“I don’t come from the Church of the Left. I come from the Midwest.”
—Filmmaker Michael Moore, from a recent NYT feature story
“We’re equal-opportunity criticizers.”
*A note to loyal readers: We’re in summer mode, but reading up on all things HEJE.
What caught our attention this past week in Education news:
- Michigan faces a growing teacher shortage
The logical outcome when you devastate unions, pay, pensions, and classroom autonomy
- Valerie Strauss sums up the Sec of Ed’s first six months
She’s done plenty despite unrelenting opposition—and none of it good for U.S. public schools and universities
- Jennifer Berkshire on what vouchers are really good for
Hint: Vouchers good for me, not thee, and it was ever thus so
An interview with Nancy Maclean, author of Democracy in Chains, the recent book on James Buchanan, “the architect of a plan to privatize Virginia’s schools, including selling off its school buildings and even altering the constitution to eliminate the words ‘public education.’”
- For once, let’s be honest with poor children about why they’re poor
Indoctrination about “why you’re poor” takes place largely in middle school.
- About that phrase “government schools”
Government schools = Bad; Private (religious) schools = Good. A searing op-ed by education writer Katherine Stewart. Good background on the “Messianic origins” of the alliance between the theistic Southern biblical tradition and the libertarians, dating back to (at least) the Civil War.
- NYC has a “Teachers Reserve” available for (forced) placement.
Nobody seems to know who’s in it, though. Or are they just not telling us?
- More on the topic of how teachers end up in the ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve)
Short answer: most come from schools that have been closed down. Not exactly a surprise.
- NY Governor to make available $7 million for education programs in prisons
A total of $7 million for seven colleges/universities to offer on-site classes in 17 prisons. About 2,500 inmates would be eligible to take part in the program. Funding is ingenious: it will be provided by large bank settlements secured by the Manhattan prosecutor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
- Educationalchemy is presenting a book by Morna McDermott entitled “The Interregnum Mile”. To date, chapters one and two have been made available.
- Here’s “the Plan” for rural schools—get rid of them, they cost too much
When the Sec of Education says we should focus more on “students” than on “buildings” (i.e., physical infrastructure), she has a plan …
- Does nobody know what to do about our worst-performing public schools?
Actually, we do know what to do: address underlying proximate and ultimate causes.
“It turns out that the problem of struggling public schools is not really the lack of knowledge about what to do to begin helping the teachers and students in these schools. Our society instead has a moral problem: widespread lack of public will in the United States to help children trapped by concentrated poverty. We refuse to invest in the services that would enrich the lives of our poorest children and support their public schools. We keep talking instead about a far cheaper strategy: creating private lifeboats to help a few children escape.”
More later in the day!
Later in the day:
- Jennifer Berkshire interviews Dusty Rhodes, Illinois’s NPR Education reporter, regarding the governor’s AV (= Amendatory Veto) of SB1 (Illinois’s evidence-based school funding model, sponsored and shephered through the Senate by Andy Manar [D-Bunker Hill]).
Two points: (1) It’s good to see that at least one national-level education writer is looking at this internal fiasco, but (2) there’s a general overview of the issues involved, but nothing like the detail needed to understand what’s really going on.
We admire Berkshire and Rhodes, but admittedly, Illinois politics is a morass.
So tell us, deedspeakout, what’s really going on?
The IPI has taken over the governor’s role, and via their AV of SB1 is endeavoring to:
a) load TRS (Teachers’ Retirement System) future costs on local districts, which won’t be allowed to include such costs in their baseline capabilities in line with SB1;
b) do away with TIF and PTELL (both controversial, certainly, but an evidence-based model for school funding isn’t a kosher way of approaching the issue)
c) with b), decimating districts’ funding base for forcing them to include property wealth in TIF districts and subject to tax caps (PTELL) in their baseline funding capabilities, despite the fact that districts cannot access that wealth;
d) introduce vouchers via the stealth method of a $100 million dollar scholarship tax credit program which would automatically increase by 25% a year.
In short, the IPI’s AV would completely wreck SB1’s main purpose, which was to guarantee adequate and equitable funding for K-12 in Illinois, which currently has the most inequitable funding formula for state contributions in the U.S.
This is not the governor’s plan–and that’s one major reason why he’s completely incapable of defending, or even explaining, what its provisions entail for school finance in his state.
As we’ve said before: education writers should be all over this struggle, which is, quite frankly, a fight-to-the-death for public education in the 5th-largest state in the country.