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:

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 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.


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:

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.


Originally published on tumblr


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


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Students. Tired of corporate reformers making choices about YOUR education? Fight back!


"If you had the power to change the education system, what would you do?"

Here's your chance.

On March 29, at the University of Southern California, through the EmpowerED: Los Angeles Student Power 2014 conference, YOU will be given the opportunity to answer that question AND learn how you can make that answer a reality.

Students all over the country are tired of feeling powerless when it comes to decisions that affect their education. That's why they're standing up and fighting back against things like high stakes testing, school closings, and budget cuts. At EmpowerED 2014, you will:

  • Have a chance to hear the powerful stories of high school student activists from all over the US who've made history in their communities.
  • Engage in a unique opportunity where your vision for education will be featured in "Collective Voice: The Wisdom of Young People on Education," a national exhibition in Washington DC in 2015.
  • Participate in interactive workshops where you'll have the chance to share your ideas on education and learn how YOU can make that vision come true through the Student Power Movement.
  • Be a part of the first ever youth-led event that engages students in a local community in a conversation about their education.

EmpowerED's Featured Speakers:

  • Israel Munoz, Chicago Students Union
  • Tre Murphy, Alliance for Educational Justice
  • Sekai Edwards, Portland Student Union
  • Cauldierre McKay, Providence Student Union
  • Kristin Towkaniuk, Newark Students Union
  • Kate Barnes, Portland Student Union
  • Zoe Marie Foster-La Du, Portland Student Union
  • Mariam Khan, San Jose Youth Commission

This event is now open to USC students and other college students in the LA area. There are only a few spots left, so please register today to reserve your spot!

For those who cannot make the event, it will be livestreamed by Vincent Precht and Jamelle Anthony Nelson on Stay tuned for more info!

EmpowerED is hosted by USC Program Board, Academic Culture Assembly, EdMonth, and Students United for Public Education.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why isn't Dr. John Fernandez our Superintendent?

Dr. John Fernandez (right) with 2013 LAUSD Disctrict 2 runner up Robert D. Skeels

Why isn't Dr. John Fernandez LAUSD's Superintendent? Top five reasons I'm saying this about our local East Los Angeles hero:

  1. Dr. John Fernandez has an authentic, earned doctoral degree from a real university — UCLA. Deasy bought his with SMMUSD's money from convicted felon Robert Felner.
  2. Dr. John Fernandez has over three decades teaching as a PUBLIC school teacher. Deasy never taught a day in public school, although he "taught" for two-some-odd years at a PRIVATE MILITARY school.
  3. Dr. John Fernandez has both theoretical and practical experience with Critical Pedagogy.
  4. Dr. John Fernandez is BILINGUAL and supports Ethnic Studies.
  5. Dr. John Fernandez is a decent human being without unconscionable ties to corporations and billionaire foundations.


Not data-driven? Perhaps a key reason David Coleman excluded most literature from Gates Foundation's CCSS racket


Friday, March 14, 2014

LAUSD Parent writes about John Deasy and Casey Wasserman's deceptive practices

LAUSD Parent Crystal Smith posted this incredible expose of John "let them eat iPads" Deasy and right-wing-meddling-millionaire Casey Wasserman's grand deception of Los Angeles families and educators on the Repairs not iPads facebook page. Reprinted here with permission.

The teachers, administrators, parents, but especially the students deserve better

By Crystal Smith

LAUSD Parent writes about John Deasy and Casey Wasserman's deceptive practices

Does anyone remember Donor's Choose? Deasy partnered with Wasserman Foundation and gave out 600,000 cards worth $15 each to every parent, and then Starbucks joined in and gave out cards for $10 each. Wow. Our hero. So teachers scrambled to post their projects (not easy at all), using their free time to do it. So our schools are broken, damaged and in disrepair and he looks like this huge hero, right? What they failed to say (on purpose) is that only $2 million dollars was going to be funded through the Donor's Choose cards, and then only $2 million through the Starbucks cards (which could only be received with a purchase and you had to ask for them). If everyone "had" redeemed all the cards (they were given out before winter break, not everyone got them, I had a note that by January 9th we were told to get all our projects posted, but January 30th all funds were exhausted and these gift certificates didn't expire until Feb 12th), LAUSD Teachers thought they would have been able to get $11.85 million dollars in projects, they barely got $4 million funded. Only about a 1/3 of our projects were funded, some schools got barely anything.

Mr. Deasy, I'm still angry about that backhanded "gift card" situation. You know why? The teachers at our school weren't greedy, they wanted rugs for the kids to read on, they wanted easels for the kids to see the books, and a set of books, they wanted basic supplies! YOU TOOK THAT AWAY from them. SUPPLIES!! So, I stopped trusting you THEN. Now, you want us to have some sort of faith that you can pull us out of this ipad mess? No, I don't have faith. You know what really angers me? In order for a teacher to "unlock" the ability to request an ipad with Donor's Choose, they had to have 3 projects funded. Teachers were scrambling and begging to get their projects funded, so A TEACHER COULD GET AN IPAD. One, just 1 ipad. NOW you want to give an ipad to EVERY student and you STILL refuse to meet their basic needs of a safe school free of termites.

Are you trying to make up for the Donor's Choose mess? Then repair our schools, just make the repairs. Nobody should have to worry that these broken buildings are holding walkways and hanging over our kids heads. What happens after the next earthquake? When structures fail? Measure Q was suppose to fix the buildings from earthquake damage. Are you ready for the lawsuits that will be brought against the school district?

I hope people post every single rotted piece of wood and expose every repair that needs to be made, maybe then you will realize that the "press" you are receiving right now is rightfully earned.


Winning LAUSD breakfast combo: Deasy Drinking Water + LA Fund Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) Muffin Mold!

Winning LAUSD breakfast combo: Deasy Drinking Water + LA Fund BIC Muffin Mold!

Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), slightly better than condoms in your drinking fountain.


Repairs, not iPads presents: Repairs not DEASY Rally!

Repairs, not iPads presents: Repairs not DEASY Rally! Repairs, not iPads presents: Repairs not DEASY Rally!

Repairs not Deasy Rally
Tuesday, March 18, 20 at 4:00pm

Chatsworth High School
10027 Lurline Ave, Chatsworth, CA 91311

We will be Heard!
Repair our Schools
Hands off our Repair and Construction Bond
Restore our Libraries, Early Education, Adult Education, Physical Education, Arts Education, Counselors, Lower Class Size

iPads are not a Civil Right!

Repairs not Deasy Rally by Robert D. Skeels


Teacher help needed: Hannah Nguyen of Students United for Public Education recruiting students for EmpowerED 2014

We need help Los Angeles students and teachers!

Some of you may already be familiar with Hannah Nguyen. She is the USC student who gained national attention when she called Michelle Rhee out at Rhee's own event. Hannah was recently one of the student panelist at Diane Ravitch's Network for Public Education (NPE) event in Austin. She is in integral part of the national leadership of Students United for Public Education (SUPE), of which I am a member. I can't speak highly enough about her, and SUPE is an authentic student voice against corporate education reform and advocates for the genuine progressive reforms.

Hannah is currently going to schools and personally recruiting students for the EmpowerED 2014 conference here in Los Angeles at the end of this month (Saturday, March 29, 2014). Rather than go into the details about this exciting local conference by students and for students, I'm including the link to the event website which has all the details.

They are doing a lot of outreach, here is what Hannah sent me recently:

I was wondering if you could connect me with teachers around LA who might be willing to share this event with their students? or allow me to come make a brief 5 minute presentation about the conference to their students?

This is an excellent opportunity to give students real agency in their own education. It is also an opportunity for Los Angeles teachers to help their students become "EmpowerED." Please help by notifying your own students about the conference, or better still, allowing Hannah to come and pitch to your students.

I will be volunteering at the conference. Either contact Hannah directly, or you can also contact me.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Boyle Heights Parents and Students Rally to Save Beloved School

Boyle Heights Parents and Students Rally to Save Beloved School


Media Release

March 11, 2014
For Immediate Release
Boyle Heights Parents and Students Rally to Save Beloved School
333 Beaudry Ave, Los Angeles, CA. 90017

For the third week in a row, students and parents from Roosevelt High School's Academy of Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) will take to the streets in protest of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy's decision to relocate their small school to Lincoln High School, in effect dismantling the school's population and culture. This time, their target is Board Member Monica Garcia, who they criticize for remaining silent during the destruction of their school without any parent, student, staff or community input.

Three weeks ago, students, parents and staff were given notice that their current location at the East LA Skills Center, where they have been housed for the past seven years, would not be available next school year. The school was informed that they would be moving to Lincoln High School, a move which many parents fear would put their Boyle Heights students at risk of gang violence, bullying, and would destroy the small school environment the school has worked so hard to establish. Many students play sports and participate in activities at Roosevelt High, and praise the small school for creating a safe, personalized, rigorous environment while maintaining a connection with Roosevelt's main campus. Teachers at ESP Academy fear that many students will not follow the staff to Lincoln, slashing the student population for next year. The main complaint about this process is the lack of voice given to the community and the lack of transparency on behalf of the school district. The reason their current site is not available has still not been communicated to the school community.

ESP students, parents and staff have rallied at the District offices for the past two weeks in a row, with 9 speakers sharing a public comment at last week's Board meeting. Tuesday, March 11, their focus is on Board Member Monica Garcia, who, according to her 2010 plan for school reform called "Reform the LA Way", announced that school reform should not be a "top down approach" but instead be "created on the the community...and always accountable to our parents". Parents and students argue that their school is being torn out from under their feet, in a process that has silenced all stakeholders, and Board Member Garcia has remained silent throughout the process. The school community is pleading with Garcia to make a statement that responds to their demands, to meet with their school community, and to add the issue of ESP Academy to the agenda for the next school board meeting.

Also see last week's LA Times article:

The Academy of Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) for Roosevelt High School is an off-site true small public school (roughly 300 students) that provides all students a career-ready and college-preparatory program.



SKrashen: Yes, let's drop the SAT essay. While we're at it, let's drop the SAT

SKrashen: Yes, let's drop the SAT essay. While we're at it, let's drop the SAT: Sent to the NY Times, March 11 Re: "Can writing be assessed?"  March 10. There is no point in testing writing form, i.e. the use ...


Vote to transform UTLA into an effective defense of public education and humane pedagogy


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Return Dr. Rangel, OUR Principal, back to Maya Angelou High School, Fine Arts Academy!

Petition | Rally & Press Conference


Monday, March 10, 2014

Ed Notes Online: Dora Taylor: What is a Charter School

Ed Notes Online: Dora Taylor: What is a Charter School: Dora reminds us of her 2010 piece on charters at the Seattle Education blog. What is a Charter School? The basic difference between a tr...


Did Genethia Hudley-Hayes use John Deasy's ONE WEIRD TRICK to 'earn' [buy] PhD?

L.A. school board candidate accused of falsely claiming doctorate

Moral of the story is that neither of these poverty pimps should represent District 1 of LAUSD.


Professional educator Lydia Gutierrez versus profit minded businessman Marshall Tuck

I'm currently not endorsing anyone in the race for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, but there is one individual whose life-long mission to destroy public education must be stopped. That individual is reactionary businessman Marshall Tuck.

Tom Torlakson would have easily won my endorsement had it not been for his support of the abject Pearson plc, News Corp, and Gates Foundation profit pit otherwise known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

After reading another article today on billionaire backed Marshall Tuck's vile plans to attack working class teachers and privatize public education, I decided to issue a brief statement on the third candidate in the race—Lydia Gutierrez.

I know Lydia Gutierrez personally, and while I don't subscribe to her political world-view, I do commend her on her refreshingly principled stands against both Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and school privatization.

Although Gutierrez and I differ sharply on many issues of pedagogy, we do agree that the corporate reforms embodied in Marshal Tuck exist for only one reason—to enrich corporate coffers. Unlike Tuck, Gutierrez is a person of integrity.

Marshall Tuck: despised by community, but always welcome at the Chamber of Commerce.


Once more the tyrannical Deasy regime sacks an excellent administrator whose service to students was peerless


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Lisa Karahalios calls for iPad CCTP oversight committee to continue

March 5, 2014. Speaking at the CCTP Tech (iPad) Committee, Lisa Karahalios expresses disappointment in Dr. Vladovic's decision to shut down the ad hoc committee. "Given that this is probably the largest public works rollout of technology in schools in history, I think this committee should go forward, and it shouldn't just be an ad hoc committee, I think it should be an official committee of the board."


Friday, March 07, 2014

SB 1174: The next struggle for language rights in California is here!

SB 1174 would be just a first step, but an important step nonetheless. UTLA will hopefully be on the leading edge of championing this, and Cheryl Ortega's thoughtful piece (an early release of her column for United Teacher) below represents the most progressive of positions.

The two major factions that will oppose SB 1174 are as follows: the rabid, reactionary racists that are always in Ron Unz's orbit, and the corporate edreformers who are pushing the profitable Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It's no surprise the bigots will oppose it, despite the myriad benefits that all students receive from multilingual education programs. We also need to remember that multilingualism, and multilingual programs (eg Dual Language Immersion) are contrary to the goals and practices of CCSS. This latter issue will see big money from the billionaire funded nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) rally against it. Don't be shocked to see corporate edreform stalwarts like Ryan Smith and Yolie Flores of United Way Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA), and the smaller NPIC funded through UWGLA, oppose SB 1174 for not fitting in with the Broad and Gates Foundation agendas.

SB 1174 will be a struggle, but an important one. We can have broader campaigns about indigenous language rights and the like after the passage of SB 1174. Let's roll up our sleeves and get this done!

Robert D. Skeels

Bill to Repeal Ban on Bilingual Education
By May of this year SB 1174 (Lara) will be brought to the Education Committee of the State Assembly of California. Senator Lara’s bill proposes to overturn Proposition 227 which in 1998 began the cutting away of bilingual programs for California’s English Learners. If the bill passes the committee by a simple majority, it will continue to the Assembly and eventually the State Senate. Passing through these two bodies with, again, a simple majority, it will be put on the California ballot in May of 2016.
Prop 227 made placement in an English immersion program compulsory for all English Learners unless parents specifically requested a waiver from the law. A re-reading of prop 227 reminds me of the threats made to teachers and administrators that any mention of bilingual education could result in lawsuits even against individuals. Frozen with fear, most teachers refrained from advising parents of their rights. It is interesting to note that in the 16 years since the passage of the proposition, not a single lawsuit has ever been filed, but the threat was always lurking in the shadows. Also interesting is the fact that legal action also theoretically applied to individuals, schools and districts who withheld information about bilingual programs from parents. In hundreds of thousands of cases in LAUSD, the information was, and still is, routinely withheld and actually falsified to parents. No lawsuits have ever been filed in LAUSD on these grounds.
If 1174 becomes law, what will follow? That remains to be seen. At this point it only repeals 227. It does not offer direction as to what kind of programs English Learners could take advantage of. In 1998, LAUSD had not yet implemented Dual Language Education. A vastly superior model to the traditional transitional bilingual programs, this model should be available to all students. The research cannot be denied. Students in dual language programs outscore and outperform their counterparts in all-English programs. See Collier and Thomas The Astounding Effects of Dual Language Education for All.
Perhaps enough time has elapsed, 16 years, for Californians, and particularly teachers, to have realized that Prop 227 didn’t help anyone.
Please join the Bilingual Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, March 26 at 4:30 in room 828. Teachers in all programs are warmly welcomed.
Cheryl Ortega
Director of Bilingual Education


Schools Matter: David Coleman's New SAT: Still Racist, Still Classist

Schools Matter: David Coleman's New SAT: Still Racist, Still Classist: It should come as no surprise that the head of the College Board, David Coleman, has made the new SAT more in line with the Common Core.  O...


Thursday, March 06, 2014

I’m UCLA Class of 2014, ending my 19 year odyssey

I’m a tenth grade drop out who grew up in poverty. Passed the GED in 1984 while serving the empire’s Navy. Started community college in 1988 and transfered to UCLA in 1991. Was forced to drop out because of dire economic reasons in 1994.
Returned to UCLA in the Fall 2013 and earned an “A” in my Capstone Seminar (Classics 191). Declared for W14, and am enrolled in my final two courses now. I’m UCLA Class of 2014, and I couldn’t be more happy or proud.
Many thanks to my wife, who pushed me to return and finish.


SKrashen: Do we need the SAT?

SKrashen: Do we need the SAT?:

Sent to USA Today, March 6, 2014

Not mentioned in the discussion of changes in the SAT ("Sharpen those pencils: The SAT test is getting harder," March 6) is the question of whether we need SAT-type examinations. 

In two different studies, researchers from UC Berkeley, Harvard and Princeton reported that high school grades were a good predictor of college success, and that adding SAT scores did not improve the predictive power of grades alone. 

These results suggest that teacher evaluation does a better job of evaluating student potential than standardized testing does: The repeated judgments of professionals who are with students every day appears to be more valid that a test created by distant strangers. 

Stephen Krashen

Bowen, W., Chingos, M., and McPherson, M. 2009. Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Universities. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 
Geiser, S. and Santelices, M.V., 2007. Validity of high-school grades in predicting student success beyond the freshman year: High-school record vs. standardized tests as indicators of four-year college outcomes. Research and Occasional Papers Series: CSHE 6.07, University of California, Berkeley.

original article:


Saturday, March 01, 2014

This is so cool. I voted for Dr. Jill Stein for President!

Voted for Cynthia McKinney the election before that.