I thought we would start the week with this video featuring Bad Ass Teacher Dudley aka Origin.

Stop This Madness!

Another part of the madness is the income gap that is increasing daily. Robert Reich breaks it down for us during his interview with Amy Goodman:

Inequality for All: Robert Reich Warns Record Income Gap Is Undermining Our Democracy.

Part 1:

To see all three segments, go to Democracy Now on You Tube.

While on the subject of money, check out the new website stockholdersfirst.org.

Education: too precious to be managed by teachers!

Let stockholdersfirst manage your children’s education!

Your love of education can get you a seat as you wait for the closing bell!

Our three Rs are Rally, Revenue, and Rate of Return.

There’s no Risk because it’s public money!

whatever it takes

Speaking of easy money, check out this article from Forbes:

Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City

Parents Rally To Save City Charter School

On Thursday, July 25, dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors gathered in New York to hear about the latest and greatest opportunities to collect a cut of your property taxes. Of course, the promotional material for the Capital Roundtable’s conference on “private equity investing in for-profit education companies” didn’t put it in such crass terms, but that’s what’s going on.

Charter schools are booming. “There are now more than 6,000 in the United States, up from 2,500 a decade ago, educating a record 2.3 million children,” according to Reuters.

Charters have a limited admissions policy, and the applications can be as complex as those at private schools. But the parents don’t pay tuition; support comes directly from the school district in which the charter is located.   They’re also lucrative, attracting players like the specialty real estate investment trust EPR Properties EPR -0.25% (EPR). Charter schools are in the firm’s $3 billion portfolio along with retail space and movie megaplexes.

Charter schools are frequently a way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year. The operators of both firms donate generously to elected Republicans.

The Arizona Republic found that charters “bought a variety of goods and services from the companies of board members or administrators, including textbooks, air conditioning repairs and transportation services.” Most charters were exempt from a requirement to seek competitive bids on contracts over $5,000.

In Florida, the for-profit school industry flooded legislative candidates with $1.8 million in donations last year. “Most of the money,” reports The Miami Herald, “went to Republicans, whose support of charter schools, vouchers, online education and private colleges has put public education dollars in private-sector pockets.”

Among the big donors: the private equity firm Apollo Group APOL -0.19%, the outfit behind the for-profit University of Phoenix, which has experimented with online high schools. Apollo dropped $95,000 on Florida candidates and committees.

Lest you get the idea charter schools are a “Republican” thing, they’re also favored by big-city Democrats. This summer, 23 public schools closed for good in Philadelphia — about 10% of the total — to be replaced by charters. Charters have a history in Washington, D.C., going back to 1996.

And they were favored by Arne Duncan when he ran Chicago Public Schools. Today, he’s the U.S. secretary of education. In 2009, Duncan rolled out the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative, doling out $4.4 billion in federal money to the states — but only to those states that lifted their caps on the number of charter schools.

Too bad the kids in charter schools don’t learn any better than those in plain-vanilla public schools. Stanford University crunched test data from 26 states. About a quarter of charters delivered better reading scores, but more than half produced no improvement, and 19% had worse results. In math, 29% of the charters delivered better math scores, while 40% showed no difference, and 31% fared worse.

Unimpressive, especially when you consider charter schools can pick and choose their students — weeding out autistic kids, for example, or those whose first language isn’t English. Charter schools in the District of Columbia are expelling students for discipline problems at 28 times the rate of the district’s traditional public schools — where those “problem kids” are destined to return.

Nor does the evidence show that charters spend taxpayers’ money more efficiently. Researchers from Michigan State and the University of Utah studied charters in Michigan, finding they spent $774 more per student on administration, and $1,140 less on instruction.

About the only thing charters do well is limit the influence of teachers’ unions. And fatten their investors’ portfolios.

In part, it’s the tax code that makes charter schools so lucrative: Under the federal “New Markets Tax Credit” program that became law toward the end of the Clinton presidency, firms that invest in charters and other projects located in “underserved” areas can collect a generous tax credit — up to 39% — to offset their costs.

So attractive is the math, according to a 2010 article by Juan Gonzalez in the New York Daily News, “that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.”


Speaking of the gravy train, more on Teach for America, Inc.

First, a video produced by a Parent Across America, Oregon member Deb Mayer who post all things TFA at the website Great Schools for America.

And a letter from a TFA, Inc. alum:

Teach For America: Feel Good Spin vs. Dose of Reality From A Corps Member


The Spin

Every year since 1990, Teach For America, an organization that seeks to end educational inequality, has recruited college graduates and sent them to teach in hard to staff, challenging communities throughout the United States (Donaldson & Johnson, 2010, p. 300).  Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America believed that, “If top recent college graduates devoted 2 years to teaching in public schools, they could have a real impact on the lives of disadvantaged kids” (Kopp, 2003 p.6).  I write to discuss my experience in this organization and to relate my view of the result of my time trying to change the educational trajectory of disadvantaged students.

My recruiter told me that every year thousands of children do not get the education they deserve due to poverty, poor instruction and lack of opportunity. Too many students are not able to access higher education, much less graduate high school.  Why should someone’s place of birth dictate his or her educational and therefore social, economic and professional opportunities? I was sold. To fix this problem and change the outcomes of these students’ lives, I joined Teach For America. I believed in the organization’s mission statement. I thought that if I could prove that kids in poverty could learn despite issues of poverty, violence and extreme instability that I could contribute to the end of educational inequity.

My Five Weeks Training

After graduation I joined more than a hundred fellow corps members recruited to teach underprivileged kids in a Southern TFA location. I graduated from college and immediately started training for 5 weeks in the summer. TFA taught me to create a lesson plan and develop management and student investment plans. They gave me time to practice teaching first graders for an hour a day for three weeks.  I then moved to my placement site, and interviewed with one charter school. I was told that I could not refuse the position.

What Really Happens

My First Year. I was first assigned to teach fifth grade Math, Science and English Language Arts at a charter school in an impoverished neighborhood.  I was not prepared to develop a curriculum for all three subjects. I was not prepared to handle a classroom of fifth graders and their behavior.  As a result I was angry, I had a lot of questions, I wanted to know how to teach and teach well but was continuously exhausted by trying to teach myself to do so while on the job.

My Second Year.  My principal left the school system and my new principal assigned me to teach a new grade. I was assigned to teach elementary Math and Writing. Though I was able to develop lessons and deliver them with moderate success, I was not able develop much beyond my own frustrations. I taught for four more months before being the second of more than ten TFA corps members to be fired or leave the school.

My Third Year.  After leaving the elementary school, I taught special education students for six months at another charter school.  I then spent the rest of the year as a middle school an English Language Arts inclusion teacher.

Was Joining TFA a Mistake?

I left teaching because I was not prepared to control a classroom knowing that I could not bring my students the quality education they deserved without proper training.  I also left because my school showed no interest in fixing very serious culture problems or implementing changes that would help TFA teachers further their professional development.

Furthermore, the competition and judgment between faculty members caused by comparing test scores created a negative environment for both employees and students.

From my perspective, the majority of the kids that I taught did not have big positive changes in their academic trajectory. I presumed that I could overcome the obstacles of learning to teach despite insufficient training from TFA. I assumed that I could work with kids affected by poverty and community violence, while navigating politically complicated and disorganized charter schools in order to change lives. Ultimately, the stress from moving grade levels and subjects every year and working in unstable charter schools whose practices are driven by more by money than the desire to deliver quality education resulted in my leaving the teaching profession and my placement site at the end of three years.

Kids growing up in impoverished areas of my Southern TFA placement site still suffer from the effects of high rates of teacher turnover, inadequate classroom instruction and difficulty preparing for higher education. Ultimately, the students I taught still struggle with such issues and are not receiving a significantly better education because of my decision to join Teach For America.


And more on Teach for America, Inc.

Why Teach for America kicked me out


My time with Teach for America just came crashing to a halt.

I had a conference call this week with the executive director for my region. She literally has two degrees in marketing and zero in education. She actually is only the interim ED, temporarily stepping in from her role as literally VP of national corporate relations.

One of her aides began, “Big picture, we have been asking ourselves the question, is this the right fit, given all of the data points. We want to walk through some of the specifics we have been thinking about that have led us to answer that question.”

Basically, my class this summer at the Teach for America institute was a disaster.

Basically, I interviewed with eight schools and they all thought I was worthless.

I am a failure because we should all be perfect after five weeks of training that include less than 16 hours with students.

To read this post in full, go to Public School Shakedown.

Teach for America, Inc. received mucho dinero last year from private donors and the US Department of Education and has assets of over $300M. On the other hand, public school teachers are asking for donations for school supplies online:

Should teachers have to beg online for funding for classroom supplies?

It says a lot about education today that teachers have to use sites like Reddit Gifts and Donors Choose to get markers and paper.

Alice Kunce was elated to start a job as a remedial reading teacher in Arkansas. Then she arrived at her classroom and reality set in:

I walked into a classroom as a remedial reading teacher with zero books in the room and zero bookshelves. My school gave me $200. That’s it. I had no working stapler. No hole puncher. One pair of scissors. No trays. I’ll stop there. Let’s just say that I write my name on a ton of stuff in my room because it comes out of my own pocket.

What’s even more shocking is that Alice could be considered one of the lucky ones.

The Harrisburg School District in Pennsylvania made headlines in 2011 when the high school didn’t even have enough pencils for students to take a required state exam. Many teachers receive no funding for classroom supplies.

Several online forums have tried to connect donors in America (and abroad) to help provide teachers with basic classroom items.

Reddit Gifts, part of the popular social media platform Reddit, started aiding teachers in 2012. Educators are asked to send the site a short list of what they lack. The most common items? Photocopier paper, whiteboard markers, pencils/crayons/markers, construction paper, and safety scissors for kids.

Donors, mostly other Redditors, are then matched up with a classroom and asked to ship supplies by the end of September. The thank you letters from teachers are illuminating. One wrote:

Thank you so much for choosing to send my students a care package! I teach high school biology in a very low income, inner-city school. My classroom is a place where kids can forget about violence, poverty, crime, and gang activity … Unfortunately, with a $0 budget for supplies, I spent over $1,200 last year so my kids could have good experiences, like dissecting chicken wings in anatomy class because we could not afford to order specimens. I can use ANY school supplies (glue sticks, colored pencils, construction paper, pencils, pens, spiral notebooks) or anything else to make my students have a special experience in high school … GO MUSTANGS!

That’s a lot of emotion over markers and glue sticks. It sounds more like something a teacher from the developing world would write, not the US. But when you speak to teachers like Alice Kunce, you realize that those supplies either would not be in the classroom or would have been bought out of an educator’s personal funds.

To read this article in full, go to The Guardian.

Now onto Bill Gates and his money.

burning bucks

Gates Buys NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners

This is a post about Bill Gates and his money, a brief audit of his Common Core (CCSS) purchases. Before I delve into Gates accounting, allow me to set the stage with a bit of CCSS background.

A Bit of CCSS Background

It is important to those promoting CCSS that the public believes the idea that CCSS is “state-led.” The CCSS website reports as much and names two organizations as “coordinating” the “state-led” CCSS: The National Governors Association (NGA), and the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Interestingly, the CCSS website makes no mention of CCSS “architect” David Coleman:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

Nevertheless, if one reviews this 2009 NGA news release on those principally involved in CCSS development, one views a listing of 29 individuals associated with Student Achievement Partners, ACT, College Board, and Achieve. In truth, only 2 out of 29 members are not affiliated with an education company.

CCSS as “state-led” is fiction. Though NGA reports 29 individuals as involved with CCSS creation, it looks to be even fewer:

NGA first directly involved governors in nationalizing education standards in June 2008, when it co-hosted an education forum with the Hunt Institute, a project of former North Carolina Gov. James Hunt Jr. In December 2008, NGA, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Achieve Inc. released a report calling for national standards. The report recommended “a strong state-federal partnership” to accomplish this goal.

Those three nonprofits answered their own call the next few months, deciding to commission Common Core. NGA and Hunt’s press releases during that time, and a paper describing NGA’s Common Core process by former NGA education director Dane Linn, provide no endorsement of such activity from more than a handful of elected officials.

Also involved in creation of CCSS is Student Achievement Partners, the company David Coleman started in 2007 in order produce national standards. Student Achievement Partners has no work other than CCSS.

The four principal organizations associated with CCSS– NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners– have accepted millions from Bill Gates. In fact, prior to CCSS “completion” in June 2009, Gates had paid millions to NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve. And the millions continued to flow following CCSS completion.

Prior to June 2009, NGA received $23.6 million from the Gates Foundation from 2002 through 2008. $19.7 million was for the highly-disruptive “high school redesign” (i.e., “small schools”) project, one that Gates abandoned.

After June 2009, NGA received an additional $2.1 million from Gates, the largest payout coming in February 2011,

…to work with state policymakers on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, with special attention to effective resource reallocation to ensure complete execution, as well as rethinking state policies on teacher effectiveness

Amount: $1,598,477

Years ago, Gates paid NGA to “rethink policies on teacher effectiveness.”

One man, lots of money, nationally shaping a profession to which he has never belonged.

As for CCSSO: The Gates amounts are even higher than for NGA. Prior to June 2009, the Gates Foundation gave $47.1 million to CCSSO (from 2002 to 2007), with the largest amount focused on data “access” and “data driven decisions”:

March 2007

Purpose: to support Phase II of the National Education Data Partnership seeking to promote transparency and accessibility of education data and improve public education through data-driven decision making

Amount: $21,642,317

Following CCSS completion in June 2009, Gates funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants earmarked for CSSS implementation and assessment, and data acquisition and control:

July 2013

Purpose: to CCSSO, on behalf of the PARCC and SBAC consortia to support the development of high quality assessments to measure the Common Core State Standards

Amount: $4,000,000

November 2012

Purpose: to support the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in helping States’ to build their data inoperability capability and IT leadership capacity

Amount: $1,277,648

October 2012

Purpose: to support strategic planning for the sustainability of the Common Core State Standards and the two multi-state assessment consortia tasked with designing assessments aligned with those standards

Amount: $1,100,000

June 2011

Purpose: to support the Common Core State Standards work

Amount: $9,388,911

To read this post in full, go to Public School Shakedown.

Educators have issues with the Common Core Standards even if Bill doesn’t. Let’s listen to what the experts in education have to say on the subject.

Dr. Megan Koschnick presents on Common Core at APP Conference

The Trouble With Common Core – Stan Karp speaks in Portland Oregon

Just because Bill Gates is forking out millions doesn’t mean that the rest of us will be off the hook for setting CCS into place. There’s lots to buy; computers, software, text books, lesson plans and tests as well as paying additional staff or existing staff overtime to implement this program. In Seattle, that will run into millions of dollars…for a program that is untested.

Let’s see what’s happening in the state of Wisconsin.

What Price Common Core in Wisconsin?


Two weeks ago, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau finally released its assessment of the costs of Common Core, the new set of educational standards going into effect in school districts around the state this year. Here’s the good news: For the state of Wisconsin, Common Core will be virtually free!

“There is no direct fiscal effect on the state to update district curriculum and teacher practice to align with the common core standards,” the Fiscal Bureau reports.

Here’s the bad news: Instead of the state shelling out for Common Core, individual school districts will have to pick up the tab.

And here’s more bad news: While the costs could range from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, the Fiscal Bureau reports, “calculating such figures specifically for Wisconsin, given the decentralized system of school governance in place and the lack of data…is not possible.”


School districts, which have already absorbed the biggest budget cuts in state history over the last two years, are now going to be on the hook for unspecified millions to implement the new Common Core standards. The Fiscal Bureau quotes a guesstimate of aggregate costs by the right-wing Fordham Institute in the range of $62.3 million to $256.1 million. But that doesn’t count what is likely to be the biggest-ticket item of all: “infrastructure” for Common Core’s required computerized assessments.

Whoops again!

This news, as you might imagine, has not been particularly well received by local school boards, public school advocates or conservatives. Tea partiers in Wisconsin have renamed Common Core “ObamaCore.” The idea of an unfunded federal mandate that takes decisions about school curriculum out of the hands of parents and local school boards is exactly the sort of thing that keeps ideological conservatives up at night.

On the other side of the aisle, public school advocates, teachers and progressive education policy folks are not thrilled about the idea of more computerized multiple-choice tests, particularly when districts with scarce resources will have to spend millions on expensive testing software sold by a handful of corporations that rake in big bucks selling their wares.

And now for the pushback.

From Politico Pro:


From Pro Education’s Stephanie Simon: ‘A troubled $100 million student database funded by the Gates Foundation experienced another setback this week when a key client, a suburban Colorado school district, announced it would give parents a choice in whether to include their children’s personal and academic information. 

The Jefferson County Public School District, heeding an outcry from parents concerned about student privacy, announced that families would be able to “opt out” of the inBloom database when it comes into use next year. Parents who have been organizing opposition to the database through an online petition and town hall meetings hailed the move. “It’s a strong victory for student privacy,” parent activist Rachael Stickland said. The inBloom database was envisioned as a national solution to school districts’ perennial complaints that student data is fragmented and teachers must log into multiple systems and deploy overlapping programs to get a complete sense of a child’s academic progress and special needs.’ ….

Concerns about privacy are also mounting in New York, which intends to use inBloom as the primary data storage system for most districts across the state. In its last session, the state assembly passed two bills that would have given parents more control over their children’s information; the bills did not make it through the Senate but have been reintroduced for another vote this session.

The districts piloting the database are not yet being charged, but inBloom officials have said they plan to begin charging annual fees of $2 to $5 per student in 2015. Adam Gaber, a spokesman for inBloom, declined to comment on the opt-out provision in Jefferson County.

This is not far off for us in Seattle. Check out my post The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates, a national data bank, Wireless Gen…and FERPA?

And now more on the reality of corporate reform. Be assured with the Common Core Standards, there will be more testing. You thought the MAP was bad…

The ‘harsh reality’ of how test-driven curriculum affects kids

Here is moving testimony that a Long Island parent, Jeanette Deutermann, gave Wednesday to a committee of New York State senators on how standardized test-based education reform negatively affected her children, a second grader and a fifth grader. She also explains why she decided to opt her children out of taking state standardized tests, and create the Long Island Opt-Out group, which now has as members nearly 10,000 families.

My name is Jeanette Deutermann. I am the parent of a fifth grader and a second grader. I became involved in this movement almost before it could be called a movement. I became involved when the high-stakes testing and the test driven curriculum it creates, significantly changed my 10 year old’s attitude towards school in profoundly negative ways. He went from a child who looked forward to school in the morning and would return home talking about the projects and interesting things that went on in the classroom, to a child who cried at night, had stomach aches, and begged to stay home in the morning.

This behavior began abruptly during the middle of his third-grade year, two months before his first state assessment. The behaviors continued until the day I told him he would not be participating in the 4th grade state assessments, a little over a year later. The relief on his face told me all I needed to know about what was causing his dramatic shift. But he is not out of the woods just yet. The months and months of inevitable test prepping and lack of adequate time for teachers to fit in any inspiring, passionate, and creative lessons in the months leading up to the exams, will still be a challenge to overcome. There are tens of thousands of stories just like mine, some much worse, from across Long Island and throughout New York State.

Parents are waking up to the harsh reality of what a test-driven curriculum means for our children. It is how we woke up that is most disturbing of all. We were not sought out by activist groups. We were not approached by educators looking to protect their jobs. We were not bought, coerced, forced, or manipulated. We were just being parents. We saw our children crying at night over months and months of test prepping homework. We heard our children say, “please don’t make me go to school”. We saw our 8, 9 and 10 year olds wake in the middle of the night asking, “What will happen if I do bad on the test?” On test days we watched our children break out in hives, refuse to eat, throw up, lock themselves in school bathrooms, shake, sob, and lose their smiles. These are not isolated instances, but an epidemic.

My research into high-stakes testing and data mining, has led me to create the Long Island Opt-Out group. We have over 9,700 Long Island families who have joined, and well over a thousand students who refused last years assessments just on Long Island alone. People say to me “Wow! Almost 10,000 people! Isn’t that amazing?”. Frankly, no; It is not amazing. What these numbers mean, is that 9,700 parents have experienced the same heartbreak I have, while watching the effects that excessive high-stakes tests have on their young children. Nine thousand seven hundred parents have had to educate themselves on why their elementary school children no longer enjoy going to school. Nine thousand seven hundred parents have been forced to stand up against the unethical policies forced upon the schools they love. Nine thousand seven hundred parents are tired of testing companies, rather than teachers, evaluating their children. Nine thousand seven hundred parents have had enough.

When students test scores are tied to a teacher’s evaluation, you change the relationship between the teacher and the student. Even the best teachers, who try not to focus on the fact that his/her students scores can end their career, are affected by this harmful practice. Can you imagine the pressure that puts on a young child who loves their teacher?

To read this letter in full, go to the Washington Post.

In Chicago, the teachers are getting organized in a big way.

Chicago Teachers Lead the Way

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis

The CTU plans to change the political landscape in Chicago.

Politics in Chicago is about to get exciting. Not since 1983, when a coalition of Lakefront liberals, Latinos, Blacks and progressive union activists elected Harold Washington mayor, have the prospects for progressive change looked better.

A year ago, the radically democratic Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) made history. With its members galvanized and the community behind them, the union went on strike and forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s hand-picked school board to back down.

The CTU has now upped the ante. In April, as the union waged an unsuccessful fight against school closures, CTU President Karen Lewis declared: “If the mayor and his hand-picked corporate school board will not listen to us, we must find those who will.”

The day the closings were announced, Lewis hosted a voter-registration training session in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The union’s goal: The registration of at least 100,000 new voters. As Lewis told the assembled volunteers, “We must change the political landscape in Chicago.”

To that end, the CTU’s Political Action Committee is mapping out an electoral strategy for the Democratic primary on April 15, 2014. The union intends to replace members of the Illinois legislature whose votes in Springfield have failed to serve the educational, employment, housing and transportation needs of Chicago citizens. To that end, the PAC is drawing up a list of Chicago lawmakers to target. The CTU, working with allied community organizations, will then recruit, train and field candidates.

To read this article in full, go to In These Times.

Parents are pushing back also, opting their students out of standardized tests around the country.

In Florida:

Parents anxious to opt out of school tests

State law requires exams to advance, but there is an option

At Monday’s meeting of the Hall County Board of Education, Superintendent Will Schofield advised board members that schools have been receiving calls about preventing their children from taking standardized tests.

“I suspect the number is going to increase,” Schofield said at the meeting. “We have more and more parents that are beginning to question the efficacy (of testing), and whether or not they want their children taking high-stakes tests, particularly parents with young children.”

He said that there have been fewer than 10 formal requests, but a number of concerned parents have reached out to him on an informal basis.

“It peaks around test times, which have not occurred yet this year,” he said.

A general wariness or even outright dislike of standardized testing is turning into a national trend. A recently released PDK/Gallup poll shows 22 percent of Americans think increased testing helps school performance, with 77 percent saying increased testing has either hurt or made no different in public school performance.

To read this in full, go to the Gainesville Times.

And in Michigan…

McMillin Introduces Anti-Next Generation Science Standards Bill in Michigan

Michigan State Representative Tom McMillin (R-District 45) introduced H.B. 4972 last week.  It is co-sponsored by State Representatives Bob Genetski (R-District 80), Greg MacMaster (R-District 105), Ken Goike (R-District 33) and Ray Franz (District 101).  The bill, if passed would forbid both the Michigan State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education from either adopting the standards or aligning the state’s student assessments with the standards.

To read the bill, go to Truth in American Education.

Even China, known for its aggressive schedule of testing, is pulling back:

China Enters “Testing-free” Zone: The New Ten Commandments of Education Reform

No standardized tests, no written homework, no tracking. These are some of the new actions China is taking to lessen student academic burden. The Chinese Ministry of Education released Ten Regulations to Lessen Academic Burden for Primary School Students this week for public commentary. The Ten Regulations are introduced as one more significant measure to reform China’s education, in addition to further reduction of academic content, lowering the academic rigor of textbooks, expanding criteria for education quality, and improving teacher capacity.

The regulations included in the published draft are:

1. Transparent admissions. Admission to a school cannot take into account any achievement certificates or examination results. Schools must admit all students based on their residency without considering any other factors.

2. Balanced Grouping. Schools must place students into classes and assign teachers randomly. Schools are strictly forbidden to use any excuse to establish “fast-track” and “slow-track” classes.

3. “Zero-starting point” Teaching. All teaching should assume all first graders students begin at zero proficiency. Schools should not artificially impose higher academic expectations and expedite the pace of teaching.

4. No Homework. No written homework is allowed in primary schools. Schools can however assign appropriate experiential homework by working with parents and community resources to arrange field trips, library visits, and craft activities.

5. Reducing Testing. No standardized testing is allowed for grades 1 through 3; For 4th grade and up, standardized testing is only allowed once per semester for Chinese language, math, and foreign language. Other types of tests cannot be given more than twice per semester.

To read the remaining revised regulations, go to Yong Zhao.

In Mexico, teachers went on strike for several months and took to the streets protesting the privatization of their schools. Many have been arrested and/or beaten.

Mexico City Police Violently Crackdown on Occupying Teachers

This week I’ll leave you with Bill Moyers.

Inequality for All

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Children will bear brunt of climate change impact, new study says

Most comprehensive climate change review to date warns of risks to children, with Unicef arguing that children have been largely left out of the debate so far.

Go to The Guardian for the article.