Teachers Persist in Fight Against Anti-Tax Ideologues in All-Red States

If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we choose to keep a tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship.
– Barack Obama


Bryce Covert’s new piece in The Nation, Will Red-State Protests Spark Electoral Change?, is a must read.  The focus is Oklahoma, a state where, until this spring, taxes had not risen since 1990 and where the legislature cannot pass a tax increase of any kind without a three-fourths supermajority.

Covert introduces us to Scott Helton, a high school English teacher whose school opted to save money with online textbooks instead of buying the printed copies. But the school hasn’t enough computers and its Wi-Fi is inadequate. He has been forced to spend his own money to provide readings for his students. Ten years ago, his classes averaged 20 students; today they are packed with 35, and in once case 40 students, many of whom sit on the floor. We also learn about underpaid workers in other government agencies including Gail DeLashaw, a family-support worker in the Department of…

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Trump Administration’s Rule Change on Affirmative Action Will Solidify Segregation in K-12 Public Schools

Perhaps what is most troubling about Betsy DeVos becoming Secretary of Education is her “Kingdom calling” which is that belief that the public schools ought best to be used to help usher in the Kingdom of God. And I’m not at all alone in being concerned about using the Bible to “prove and promote social mores and establish the law of the land.
“When I grew up in the South, I was taught that segregation was the will of God, and the Bible was quoted to prove it.
I was taught that women were by nature inferior to men, and the Bible was quoted to prove it.
I was taught that it was okay to hate other religions, and especially the Jews, and the Bible was quoted to prove it.”
– Rev. John Shelby “Jack” Spong retired American bishop of the Episcopal Church. From 1979 to 2000 he was Bishop of Newark. He is a liberal Christian theologian, religion commentator and author.


It seems unlikely that last week’s action by the Trump Justice Department—to rescind rules on affirmative action implemented by the Obama administration—will materially affect local school districts’ capacity to integrate K-12 schools by race. Although in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.  Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” a 2007 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts had already caused school districts to step significantly back from a commitment to racial integration in elementary and secondary schools.

Roberts’ decision in the 2007 case, Parents Involved, banned the use of race as a factor to be explicitly considered in school assignment plans unless, of course, the school district remained under court order to remedy government-imposed de jure segregation (purposely maintaining separate schools for black and white children). Now, 60 years after Brown…

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Politico: Brett Kavanaugh on Education Issues

Diane Ravitch's blog

The signs and portents on Trump’s Choice for the Supreme Court are not good.

Politico reports:

WHAT KAVANAUGH MEANS FOR EDUCATION: D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, has considered some of the most contentious issues in education throughout his lengthy legal career. He’s written on school prayer, the separation of church and state, and affirmative action.

— Kavanaugh highlighted his connection to education during his speech Monday night, describing himself as a teacher’s son who tutors area children. He talked about his mother. “In the 1960s and ’70s, she taught history at two largely African-American public high schools in Washington, D.C., McKinley Tech and H.D. Woodson,” he said. “Her example taught me the importance of equality for all Americans.”

— Kavanaugh has tutored at Washington Jesuit Academy, where he sits on the board of directors, and at J.O…

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Cruelty, Ineptitude, Lack of Oversight: Detaining Children and Failing to Educate or Care for Them

One of Mother Teresa’s favorite texts in the Bible, which she often quoted to support her ministry to the poor, is “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40, 45, NIV).


Today is the day that tiny children under the age of five, separated from their families at our southern border, were supposed to have been reunited with their families. But the records are all messed up. And the confusion and dysfunction extend beyond our “advanced” nation’s incapacity to reunite children and parents. There are also serious problems with the education children are said to be receiving while in detention.

In an editorial on Sunday, the Washington Post comments on a shocking report from the NY Times, that federal officials somehow deleted computer records and ID numbers which connected children to the families from whom they have been separated: “A jaw-dropping report in the New York Times detailed how officials at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection deleted records that would have enabled officials to connect parents with the children that had been removed from them. No apparent malice impelled…

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Kansas Supreme Court Declares School Funding Equitable; More Money Needed for Adequate System


Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of Kansas found that the state’s school funding system remains unconstitutional, but gave the state a year to increase the funding. This is a relief to families, as the Court had threatened to force the legislature into a special summer session to increase school funding or shut down school altogether for the fall.  It also is a relief for those looking for justice for the state’s children because it means the Court has retained jurisdiction in the case—to ensure that the legislature will have to find enough money to provide for the needs of children in the state’s public schools.

The case of Gannon v. Kansas preceded Sam Brownback’s tax-slashing tenure as Kansas’ governor, but Brownback’s tax cuts only made matters more desperate for public school districts in Kansas, and particularly for the school districts serving the state’s poorest children.

Writing on June 26…

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Betsy DeVos Watch: A Corporate Education Appointment and Students as Workforce Development

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

In April, we reported on the Department of Education adding another anti-civil rights lawyer, Carlos G. Muñiz. In late June, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, announced yet another confirmation to the Department of Education, Frank Brogan

Brogan has served in several different educational capacities and will serve as Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education. Brogan is the former President of Florida Atlantic University and was later Lt. Governor of Florida in Jeb Bush’s administration. The last position that Brogan held was Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

During Brogan’s tenure in Florida he supported redirecting public money to private schools and the downsizing of educators within the public school system. As the Washington Post reported recently, Brogan was part of Jeb Bush’, “corporate school reform movement that sought to operate public schools as if they were for-profit businesses.” Thus, adding Brogan to…

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Oklahoma Primary Election Results and Supreme Court Decision Show Teachers Changed the Narrative


The New Yorker‘s Rivka Galchen reports on the stunning results in Oklahoma’s primary election. Being anti-tax seems to have doomed several prominent Republican incumbents. And many public school educators, running for office for the very first time, won their parties’ nominations. The Oklahoma Policy Institute’s David Blatt tells Galchen: “It’s the opposite of the way it has been, when legislators expected to pay for it in votes if they supported a tax increase… Now they’re paying for it in votes for having been against a tax increase. That is pretty dramatic for Oklahoma.”

The Associated Press‘s Tim Talley describes the role of public education in Oklahoma’s primary election: “Almost 100 schoolteachers and administrators filed as candidates in this year’s round of elections and at least 55 won their races in the primary or advanced to runoffs in August. Many of them were motivated by the Republican-led Legislature’s cuts…

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Rand Corp. Report Says Grading Teachers by Student Scores Doesn’t Work; Ohio Law Will Diminish Use of Student Scores for Evaluating Teachers


In 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a huge project to demonstrate that evaluating teachers by their students’ standardized test scores would improve education and especially the education of “low-income, minority” students. Now the Gates Foundation has paid for a huge Rand Corporation study that showed its original experiment didn’t work. Although the Gates Foundation can move on to testing another hypothesis, its prescription for grading teachers has done immeasurable damage by injecting econometric teacher evaluation into the laws of many states. It will take a long time for the 50 state legislatures to clean up laws based on a mistake.

Chalkbeat‘s Matt Barnum describes the original plan: “Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address reflected the heady moment in education. ‘We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000,’ he said. ‘A great teacher can offer an escape…

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