Saturday, August 31, 2013

Where Do NYC’s Teachers and Principals Live Compared With Where They Work?

  • 67% of the 70,328 teachers live within the five boroughs
  • Teachers in Queens and the Bronx are the most likely to live outside the five boroughs
  • 81% of Staten Island teachers live in the same borough as they work, as do 57% of Brooklyn teachers

  • 66% of the 1,570 principals live within the five boroughs
  • Principals in the Bronx and Queens are the most likely to live outside the five boroughs
  • 69% of Staten Island principals live in the same borough as they work, as do 45% of Brooklyn principals

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How To Get Students Interested In STEM Education

There’s still a huge push in the US to get more students (especially girls) interested in STEM fields. STEM jobs are expected to be some of the highest paying and most advanced in the near future, and with technology developing at an amazing rate, many other jobs will be made obsolete because of it. This handy infographic below takes a look at STEM in the USA. From the classroom to the workplace, what is the current status of STEM education? Keep reading to learn more.

STEM Education and Jobs

  • The US ranks 47th in Math and Science Education quality (vs. 28th in overall educational system quality).
  • The percentage of US students performing at or above the ‘basic’ level of science decreases as students got older.
  • Only 26% of US high school seniors are considered ‘proficient’ in math.
  • More than 70% of future stem jobs will be in computing.
  • Only 9 states require computer science classes as a graduation requirement.
  • Only 19% of college graduates have degrees in STEM fields.
  • 78% of high school graduates don’t meet the standard levels for at least one entry level STEM class.
  • Yet there are more than 37.M unfilled STEM jobs, slated to rise to 8.6M by 2018.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicago Teachers Union Organizer, Brandon Johnson, Reminds Us that Our Fight for Free Quality Public Education Has to Build and Thrive!
Hear how fiscal "crisis," manufactured and otherwise, is used on the national, state, and local levels to eliminate jobs and services, with a disproportionate impact on women and people of color.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 11, the Chicago Teachers Union Black Caucus, AFSCME 31, Stand Up! Chicago and the Chicago Labor Solidarity Campaign discuss how union workers, activists and communities can stand up and fight back against these racist and sexist attacks on public services.

Sponsored by the Chicago Labor Solidarity Campaign (CLSC) and Branches 11 & 825 of the NALC.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Real Number Of Hours Teachers Work In One Eye-Opening Graphic

When you look at the time teachers actually spend working, you can see that it's not a cakewalk — at all. The next time your city or state wants to cut back on teacher salaries or hammer their pensions, here's something to show around to folks before they make a decision. 

Elder Activist Educator, Dr Donald H Smith, Recalls His Participation in the 1963 March On Washington
<<I was among the "Foot Soldiers" who marched in the nation's capitol August 28, 1963 to demand Freedom and Justice for Black Americans. It was a day I shall never forget.
I had driven to New York City from Chicago with my good friend and Kappa Brother, William J. Brown II. We parked the car and took a flight to Washington D.C. where we joined my good friend Caroline "Dash" Davis for breakfast, and the three of us set off together marching. It was joyous and almost overwhelming - - over 200,000 other foot soldiers of all races and socio-economic strata marching to the Lincoln Memorial, responding to the call for justice conceived and issued by A. Phillip Randolph and organized by Bayard Rustin.
By chance a few years before, I had had the honor of sitting next to the great Mr. Randolph, the founder and leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and having an historic conversation on a flight from Chicago to New York.
Mr. Randolph had previously led movements which convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to end discrimination in defense industries and Presided Harry Truman to end discrimination in the armed services.
The March was on a very warm, but not too hot, August day.
We marchers were serious but celebratory. Some Black Greek organizations displayed their banners, as did other organized groups.
A. Phillip Randolph, chair of the March, opened the program with his booming voice that uttered every syllable of the names  of speakers, artists and entertainers he introduced. We were thrilled to hear him introduce Martin Luther King JR.
More about Dr. King's historic address shortly. Before Dr. King spoke there were many other emotion evoking events and speeches. We were thrilled by the great soprano Marian Anderson and the magnificent gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.
Lena Horne (above at the March) and Harry Belafonte, both devoted to Dr. King in appearances and contributions, were acknowledged.
Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier at the March On Washington.
The second most impactful event to me, was the blazing, burning speech of John Lewis, then a leader of SNCC and for many years presently a Congressman from Atlanta. Lewis' speech was so powerful one wonders what more he might have said had he not been persuaded to tone down his rhetoric by more conservative planners concerned with not upsetting President Kennedy whose help would be needed to pass Civil Rights legislation.
Dr. King's address, frequently referred to as "I Have a Dream", has been celebrated for the last fifty years as one of the greatest orations in American history. It brought cheers, tears and shudders to most of us.
Dr. King began with a bold, direct truth, referring to the Emancipation Proclamation.  He exclaimed: "This momentous decree came as a great beacon of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. . . . but one hundred years later the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity".
Later in the address Dr. King proclaimed a withering truth:
"America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds', but we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt, so we come to cash this check". 
Not only has the check never been cashed, it has never been issued.
Dr. King did not specify dollar amounts we Black Americans are due, but as Malcolm X, though not part of the March, said many times, the heirs of Africans brought to these shores in chains are due billions, trillions in reparations for building the wealth of America without any payment. 
We are still waiting for economic justice. It is up to us Black people to make our demands and stay focused on the demand for payment.
I am blessed that I was able to be in Washington, D.C. for the Great March. If there was any downside to that wonderful day, it was that we left with no significant marching orders.
I had returned to the University of Wisconsin only two weeks after the Great March to complete writing my doctoral dissertation: "Martin Luther King, Jr.: Rhetorician of Revolt" when a stunning, heartbreaking event occurred. It was a brilliant Sunday, September 15th, when I left the library at UW and started driving home. I turned on the radio and learned that four children, little girls, three age 14, one 11, had been murdered in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. My tears flowed so hard I had to pull over to the curb and stop the car to avoid an accident. Both parents of three of these beautiful children were teachers in the Birmingham public schools. In the Black community reaction to the bombing, two Black male teenagers were shot to death.
To this day, I have never gotten over the Great March, the murders of the children and of three young volunteers from New York City, one Black two Jewish, and the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who all died for Black justice and liberation.
Our people gave so much blood and tears to attain the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we cannot allow the Tea Party, the NRA, other white racists and their fellow traveler Black traitors to take us back to the days of Jim Crow and servitude. We must stand fearlessly in solidarity as the darkness approaches and fight! 
Most important we have to understand and teach others, particularly the young, of the threats of voter suppression, "Stand Your Ground", "Stop and Frisk", the world's greatest mass incarceration, the mis-education of Black students, charter schools, Common Core State Standards, the closing of many Black schools and the disappearance of Black teachers.  We don't have much time to act.
In Solidarity,
Donald H. Smith, Ph.D.>>

Thursday, August 15, 2013


A Walk Thru the Common Core Labyrinth of Supporters & Funders


Walking the Labyrinth of the Corporate-Owned-Common Core 

This short homemade video is an introduction to the complexity of US corporate-military interest in public education "reform"--with actual feet in the footage.

Growing Fairness teaser

Restorative Justice VideoDoc from Teachers Unite

Growing Fairness teaser from Teachers Unite on Vimeo.

Growing Fairness teaser

A documentary film, workshop series, and online toolkit resource for school communities to use as they begin the project of implementing transformative justice and other alternative accountability methods in schools, Growing Fairness tells a story about school climate, alternatives to punitive discipline and their real impact on young people and school communities in New York and Oakland. Growing Fairness is for educators and community members looking to interrupt the criminalization of young people in public schools and change their school climates for the better.

The full documentary, resources, and workshops will be available starting September 2013. Visit for more information.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chicago Democrat Activist High School Teacher: Common Core a Massive Fraud   

Paul Horton is a Democrat, a political activist, and a Chicago high school history teacher who stands up against Common Core. He writes:

“I will vote for a Republican for governor who will get rid of Common Core and PARCC, if the Democrats can not produce a candidate who will. Thousands of Democratic voting teachers and parents are willing to the the same.”

Here’s Paul Horton’s most recent open letter, to Illinois Senator Kwame Raoul.
State Senator Kwame Raoul
Suite 4000 Chicago, Illinois; 60654
August 6,2013

Dear Senator Raoul,

We know from every measure that the Wilmette-Winnetka, Niles, Hinsdale, and Naperville schools are excellent. They are the highest achieving public schools in the state of Illinois. Their average SAT and ACT scores and the percentage of students enrolled in AP classes, not to mention exemplary performance on AP tests, makes these districts respected by competitive colleges all over the country. Indeed, there is a national competition for graduates of these districts.

Why do we need another measure that we cannot afford? Why are we going to pay Pearson Education millions of dollars for products that will force many exemplary schools to lower their standards?

You will see what a massive fraud the Common Core Curriculum is when these schools are forced to lower their standards to teach Common Core and then their achievement will be denigrated by invalid measures designed to make all public schools look bad. When the New York public schools were required to take Pearson Education developed tests this spring, dozens of exemplary schools and districts that have similar profiles to the Illinois public schools mentioned above, received substantially lowered school ratings. The same thing happened in Kentucky last year: scores went down in the best schools, and scores reflected preexisting conditions in underserved schools and communities.

Shame on the public officials of this country for turning their backs on the Northwest Ordinance, a document that precedes the Constitution in American history and law! The Ordinance made an historic commitment to public education. Federal and state governments have turned their backs on public schools because of their dependence on Wall Street funding for political campaigns. How can we allow this to happen?

If Bill Daley is the Democratic nominee for governor and he plans to support the current state school board, I will vote for the Republican candidate if the nominee will do something about Superintendent Koch, Common Core, and the PARCC assessments. Superintendent Koch received paid trips from Pearson Education and the state then hired Pearson to develop its Common Core standardized tests.

I am a life long Democrat whose family has proud connections to the Civil Rights movement in the South. This administration and its operatives like Mayor Emanuel, have all but abandoned the country’s historic commitment to public education. When will an element within the Democratic party of Illinois stand up for common sense in Education?

Senator Raoul, you have stood very bravely in defense of teacher pensions. Can you stand up for the teachers and parents of Illinois, and buck Mayor Emanuel, Secretary Duncan, and the Democrats for Education Reform who seem more interested in attracting Wall Street money to Democratic campaigns in exchange for support of school privatization? Alderman Burns (the President’s local political protégé) will not do so for obvious reasons. I hope that you will consider a run against the plutocrats who currently control the Democratic Party in Illinois.

The citizens of Woodlawn where I live are sickened by what is happening to their 
neighborhood schools. An insurgent candidate for governor could gain the support of disaffected Democrats of many stripes.

All the best,

Paul Horton
History teacher, 1365 E 64th, #1
Chicago, Illinois, 60637


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Five Messages About Public Education That Don't Sell (and Ones That Will)

By Jeff Bryant, Campaign for America's Future Op-Ed

Wednesday, 31 July 2013--

The following is from a talk given at a meeting of the Young Elected Officials last week in Washington, D.C.

Thanks for having me here today. I'm feeling a little out of context at a meeting for the Young Elected Officials. And it's not because I'm not an elected official.

But I suppose there are some advantages and benefits to aging. Wisdom, however, is not one of them, as the demographics of Fox News bear out.

In aging you have experiences that you can reflect and act on over time and experiences that are unique to your generational cohort. For instance, how many of you have deep expertise in junk mail? That happens to be my work in trade as I've been in that business for over 20 years; although, the industry is nothing like what it once was and is rapidly going the way of the dinosaurs.

Also, how many of you were in school in the South during the early years of forced integration of the races? I was in second grade in Dallas, Texas and remember vividly the day they bused the poor kids across town to my school.

When they brought the poor kids into my class, there was a girl named Brenda who didn't have on any shoes. And there was a little boy named Jerald who still sucked his thumb and was basically dressed in rags.

I think I learned more that day than I did the rest of my second-grade year. I leaned that public schools are where our nation's grossest injustices – the poverty, neglect, and malnutrition of children – are first exposed to the light of day. That's why we have to keep schools public. Otherwise those injustices will be covered over or swept into a corner.

So because of my experience with junk mail, I know I can sell stuff. In fact, at one point in my career, I was writing fundraising letters for Human Rights Watch to help them protest against the terrorist suspects being held in Guantanamo, while at the same time, I was working for the very company that sold the uniforms the suspects were wearing in the prison. I'll let you make of that what you will.

And because of what I witnessed as a child of the South, I know what's at stake. Over the past 60 years, our country has actually made quite a lot of progress on civil rights – Trayvon Martin aside. And I'm afraid we're in danger of losing all that. I think things have gotten just that bad.

So based on that – that I know how to sell stuff, and I know what's at stake – I want to offer some advice on how we should do a better job of selling public education. And in particular, I want to call out five messages about public education we should stop using because they don't sell well.

Message #1: Education is mostly a private pursuit.

Politicians like to talk about getting the best education for YOUR child. When talking about education, the emphasis is always on "competition" and using individual rewards and punishments to get students over the bar or up to speed. Terms like "college or career ready" and getting young children "ready to learn" all perpetuate the idea that the only purpose of education is to get individuals to a next stage or an end goal.

This rhetorical frame doesn't sell well because it convinces people that once their own children are provided for then that's all that matters.

It ignores that education is really about developing our societal capacity. We want all citizens educated so our whole society prospers.

That's why early state constitutions in the U.S., like those of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, set up and stressed the importance of a system of public education. That's why the Land Ordinance of 1785 provided for public school financing in new territories. In Virginia, Thomas Jefferson sought a publicly funded system of schools because he believed that an educated citizenry was critical to the well-being of a democratic society. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson wrote "The influence over government must be shared among all men." The earliest advocates for public schools – Jefferson, George Washington, Horace Mann – all agreed that democratic citizenship was a primary function of education.

Well, democracy is a collaborative process. It's not always about getting your own way.

So instead of telling parents their children need to be well educated so they can compete, we should be telling them their children need to be well educated so they can take part in our democratic society.

Message #2: America's System Of Public Education Is Broken
How often do you read a statement about education that begins with "America's schools are broken" and "public education is in crisis"?

When you hear statements like...

America is getting out-competed in education American kids score poorly on international exams in comparison to their peers in other countries Achievement in America has been flat for decades

...what you're hearing is a condemnation of the entire public education system.

This rhetoric doesn't sell well because it reinforces the belief that our schools and our teachers don't do a good job and public schools should be abandoned.

Here's the truth, from economist Richard Rothstein:

In the only longitudinal measure of student achievement – the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAPE – American students have improved substantially, in some cases phenomenally. In general, the improvements have been greatest for African-American students, and among these, for the most disadvantaged. The improvements have been greatest for both black and white 4th and 8th graders in math. Improvements have been less great but still substantial for black 4th and 8th graders in reading and for black 12th graders in both math and reading … On international assessments, American students' performance in math and science has improved from the bottom to above international average. U.S. students in schools with 10% or less poverty are number one in the world

Does this mean that there are no broken schools in America? Of course not, but don't trash the whole system. Instead, say that the problem is that America's schools don't work well for every kid. Especially if the kid happens to be poor, from a minority ethnicity or culture, or if the kid happens to have some special needs.

Message #3: Money Doesn't Matter

Do you know that most states spend less money on education today than they did in 2008 – some of them a lot less money? In the meantime student populations continue to increase.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called this "the new normal."

The typical storyline is that spending per pupil has increased dramatically and scores on national assessments have stagnated, SO since we're spending more and more, and not getting results, it's clear that money doesn't make a difference.

This rhetorical frame doesn't sell well because it justifies cruelty to children and inequality on the basis of fiscal responsibility.

It's also just not true. Rutgers professor Bruce Baker looked at the data and concluded:

On average, higher per-pupil spending is positively associated with improved or higher student outcomes. School resources that cost money — like class size reduction or higher teacher salaries — are indeed positively associated with better student outcomes. Further, when states improve the level and distribution of funding across local public school districts this tends to lead to improvements in the level and distribution of student outcomes.

So instead of talking about the need to "tighten our belts" and adjust to the "new normal" we need to talk about doing what's really best for kids and getting the resources that are necessary.

Message #4: Schools Should Be Run Like A Business

How often do you hear people say, "If we ran a business the way we operate schools, it wouldn't be in business very long"?

We're told that

Public schools are archaic that they were designed for the industrial age and are out of step with the needs of a "knowledge society." That education is too inefficient and not productive enough, that schools need to focus on "quality improvement" and "zero defects." We're told that teachers resist change, that they're protected by tenure, and that schools are a bureaucratic monopoly.

So now superintendents are calling themselves CEOs and parents are being called customers.

This rhetoric doesn't sell well because it distorts the mission of education.

First when people say run schools like a business, they don't say what kind of business? Coal mines aren't run like restaurants.

Second, most businesses fail. Do we really want schools that are constantly failing? How is that good for kids?

Third, you've all heard the Papa John's tagline "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza." Well, asJamie Vollmer has pointed out, schools can't control their ingredients. They have to educate all children with the resources they are given by the community.

Lastly, businesses are not democratic institutions. Schools must be democratic if we want parents and taxpayers to have input into how schools are run. And schools must model democracy if we want children to be prepared to function in a democratic society.

So instead of comparing schools to businesses, we should be talking about schools as essential infrastructure, like fire and police protection, roads and bridges, and our electoral process.

Message #5: Higher Standards Will Solve Inequality
It seems today that whenever the issue of education inequality or the achievement gap comes up the reply is to raise standards. We're often told that the way to reduce inequalities is to

Hold all students to the same, more rigorous, learning expectations. Make teachers ratchet up the difficulty of curriculum so that, for instance, algebra is taught in earlier grades, or little kids are made to read more difficult nonfiction rather than Charlotte's Web. And demand that states and school districts raise the cut scores on high stakes tests so more students fail.

At a panel on education at a conference I went to earlier this summer I heard one of the panelists call the Common Core State Standards "Brown 2.0″ likening the new supposedly higher standards to the landmark Supreme Court case that forced the racial integration of schools. Really?

The message higher standards solves inequality doesn't sell well because it overpromises the benefits of standards, and it lets those who are responsible for persistent inequality off the hook.

You can't raise the bar while at the same time you're cutting the supports children need to reach it. As my colleague John Jackson likes to say, this is like throwing a kid who doesn't know how to swim into the deep water and then continuously pulling back the shore.

Sure standards need to be high. But that doesn't solve the problem of the declining and unequal support that our students are getting. The only way to close the achievement gap is to eliminate the opportunity gap.

Finally, let me recall another Southerner who also had a deep expertise in junk mail and had grown up during the time of forced integration and ended up using those experiences as catalysts to work for social justice.

His name is Morris Dees, and many of you may know he runs an organization called the Southern Poverty Law Center that tracks right-wing hate groups and publishes a K-12 education program called Teaching Tolerance.

I had the good fortune of hearing Dees speak at a convention some time ago when he described an important moment that changed his life and caused him to start the SPLC.

Living as a fancy Manhattan attorney, far away from his roots in Alabama, he was watching the evening news when there was news footage of Bull Connor's police forces beating and fire-hosing peaceful protestors in Selma who were speaking out for their civil rights.

When Dees saw the injustice playing out on the evening news he said to himself, "I know what to do about that. And I can do something about that." And he did.

Today, when I look at scenes of poor black and brown school children having their schools closed down and thousands of classroom teachers protesting their unfair working conditions, I say to myself, "I can do something about that."

When we see schools being shuttered, for no legitimate reason, in the inner cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland… when we see school children and parents out in the street fighting for their right to an education… when we hear the warning signs from front-line classroom teachers that our public schools are sliding over the brink… we should all be saying, "We can do something about that. We can do something about that."

And I know that you all will. Thank you.