriculum of the Mexican American Studies Program.


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Monday, January 30, 2012

Echo Park Businesses Support LAUSD Adult Education

"I am dismayed, disappointed, disturbed by your recommendation to terminate the Adult Education Program! — Dr. William Johnson, Former LAUSD Superintendent, 1971-1981"

Join the struggle to save LAUSD's adult education programsThe consequences of decades of regressive tax injustice combined with the economic crash engineered by Wall Street mortgage derivative malefactors, have allowed for the neoliberal dream of carving public education to the bone.

Using the budget shortfall in Sacramento as cover, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board President Monica Garcia and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy have recommended a draconian budget that cuts off the veritable lifelines for immigrant families, impoverished communities, and students of color. Unconscionable in any circumstances, their proposed budget is even more grievous given the hundreds of millions of dollars of public property and resources they have given away to private charter corporations over the past couple of years.

One of the first items on the LAUSD chopping block? One of the district's oldest and most important programs — Adult Education. More than 345,000 students are currently enrolled in various adult education programs including:

  • English as a Second Language (English Langauge Learners)
  • High School Graduation
  • Citizenship Preparation
  • Parent Education
  • General Equivalency Degree Preparation
  • Elementary School Graduation
  • Occupational Programs Leading to Employment. Careers. Jobs, etc.
  • Lectures on Current Issues and Topics

Efforts are underway to save these critical programs. So far thousands of signatures have been collected, hundreds of phone calls made, and various other means of trying to convince the LAUSD Board to save Adult Education have been employed. Moreover, it isn't just the students at these schools and community activists supporting adult education. Indeed, many local business support LAUSD Adult Education for reasons including providing workers from the community better prepared for positions.

Local Echo Parque Business Support

Lemon Frog Shop On Alvarado 90026 supports LAUSD Adult Education.Angelino's Bakery On Sunset 90026 supports LAUSD Adult Education.Patra Burgers On Sunset 90026 supports LAUSD Adult Education.We repurposed one of those racist "put public safety first" signs into an awesome double sided "We Support Adult Education" lawn sign for our front yard. One of our cats, Modo, is keeping watch over the sign.

Several Echo Park business were willing to show their steadfast support for LAUSD Adult Education by posting signs in their establishments. Three featured here (in alphabetical order) include:


If you're an Echo Parque business, parent, student, or community member that wants to get involved, please look into the following resources.

The Save Adult Education Website has petition blanks, phone numbers to contact individual Board Members, contacts for letter writing campaigns, and so much more!

In the case that you can't sign a paper petition (which are preferable), there's also an online petition.

saveadulted.org also has a facebook page and a twitter feed. Whatever support you want to lend, do it quickly. The Board is set to vote on the zeroed out budget on Tuesday, February 14, 2012. While it's almost unfathomable that Mayor Villaraigosa's majority of aligned Board Members would vote on something that would be particularly devastating to the poor and immigrant communities, that's what they will do unless enormous political pressure is brought to bear on them.

A person intimately involved in local education issues put it this way: "Cutting Adult Education is like willingly volunteering to extend the recession for another year or so." How appallingly true.

Please help.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Robert D. Skeels: How Administration Tries to Cow Teachers Into Submission

Talk by PESJA/CEJ activist and District 2 LAUSD Trustee Candidate Robert D. Skeels at the Support Cadre Resisting Administrative Maltreatment (SCRAM) Caucus Meeting at CTA State Council of Education on January 29, 2012.

Special thanks to John Cromshow of KPFK and SCRAM for arranging the event.



Robert D. Skeels is a social justice writer, public education advocate, and immigrant rights activist.

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Schools Matter: Peas in a pod: Koret Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and Democrats for Education Reform

"I tell you, my friends, the trouble with this whole country is that so many are selfish! Here's a hundred and twenty million people, with ninety-five per cent of 'em only thinking of self, instead of turning to and helping the responsible business men to bring back prosperity! All these corrupt and self-seeking labor unions! Money grubbers! Thinking only of how much wages they can extort out of their unfortunate employer, with all the responsibilities he has to bear!" ... "Then was revealed the New American Education, which, as Sarason so justly said, was to be ever so much newer than the New Educations of Germany, Italy, Poland, or even Turkey." — Sinclair Lewis [1]

Right Wing Reactionaries Gloria J. Romero, Terry M. Moe, Lance Isumi, and Lary SandIt's no secret that the malicious types running Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) hold the same ideological positions as the furthest-right think-tanks around. Starting with their founder Whitney Tilson, [2] who channels American Enterprise Institute's (AEI) Andy Smarick at every opportunity, DFER is a bastion of right-wing thought that amounts to an enormous serving of Milton Freidman's free market fantasies finished with a healthy dollop of Ayn Rand's infantile insistence that "Big Business" is "America’s Persecuted Minority."

My recent Schools Matter essay, Peas in a pod: Koret Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and Democrats for Education Reform, looks at a recent event DFER's Gloria Romero did with arch-reactionaries Terry Moe of The Hoover Institution and Lance Izumi of Koret Foundation. The connections between both funders and shared ideology are frightening and not for the feint of heart.

Published 2012-01-26 on Schools Matter, please read it there and share widely.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Recortes en escuelas para adultos



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Saturday, January 21, 2012

False Choices: The Economic Argument Against Market-Driven Education Reform

False Choices: The Economic Argument Against Market-Driven Education Reform

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Joanne Barkan on How Billionaires Rule Our Schools



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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The struggle to save LAUSD's adult education program

Update: The Save Adult Education Website has petition blanks, phone numbers to contact individual Board Members, contacts for letter writing campaigns, and so much more!

In the case that you can't sign a paper petition (which are preferable), there's also an online petition.

SaveAdultEd.org also has a facebook page and a twitter feed. Whatever support you want to lend, do it quickly. The Board is set to vote on the zeroed out budget on Tuesday, February 14, 2012. While it's almost unfathomable that Mayor Villaraigosa's majority of aligned Board Members would vote on something that would be particularly devastating to the poor and immigrant communities, that's what they will do unless enormous political pressure is brought to bear on them.

Also see Echo Park Businesses Support LAUSD Adult Education for examples of ever widening community support for LAUSD Adult Education.



"I'm an adult ed teacher, and I just want to say thanks to those of you outside of adult ed who understand the importance of what we do, and are willing to stand with us as we fight to survive this year. When I go back to work tomorrow morning and greet my class full of ADULTS studying basic math, GED prep, and high school subjects, I will feel better knowing that you who work in K-12 understand the importance of what we do for families and communities. Parents who can't read or do arithmetic can't help their kids learn." — Michelle Cohen

Join the struggle to save LAUSD's adult education programsFrom regular high school students in need of credit recovery, to students working to obtain their diplomas after life circumstance altered their ability to obtain it in four years, to English Language Learners, to immigrants working on their citizenship, to students wanting access to career programs now that community college tuitions have skyrocketed, Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Adult Education programs represent a literal lifeline for tens of thousands of Angelenos and their families.

After years of devastating annual cuts, LAUSD announced the possibility of eliminating adult education altogether. This would shatter the lives and opportunities of thousands of students enrolled in these programs. It would be particularly devastating to the poor and immigrant communities, many of whom rely on LAUSD adult education. Given that California's economy is the ninth largest economy in the world, it's unconscionable that continual cuts now threaten programs like adult education. Instead of cuts, we need to demand tax justice. According to the California Budget Project, the bottom fifth of California income earners pay 11.7%, while the top one percent only pay 7.1%. Just raising the rate of the top to equal that of the bottom would make this discussion moot, and taxing the upper quintile at a fair rate wold eliminate all budget issues in California.

The following is from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) newsletter in response to the proposed closure of the program.

AALA has been informed that LAUSD leadership is seeking Board approval to close the District's Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) programs next year and redirect tens of millions of dollars in funding to offset General Fund shortfalls. Can the District afford to prevent high school students from participating in adult education classes to earn credit for graduation? Can the District afford to eliminate educational opportunities for thousands of parents and community members who depend upon adult education to learn English and earn American citizenship? Can the District afford to cut high-quality apprenticeship programs that lead to decent jobs?

We believe that such an ill-conceived plan should be scrapped to avert a political and educational debacle. The District needs to recognize that DACE programs, in fact, do not encroach on the General Fund. While providing critically needed basic education and career training for the community at large, Adult and Career Education pays its own way through both direct and indirect assessments levied by the District against their severely limited resources. Additionally, the District sweeps every dollar left in Adult and Career Education accounts at the end of each year.

DACE administrators carefully manage their programs including the successful AEWC dropout recovery program and labor union-supported apprenticeship programs and have a long history of successes on a shoestring, including:

  • More than 10% of last year's high school dropouts were enrolled in Adult and Career Education courses on norm day 2011, thus reducing the District's 2010-2011 dropout rate by 10%. The previous year's reduction was also 10%, and nearly 9% the year before that. Clearly, LAUSD's dropout rate would increase dramatically if DACE programs were not available to these students.
  • Approximately 1,500 former dropouts were graduated from DACE programs in 2010-2011. These graduates were reported in ISIS, further reducing the District's dropout rate.
  • In 2010-2011, 88,200 high school students took Adult and Career Education courses to make up credits and keep up with their cohorts. Reducing accessibility for these students would simply transfer educational costs to the General Fund at a higher per-capita cost.
  • In 2010-2011, 51,844 high school students took courses at occupational centers and in ROP. Reducing accessibility to these programs would cause students to be transferred back to their home schools and would increase costs to the General Fund, again at a higher per-capita cost.
  • In 2010-2011, 58,147 parents took DACE courses.
  • AALA fully understands LAUSD's budget problems. We strongly believe, however, that the District cannot afford to shut down the District's Adult and Career Education programs. Doing so would have the unintended consequence of increasing General Fund costs, increasing dropout rates and eliminating valuable educational services to tens of thousands of needy parents and community members District-wide.

Activists are currently organizing to rally behind the call to save LAUSD Adult Education. Let it be understood that the very same neoliberal forces at play in Los Angeles are everywhere, and we must continue to organize or see all of our public institutions eliminated or privatized.

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Schools Matter: The trouble with Alexander Russo

The irony is that Russo suggests we critics have been successful because WE are coordinating ourselves! And the "reformers" ought to do the same! We are seeing the most coordinated, sustained and systematic campaign ever mounted in public education. Once again, if you have not done so yet, watch the video in which Stand For Children CEO Jonah Edelman drops the veil and reveals exactly how his group coordinated with other non-profits, with the Chamber of Commerce and major newspapers in Illinois to gain clout. But Russo slyly suggests that somehow those of us crying foul are the ones doing the coordinating. I think there is a term in magic for this - misdirection. — Anthony Cody

Photo courtesy of Last Stand for Children First: Education Blogger Wins Arthur Reynolds Award
Photo courtesy of LS4C1.
Over the holiday break Beltway insider Alexander Russo launched a broadside against activists, community members, and educators standing up to the corporate education reform juggernaut. His piece, Media: Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now), was a heavy handed cheap shot in the guise of a compliment. In my new Schools Matter essay entitled The trouble with Alexander Russo I take on Russo's long career of servitude to power, and expose him for the neolibral shill he is.

Published 2012-01-16 on Schools Matter, please read it there and share widely.

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Schools Matter: On Huffington Post censorship and Parent Revolution puff pieces

These myths falsely portrayed desegregation's failures as the product of autonomous individual choice. Meanwhile, these myths obscured inequalities in desegregation. A new, but parallel, kind of mythmaking about choice is underway in today's charter school efforts. — Ansley T. Erickson

The foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon, school privatization pusher and poverty pimp Ben AustinI take on Huffington Post censorship and charter charlatan Ben Austin's unconscionable gall to compare educators to billionaire bankers and Near East dictators, while casting his charter school public relations outfit as one of the occupy movements in my latest Schools Matter piece: On Huffington Post censorship and Parent Revolution puff pieces.

Most importantly we look at Parent Revolution's afintiy groups on the fringe right, including The Heartland Institute. Here's an excerpt of one of my quotes:

Parent Revolution's sister organization, the racist reactionaries at The Heartland Institute, hail Austin's "trigger" thusly: "This might just be the most powerful education reform policy since Milton Friedman advocated the school voucher. Begun in California, the Parent Trigger allows a majority of parents to petition to have their local school reorganized or transformed into a charter, or even to receive vouchers to choose private schools."

When organizations ideologically right of the teabaggers cheerlead your policies and compare your agenda to that of arch-reactionary Milton Friedman, you can be sure it has nothing to do with putting "kids-first."

Published 2012-01-03 on Schools Matter, please read it there and share widely.

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