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This photo was taken in front of the Gates Foundation in Seattle this week by members of Social Equality Educators.
And so was this “No TFA” photo:
Yesterday was the March 1st National Day of Action for Education in Seattle and in many other parts of the country. There was a march from downtown Seattle to the headquarters of the Gates Foundation on the border of the downtown core.
In front of the Gates Foundation, there was a teach-in, a grade-in and a policy throw-down although I don’t think that Vicki Phillips was able to make it. We will be hearing more on that next week but for now I wanted to share this photograph with you that was taken in front of the offices of Gates and Co.
We are fortunate in the state of Washington because we have not had to suffer through what we have seen other students and parents go through in urban areas such as Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles and Florida. We have watched this drama unfold from afar and have been forewarned.
In Chicago, for instance, there is now the travesty of profiteering off of school closures and “turnarounds”. These school turnarounds started with Arne Duncan’s tenure as CFO of the Chicago Public School system and has continued under the new mayor Rahm Emanuel. The school board, all selected by the mayor, voted to close 17 schools in Chicago and convert most of them into charter schools creating additional turmoil and rootlessness for neighborhoods already suffering the detrimental effects of poverty.
To follow is footage of a Rally for Schools and March on Mayor Emanuel’s House in Chicago. First this footage and then some background on the greed and callousness that caused this to happen.
There is a for-profit school turnaround company, AUSL, that takes over schools, fires the entire staff including janitors and lunch ladies and turns the school into a charter school. The former president of AUSL was appointed President of the Chicago Public School board by Mayor Emmanuel (Mayor 1% as he is referred to in Chicago). According to Karen Lewis, president of the teachers’ union in Chicago, there were no school turnarounds last year so the impression is now, AUSL needed to make up for lost profits. 17 schools are now to close and be “turned around” into charter schools.
Have we been forewarned adequately Seattle?
This story is on Democracy Now and is a recommended watch, Occupy Education: Teachers, Students Resist School Closings, Privatizations, Layoffs and Rankings.
Here is part of the transcript:
JAISAL NOOR: Right, Amy. So, that report was part of a series I did in Chicago for The Real News and Free Speech Radio News. And these teachers contacted me, current teachers from AUSL, the Academy for Urban School Leadership. It’s this nonprofit private company, this turnaround specialist, who are given schools by the Chicago public school system, where all the teachers are fired, the principals are fired, all the janitors are fired, and this company comes in to hire all new staff and turn around these so-called failing schools.
Now, one of the reasons I went to Chicago was because of this growing outrage against these policies. Protesters were paid to protest for these school closings. That’s how unpopular these policies are. We heard from Latrice Watkins, a parent who organized for months in her community. They created an alternative plan to put forward to the school board. The school board didn’t listen. And this company has very close ties to the Chicago school board. Its former chairman is now the president of the Chicago school board.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Appointed by Rahm Emanuel?
JAISAL NOOR: Appointed by Rahm Emanuel last year. So this is a scenario you can’t even make up. The unelected school board voted unanimously to turn several of these schools over to AUSL. And so, it’s current teachers there that are saying things are so bad, there’s no accountability there, that we, as current teachers, who went to the schools as a way to fix education for these communities, disinvested communities, even we think this is failing us. And I know Karen Lewis can talk more about the challenges there.
KAREN LEWIS: So, what happened was, two years ago, they did not give AUSL as many schools as they wanted, and last year they got none. So they had all of these people that they had, quote-unquote, “trained” ready to go to schools, and there were no schools available to them. So when we saw that the president of the board and also the chief operating officer, who came from AUSL, and prior to that, Motorola—so, again, we have this very business-oriented model here—when we saw that they were appointed, we knew this year that AUSL was going to get—I call it AUSL—was going to get a ton of schools.
And now in New Orleans, the city that has been touted as the example for all of us to follow in terms of the privatization of our schools, I would highly recommend listening to PAA Founding Member and eduction activist Karran Harper-Royal, who has a lot to say about charter schools in her hometown. She is being interviewed by Andrea Merida, another PAA Founding Member and parent activist in Denver. The program is A Conversation About Choice in New Orleans.
In the state of Washington there is a “compromise” bill that passed the House and Senate that will tie test scores to teacher evaluations. More to follow on that issue but I wanted to leave you with this conversation that Tom Slekar and Shaun Johnson @chalkface radio had with Florida teacher Ceresta Smith on merit pay based on test scores and the focus on test taking. Ms. Smith gives the straight scoop on teacher evaluations based on test scores, merit pay and why she didn’t deserve what she received in terms of merit pay this year.
Have a great weekend.
*government by the wealthy.
*a country or society governed by the wealthy.
Plural noun: plutocracies
*an elite or ruling class of people whose power derives from their wealth.
Dollarocracy: How the money and media election complex is destroying America
By John Nichols and Robert McChesney
From the Preface:
Carter declared-as the planet's most famous election observer- that '“We have one of the worst election processes in the world right here in the United States of America, and it’s almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money."
Click the image to see their interview with Bill Moyers.
More than 1.2 million students are homeless, and nearly 76,000 are living on their own without parents.
Click the image for a link to the article.
"There is something grotesque about the fact that education reform is being led not by educators but by financiers and speculators and billionaires."
This process -- a handful of the wealthiest people in our country controlling the political process -- is called "oligarchy."
The great political struggle we now face is whether the United States retains its democratic heritage or whether we move toward an oligarchic form of society where the real political power rests with a handful of billionaires, not ordinary Americans.
"I believe in standardizing automobiles. I do not believe in standardizing human beings. Standardization is a great peril which threatens American culture."
ALEC Exposed-The Privatization of Public Schools:
And more about the Koch brothers and their dad: kochexposed.org
Charter School Scandals
Charter School Scams and Scamsters
Class Size Matters:
Common Core Standards:
Democrats for Education Reform
Teach for America:
"Any time hedge fund managers...when they walk into the inner city areas and start talking about poor children's education, it's not because they want kids to read and write, it's because they know that the federal government spends $600B on education and they want it and they're going to get it."
Jesse has collected stories from students, educators and parents around the country and formed a picture of what is happening in public education and why:
More Than A Score edited by Jesse Hagopian
This book is a must read to understand what teachers are going through with the corporate takeover of our public school system:
Confessions of a Bad Teacher by John Owens
Need I say more? It's a book by Chris Hedges:
Death of the Liberal Class: Chris Hedges
Dollarocracy: Robert Waterman McChesney
Ravitch lays it out in this book and its no holds barred:
Reign of Error: Diane Ravitch
Want to know where over 50% of each tax dollar is going? Read this book:
The Operators by Michael Hastings
Why is it is hard to tell the difference between the Dems and Repubs? Read this book and find out:
The Party is Over: Mike Lofgren
This is a must read. Naomi Klein breaks it down in this book about how oligarchs are manipulating us and running our world:
The Shock Doctrine: Naomi Klein
If you want to know about the financial collapse of 2008, why the rest of us are no better off now and yet the stock market and banks have rebounded, making huge profits and why another collapse is inevitable, check out this book by Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics:
Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy