The Seattle Education Weekly Update, news you might have missed.

“Systems in history are defined above all by who controls the wealth. The top 400 people own more wealth now than the bottom 185 million Americans taken together. That is a medieval structure.”

Gar Alperovitz’s Green Party Keynote: We Are Laying Groundwork for the “Next Great Revolution”

Speaking of the 1% , the WalMart Waltons just contributed $600,000 to support the charter school Initiative 1240. In doing some research on the Waltons and their influence on education, I came across this great website, WalMart 1%, with a section devoted to the Waltons involvement in education. A recommended read.

Here’s a few facts that I was not aware of before, the bold is my emphasis on the information:

  • John Walton: Until his death in 2005, John Walton coordinated the education work of his family and family’s foundation. Most notably, he and the late Republican financier Ted Forstmann co-founded the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which funds private school educations for low-income children, and he assisted in the creation of the right-wing advocacy group Alliance for School Choice. He was also a shareholder in a for-profit school development company that went bankrupt in 2006.
  • Carrie Walton Penner: Penner, who graduated from a private boarding school and attended two elite universities, sits on the boards of the KIPP Foundation (to which the Walton Family Foundation recently gave $25 million) and the California Charter Schools Association. She is also on the boards of the Alliance for School Choice—a  voucher advocacy group—and its lobbying and political affiliate. Penner has a degree from the Stanford University School of Education, but has apparently never worked on the front line of education as a teacher.
  • Greg Penner: Greg Penner, Carrie Walton Penner’s husband, is on the National Board of Directors for Teach for America, and is a director of the Charter Growth Fund, a “non-profit venture capital fund” investing in charter schools.
  • Christy Walton: Christy Walton is now the co-chair of the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which her late husband co-founded.
  • Annie Proietti: Jim Walton’s daughter, Annie Walton Proietti, works for a KIPP school in Denver.

By the way, the KIPP charter franchise is run by Steve Barth and is  being pushed by the ed reform crowd in our state. His wife, Wendy Kopp, heads up Teach for America, Inc., the money-making organization that populates the KIPP schools as well as other charter franchises with individuals straight out of college and five weeks of training in all there is to know in teaching our most vulnerable and under-served students.

For more on KIPP and what to expect if Bill Gates and the Walton’s have their way, see:

On the Wal-Mart Money Trail

Bay Area KIPP schools lose 60% of their students, study confirms

Study Finds High Dropout Rates for Black Males in KIPP Schools

“At KIPP, I would wake up sick, every single day”

One state legislator in Mississippi who voted against a charter school bill wanted to know:

“Who Are These People?”

From the Commercial Appeal, DeSoto County legislator defends charter school opposition during Chamber luncheon.

The annual Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday was supposed to honor two retiring legislators, but sitting state Rep. Forrest Hamilton, R-Olive Branch, stole the show when he condemned charter school legislation in Mississippi.

Hamilton and other DeSoto County House members stood firm against charter school legislation, much to the chagrin of GOP leaders and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, during the legislative session that ended in May.

The legislation ultimately failed when a compromise could not be reached in the final days of the legislative session.

“The most important vote I made in the past nine years was my vote in the Education Committee against the charter schools bill,” Hamilton told the gathering. “I said, ‘who are these people who want to put charter schools in the Delta?’ We couldn’t find out who it was.”

I kind of want to e-mail Mr. Hamilton and give him the run down on who was behind the campaign for charter schools in his state. Any guesses?

Parents Across America member Julie Woestehoff asked the question this week:

Are Charter Schools the Answer to – or One Reason for – Chicago’s Violence?

A lot of the people most affected by charter school expansion would strongly disagree with Lockett’s notion that charter schools are an answer to youth violence. In fact, communities report strong feelings that charter schools, and the school closings that go hand in hand with their expansion, have actually contributed to increased violence.

The 2007 report, “Students as Collateral Damage” (Lipman and Person), includes interviews and first-person accounts of students and teachers from schools closed in the Mid-South region of Chicago during the first years of Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010 program:

Teachers, staff, and students report that incoming students are traveling outside of their neighborhood, often crossing different gang boundary lines. As one parent stated, “We have a lot of issues with gang fights. This is the bottom line.” (p. 33)

Parents, teachers, administrators and students at receiving schools report increasing concerns about the rise in discipline and safety issues resulting from an influx of new students. Concerns centering on these issues are twofold: an increase in discipline and behavioral problems in receiving schools and classrooms, and an increase in violence in and around receiving schools.

To read this post in full, go to the Huffington Post.

And more on charter schools and their failure to meet the great promises that the privatization of our school system was to deliver:

Report finds charters struggling like other CPS schools

Poverty dogs students despite schools’ flexibility, autonomy

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city leaders have long heralded charter schools’ innovative approach to education, but new research suggests many charters in Chicago are performing no better than traditional neighborhood schools and some are actually doing much worse.

More than two dozen schools in some of the city’s most prominent and largest charter networks, including the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), Chicago International Charter Schools, University of Chicago and LEARN, scored well short of district averages on key standardized tests.

It truly is about poverty, something that these ed reformers refuse to address, pushing instead the shiny new apple promise of charter schools.

To read this article in full, go to the Chicago Tribune.


And now a little something about another Broad Foundation graduate, JC Brizard.

Five signs the tide is turning – so, let’s turn up the heat!

Are the winds shifting? The tides turning? Could the tables already have turned?

Here are some reasons I think this may be happening.

1) An op ed in yesterday’s Guardian of London newspaper suggests that the Chicago Teachers’ Union is sending shock waves far beyond our home town for its string of upsets against the offensive moves of the city’s Democratic establishment:

This is getting national attention in the US, and a strike could be an embarrassment to President Obama. Moreover, it could re-ignite the American labour movement at a time of global unrest.

2) A few days ago, blogger Jim Warren compared a vacationing CPS CEO JC Brizard to Nero, “kayaking while Rome burns”:

I stumbled into Brizard’s absence during a chance conversation with (a) Chicago educator Thursday. The person mentioned that Brizard was out of town. He mentioned that Brizard had asked colleagues not to bother him with calls. He indicated that Brizard had posted on his Facebook page a photo of his wife with a kayak in Vermont. He rolled his eyes…..(Brizard)’s given ammunition already to anybody who looks to bypass or intentionally undermine him.

To read this post in full, go to PURE.

Speaking of heat, the worst drought in the mid west in the last 40 years and a chunk of ice twice the size of Manhattan broke off in Greenland this week. What are we leaving behind for our children?

Regarding the emphasis on test taking and yet the desire for our children to maintain their creativity, check out Yong Zhao’s article:

Doublethink: The Creativity-Testing Conflict

Doublethink is “to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them,” according to George Orwell, who coined the phrase in his novel 1984.

American education policymakers have apparently entered the zone of doublethink.

They want future Americans to be globally competitive, to out-innovate others, and to become job-creating entrepreneurs. Last year, the Obama administration announced a $1 billion-plus public-private initiative to support entrepreneurial activities, which included support and rhetoric surrounding youth-entrepreneurship education. And the U.S. Department of Education says that “entrepreneurship education as a building block for a well-rounded education not only promises to make school rigorous, relevant, and engaging, but it creates the possibility for unleashing and cultivating creative energies and talents among students.”

State leaders have taken similar actions. California, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma have begun exploring the development of measures to gauge the extent to which schools foster creative and entrepreneurial qualities in their students, according to a Feb. 1, 2012, article in Education Week.

“What brings great test scores may hamper entrepreneurial qualities.”

In the meantime, the policymakers want students to be excellent test-takers. The federal government is racing to the top of standardization and standardized testing; states are working hard to make two subjects common and core for all students; an increasing number of teachers are being paid based on their students’ test scores; and students are fed with an increasingly narrow, standardized, uniform, and imagination-depleted education diet. All these measures are intended to improve students’ academic achievement, or, in plain English, test scores.

But test scores are not measures of entrepreneurship or creativity. Not even scores on the intensely watched and universally worshiped Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, are good indicators of a nation’s capacity for entrepreneurship and creativity.

In doing research for my book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, I found a significant negative relationship between PISA performance and indicators of entrepreneurship. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, or GEM, is an annual assessment of entrepreneurial activities, aspirations, and attitudes of individuals in more than 50 countries. Initiated in 1999, about the same time that PISA began, GEM has become the world’s largest entrepreneurship study. Thirty-nine countries that participated in the 2011 GEM also participated in the 2009 PISA, and 23 out of the 54 countries in GEM are considered “innovation-driven” economies, which means developed countries.

Comparing the two sets of data shows clearly countries that score high on PISA do not have levels of entrepreneurship that match their stellar scores. More importantly, it seems that countries with higher PISA scores have fewer people confident in their entrepreneurial capabilities. Out of the innovation-driven economies, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are among the best PISA performers, but their scores on the measure of perceived capabilities or confidence in one’s ability to start a new business are the lowest. The correlation coefficients between scores on the 2009 PISA in math, reading, and science and 2011 GEM in “perceived entrepreneurial capability” in the 23 developed countries are all statistically significant. (By the way, these countries have also traditionally dominated the top spots on the other influential international test, the Trends in International Math and Science Study, or TIMSS.)

China’s Shanghai took the No. 1 rank in all three areas of the 2009 PISA, but the scores do not have any bearing on China’s creativity capacity. In 2008, China had only 473 patent filings with or granted by leading patent offices outside China. The United States had 14,399 patent filings in the same year. Anil K. Gupta and Haiyan Wang put those figures in a broader context, writing in The Wall Street Journal last year: “Starkly put, in 2010 China accounted for 20 percent of the world’s population and 9 percent of the world’s GDP, 12 percent of the world’s [research and development] expenditure, but only 1 percent of the patent filings with or patents granted by any of the leading patent offices outside China.” And 50 percent of the China-origin patents, the writers added, were granted to subsidiaries of foreign multinationals.

To read this article in full, go to Education Week.

Speaking of creativity, let’s consider the creativity in teaching versus online learning. The University of Washington has recently announced with a flourish their online courses that will be available but is that the ideal way to learn or just a cheap mechanism for increasing income to the school while at the same time putting lots of cash into the hands of business interests?

Here is an excerpt from the New York Times Opinion section titled:

The Trouble With Online Education

It’s here that the notion of students teaching teachers is illuminating. As a friend and fellow professor said to me: “You don’t just teach students, you have to learn ’em too.” It took a minute — it sounded like he was channeling Huck Finn — but I figured it out.

With every class we teach, we need to learn who the people in front of us are. We need to know where they are intellectually, who they are as people and what we can do to help them grow. Teaching, even when you have a group of a hundred students on hand, is a matter of dialogue.

In the summer Shakespeare course I’m teaching now, I’m constantly working to figure out what my students are able to do and how they can develop. Can they grasp the contours of Shakespeare’s plots? If not, it’s worth adding a well-made film version of the next play to the syllabus. Is the language hard for them, line to line? Then we have to spend more time going over individual speeches word by word. Are they adept at understanding the plot and the language? Time to introduce them to the complexities of Shakespeare’s rendering of character.

Every memorable class is a bit like a jazz composition. There is the basic melody that you work with. It is defined by the syllabus. But there is also a considerable measure of improvisation against that disciplining background.

To read this article in full, go to The New York Times Opinion page.

The Gates backed League of Education Voters (LEV) and Stand for Children (SFC) have been pushing online learning but I suppose that’s on the back burner for them right now as they push for the charter school initiative.

In regards to the inadequate funding of our schools, a report issued by Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch makes it clear that states need to address the issue of financially supporting our public school system.

Diane Ravitch describes the report and how it relates to the public school system in her post:.

The States’ Budget Crisis

My ex-husband Richard Ravitch is a brilliant man who has spent most of his life in public service. He was born during the Great Depression, and he grew up idolizing Franklin Delano Roosevelt and believing that the highest ideal was to improve the well-being of the public.

We have an informal agreement that he doesn’t do education and I don’t do housing, transportation or public finance. But now he has stepped into my territory and I must step into his.

Yesterday he and Paul Volcker released a task force report on the budget crisis facing states. The task force report should be read by everyone because it contains an urgent warning. As of 2009, states now spend more on Medicaid than on K-12 education. That is a historic reversal. States are facing unsustainable costs and will have to make cuts to essential services if they can’t make appropriate adjustments to their tax and spend policies. Added to this, the possibility of federal budget cuts will do terrible damage to education and other basic services.

The task force report does not tell states precisely what to do beyond warning them of the cliff towards which they are heading. It says to stop the gimmicks and the one-shot funding measures. It says to face the problems head-on.

The task force report does not call for cuts to education. I spoke to Richard, who is a close friend, and he said that the point of the task force report was to warn states to take action now so that they can protect education and other essential state functions into the future.

My view: If we continue to cut K-12 education, preschool education, and postsecondary education, as so many states now are doing, we sacrifice our future. We throw away our seed-corn. If we continue to shift the costs of higher education to students, we will narrow access to higher education, which develops our nation’s innovativeness, research, and brainpower. We cannot eliminate access to education and erode its quality and then expect our nation to have an educated society, an innovative society, or a good society. My friend Richard Ravitch agrees.

Here are the recommendations of the task force:

Conclusions and Recommendations

The recent recession and financial crisis have exposed both structural problems in state budgets and the increasingly pro-cyclical nature of these budgets. States and their localities face major challenges due to the aging of the population, rising health care costs, unfunded promises, increasingly volatile and eroding revenues, and impending federal budget cuts.

If these problems are not addressed soon, they are likely to worsen. The problems affect the national interest and require the attention of national policymakers. In addition, each state can sharpen its fiscal tools to improve its own decision-making process.

The funding of education in a sustainable form is mandatory to the success of our public schools. No bright, shiny new charter school will address or answer the core issue regarding our educational system, we must fund, pay for, our schools.

This weekend I will leave you with this video regarding closing schools and how ed reformers think that shifting neighborhood populations around is a good idea…at least in the minority communities.

Per the description

Parents, students and teachers protested on June 15, 2012 the closure of
the Lakeview public elementary public school in Oakland. This video
exposes the system destruction of public schools and who is behind it.
It also exposes the role of former Mayor Jerry Brown now governor of California to support privatization of education while starving public schools and opening up charters.

Busting Up The Oakland Public Schools-Protest At Lakeview Public Elementary School

Post Script:

By the way, I have yet to find the article regarding KIPP that I was to publish last week. Basically it’s about the fact that KIPP has decided going into poor neighborhoods and having to work with special education and English Language Learners isn’t profitable enough so they are starting to look at higher income neighborhoods to establish more of their charter schools.

Be careful LEV and SFC members who live in the bedroom communities of Seattle and think that charter schools are good enough for the rest of us. There might be one coming your way soon.

If anyone comes across the article, I would be grateful for the link.