This video is from about a month ago, so it’s really recent/relevant.

Education activist Brian Jones discusses Real vs. Phony Education Reform and punctures the myth that privatization (charter schools, high-stakes testing, merit pay) will create racial and economic justice for under served communities.

Jones is an elementary school teacher in New York City, a union activist and author, most recently of a chapter in the book Education and Capitalism on The Struggle for Black Education.

If you enjoy this, here is a pretty strong collection of similarly framed articles on the topic of education and fighting to save our school system.

Chicagoans need to understand what is happening to our school system. The mayor and his hedge fund allies are going to replace our democratically controlled public schools with privately run charter schools. This will have such disastrous results; people need to rise up and refuse to allow this to happen. As a parent, do you really want your child wearing a three-piece polyester suit every day to school and pay a fine every time your child’s tie isn’t on straight? Do you really believe that it’s okay for a school to punish your child with a three-hour detention because he or she wanted to eat some Flaming Hot Cheetos?
Karen Lewis, CTU president on Chicago’s striking teachers
Obama’s privatization agenda: In defense of public educationAugust 29, 2012
When education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Hurricane Katrina a few years ago as “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”—because it enabled the closure of most public schools and their replacement with charter schools—he was forced to apologize.
But Duncan himself—backed by his boss, Barack Obama—has unleashed another destructive storm of corporate-driven “education reform,” and it’s bearing down on Chicago, where Duncan once ran the public school system, setting the stage for what could be the first teachers’ strike in Chicago in 25 years.
Duncan and Co. have already wrecked public education in several cities. Detroit’s ravaged economy and declining population were as a pretext for an aggressive bipartisan assault that’s already led to the closure of 100 schools. Today, Detroit has two school systems—the Detroit Public Schools and a state-run Education Achievement Authority—that compete to attract students, with 35 percent of Detroit kids attending charter schools.
In Philadelphia, school authorities, backed by Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter, are seeking to dismantle the entire school system, handing operations over to an array of nonprofit organizations, charter school management groups and academic institutions.
In Cleveland, another Democrat, Mayor Frank Jackson, worked with union-bashing Republican Gov. John Kasich to pass legislation funneling even more tax money to charters, giving them equal standing with traditional public schools.
In driving these changes, Duncan is making use of the Bush-era federal law known as No Child Left Behind, which ties federal funds to state and local school officials’ willingness to close or “turn around” schools that fail to improve test scores.
The Obama administration itself amped up the “school reform” agenda through its $4.3 billion Race to the Top competitive grant program. To have a chance at the money, state legislators had to pass new laws expanding charter schools and imposing harsh evaluation systems on teachers while weakening job security.
What all this amounts to is the end of universal public education as we’ve known it—a cornerstone of U.S. society, in the North anyway, since the 1850s.
If that sounds like an exaggeration or conspiracy theory, take it from Duncan himself. Once embarrassed at having cheered on a deadly catastrophe in a majority African American city, Duncan is now openly proud of post-Katrina education in New Orleans. “New Orleans is doing a fantastic job as far as improvement goes,” Duncan said of a citywhere, before Katrina, just 1.5 percent of students attended charter schools. Today, 80 percent do.
Remember that quote the next time someone says that you have to vote for Obama to stop Mitt Romney’s education agenda. As Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader wroteabout Romney’s program for education: “[I]n many respects, it reads like it could have been written by our very own union-busting, charter-school-loving Mayor Rahm Emanuel.” Emanuel, of course, was Obama’s chief of staff when the administration unleashed Race to the Top.
Full articlePhoto

Obama’s privatization agenda: In defense of public education
August 29, 2012

When education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Hurricane Katrina a few years ago as “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”—because it enabled the closure of most public schools and their replacement with charter schools—he was forced to apologize.

But Duncan himself—backed by his boss, Barack Obama—has unleashed another destructive storm of corporate-driven “education reform,” and it’s bearing down on Chicago, where Duncan once ran the public school system, setting the stage for what could be the first teachers’ strike in Chicago in 25 years.

Duncan and Co. have already wrecked public education in several cities. Detroit’s ravaged economy and declining population were as a pretext for an aggressive bipartisan assault that’s already led to the closure of 100 schools. Today, Detroit has two school systems—the Detroit Public Schools and a state-run Education Achievement Authority—that compete to attract students, with 35 percent of Detroit kids attending charter schools.

In Philadelphia, school authorities, backed by Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter, are seeking to dismantle the entire school system, handing operations over to an array of nonprofit organizations, charter school management groups and academic institutions.

In Cleveland, another Democrat, Mayor Frank Jackson, worked with union-bashing Republican Gov. John Kasich to pass legislation funneling even more tax money to charters, giving them equal standing with traditional public schools.

In driving these changes, Duncan is making use of the Bush-era federal law known as No Child Left Behind, which ties federal funds to state and local school officials’ willingness to close or “turn around” schools that fail to improve test scores.

The Obama administration itself amped up the “school reform” agenda through its $4.3 billion Race to the Top competitive grant program. To have a chance at the money, state legislators had to pass new laws expanding charter schools and imposing harsh evaluation systems on teachers while weakening job security.

What all this amounts to is the end of universal public education as we’ve known it—a cornerstone of U.S. society, in the North anyway, since the 1850s.

If that sounds like an exaggeration or conspiracy theory, take it from Duncan himself. Once embarrassed at having cheered on a deadly catastrophe in a majority African American city, Duncan is now openly proud of post-Katrina education in New Orleans. “New Orleans is doing a fantastic job as far as improvement goes,” Duncan said of a citywhere, before Katrina, just 1.5 percent of students attended charter schools. Today, 80 percent do.

Remember that quote the next time someone says that you have to vote for Obama to stop Mitt Romney’s education agenda. As Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader wroteabout Romney’s program for education: “[I]n many respects, it reads like it could have been written by our very own union-busting, charter-school-loving Mayor Rahm Emanuel.” Emanuel, of course, was Obama’s chief of staff when the administration unleashed Race to the Top.

Full article
Photo

Schools for sale: City hands school district over to charter operatorAugust 10, 2012
"Back-to-school" sales seem to start earlier every year. These days, more than binders and backpacks are on offer. Now, public schools themselves are for sale.
In July, Muskegon Heights, Mich., became the first American city to hand its entire school district over to a charter-school operator.
More than 1.6 million American kids attend charter schools, which emerged in the early 1990s. Whatever their original intent, charters are fundamentally restructuring the school system by placing it in private—often for-profit—hands. They’re making teachers and staff work harder and longer for less pay, usually without union benefits or protection.
In May, Philadelphia’s schools announced a plan to close 64 schools and outsource 25 more to so-called “achievement networks” run by charter operators. The goal: that 40 percent of Philadelphia’s children attend charters by 2017. Detroit’s plans are similar.
Restructuring may seem the best option. Urban school districts have long struggled to serve their students. And many of us know firsthand—as former students, teachers, administrators, or parents—that many of America’s public schools require radical change.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Charter proponents claim that their schools are less bureaucratic and more efficient, and thus save taxpayer money. Yet evidence is mounting to show that the opposite is true.
When Philadelphia first announced its restructuring plans, the budget earmarked for charters stood at $38 million. By July, that figure was “rounded up” to an astonishing $139 million. Since when is a $100 million cost overrun a sign of cost-effectiveness?
Moreover, charter proponents argue that competition and choice pressure all schools to perform better. This assumes that schools operate on even playing fields. However, Detroit officials followed their restructuring plans by imposing a contract on teachersthat caps class sizes at more than 40 students starting in kindergarten and at a staggering 61 for sixth grade through high school. No school can possibly “compete” under such conditions.
Finally, consider Muskegon Heights. The city hired charter operator Mosaica Education, a for-profit company premised on earning more from contracts to run schools than it pays out in expenses. In fact, Mosaica expects to earn as much as $11 million in itsMuskegon Heights deal.
That’s roughly the same amount as the current budget deficit that officials gave as the reason to hire this outfit in the first place. Apparently, officials weren’t troubled by Mosaica’s record elsewhere in Michigan—its six other charter schools performed on average at the 13th percentile, according to the state’s annual ranking in 2011.
That none of these developments has made national headlines is mind-boggling. Perhaps this has something to do with the institutional racism that led to the Supreme Court’s crucial Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954.
Muskegon Heights is a highly segregated African American community adjacent to the predominantly white Muskegon. In Muskegon Heights, median household income stood at just over $26,600 in 2010, with over 30 percent of residents living below the poverty line.
It’s primarily in minority-majority communities like this where schools are being sold off to the highest bidder, regardless of those bidders’ track records.
The same story has played out in Chicago for almost a decade. The city has closed dozens of neighborhood schools and considered replacing them with charters.
What’s different in Chicago, though, is that the Chicago Teachers Union is leading the fight against this agenda. After several years of building strong alliances with parent and community groups, the union is challenging Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attack on public schools. In July, Emanuel blinked and agreed to reinstate 477 laid-off art, music, PE and foreign language teachers.
The union is demonstrating that teachers and students share common interests. Together with their parent and community allies, Chicago’s teachers and their unions are proving that they can put public schools back in the public’s hands and win the funding required for the world-class education that all our children deserve.
Source
This article is written by Sarah Knopp & Jeff Bale, editors of “Education & Capitalism: Struggles for Learning & Liberation,” our second book club pick. Now that our Kickstarter project is finished, we’ll be back on track with our book club! 
We hope you can join us in reading it & learning more about the fight for an effective & fair education system in the US.

Schools for sale: City hands school district over to charter operator
August 10, 2012

"Back-to-school" sales seem to start earlier every year. These days, more than binders and backpacks are on offer. Now, public schools themselves are for sale.

In July, Muskegon Heights, Mich., became the first American city to hand its entire school district over to a charter-school operator.

More than 1.6 million American kids attend charter schools, which emerged in the early 1990s. Whatever their original intent, charters are fundamentally restructuring the school system by placing it in private—often for-profit—hands. They’re making teachers and staff work harder and longer for less pay, usually without union benefits or protection.

In May, Philadelphia’s schools announced a plan to close 64 schools and outsource 25 more to so-called “achievement networks” run by charter operators. The goal: that 40 percent of Philadelphia’s children attend charters by 2017. Detroit’s plans are similar.

Restructuring may seem the best option. Urban school districts have long struggled to serve their students. And many of us know firsthand—as former students, teachers, administrators, or parents—that many of America’s public schools require radical change.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Charter proponents claim that their schools are less bureaucratic and more efficient, and thus save taxpayer money. Yet evidence is mounting to show that the opposite is true.

When Philadelphia first announced its restructuring plans, the budget earmarked for charters stood at $38 million. By July, that figure was “rounded up” to an astonishing $139 million. Since when is a $100 million cost overrun a sign of cost-effectiveness?

Moreover, charter proponents argue that competition and choice pressure all schools to perform better. This assumes that schools operate on even playing fields. However, Detroit officials followed their restructuring plans by imposing a contract on teachersthat caps class sizes at more than 40 students starting in kindergarten and at a staggering 61 for sixth grade through high school. No school can possibly “compete” under such conditions.

Finally, consider Muskegon Heights. The city hired charter operator Mosaica Education, a for-profit company premised on earning more from contracts to run schools than it pays out in expenses. In fact, Mosaica expects to earn as much as $11 million in itsMuskegon Heights deal.

That’s roughly the same amount as the current budget deficit that officials gave as the reason to hire this outfit in the first place. Apparently, officials weren’t troubled by Mosaica’s record elsewhere in Michigan—its six other charter schools performed on average at the 13th percentile, according to the state’s annual ranking in 2011.

That none of these developments has made national headlines is mind-boggling. Perhaps this has something to do with the institutional racism that led to the Supreme Court’s crucial Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954.

Muskegon Heights is a highly segregated African American community adjacent to the predominantly white Muskegon. In Muskegon Heights, median household income stood at just over $26,600 in 2010, with over 30 percent of residents living below the poverty line.

It’s primarily in minority-majority communities like this where schools are being sold off to the highest bidder, regardless of those bidders’ track records.

The same story has played out in Chicago for almost a decade. The city has closed dozens of neighborhood schools and considered replacing them with charters.

What’s different in Chicago, though, is that the Chicago Teachers Union is leading the fight against this agenda. After several years of building strong alliances with parent and community groups, the union is challenging Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attack on public schools. In July, Emanuel blinked and agreed to reinstate 477 laid-off art, music, PE and foreign language teachers.

The union is demonstrating that teachers and students share common interests. Together with their parent and community allies, Chicago’s teachers and their unions are proving that they can put public schools back in the public’s hands and win the funding required for the world-class education that all our children deserve.

Source

This article is written by Sarah Knopp & Jeff Bale, editors of “Education & Capitalism: Struggles for Learning & Liberation,” our second book club pick. Now that our Kickstarter project is finished, we’ll be back on track with our book club! 

We hope you can join us in reading it & learning more about the fight for an effective & fair education system in the US.

Segregation continues in urban schools (photo)July 11, 2012
Nearly 60 years have passed since the Supreme Court made its landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision, legally ending school segregation across the U.S. Today, the legacy of school segregation persists, as racial isolation remains the reality of many students nationwide.Though it is expected that the U.S. population will shift from a white-majority to a minority-majority by 2046, currently most students do not see that diversity reflected in their school experience. Nationally, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 52 percent of black students and 58 percent of Latino students attend school where minority students make up 75 percent or more of the entire student body.
In Chicago, America’s most segregated city, it’s typical for students to go through their entire K-12 education without ever having met a classmate of another race, as “GOOD reported this week.  In a recent radio interview on a local station, a Chicago student described having thought that schools were still legally segregated, based solely on her surroundings.
Advocates for reform argue that the incentives to foster greater diversity in schools are clear: Exposing students to racially and culturally diverse environments prepares them for the world outside school doors. Recent studies have also shown that students fare better academically in schools with greater levels of socioeconomic diversity.
Throughout the past decade, public school reformers have focused largely on building schools in the 90/90/90 model — schools with populations made up of more than 90 percent low-income students, more than 90 percent ethnic minorities and more than 90 percent students who meet set academic standards — as a way to provide high-performing schools to students in their own neighborhoods.
Some argue that the model fails to address issues of segregation, as discriminatory housing practices continue to create segregated communities — a fact that is especially problematic given that housing prices have been linked to school quality.
A recent study by the Brookings Institute reports that homes located in neighborhoods with high-performing schools cost, on average, about 2.4 times as much as those located in neighborhoods with low-performing schools. Since students of color are more likely to live in low-income neighborhoods than their white peers, students of color thereby have less access to high-performing schools.
Though redlining has long been part of the desegregation conversation, reformers are increasingly focusing their attention on charter schools — a model that has radically changed the landscape of the U.S. public school system in the last 30 years.
The popularity of charter schools has continued to escalate in recent years, despite the fact that charter schools have been found to be, on average, more segregated than traditional schools.
Source

Segregation continues in urban schools (photo)
July 11, 2012

Nearly 60 years have passed since the Supreme Court made its landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision, legally ending school segregation across the U.S. Today, the legacy of school segregation persists, as racial isolation remains the reality of many students nationwide.

Though it is expected that the U.S. population will shift from a white-majority to a minority-majority by 2046, currently most students do not see that diversity reflected in their school experience. Nationally, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 52 percent of black students and 58 percent of Latino students attend school where minority students make up 75 percent or more of the entire student body.

In Chicago, America’s most segregated city, it’s typical for students to go through their entire K-12 education without ever having met a classmate of another race, as “GOOD reported this week.  In a recent radio interview on a local station, a Chicago student described having thought that schools were still legally segregated, based solely on her surroundings.

Advocates for reform argue that the incentives to foster greater diversity in schools are clear: Exposing students to racially and culturally diverse environments prepares them for the world outside school doors. Recent studies have also shown that students fare better academically in schools with greater levels of socioeconomic diversity.

Throughout the past decade, public school reformers have focused largely on building schools in the 90/90/90 model — schools with populations made up of more than 90 percent low-income students, more than 90 percent ethnic minorities and more than 90 percent students who meet set academic standards — as a way to provide high-performing schools to students in their own neighborhoods.

Some argue that the model fails to address issues of segregation, as discriminatory housing practices continue to create segregated communities — a fact that is especially problematic given that housing prices have been linked to school quality.

recent study by the Brookings Institute reports that homes located in neighborhoods with high-performing schools cost, on average, about 2.4 times as much as those located in neighborhoods with low-performing schools. Since students of color are more likely to live in low-income neighborhoods than their white peers, students of color thereby have less access to high-performing schools.

Though redlining has long been part of the desegregation conversation, reformers are increasingly focusing their attention on charter schools — a model that has radically changed the landscape of the U.S. public school system in the last 30 years.

The popularity of charter schools has continued to escalate in recent years, despite the fact that charter schools have been found to be, on average, more segregated than traditional schools.

Source

Chicago schools & Scantron Corporation caught brainwashing studentsMay 28, 2012
The page above was given to Chicago-area students in a standardized Scantron test used for benchmark reading assessment. This page in the test was found by the Chicago Sun-Times to be brainwashing students into thinking they should be attending charter schools instead of public schools. 
“This passage contains propagandistic, pro-charter school statements that are misleading and in some cases false. For such statements to be used on tests given to non-charter school students is irresponsible at best. Students taking a test should not be subjected to false claims about charter schools which could cause them to feel humiliated, second-class or dumb because they do not attend a “better” charter school. Standardized tests should not be used as an opportunity to brainwash students with propaganda about charter schools or any other strategy of the corporate school reform camp.
We demand that this passage be removed from any future Scantron tests and that an apology be issued to all Chicago Public school students whose tests included this passage.” - Executive Director Julie Woestehoff, Parents United for Responsible Education
Full article
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We will begin our study group on Education & Capitalism this Wednesday! You can buy the book from Haymarket or find it at your local library. We will be discussing the introduction, as well as chapters 1 & 2. Our readers are more than welcome to submit questions, comments or clarifications about the book they have in our inbox. 
Participate in our study group or gather a group of friends & have them read along with you! Look out for our first study group post on Wednesday. 

Chicago schools & Scantron Corporation caught brainwashing students
May 28, 2012

The page above was given to Chicago-area students in a standardized Scantron test used for benchmark reading assessment. This page in the test was found by the Chicago Sun-Times to be brainwashing students into thinking they should be attending charter schools instead of public schools. 

This passage contains propagandistic, pro-charter school statements that are misleading and in some cases false. For such statements to be used on tests given to non-charter school students is irresponsible at best. Students taking a test should not be subjected to false claims about charter schools which could cause them to feel humiliated, second-class or dumb because they do not attend a “better” charter school. Standardized tests should not be used as an opportunity to brainwash students with propaganda about charter schools or any other strategy of the corporate school reform camp.

We demand that this passage be removed from any future Scantron tests and that an apology be issued to all Chicago Public school students whose tests included this passage.” - Executive Director Julie Woestehoff, Parents United for Responsible Education

Full article

…………..

We will begin our study group on Education & Capitalism this Wednesday! You can buy the book from Haymarket or find it at your local library. We will be discussing the introduction, as well as chapters 1 & 2. Our readers are more than welcome to submit questions, comments or clarifications about the book they have in our inbox.

Participate in our study group or gather a group of friends & have them read along with you! Look out for our first study group post on Wednesday.