Sunday, June 29, 2014

Issue 171 June 29, 2014- Money in America

It's All About the Benjamins. . .
Ask any American what our nation stands for and you will probably hear words like freedom, justice, equality and opportunity.  We like to believe that we are a country that always stands on the right side of history and that we as a people base our decisions on the highest of moral standards.  We wage war, make peace and create policies with the belief that we are in the right and that our values and interests are beyond reproach.  We are the "Leader of the Free World", the nation that has grown because of our "Manifest Destiny" to become the "Shining City on the Hill."  This America is a place where anyone can rise to the top, and where every individual, no matter their starting point, has an equal chance to succeed through hard work, perseverance and ingenuity.    

In many ways this narrative about America does contain some truths.  Our nation is a land with many opportunities.  It is a place where we have seen people rise to the top of the ladder from very challenging starting points.  American citizens have opportunities and enjoy a standard of living far above what many people around the world experience.  Our national identity is built on an ideology that speaks strongly about freedom and justice for all.  Yet, there is another side to this narrative of equality that tells a very different story.     

It is that disconnect between the ideas contained in documents like our Constitution, Declaration of Independence and other powerful sources of thinking and the reality of our past and present that frustrate so many of us.  The very words that shape American ideology, the idea that America exists as a land of opportunity for all, were written at a time when a significant majority of the population was excluded from the very things that we value and aspire to.  As we progress through our history we see that same disconnect continue.  We speak the words of freedom, justice and equality, we even export our ideas through commerce and conflict.  Yet, we continue to fall short of our ideals within our own borders for far too many of our citizens. 

Perhaps part of our problem is the mixing of different spheres of human thought and activity.  On one hand we offer a vision of equality that is based on rights and opportunity in terms of access to power and an ability to freely choose the paths we take in life.  We like to occupy the moral high ground and pretend that we see success defined on a philosophical or ideological level.  American democracy, our ideals and values, all come from some higher plane that exists above the messy and uncomfortable reality that we all live and work in.

This way of thinking ignores a basic reality, when we get to a true "bottom line" Americans define success in economic terms, not philosophical or ideological ones.  We use economic measures to identify strengths and weaknesses in our society.  We use economic measures to quantify things that really can't be measured economically.  Things like education and even the value of a human life are measured in dollars and cents.  We may want to talk about how the rights that we value so highly come from nature or God, but when push comes to shove, we ignore morality and put financial considerations at the center of our decision making processes.  In the end, economics influence all other aspects of our discussions politically, socially and morally.

This isn't a new phenomena.  From the very beginning we saw money and the ideal of a "free market" conflict with a sense of higher purpose.  The difference between the words "life, liberty and property" or "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are significant, and the writers of our Declaration of Independence chose pursuit of happiness over property.  Over time we may have chosen to view the idea that happiness is equivalent to property, but they don't have to be synonymous.  Time and time again we see the tension between the economic and the ideological, and as a nation we have tried to reconcile the two and make them one and the same.

It is interesting to note that one contentious claim that is often made about America is that we are a Christian nation.  Yet, when we place such an emphasis on economics we ignore a basic tenet of Christianity and the teachings that say we should separate economics from our core values.  If we are to divide our thinking and "render unto Caesar things that belong to Caesar, and render unto God things that belong to God", or if we are to live like the birds and lilies not worrying about our physical needs, then we must think carefully about whether our morality and sense of social justice can truly be placed on an economic playing field. 

As a society we have been grappling with the diversity of thought and the conflicts that occur between ideologies and beliefs throughout our history.  The idea that we should have basic freedoms of expression is a strength and a source of weakness at the same time.  We constantly grapple with the reality that one way of thinking and one set of beliefs won't work for a nation filled with many different spiritual and philosophical ideas.  Who should have rights?  What do these rights mean?  How do we navigate challenging issues in an ethical and equitable way?  All of these questions are difficult to answer in a diverse culture, and so we turn to a more concrete way of determining the correct path to take.      

Economics is a field that is easy to rely on for answers and solutions.  "It's the economy, stupid!" is a phrase that resonates with our culture and our way of thinking.  We may want to do the right thing, but we also want to succeed, and success means "Conspicuous Consumerism" and a well padded wallet.  Just look at who is valued in our society and who we defend in our public discourse.  The successful business leader, the famous entertainer, and the "job creators" are all given high praise, while public servants, educators and blue-collar laborers are degraded.    

Once again, these aren't new challenges that are unique to this period of time.  What makes things different in our present state of affairs is the dangerous combination of huge inequities in wealth, continuing struggles with inequities in opportunities and a backlash against efforts to advance social justice causes from those in power.  The ability to use financial capital to protect and even expand one's political, social and economic influence is truly troubling.   

The ad, which recently started in the Madison market, is part of a campaign to counter attacks by Democrats ahead of the mid-term elections.|By Lee Enterprises

The more we rely solely on economics as a measure of personal and societal success the farther away from the philosophical ideals that our founders espoused we go.  While we can argue about the true motivations of the leaders of the American Rebellion (and to be sure there were significant financial motivations for their revolt) the words that they used are ones that provide hope for all citizens, if applied liberally and with a sense of justice.  Yet, modern Americans are falling victim to a marketing campaign that seeks to gloss over inequities and ignore both historical and current realities.  

But this notion is completely at odds with the data.

A small minority say "racial discrimination is the main reason why many...

No, single moms aren't the problem. And neither are absentee dads.

We blame those who aren't "succeeding" without giving them respect, or tools to succeed.  In a society where equity and opportunity are supposed to be the norm, we forget that there are more barriers to success and achievement than simple financial ones. 

The daily strain of poverty taxes cognitive functions, akin to mentally ‘pulling an all-nighter,’ a study finds. 

In this first installment of a KPCC series, we look at new research that...|By Annie Gilbertson

In a capitalistic, democratic society there should be multiple, clear opportunities for achieving success (however that is measured).  Two of the most important of these pathways are a voice in decision making, and access to training and education.  It should come as no surprise that we are seeing these areas coming under attack more and more in recent days. 

Education has long been seen as a way to improve ones social, political and economic status.  Data shows that the more education one receives the higher one's income, the more active politically one is, and the higher social status one has.  We have a system of public education in place that should be able to provide equal opportunities for all citizens, yet we fail to do so for a variety of reasons.  We may want to blame our educators or our students.  We may want to blame families and social conditions.  What we aren't hearing often enough are the real reasons behind the struggles of our public schools and the students who attend them.      

Bush's No Child Left Behind Act and Obama's Race to the Top grant...

The dean of Howard University's School of Education takes a provocative look at what urban school reform is all about. It's not about schools and kids, she says.
Washington Post

To truly improve education in Milwaukee, we must start with the assumption that poor children are no less deserving of a quality education than rich children. As such, the schools that privileged suburban parents demand for their children should be the yardstick we use to measure the adequacy of edu…
Economic Policy Institute

Barriers exist even for those who are able to navigate the system and move on to higher educational opportunities.  With our current, significant student debt issue who suffers the most, the wealthy or the poor? 

Misleading Brookings study latest attempt to bury student debt crisis

Even the foundations of democracy, the simple idea that one person equals one vote is challenged in our modern society.  In a culture where money is speech, inequity will reign.    

They want to eradicate fundraising restrictions—even if it costs the...

President John F. Kennedy warned emerging foreign leaders about turning...

Did Scott Walker allegedly violate campaign finance laws because they're stupid? Or because he is?

If we are ever going to achieve the real success that our founding documents and national rhetoric proclaim, we the people will need to provide a counter force to correct the damage that vast wealth has done to our nation.  When talking about improving conditions and opportunities for all citizens it shouldn't be an us vs. them situation.  We all need to rally together to work for what is best for our nation as a whole, not for any particular individual.  As we approach the 4th of July weekend we need to remember the promises that were made in 1776 still hold true today, and the dangers of that time period are just as real now as well.   

Memo: From Nick HanauerTo: My Fellow ZillionairesYou probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies...

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .
The Good . . . We should never forget that we have a voice and shouldn't be afraid or hesitant to use it.

Reports of email's death in advocacy have been greatly exaggerated....

The results are in: the Madison schools food drive collected an amazing 5,011 pounds of food and $40! In all, we raised 4,296 meals (USDA equation: 1.2 lbs = 1 meal) for the families and individuals served by Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.

We need to celebrate every victory and build off of our successes. 

Valentina (Val) Flores, a career educator, won a surprising and decisive victory for a seat on the state board of education in Colorado. Flores won by a margin of 59-41, beating a candidate who was...
Diane Ravitch's blog

The Bad . . . We often look attribute more significance to historical events (like the Great Depression), however, it is important to recognize the significance of current events.  The recession that we are currently recovering from is a current event that will get more recognition for its severity in the future.  The recession was obviously felt economically, but also had social and political ramifications.  Scott Walker and many other conservatives owe their jobs to the economic struggles of so many people, and are still working to profit from them. 

The U.S. in May finally recovered all the jobs lost in the recession, but most states still are short of...|By Ben Leubsdorf

The Ugly . . . Voter fraud does exist!!  Interestingly enough it just happens to have been committed by a Republican voting for Walker, and wouldn't have been prevented by our voter ID laws. 

Robert D. Monroe, 50, used addresses in Shorewood, Milwaukee and Indiana, according to the complaint, and cast some votes in the names of his son and his girlfriend’s son.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | By Bruce Vielmetti

Maybe the real reason Scott Walker and Reince Preibus think their state...
As we get closer to the election we need to make sure that the public understands the reality of our financial situation here in Wisconsin. 

A Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report says state is spending more than...|By Lee Enterprises

Sunday, June 22, 2014

#170 June 22, 2014- People and Education

It Takes a Whole Village
(Of Real People). . .
Education is a profession that requires human beings to be successful.  There are other professions where automation or technology can replace people, but this simply isn't true when it comes to education.  Technology, programs and materials can support the efforts of students, families and educators, but they can't adequately replace humans in the educational experience.  We need experienced, trained professionals available to support the needs of students and to help guide them through the process of gaining needed knowledge and skills. 

Silicon Valley's diversity problems start in the classroom.
Mother Jones

Our educational systems are much more than what they appear to be on the surface.  While some make the argument that our public schools are simply training grounds for students as they prepare to become productive and informed citizens, our schools are also barometers of the health of our overall society.  What is taught, who achieves success, what opportunities are offered and how services are provided in our schools all help provide insight into how our society is functioning. 

There are many who wish that defining success for our students and schools was as simple as looking at test scores and that success could be guaranteed by simply following a set curriculum.  We are constantly seeking that magic formula that will provide every student with opportunities for a clear path to success.  What we find is that our efforts to identify and replicate things that work for all students meet with the simple reality that every student, every school, and every community are incredibly complex and the needs of our students are as diverse as the student population itself. 

This reality creates confusion, anxiety and fear for many who make policy and for those observing the system from the outside.  For those of us who are at work inside the educational system, this diversity, uncertainty and challenge is as much a source of hope and joy as it is a challenge and frustration.  Educators, families and students all see the strengths and the potential of our diversity on a daily basis.  We see that it is in the different and seemingly dissimilar characteristics of every student that hope for the future lies.  The fact that we rarely, if ever, meet an average student who's every need is met by a standardized approach shows us new ways of thinking and provides sparks that light fires of opportunity for all of us.  Yet at the same time the many, divergent needs of our students taxes our abilities and strains our resources as we struggle to maximize the outcomes for students with fewer and fewer supports in place. 

This constant tension between measurable results, standardized outcomes, equality of opportunity and an incredibly diverse population with significant needs puts our public schools under significant stress.  Combine this with the increasingly confrontational political climate, and the privateers who see an opportunity for huge profits in our students and schools, and we see our public schools and public educators becoming social, political and economic targets.

Your choice - actively work to change the direction of these reforms or accept that you are as much to blame as the reformers. This from HuffingtonPost: As I watch the education "debate" ... I wond...
Save Our Schools NZ

If you define "bad teacher" as "whoever is standing in front of these low-testing students," it doesn't matter who stands there. Whoever it is, he's ineffective....
The Huffington Post|By Peter Greene

As the antipathy towards public education increases in policy and rhetoric, educators are fighting back and trying to change the dialog about our schools.  The message that we are sending is one that seeks to counter the negative imagery around our public schools, but also seeks to provide a counter message to the current idea that schools are simply conduits to colleges and careers.  Education can provide pathways to future economic success, but education is more than just an economic investment.  Education provides ways of looking at the world that spur emotional and social growth.  A quality education provides a person with a base from which a productive, happy and fulfilling life can be constructed.            

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, made a video, which you can watch (above) or read (see transcript below), expressing unusual public anger for the labor leader.
Washington Post

We are raising today's children in sterile, risk-averse and highly structured environments. In so doing, we are failing to cultivate artists, pioneers and entrepreneurs.
The Huffington Post|By Darell Hammond

Supporters of public education are challenging the current messages around education, not to obstruct growth or limit opportunities, but rather to make sure that the dialog around public education in America is one that includes all voices and seeks to strengthen our schools.

Dr. Louisa Moats, the nationally-renowned teacher, psychologist, researcher and author, was one of the contributing writers of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).I will let Dr Moats speak for h...
DCGEducator: Doing The Right Thing

If we truly want to meet the needs of our students and provide the best opportunities for every one of them, then we need to make sure that we are supporting the people who are working on a daily basis in classrooms.  All of the policy debate and all of the political action that occurs in legislatures, school board meetings and administrative offices have no impact unless the right people are doing the right things in our school buildings.  The efforts of policy makers and administrators should support and enhance school based educators efforts.  The potential for powerful change lies inside, not outside, of our classrooms. 

Unfortunately, we continue to see educators at the bottom of the heap in many ways.  We are vilified for the struggles of our students.  Those who make policy often view us as either impediments to progress, or as uninformed participants who need to be taught the "correct" way to do things.  Our resources are limited and needed supports have been reduced or eliminated by tight budgets.  Too often we are the last ones consulted (if we are asked at all) about proposed initiatives.  Our suggestions are portrayed as self-serving and our concerns for our students are downplayed.  Creativity and ingenuity are challenged, and conformity is rewarded.         

In this op-ed, a high school teacher explains why the majority of teachers spend their summers working.

Teachers earn a bit more than the average American and they are...

Most reasons the most talented and productive people flee a given workplace can be avoided. Here are common mistakes, along with better alternatives.

The current debate over the MMSD budget gives us examples of these problems.  Take the Teacher Match proposal as a case in point.  Despite the many concerns and the significant objections from community members and staff, the proposal continues to be considered.  After all the feedback, the vote will be delayed so that district administrators will be able to “do some more stakeholder engagement.”  It would seem that the stakeholders have spoken already and are in support of smaller class sizes, increased opportunities and diversity in programming and a commitment to supporting building level educators.  There isn't support for initiatives like Teacher Match from the community, nor is there adequate evidence that results will support such a large expenditure.  

Our students need the support of the best people possible, who are operating with the full support of administration and the most freedom possible.  Instead of micromanaging and working to make sure that every educator is following the same "scripts" educational leadership needs to be informed about what is happening in classrooms.  Communication between all levels of our educational system is vital and decision makers should be visible presences in our schools.  Too often, those making decisions rely only on data, or on the testimony of administrators who are rarely in classrooms as a basis for their conclusions.  The successful education of our youth relies on people, assisted by programs and technology, working together and sharing ideas as we work to improve the quality of our schools for all students.  As we continue through the summer I encourage all people to pay close attention to the issues surrounding our public schools and to be prepared to offer ideas and opinions to the discussions.        

The board voted 4-3 to approve the preliminary budget, which includes a 1.99 percent property...|By Lee Enterprises

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .
The Good . . . It's important to remember that there are people all over the nation fighting to protect the rights and freedoms of everyone.  If we stay connected and support each other, the power of each individual act can spread. 

The Green Mountain State is doing something no other state has done to...
By PolicyMic

The Board ruled that the name was "disparaging to Native Americans" and...
Think Progress

The Bad . . . It is going to be difficult to undo the damage that the Walker administration has done to Wisconsin.  Now that Act 10 and other policies are in place, it will be challenging to return our political and economic landscape to pre-Walker status.  Republicans would have us believe that as Rick Esenberg, a conservative lawyer said, “The horribles that the Democrats predicted didn’t happen and Walker is going to be able to point to a pretty good fiscal record and a lot of local success stories.”

Democrat Mary Burke lays out her position on Act 10, which launched an...|By Lee Enterprises

Gov. Scott Walker famously promised during his 2010 campaign that he would bring 250,000 new private-sector jobs to Wisconsin by the end of his term in 2014. How's he doing? We're keeping...|By Lee Enterprises

Yet, we know that the economic results that are being trumpeted are not all that they claim to be.  We also know that the damage done to Wisconsin is only partially economic.  The real lasting harm may have been done to the social and political cohesiveness and stability of a state that had long prided itself on sound, fair and just government. 

What does it mean to say our politics have grown more polarized? According to a new national...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Craig Gilbert

A glimpse of political life in a divided region.
Washington Post

What follows is an account of the brutal arrest of 71-year-old Ann Fleischi...

The Republican Party of Wisconsin mirrored Burke's campaign site,...|By Lee Enterprises

Gov. Scott Walker is going on the offensive.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Daniel Bice

This Wisconsin claim of  "clean" government will forever be tainted by the Walker administration.  We have become a national political joke, all while those who are the punch line continue to feign ignorance of any misdeeds.

Five county district attorneys allege a nationwide scheme to illegally...
The New York Times|By Monica Davey and Nicholas Confessore

It's complicated.
Washington Post

Stephen Colbert spoke about Governor Walker's refusal to take a stand on gay marriage: "This is...

The Ugly . . . Anti-union propaganda has deceived many people into thinking that unions are no longer needed, or even are the enemy of working people.  The data tells a different story, but too many people don't realize just how important unions and worker's rights are to the success of our society and of our economy. 

Target is America's third-largest retailer. It is also as staunchly anti-union as they come. In 2011, we showed you the cheesy anti-union video all Target employees were shown. We now bring you the new cheesy anti-union video...
Gawker|By Hamilton Nolan

"The fact that CEOs make almost 300 times what workers make should set off alarms," stated EPI President Lawrence Mishel. (Photo: milfodd/cc/flickr)CEO pay is massively outpacing that of regular workers, a new study shows.
Common Dreams

Sunday, June 15, 2014

#169 June 15, 2014- Some Truth About Education

Truth in Education. . .
Another school year came to an end this week for my students and me.  As always it was a year filled with challenges and successes.  Even as I see myself becoming one of the "most veteran" (a kind way to say oldest) educators in my building I still have new experiences and learn so much from my students, families and colleagues.  Educators are constantly learning, refining and improving our practice, our skills and our knowledge as we seek to become the best we can for our students. 

The problem is that more and more our efforts are being degraded and discounted by a significant portion of the population, and an even greater portion of those elected to represent the citizens of our different communities fail to understand the realities of education.  "Common sense" and logic are being applied to public schools in ways that are either misleading, or simply blatant lies.  This results in a level of frustration and anxiety for educators that undermines our efforts and erodes our morale.  We are portrayed as the enemy, or as incompetent failures when the truth is very different.

We are victims of a divide and conquer strategy that has created an image of educators as part time employees who are paid full time salaries.  The efforts to undermine public support of educators and to destroy confidence in our public schools and public educators has focused on creating jealousy around the wages and benefits we receive while focusing on the perceived ineptness of our schools to educate students. 

This strategy relies on confusing the public and misrepresenting the facts about public education in order to succeed.  It has been successful in changing the tone and tenor of the discussion about our public schools and has been effective in portraying our schools in negative ways.  However, the reality that exists in our schools is quite different from what education "reformers" would have people believe. 

Certain widely-shared myths and lies about education are destructive for all of us as educators, and destructive for our educational institutions. I want to focus on eight of the myths that I think are relevant to most teachers,...

A few truths about education to get your summer started. 

Policies based on fear are poor policies.
We have become a nation that reacts to change in a tentative way at best, but usually in a fearful and anxious manner.  It seems like we are always either on the brink of disaster, or already down the path to the destruction of all that we value.  It is true that the world is a competitive and challenging place.  However, our nation has the resources and the ability to compete in a global market if we choose to embrace the challenges that exist.  The idea that we need to return to the 1950's or even the 1780's is a concept that limits our ability to grow and improve as a nation.  We should have pride in the philosophy that our nation is founded on, but also need to recognize that the strength of our nation is our diversity and flexibility not a static set of ideals that stifle opportunity for all citizens.  

Nothing should ever get in the way of bathroom breaks for students, right? Think again. In early-January, an administrator from a Chicago public school sent a letter to her staff about “new...

This climate of fear causes our conversations to continually focus on what we don't have or on how we will suffer instead of looking at the realities that we face.  We limit our thinking and fail to see the possibilities that exist.  We also narrow our vision and see alternative viewpoints as threats instead of potential improvements to our ideas. 

The debate that has erupted over the MMSD Student Senate proposals regarding the budget for next year is an excellent example.  We are fortunate to have a well informed and extremely articulate group of students who have strong opinions, represent their peers well, and who base their arguments in research and data.  The public response that we should ignore them because they're kids is ridiculous and short-sighted.  Policies like the Tech Plan should be debated and reviewed on a regular basis.  We need to be very sure of what we are doing before we commit such significant resources to any plan or proposal.        

Student Senate members also recommend that taxpayers absorb the cost of...|By Lee Enterprises

The Tech Plan debate also highlights a significant problem in America today.  The comments of a few on-line participants is given as much voice as the researched and documented proposal of the Student Senate.  Because we live in a society where comments can be posted on any issue and shared widely we get a distorted perception of public opinion.  A few inflammatory and confrontational comments can help foster a climate of ignorance and fear.  The media fuels this by giving those writing comments a forum and recognition of their opinions that go beyond what is merited.  Participation in debate is a cornerstone of democracy, however, sensationalizing and profiting from the process is harmful and limits our ability to really engage in important conversations. 

Some wondered if teachers had shaped student ideas, while taxpayers were both opposed to and in favor of paying more to save families from school lunch and student fee hikes.|By Lee Enterprises

Public educators and public employees contribute to the economic stability and success of our society.
If you've received a mailing about the supposed successes of Act 10 recently you would think that the changes made to collective bargaining rights and the ability of educators to negotiate with their employers were the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread.  However, all of the rhetoric around "reforms" like Act 10 ignore the contributions that public servants make both as professionals, and as a vital part of the economy.  

A new report from the nonprofit research group In the Public Interest shows that outsourcing public services hurts middle and working class...
Truthout|By Mary Bottari

Report shows that workers employed by state and local government...

Market-based education reform has become a mainstay of American...

We work hard for the money.
Education isn't an easy field to be employed in.  Educators aren't martyrs, but we do deserve the support and respect of our community and policy makers.   

You probably think to yourself what a lovely place to learn for your child....
The Huffington Post|By Carla Friesen

The end of the school year is approaching, so we’re checking in again with...|By Ann-Elise Henzl

There is an obvious effort to defund our public schools across America.

Public schools have struggled during the long, slow economic recovery. On...
FiveThirtyEight|By Ben Casselman
We know that educators aren't alone in our struggles to make a living in our current economic climate.  Instead of fighting amongst ourselves, working and middle class Americans should find ways to unite.

Why "efficiency" and "productivity" really mean more profits for...
Mother Jones

Experience matters!!
It's become popular to make the claim that educator experience isn't a significant factor in student achievement.  This makes about as much sense as the idea that class size doesn't matter.  These claims come from people who have an agenda that focuses on other things that actual student achievement.  Young educators cost less and this is one major goal of many "reformers."  Young educators frequently don't have strong connections to educator unions.  They aren't as likely to have the experience and knowledge to speak out about reforms that are too often bad for kids, or are simply old ideas repackaged and boxed up for profit, not performance.   

Scarcity of experienced educators is not a chance development, and it is...

This isn't to say that young educators aren't capable, or that there aren't new educators who are vocal advocates for their students.  What is happening is that we are seeing a concerted effort by "reformers" to try and weaken the power of educators.  This is done by eliminating the current leaders in schools, just look at how "reforms" like Act 10 have changed the demographics of Wisconsin educators.  It is also done by making classroom work a stepping stone to more prominent, better paying jobs in education, like administration or consulting.  Educators without experience who are not planning on staying in a school system for extended periods of time focus on short term goals and building a resume.  Our students shouldn't be vehicles for self-promotion, they deserve better than that. 

There are several ways that "reformers" are working to eliminate veteran educators from the profession.  Eliminating "tenure" is one of the key components to this movement.  Those who support this effort celebrated a win in California this week.    

Judge finds tenure amounts to civil rights violation, ruling could have broad implications...
Washington Post

The trouble is that the victory for "reformers" comes with a heavy price for students and educators.  The fact that the decision was based on misleading information and could result in changes that will harm students is troubling.  The idea that our best educators will work in the toughest conditions without the support of policy makers and the general public is a false hope.  Educator unions and the concept of seniority can be used to improve education in ways that charter schools and "free-market" education never can.    

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president elect of United Teachers Los Angeles, takes...
Common Dreams    

Tuesday's ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu declaring...|By Los Angeles Times

You can tell a lot about the true nature of any educational decision or policy by looking at those who support the changes.

A California ruling against tenure shows that educators should be rewarded.
Washington Post                 

Remember that five-story billboard five-story billboard in Times Square in  December 2013  and the accompanying full-page ad in the New York Times blaming American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Pres...

Schools and society in general are interconnected and interdependent.
Our public schools are a part of the fabric of our nation.  We can't separate what happens in our schools from what is going on outside of our classroom walls.  To try to do so is to ignore the realities that exist and the obvious connections between schools and the communities they serve.  Until we start to work on addressing the many challenges that our society faces in a comprehensive and proactive manner we will continue to struggle.  Our schools are a visible measuring stick for the success or failure of our entire society. 

The only other Oregon entry on the list stems from a Feb. 7 incident at Bend High School. A...
The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . While there is still a lot of work to be done, at least the conversation is starting to become more prominent in places where decisions can be made.  Student loan debt is crippling many people's ability to enjoy the benefits that higher education can provide them personally, and it is crippling our nation's ability to benefit from the expertise, training and knowledge that these individuals acquire.   

The move is the latest effort by Democrats, including many in Wisconsin,...|By Lee Enterprises

The Bad . . .  Of course Walker's views on Marriage Equality matter.  As the chief executive of our state he is responsible for enforcing the laws and policies of our government. 

OAK CREEK, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his personal...|By Lee Enterprises

Instead of coming out and making a clear statement about his beliefs, he simply has used the Attorney General's office to advance his agenda. 

On the other hand, Walker certainly doesn't want any attention paid to his stance on social issues given the struggles that he is facing trying to convince Wisconsinites that his economic policies are working for our state.  At least with economics he can attempt to mislead and confuse voters.

But by any measure, Scott Walker’s WEDC has failed in its mission to elevate “Wisconsin’s economy to be the best in the world.”|By Lee Enterprises

The Ugly . . . The Conservative ideals of freedom and independence only work when individuals are capable of exercising their rights and have an equal ability to succeed.  Those who suffer from issues around mental health need the support and advocacy of others to fully participate in our society.  Ignoring this reality only pushes issues on to other agencies or creates challenges for communities.

Gov. Scott Walker missed the deadline Monday to name all members to a new board to oversee mental health care in Milwaukee County.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Meg Kissinger

It isn't only GOP candidates who accept and rely on big money donations.  Too many of our politicians are beholden to special interests who purchase votes.  We just happen to have a blatant example of a "bought" politician here in Wisconsin. 

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) openly acknowledged on Thursday that...
Talking Points Memo

No sooner had Mary Burke pulled even with Scott Walker in the polls than...