Friday, May 31, 2013

@TCFKSM: Noam Chomsky, Howard Gardner, and Bruno della Chiesa on 45th anniversary of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"

First published on @TCFKSM on May 31, 2013

"I stayed with Marx in the worldliness,
looking for Christ in the transcendentality." — Paolo Freire

On May Day 2013, Harvard's Askwith Forum commemorated the 45th anniversary of the publication of Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed with a discussion about the book's impact and relevance to education today. Chuck Leddy tweeted about his write up of the event entitled Subversive education, and the video posted of the entire talk.

"To achieve critical consciousness of the facts that it is necessary to be the "owners of one's own labor," that labor "constitutes part of the human person," and that "a human being can neither be sold nor can he sell himself" is to go a step beyond the deception of palliative solutions. It is to engage in authentic transformation of reality in order, by humanizing that reality, to humanize woman and men." — Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed)

While those of us that eat, breath, and sleep critical pedagogy would have probably selected different speakers (Macedo, Giroux, and P. L. Thomas perhaps?) to discuss the book's anniversary, it's refreshing that Harvard would even discuss it at all.

The best part of the video occurs at around the 50:00 mark when a young woman from India, who says Freire was a major component in her education there, makes a very profound statement condemning Harvard saying that "there's no space for Marxist thought..." at the university (any surprise?). Professor Bruno della Chiesa's criticisms of the PISA tests around the 56:00 mark are interesting too.

Professor Noam Chomsky's various insights make sense if you are familiar with his work, and the fact that he's always a little uncomfortable discussing ideas of Marxist scholars like Freire as opposed to those of anarcho-syndicalists. Chomsky finally hits stride around 1:06:00 where he sets up the purpose of education under class society, and several minutes later calls out "No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top, which means Every Child Left Behind and Race to the Bottom."

Freire's watershed book does far more than explain the oppressions of class society, and make the case against the banking concept of education. His framework of critical pedagogy challenges students to formulate problem posing questions in response to limit situations. That framework is as radical, and, as Chomsky mentions, dangerous, a skill as one can possess during this age of total corporate domination.

I find the best introduction to provide those unfamiliar with Freire's work is Adrienne Johnstone and Elizabeth Terzakis' "Pedagogy and Revolution: Reading Freire in Context" chapter in Education and Capitalism: Struggles for Learning and Liberation. An excerpt of the chapter is available online. However, there's no substitute for reading Freire's canon itself.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Los Angeles public education events for the first weekend of June 2013

Logan Street Elementary School Celebrates 125th Birthday

Logan Street Elementary School LAUSD

Posted by Cheryl Ortega, May 23, 2013 at 10:46 am on Echo Park-Silver Lake Patch

Saturday, June 1, 2013, 10:00 AM

1711 W. Montana Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026

See previous entry for more photos

In 1888 children came to Logan St. School in horse-drawn wagons. In a wooden building on the corner or Montana and Logan St. classes began in the oldest school in Echo Park, one of the 10 oldest schools in the city, and perhaps the oldest public structure in the community. On June 1, public officials, school district dignitaries, former teachers and administrators, alumni, students, teachers, parents and community will celebrate Logan's 125 years of service to the children of Echo Park. We would love to know if you are an alum, a former parent or an interested community member who would like to help out with the party or with a donation. We are very interested in photos, old or new, of the schools or of Echo Park in general. Please contact Principal Luis Ochoa at 213-413-6353

Allesandro and Silver Valley CEJ will be honored on Saturday at CTA at the Bonaventure Hotel

CEJ Coalition for Educational Justice

CEJ folks and supporters: On Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm, California Teachers Association's* Peace and Justice Caucus will be recognizing the work (mostly in environmental justice) that the Allesandro chapter and the Silver Valley chapter of CEJ have been doing this school year with a Youth Activist certificate.

Just wanted to let you know! If any of you are attending CTA's State Council this weekend, please check us out at 6:00 PM

The CTA YOUTH ACTIVIST CEREMONY WILL BE AT 6:00 PM IN SANTA MONICA C (the room name) Westin Bonaventure Hotel
404 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, California 90071

East Side Stories Conference: A Grassroots Vision for Education and Community

The Community Forum for the Campaign of the Schools that LA Students Deserve

East Side Stories Conference: A Grassroots Vision for Education and Community by Robert D. Skeels

Inviting Community, Students, Teachers, to the East Side Vision Forum of the Campaign for the Schools that LA Students Deserve!!!

East Side Stories Annual Conference
atRoosevelt High School
Saturday, June 1, 2013
8:00am to 2:30pm
456 S Mathews St
Los Angeles, CA 90033

The conference will run from 8am to 2:30pm. It will include student- and youth-led workshops, speakers on educational justice, a curriculum fair, and vendors from the community. Lunch will be served, and translation will be provided.

The Vision Forum for the Schools LA Students Deserve will take place in two workshop sessions, from 9:45am to 10:45am and 11am to 12pm. In the first session we will discuss what we want to change in our schools across LA, and in the second we will envision how we can accomplish our goals.  We encourage people to attend the whole day if possible!

The Eastside Schools LA Students Deserve forum is a unique opportunity for parents, youth, educators and community members to share their ideas and hear from each other about what they think the main issues are in public education on the Eastside.


POSTPONED: Parent Trigger: Stop the Lies! Hear the Truth Rally in the Valley 2013-June-04


Note from the organizers

The rally for Tuesday has been cancelled. Haddon parents did not think this would be such a good idea at this time. With it being so close to the end of the school year and all the activities happening right now. Sorry. We will organize to fight beginning of the school year.

Our community our decision: Rally in the Valley by Robert D. Skeels

Guest Speakers: Parents from Adelanto Desert Trails Elementary. Principal & Teachers from Weigand Elementary. Parents from Haddon Avenue Elementary.

Hosted by Valley Parents Association "Advocates for Safer, College and Career ready schools for our children"

  • Our community our decision, get involved.
  • Find out what is happening in our schools.
  • Stop the lies! hear the truth.
  • Stop the lies being told by organizations such as Parent Revolution. Hear the truth from people who have been affected.
  • Stop dividing our community.
  • Outside organizations GET OUT of our SCHOOLS!!
  • Save our schools!!!
  • Parents, Teachers, Community Members united for Education. Together we can build GREAT schools without the influence of outside organizations


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

@TCFKSM: Alexander Russo's vicious attack on Weigand Elementary School Teachers

First published on @TCFKSM on May 29, 2013

Photo courtesy of Last Stand for Children First: Education Blogger Wins Arthur Reynolds Award
Photo courtesy of LS4C1.
Alexander Russo's vicious attack on LAUSD's Weigand Elementary School teachers should be noted by everyone. In a piece where he gleefully sides with AEI's Hess' smear on the distinguished Professor Ravitch, he also decides to take aim at the hardworking women and men teaching at the school recently shot up by Ben Austin's latest corporate drive by. Here's an excerpt of Russo's bile laden commentary.

Given how they're being treated in the Times and by Ravitch (and by the teachers who appear to be more loyal to the principal than to the kids), the Weigand parents may be well be wishing that they'd opted for...

A clear response to these vicious accusations should be in order. The Parent Trigger is one of the most reprehensible tools in the neoliberal privatization and austerity toolkit. For the corporate education reformers to make this about the teachers instead of Austin's poverty pimping NPIC is outrageous. Russo's piece also mentions a UTLA meeting about the trigger. Sad UTLA didn't invite me, considering my years of investigating and covering both the trigger and those associated with it.

I have no problem with reactionaries Jamie Alter Lynton and Alexander Russo pushing The John Birch Society agenda on their @LASchoolReport blog—just don't call it journalism! Somehow the The LA Press Club has nominated them for two awards. Apparently Rupert Murdoch style [1] right-wing propaganda doesn't just pass for news these days, it's now the norm.

I've written about Russo before, in case anyone needs a refresher course on the neoliberal enthusiast.

Fortunately families, educators, and community members have a message for Alexander Russo and his allies at ALEC, Parent Revolution, and The Heartland Institute:

It's time for all Parent Trigger legislation to go the way of its other fellow, racist legal constructs like Jim Crow and miscegenation laws.

The Parent Trigger, a racist law to empower corporate reformers in their quest for privatization and austerity

[1] Both Rupert Murdoch and self-proclaimed "Citizen Activist" Jamie Alter Lynton were big donors to the Los Angeles corporate education reform Super PAC Coalition for School Reform (CSR). The CSR extremists spent millions to defeat Monica Ratliff, Steve Zimmer, and myself in the recent LAUSD Board of Education elections. They were only successful in defeating me.

Update: Just as I finished writing the above I was sent this press release on behalf of the Weigand Community. Please distribute it far and wide!

For Immediate Release: Parents and Teachers Decry flaws in the Parent “Tricker” Law

LAUSD Parents and Teachers will speak out against tactics used to trick parents into singing a petition to pull the Parent Trigger at Weigand EL and other schools where Parent Revolution is currently collecting signatures.  Parents and Teachers are left without a voice or say in changes to made to school sites and parents who do not sign the petition do not get to vote on the type of change that will occur at their school site once the petition is turned in. Parents who were tricked into signing petitions were not allowed to later withdraw their signatures with the organization or the school district.

Parents and Teachers decry, Parent Revolution, the group soliciting signatures at school sites, for misrepresenting themselves to parents and giving false information in order to collect signatures.  Every Parent “Tricker” petition gathering drive in LAUSD has originated from the well funded Parent Revolution organization and has not come from the parents or teachers from the school itself.

Our Central Message is:

  1. Call on lawmakers and LAUSD to make changes in the Parent “Trigger” Law to ensure all stake-holders have say in the type of changes they would like to see on a school site campus.
  2. Demand Parent Revolution halt tactics that mislead parents into signing petitions.
  3. Expose the flaws in the Parent “Tricker” law that disenfranchises parents and teachers from creating authentic academic change at their school sites.
  4. NO more drive-through community engagement.

Press Conference and Rally
Thursday, May 30, 2013
4:00 pm
Weigand Elementary School
10401 Weigand Ave
Los Angeles CA 90002

Teachers, Parents and Community Leaders will be available for interviews in Spanish and English.

For More Information Contact:
Ingrid Villeda:
Jose Lara:


Sunday, May 26, 2013

@TCFKSM: Jason Stanford rightly states "Time to Stop Waiting for Superman"

First published on @TCFKSM on May 26, 2013

"According to Whitmire, Rhee and Fenty should have paid heed to the "fears" of African Americans, but not because there were any actual race issues during Rhee's tenure. Racism in DC is all done now--all that racism and "experimentation" is history and happened 1960s and 1970s. According to Whitmire, black people in DC perceived racism under Rhee, but it was all in their over-sensitive, incompetent little heads." — Rachel Levy

Michelle Rhee, champion of corporate ProfitsFirstAs Michelle Rhee's destructive trail of bigotry, deception, and duplicity comes under more and more scrutiny every day, her list of detractors expands, and her reptilian defenders back ever further into their rocky crevices.

The John Merrow work has seemingly given more mainstream writers a license to speak truth to Rhee and her handlers' power. It's nice to know that the dark past when anyone challenging Eli Broad's snarling TFA lapdog was immediately chastised as a strident defender of the status quo by poverty pimps including Jonathan Alter, Alexander Russo, Jay Mathews, and Richard Whitmire is long gone. Now it's open season on the broom wielding darling of the corporate education reform cabal, and I couldn't be more overjoyed.

A piece I missed earlier this week was Jason Stanford's Time to Stop Waiting for Superman. Despite being written by a mainstream Democrat, it's entirely honest and draws all the right conclusions. The piece opens with the Rhee's regime of cheating in DC, and he gives an excellent overview of Rhee's tawdry career as an anthophila assassinating corporate education reformer.

Stanford's analysis asks important questions like "If Rhee's success was fake, is there any evidence that high-stakes testing works?" His commentary cites the The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education study and it also attacks the long standing lie of improved NAEP scores for children of color under Rhee's tyrannical rule of DC schools.

Never one to avoid piling on, I had the following to say following Stanford's article:

Somewhere corporate propagandists Richard Whitmire and Davis Guggenheim are cringing that their elaborate campaign of mendacity propping up this vile woman is finally being exposed for what it is. Jason Stanford's brilliant essay brings together all of the latest evidence against the "warrior woman" in a concise way that should have us all calling to see Rhee frog marched to the dock at The Hague.

The thing we need to realize is that it's us dissidents that created the space for these more mainstream attacks on the corporate reform machine. We speak truth to power regardless of the season. A few years ago, no one would have ever thought that Rhee and her policies were anything but untouchable, given the momentum of corporate reform. It's a testament to our perseverance that in this age of digital memory holes, the truth is still coming out about Rhee and her ilk. Let's keep our garlic and crosses handy, it's time to drive stakes through the frigid heart of corporate education reform.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Monica Ratliff LAUSD victory party attended by working class people in a teacher's back yard


Cheryl Ortega: Logan St. School Celebrates 125th Birthday

Logan Street Elementary School LAUSD Logan Street Elementary School LAUSD Logan Street Elementary School LAUSD

Posted by Cheryl Ortega, May 23, 2013 at 10:46 am on Echo Park-Silver Lake Patch

Saturday, June 1, 2013, 10:00 AM

1711 W. Montana Street, Los Angeles 90026

In 1888 children came to Logan St. School in horse-drawn wagons. In a wooden building on the corner or Montana and Logan St. classes began in the oldest school in Echo Park, one of the 10 oldest schools in the city, and perhaps the oldest public structure in the community. On June 1, public officials, school district dignitaries, former teachers and administrators, alumni, students, teachers, parents and community will celebrate Logan's 125 years of service to the children of Echo Park. We would love to know if you are an alum, a former parent or an interested community member who would like to help out with the party or with a donation. We are very interested in photos, old or new, of the schools or of Echo Park in general. Please contact Principal Luis Ochoa at 213-413-6353

Logan Street Elementary School LAUSD Logan Street Elementary School LAUSD Logan Street Elementary School LAUSD


Real parent power...


UCLA IDEA: Standardized Tests Don't Measure Education Quality

UCLA IDEA is often quite good on issues, even though they represent an only slightly left-of-center viewpoint. UCLA as a whole sometimes does excellent work, like their study on how so-called school choice and the charter school industry have brought back Jim Crow with a vengeance. They (namely IDEA) also sometimes work with right-wing groups funded by the Broad Foundation, like ICS. Now that I've returned to UCLA, I know it's my responsibility to praise them when they get it right, and call them out when they get it wrong.

This essay, for the most part, is excellent. That is until it calls corporate core a "promising education reform." The corporate garbage that is CCSS must be resisted at every turn. That said, this piece bears reprinting precisely because it shows that even progressive liberals agree with the principled left that standardized tests are considered harmfull.

Standardized Tests Don't Measure Education Quality


Over 14 years ago, testing expert W. James Popham summarized what was, even then, “old news” about American policymakers’ love of standardized testing:

Educators are experiencing almost relentless pressure to show their effectiveness. Unfortunately, the chief indicator by which most communities judge a school staff's success is student performance on standardized achievement tests.

It’s a bitter irony that the same testing policies that have distracted the nation from fixing what’s wrong with our education systems are still being promoted. The medicine prescribed for ailing schools has helped make 21st century schools sicker, so we double the dose. In his piece for the 140,000-member ASCD, Popham went on to say,

Employing standardized achievement tests to ascertain educational quality is like measuring temperature with a tablespoon. Tablespoons have a different measurement mission than indicating how hot or cold something is. Standardized achievement tests have a different measurement mission than indicating how good or bad a school is.

We have years of evidence about what educators and policymakers can and cannot honestly do with test results; but this evidence, typically, is not decisive in determining school testing policy. Those who advocate expanding the use and power of standardized tests continue to capture the attention of policy leaders.

In the face of severe, indisputable, and embarrassing criticism, some high-profile testing advocates have backtracked on their unqualified support for tests; however, they appear willing to sustain what many experts and education professionals say are inevitable inequalities, wrong judgments, and other harms.

For example, promising education reforms such as the Common Core State Standards are likely to carry the burden of test misuse. The purpose of the new standards, which have been adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories, is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help.” AFT President Randi Weingarten does not want testing to overwhelm Common Core before teachers have time and professional development to change curricula and adjust instruction (Education Week). Weingarten said, “These standards, which hold such potential to create deeper learning, are instead creating a serious backlash—as officials seek to make them count before they make them work.”

Even as some test advocates concede the serious shortcomings of the prevailing testing regime, they want schools to press on with the tests—just iron out the rough spots in order to preserve all the good that testing does or will do as soon as they get it right. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appears to be in this category. Last week, Duncan’s audience at the annual American Educational Research Association conference appreciated his strong criticism of how some schools were misusing standardized tests. For example, he alluded to a Florida case where some k-2 teachers have sued because they were evaluated based on grades of students they never taught and are already years ahead. However, Duncan lost the favor of many attendees when he said, “The solution to mediocre tests is not to abandon assessment” (EdSource Today).

That sleight of hand mischaracterized testing critics who strongly favor better, proven, and responsible assessments such as formative assessments that help students and teachers identify individual strengths and needs as well as inequities within the system (EdSource TodayEducation Week). Rather, Duncan’s critics take issue with policies that require schools to use tests irresponsibly. Further, many of these tests and their uses are not just mediocre, they are actively harmful. 

Duncan’s position echoed that which has followed recent testing scandals. For example, cheating at all levels of Atlanta Public Schools and an emerging Washington, D.C. scandal are widely interpreted as the acts of a few bad apples or weak oversight and regulation. However, these incidents expose a much deeper core problem. Attaching test scores to high-stakes decisions, including judgments of individual teachers’ competence, affects careers for teachers and learning opportunities for students. The temptation is powerful to falsify or cheat or teach to the test (EdSource Today). High-level administrators and high-profile politicians such as Duncan rarely dwell on the structural flaws that are inherent in fiercely competitive, score-driven American schooling—flaws that work in concert with unfairly distributed resources.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Professor Stephen Krashen: The .01% want as much of the (at least) 500 billion we spend yearly on education as they can get


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In Anticipation of the Lake Reopening

Posted on Echo Park-Silver Lake Patch on May 18, 2013

The bridge when it was painted red Lotus blooms Lotus blooms
Yoon Jung and I on our first date at the 2005 Lotus Festival City skyline Gansos y gansitos
Lotus blooms Lotus blooms
Photos by Robert D. Skeels,

The June 15, 2013 reopening of the park can't come soon enough after the seemingly endless rehabilitation.

My long fondness and fascination with our intriguing body of water goes back decades. On the weekends during the mid nineteen eighties and early nineties I used to ride my VFR to Lago de Echo Parque to escape the city just north of Los Angeles proper. The soothing sound of Spanish speakers, the city skyline, the ubiquitous waterfowl, and the lotus beds were all important sources of solace.

When I was finally able to move to Echo Park in 1994, I was overjoyed that the lake was only a few minutes away. The park was a nearly daily destination, including weekend basketball pickup games on the other side of Bellevue. In those years I began teaching Catechism at St. Teresa's, became fully immersed in the immigrant rights movement, and started researching and writing about the privatization of our public school system.

The lotus beds in full bloom were always harbingers of summer. Attendance at each day of the Lotus Festival was a given. A cultural celebration, the festivals reflected the diversity of the community. In fact, I took Yoon Jung to the 2005 Festival for our first date. We married 2008, and bought our house in Historic Filipinotown right before they drained the lake.

A lot has changed in the past twenty years, and as a transplant myself, it's not my place to remind lifelong residents of those changes. However, the hardest thing for me witness was the slow death of the lotus beds. It felt like the community was loosing one more thing that gave it its unique character. I remember commenting on a LA Times article discussing the issue. Bitter over the rapid changes in the neighborhood that included the park being overrun by fixie bikes and impromptu skinny-jean croquet matches, I wrote something to the effect that the lotus were dying off in direct proportion to the gentrification.

The years without the lotus beds were depressing. While there was some confort in the announcement that the rehabilitation would restore the aquatic plants, the lengthy time frame was daunting. Finally the lake will be returned to the community for all of us to enjoy — even fixie bike riders.

Yoon Jung and I still live within walking distance of the parque, albeit a bit longer walk than before. We can't wait for the reopening, and in anticipation are posting a few old photos.


End Racist Scholarship at Harvard University


Sign the Online Petition:

INTRODUCTION Jason Richwine in his capacity as a Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation, co-authored a controversial report arguing that immigration reform will cost about 6.3 trillion more in benefits than the country can collect from undocumented immigrants in taxes, attributing the gap to lack of human capital while cynically noting that the cost would be lower if the workers remain undocumented as this would keep them from accessing public benefits.

In his Heritage report, Richwine builds on the same arguments found in his 2009 doctoral dissertation, “IQ and Immigration”, from Harvard University. Based on outdated and repudiated research and methods, which we consider irresponsible and racist, the dissertation argues:

“Hispanic immigrants and their children have a low average IQ, which prevents the second generation from achieving equality with the native majority. Parental expectations for their children are not met, because they cannot be, given the level of intelligence present in the community.”

This kind of pseudo-science disguised as “scientific scholarship”, employs deficit reasoning that positions ethnic “minorities” and the working class as deficient rather than viewing people in dignified ways. We believe that Harvard University needs to apply stricter criteria in assessing not just the merits of scholarship but weigh its ideological content and effect.



WHAT YOU CAN DO: Support this cause by signing on to this online petition and help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures. We call on all progressive scholars, community members, educators and students, to denounce this kind of work and pressure universities so that they are responsible in their research.

You can contact directly members of Jason Richwine’s committee, who we believe are just as responsible for this kind of scholarship as Jason Richwine, and Harvard’s Institutional Review Board.

Dissertation committee:
George J. Borjas, , 617-495-1393 617-495-1393

Richard J. Zeckhauser, , 617-495-1174 617-495-1174
Christopher Jencks, , 617-495-0546 617-495-0546

Harvard University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB):
Fanny Ennever, Senior IRB Administrator, http://fennever@fas.harvard.edu617-495-1775 617-495-1775

Organizational Endorsements of This Campaign: Send organizational endorsements of this online petition campaign to<>

Access Jason Richwine’s dissertation:


Monday, May 20, 2013

Tomorrow voters have a chance to put education before corporations! Vote Monica Ratliff LAUSD


Crenshaw Student Forum - Community Standing up to Deasy's Racist Reconstitution

"What's happening at Crenshaw is representative of the death of the large, urban comprehensive high school all across the country." — Dana Goldstein

From the organizers:

If you have time to attend one after school thing for the remainder of the year, May 28th in support of Crenshaw, has to be that event. This will be a student led event, co-sponsored by CEJ, Community Rights Campaign, Sierra Club and Schools LA Students Deserve. The event should gain major media attention, and is part of our grassroots and legal strategy challenging LAUSD on this destabilizing attack upon one of our schools.

Event will be at Brotherhood Crusade at 5415 Crenshaw.

Crenshaw Forum Flyer 2013 by Robert D. Skeels


Wayne Au: Coring Social Studies within Corporate Education Reform

First published on @TCFKSM on May 20, 2013

"Teachers could stop #CommonCore tomorrow—if they joined hands and said 'Hell, No!' The alternative is loss of profession—and soul." — Susan Ohanian

A local university professor I'm friends with through The Association of Raza Educators (ARE) wrote me yesterday with the following message:

Hi Robert,

I hope you are well... You might be familiar with the work of Wayne Au.  He has developed solid critical work around curriculum theory and practice...  Attached is his latest article, a critique of CCSS..

Interestingly and predictably, Bill Gates is setting up "training" with teacher educators across the CSUs; I just got invited to attend and "learn" about "teacher effectiveness measures" and how they inform CCSS!

Wayne Au, Ph.D.The last paragraph is terribly frightening. The paper he attached by Professor Wayne Au is outstanding. For those who don't know, Au is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington Bothell. His widely cited Unequal By Design: High-Stakes Testing and the Standardization of Inequality is an excellent source for connecting the standardized testing with the eugenicist project. Au's newer book Critical Curriculum Studies: Education, Consciousness, and the Politics of Knowing also comes highly recommended.

Au's latest paper Coring Social Studies within Corporate Education Reform: The Common Core State Standards, Social Justice, and the Politics of Knowledge in U.S. Schools is certainly worth reading and sharing. I'm reproducing the abstract here to whet intellectual appetites.


The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted in 45 U.S. states. Driven by a wide coalition that includes both major U.S. political parties, the business elite, for-profit education corporations, cultural conservatives, and both major U.S. teachers’ unions, the CCSS have mainly garnered glowing praise in mainstream U.S. media and widespread acceptance amongst political figures and public school districts nationwide. This paper undertakes a critical analysis of the origins and political tensions found within the CCSS, arguing that the CCSS will inevitably lead to restrictive high-stakes, standardized testing similar to that associated with No Child Left Behind. Further this paper specifically examines the treatment of the social studies within the context of CCSS and questions the likely outcomes of the recently drafted College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards within the current political and cultural context of the United States.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Follow the money and you will see the LAUSD School Board's priorities...

This image and introduction are courtesy of my favorite Social Justice Educator. Nothing like a Superintendent and School Board that place profits before pupils!

Please share with others. Don't let Monica Garcia and friends fool people into thinking they are ending the school to prison pipeline when they don't spend money on the classroom and Health and Human Services. Nothing helps end criminalization like great schools! That is where resources need to go!

Follow the money and you will see the LAUSD School Board's priorities.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Yet another day of spoiled and inedible food pushed on LAUSD kids courtesy LA Fund's Breakfast in the Classroom


PESJA: Online Forum by Parents Across America - The Parent Trigger from California to Florida

Sunday, May 26, 2013 from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM (PDT)

We will be hearing from Lori Yuan, a parent in Adelanto who fought the Parent Trigger at her school, and Parents Across America Founding Member Rita Solnet who, along with other organizations, defeated the Prent Trigger bill in the Florida State Senate on March 9, 2013.

Parents Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization that connects parents and activists from around the country to share ideas and work together to improve our nation's public schools.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Education "Reform" with David Sirota

YouTube Introduction What's really happening in education politics? Would you believe it's a battle between greedy school teachers and corporate CEOs who want what's best for the children? Well, not so much. Charter schools backed by these so-called "education reformers" aren't necessarily better than standard public education - it's actually been proven that they aren't. Charter schools do however make sense as a business strategy, allowing corporations to make big money off school children. How does this strategy work? David Sirota explains.


Robert D. Skeels' official endorsement of Monica Ratliff for LAUSD Board of Education

Published on Monica Ratliff's campaign site on Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monica Ratliff for LAUSD Board of EducationAt a time when the fate of public education hangs in the balance, the urgency of electing Monica Ratliff cannot be overstated. Ms. Ratliff left a lucrative law career in order to become an educator at a school that straddles the line between skid row and South Central Los Angeles. I can't think of a more honorable thing to do. Her choice to teach the most vulnerable is the epitome of the type of authentic reforms our district so desperately needs. Ratliff's experience and insight garnered from working with, rather than talking about, impoverished inner-city children provides a glimmer of hope for a district beholden to an incumbent board and Superintendent that have placed developer and corporate profits above the needs of students.

Her opponent, on the other hand, is a political opportunist supported by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Philip Anschutz, Michelle Rhee, Michael Bloomberg, and Eli Broad. The millions of dollars these plutocrats have bestowed on Ratliff's opponent must be seen for what they really are — a shrewd business investment. A day after Rupert Murdoch announced his quarter million dollar contribution to Coalition for School Reform supported candidates, his firm Amplify announced a new education tablet product which he expects CSR backed candidates to purchase. Moreover, Ratliff's opponent has no experience in education, nor even a grasp of education policy. He sees LAUSD as a stepping stone to the California Assembly or City Hall.

We need a break from the LAUSD status quo of corporate giveaways and school privatization. We need a school board member who will prioritize pupils over profits. We need a woman who has dedicated her life to giving students the education they deserve. There's only one thing to remember for the May 21, 2013 District 6 General Election — Vote for the Teacher! Vote Monica Ratliff for Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education!

Robert D. Skeels, 2013 Primary Candidate District 2


Distinguished The Network for Public Education endorses Monica Ratliff for LAUSD Board of Education

For more on the The Network for Public Education, see their website. Be sure to check out all of Professor Diane Ravitch's posts regarding educator Monica Ratliff for Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education as well.

Our First Endorsement: Monica Ratliff, a Teacher, for Los Angeles School Board

NPEbadge2The Board of Directors of NPE has voted to endorse Monica Ratliff in her runoff election for Los Angeles school board. The election will happen on May 21st.

We asked both Ratliff and her opponent, Antonio Sanchez, to complete a detailed candidate questionnaire. Monica Ratliff’s responses revealed someone who is a working 5th grade teacher, well acquainted with the challenges faced by the schools of Los Angeles. Sanchez did not respond.

Ratliff understands that testing has gotten way out of control. She told us:

Teachers constantly check for understanding. LAUSD spends too much money on periodic assessments and other tests that waste money and, more importantly, precious instructional time. We need less purchased standardized testing. One standardized test at the end of the year is acceptable – depending upon its use.

She opposes merit pay based on test scores, and the sharing of student data without explicit parental permission.

Her opponent, Antonio Sanchez, has received the full backing of corporate reformers, including donations from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and billionaire Eli Broad. According to the Los Angeles Times, which endorsed Ratliff, Sanchez lacks educational expertise and his positions are unclear. He tends to speak in political platitudes about key issues rather than offering specifics.

Monica Ratliff

Students of Los Angeles need school board members who are independent of the corporate reform machines. They need people who understand education issues in depth, and that is why we are endorsing Monica Ratliff.

NPE President Diane Ravitch endorsed Ratliff last week, writing:

Monica will be overwhelmingly outspent. She can win if friends of public education turn out to vote. She needs our help. If everyone who loves teachers sends Monica a gift of any size, she would be the best-funded candidate in the race. Send whatever you can afford.

It is of vital importance that we elect independent candidates like Ratliff. Please visit and donate what you can to her campaign here.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

VIDEO: United Adult Students' Gilberta Gonzalez speaks in Sacramento

Gilberta Gonzalez of United Adult Students speaking at CCAE 2013 Conference in Sacramento. She is introduced here by CCAE Conference co-Chair, Branka Marceta. Holding the 10,000 petition signatures is Teacher and Evans Adult School graduate Juan Noguera.


PESJA: Rupert Murdoch, ALEC, and CSR have a candidate in mind for the LAUSD District 6 seat


KB: BIC supporters say more LAUSD students are taking food, they don't mention it goes to straight the trash.


UAS: Adult Education and Career Technical Education students presente! We need dedicated funding!


Reason LA Fund feeds expired food to poor children of color—see any color on their board?


5th Grade Schoolteacher Monica Ratliff, a LAUSD candidate endorsed by both UTLA and AALA


Education Opportunity Network: “Parent Triggers: Another Reform Misfires"


PESJA: Breakfast in the Classroom, a tax shelter for firms to dispose of rancid, rotten & otherwise spoiled food


The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Education Committee Presents A Free Bike Rodeo




Saturday, May 18th, 2013, From 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

1511 Micheltorena Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Everyone is welcome!
For KIDS ages 5 – 12
You DO NOT need a bike or a helmet to participate!

LADOT’s SAFE MOVES Bicycle Safety Course
Safe Moves allows children to bicycle through a miniature city called “Safe Moves City”. It consists of streets, sidewalks, intersections, crosswalks, traffic signals, traffic signs, residential areas, business districts, cars, trucks, buses and a railroad track with signals, crossing gate and train. “Safe Moves City” is designed to simulate the diverse traffic environments in Los Angeles and to create “problem solving” experiences for each grade level.

Bring your bicycles for safety inspections! Check out the bicycle blender! Community partners will be tabling.
CONTACT: SLNC Education Committee Co-chairs: Dorit Guerrero & Teresa Sitz at The SLNC Education Committee meets the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 am at the Bellevue Park Community Room. Our next meeting is May 11, 2013.


Un BICI RODEO gratuito

Sábado, 18 de mayo, 2013, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

1511 Micheltorena Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Todo el mundo es bienvenido.
Para niños de edad 5 a 12
Usted no necesita una bicicleta o un casco para participar!

LADOT’s SAFE MOVES Curso de Seguridad de Bicicletas
Safe Moves permite a los niños en la bicicleta atravesar una ciudad en miniatura llamada " Safe Moves City ". Se compone de calles, aceras, intersecciones, pasos de peatones, señales de tráfico, zonas residenciales, áreas de negocios, automóviles, camiones, autobuses y las vías del tren con señales de cruzar la pasada y el tren. "Safe Moves City" está diseñado para simular los diversos entornos de tráfico en Los Ángeles para ciclistas y la creación de experiencias para la "resolución de problemas" a travez de experiencias para niños de cada  grado escolar.

Traer sus bicicletas para las inspecciones de seguridad! Echa un vistazo a la licuadora de la bicicleta! Los socios comunitarios estarán presentación.
CONTACTO: Comité de Educación SLNC Copresidentes: Dorit Guerrero y Teresa Sitz en El Comité de Educación SLNC se reúne el segundo sábado de cada mes a las 10 am en el Bellevue Park Community Room. Nuestra próxima reunión es el 11 de mayo de 2013.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

LA Fund uses a dairy for LAUSD BIC that has been fined by the EPA for nitric acid violations


Corporations have even found a way to co-opt words like urban "gentrification"


More evidence corroborating Professor Krashen and exposing the contrived skills and STEM crises

First published on Schools Matter on December 26, 2012.

"...the impending shortage of scientists and engineers is one of the longest running hoaxes in the country" — Gerald W. Bracey

Dr. Krashen has long been a critic of the fact-free Myth: STEM and skills crisesSchools Matter's Professor Stephen Krashen has been a long time critic of the media promulgated mythology that there's a shortage of qualified workers, particularly those in the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) fields. A quick survey of his posts here reveal his ongoing work to counter the skills/STEM propaganda that is most often used to justify some of the most pernicious corporate education reforms.

Whenever I see more evidence proving these skills/STEM myths wrong, I'm quick to forward them to Dr. Krashen for him to add to his burgeoning catalog of documentation. NPR's recent Are There Too Many Ph.D.s And Not Enough Jobs? is an example of the evidence contradicting all the outrageous lies by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, David Welch, Reed Hastings, Arne Duncan, et al. The NPR piece, which cites The Atlantic, contains gems such as:

"numbers released by the National Science Foundation show that people with doctoral degrees in those technical fields are struggling to find work in their industries."


"Worse yet, as of 2011, approximately one-third of people graduating with a doctoral degree in science, technology, math or engineering had no job or post-doctoral offer of any kind."

Krashen posted the above piece on his facebook page, and several of us commented. Still exhausted from the LAUSD election, I had forgotten what I wrote until I saw myself quoted by Peggy Robertson and Patsy Bain Wolf. Looking at the quote, I'm sure glad they preserved it, since it gets to the heart of the matter:

The manufactured STEM crisis. Robert D. Skeels states "The manufactured STEM 'crises' has from the onset been a means to drive down the salaries of those professionals who often don't see themselves as being working class. Starting with Bill Gates' drive to grant more H1B visas to certain workers under the guise of "not enough qualified candidates." What this really means is not enough candidates willing to work on the cheap. Ultimately the same market forces that allow the owners of the means of production drive wages down are at work. Sadly, since many professionals aren't class conscious, the only things that could reverse this trend — working class push-back and unionization — aren't being discussed."

Another recent article by In These Times entitled Study Demolishes the Myth That U.S. Workers Lack Skills further puts the lie to the notion that U.S. workers are lacking in the education or skills department. The piece, which discusses a paper by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Professor Marc Levine, contains powerful quotes like: "There are still three unemployed people for every possible job opening."

The article proper enumerates the points of Levine’s report, only the headings of which are reproduced here.

  • False: The skills of the workforce somehow dropped sharply between 2007 and 2009.
  • False: There is a vast pool of high-skilled jobs waiting to be filled.
  • False: Employers are trying in vain to attract skilled workers.
  • False: Understaffed employers must make do with the skilled workers they have.
  • False: New high-skill jobs have been created.
  • False: Workers with advanced degrees are more highly sought-after.
  • False: The American job market will increasingly demand higher-skilled workers.

Globalization has allowed the ownership class to increasingly pit workers against each other in ways the Robber Barons could have only dreamed of. When workers compete, their boses win! A major part of the impetus behind corporate education reform is the same momentum that's created a job market were workers are increasingly expected to work harder and harder for less and less, while being required to have ever more education and training (at their own expense, of course). Nearly all of Silicon Valley's plutocratic elites' whining about a skills shortage is part and parcel a cry to drive down wages and squeeze ever more profit out of workers who are expected to "lean in."

This race to the bottom for workers is accelerated by those same forces turning teaching into an act of Taylorism as well. Race to the Top and Common Core State Standards are part of a corporate consensus intended to create compliant workers ready to accept ever more abject working conditions. The daily experience in schools today is a grim reminder of what student's adult life will most likely look like. Brian Jones' recent commentary looks at this in depth and provides inescapable analysis. The byline, which couldn't be more apropos, reads 'When Karl Marx described the despotism of the modern workplace, he could have been describing schools in the era of education "reform."' Jones' essay is replete with insights like:

"The bourgeoisie," Marx noted, "cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society."

In those words, Marx put his finger on precisely what's happening in education--the relationship between teacher and student is being revolutionized. The student is, increasingly, evaluated not by the human being he or she speaks to every day, but by a harried, low-wage test scorer (sometimes hundreds of miles away) paid per test or worse, by a machine that scans the student's bubble sheet.

It's no small irony that the selfsame students whose tests are being graded by "harried, low-wage test scorer[s]" are being prepared for such futures as well.

The neoliberal project encroaches from every side and can only be defeated by collective resistance. My heart goes out to all those at the Occupy the Department of Education 2.0: The Battle for Public Schools event right now. I am there with you in spirit. We must continue organizing against these seemingly unstoppable forces, in hopes that eventually we can get our fellows in struggle to realize the meaning of Rosa Luxemburg's famous passage "those who do not move, do not notice their chains."