HEJE Overview 11-21-17: Education


“In response to the recent surge of energy on the left, the hedge-funded Democrats increasingly market their agenda items in the language of psuedo-populist reform, while blocking efforts—on housing, education funding, health care, tax policy, and bank regulation—aimed at directly remedying the state’s steepening inequalities of wealth, income, and opportunity.”

–Jennifer Berkshire  on the woes of Democratic ed reformers, writing in the Baffler

DSO: Poverty-remediation efforts: affordable (and integrated) housing, enhanced (public) school funding, single-payer healthcare from pre-cradle to grave, progressive income taxes, a handy Postal bank (and for investment, a state bank in the image of that in North Dakota), not to mention a host of regulations for existing banks—so much could be done.

None of these measures forms part of the doctrine of free markets. But together they would go a long way towards buttressing a free country and citizenry.

It’s a great day for education articles and analyses—meaning that there’s an abundance of disturbing news about education, one of our four HEJE Overview signature areas of coverage. On today’s reading list: The Big Picture on the downsizing of education at the federal level; the Network for Public Education’s just-released study, “Charters and Consequences”; charter school teachers gear up to unionize; our schools’ diversity problem – and a novel solution; Scott Walker and the hollowing-out of public schools in Wisconsin; government schools are not the solution to educational inequality (the view from the other side: vouchers, yeah!). Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-21-17: Education”


HEJE Overview 11-16-17: Education


From the Senate HELP committee’s hearings on the nomination of Mitchell Zais (of South Carolina) to become undersecretary of Education…

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Zais about his support for vouchers and whether he was aware of recent research about the impact of vouchers on student achievement. Zais responded: “To the best of my knowledge, whenever we give parents an opportunity to choose a school that is the best fit for their children, there are improved outcomes.”

“To which Franken replied: ‘No, that is not true.’ He then cited a New York Times article from earlier this year about three studies of large voucher programs in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio, which found vouchers negatively affected test results in reading and math. (Franken did not mention a major 2017 study on the nation’s only federally funded voucher program, in Washington, D.C., that showed similar results.) Zais said: ‘I was unaware of those studies that you cited.’”

–as reported by Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet, Washington Post

DSO: Should this really come as a surprise to anyone? 

Today’s HEJE Overview returns to Education: teaching, as a profession, is inherently political; the Washington Monthly brouhaha between Thomas Toch (pro-reform) and John Merrow (who’s seen the light) about the Michelle Rhee reformist era in the DCPS; a Philadelphia university faculty member has been studying  poverty among college students; a group of homeless persons, including schoolchildren, is evicted across the street from where the Zuckerbergs will build a private school for—you guessed it—poor students in East Palo Alto (not to be confused with Palo Alto).   Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-16-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-14-17: Education


“On November 4, 1952, Dr. Helen Kenyon addressed the Women’s Society of Riverside Church in New York City and opined that, ‘Eleven o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often paraphrased the quote.

Today, sadly, our public schools best reflect Dr. Kenyon’s and Dr. King’s sentiment as the most segregated place in America.”

Rushern Baker, County Executive of Prince George’s County, Md.

Today’s Education Overview looks at continuing—and increasing—racism and segregation in U.S. schools and at the corporate takeover of U.S. public schools (very grim but very must-read) through the charter and voucher movements, before concluding with the Secretary of Education and the unfounded rumors that she’s preparing to resign and a newly-formed group, the Education Civil Rights Alliance, which will be defending students’ civil rights. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-14-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-12-17: Education


Texas Constitution, Article 7, Section 1: “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

“That means a general diffusion of that knowledge through the public trust. Not some little church school over here that doesn’t know beans when the sack’s open about educating a child. Education is very technical. It’s hard to do. It takes competent, well-trained, well-educated people to do this work. This business of the state diverting tax money to what my daddy would have called jack-legged schools—it’s corrupt, it’s wasteful, it’s certainly not conservative, and it’s got to stop. This is why we call public education a moral value. People are made in the image of God. Not just some people—all people. And that means that we get to name God’s world. It’s a fundamental human right. That requires the best standards of knowledge that we have.”

–Rev. Charles Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children

It’s Sunday, and this Baptist minister understands the meaning of the words “public,” “trust,” “moral value,” and “fundamental human right.”

Today’s HEJE-Education considers whether charters have anything to offer rural America; the value of children as “products” to their future “consumers”; the Secretary of Education and her religious-political-economic Weltanschauung; the views of Reverend Charles Johnson, founder of Pastors for Texas Kids on public education, and the risks of charterization-privatization of Puerto Rico’s schools. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-12-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Education


In front of the crowd, the school board members sit at long tables, their names on placards in front of them, and Superintendent Mike Wilcox begins his explanation of why the Richland-Bean Blossom school corporation is considering closing Stinesville Elementary School and busing all children in the rural area to the central campus in Ellettsville, population 6,600, six miles away. The central campus has a large primary school, intermediate school, junior high, and high school. Superintendent Wilcox shows a PowerPoint about the work of the long-range planning committee and its considerations: quality, brand, needs and wants, absolutes, HVAC and ADA compliance. Many needs have been identified in the high school athletics area. Declining enrollment and increased operating costs for Stinesville Elementary make its long-term viability uncertain, he says.”

–on the closing of a high-quality rural school, Stinesville Elementary, in Indiana

Beware of “choice”—and PowerPoints.

We look at two novel arguments that might preclude further expansion of charters and voucher schools, consider persistent and endemic problems with special education, and review charter-voucher-other developments in three of the leading “choice” states favored by the Secretary of Education: Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. There’s plenty to think about but little to smile about. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-4-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-1-17

Today’s 11-1-17 HEJE Overview: in HEALTHCARE, Bernie Sanders’ visit to Toronto, Canada to inspect the Canadian healthcare system up close, and the state-of-play of the Affordable Care Act as of the end of October; in ENVIRONMENT, Puerto Rico’s contract with Whitefish Energy, Inc. (now cancelled) from several vantage points, and in EDUCATION, more bad Illinois news as charter schools seem to have hired people placed on the CPS “Do Not Hire” list. Also, student stress and anxiety levels have been rising since January 2017. BONUS: A look at two recent long-form pieces on the Secretary of Education. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-1-17”

HEJE Overview 10-16-17

DSO: Today we review four long-form pieces, focusing on one per area: Healthcare (Why Medicare for All means freedom); Environment (A just rebuilding in the wake of Harvey, Irma, and Maria); Justice (How Chicago gets a few of its guns); Education (The demise of Midwestern flagship Research I universities).

Selections from Jacobin (Healthcare), The Center for American Progress (Environment), ProPublica Illinois (Justice), and The Atlantic (Education).

Oh, and a bonus piece in “Health” (courtesy Mother Jones) on the opioid epidemic as it plays out on a daily basis in northeastern Ohio.

Enjoy! Continue reading “HEJE Overview 10-16-17”