Posts tagged "education"


January 28th, 2014

Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel. And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.

- POTUS, SotU 2014

This is so important, but education should fuel innovation and imagination, instead of just testing, as well… 

austinstatesman:

As Austin continues to grow, is there enough physical room for new schools to grow?
A new AISD elementary school in North Central Austin will be housed in a vacant warehouse due to a lack of available land for new construction.
Read the full story on MyStatesman: http://atxne.ws/1aqmVpY

This could either be really cool and inventive and awesome or really bad.  There is no middle ground.  
December 2nd, 2013

austinstatesman:

As Austin continues to grow, is there enough physical room for new schools to grow?

A new AISD elementary school in North Central Austin will be housed in a vacant warehouse due to a lack of available land for new construction.

Read the full story on MyStatesman: http://atxne.ws/1aqmVpY

This could either be really cool and inventive and awesome or really bad.  There is no middle ground.  

November 17th, 2013

If You Learn More When Losing, Is It Truly a Loss?

Without going in depth on the campaign, I got knocked down.  My confidence stolen.  It happens when people win that don’t deserve it and people that do, lose.  

I took a candidate with zero name recognition, zero money, and zero support base and got her over 2,000 votes in a school board race and, she reminds me everyday, as she is a new client on other ends, that though we lost her race, I accomplished a great feat in less than 8 weeks and earned her admiration.  

Thing is, my instincts were not wrong.  I was antsy for over two weeks, wondering how we were going to get hit.  Sometimes, even when you look for it on campaign financial reports, you can’t find the knockout punch.  It’s even more difficult if, again, you have less than eight weeks to learn a territory and come in blind.  I’m trying to remind myself of that. 

I managed to take on an incredibly popular incumbent, if by popular you mean “name recognition” which is worth its weight in gold in politics and community support or at least, campaign volunteers and shave her lead at the polls from over 2,000 votes in her previous election to less than 450.  This is an incredible accomplishment. 

And, I managed to unseat the President of a school board with less than 60 votes, recount pending.  

And still my confidence is shaky.  

I had a good ground game - a perfect field strategy, which couldn’t be executed because the volunteers and money I was promised were far less than the actuality and from one of the candidates in the slate, completely lacking.  I learned not to count on that and to add that line item into future contracts with future clients. 

The campaign materials I designed were good for a start, but lacking going into early vote and I’ve learned from that.  Learned to hold back money for that.

I’ve also learned that if I’m being asked to start a campaign 8 weeks out from Election Day, that I will temper expectations.

….and I will never, ever let a candidate talk about when they take office again.  Not in my presence.  Not unless they go outside, run around the building and spit three times.  I tried to dissuade it.   It’s tempting fate.  It’s bad luck… It’s just plain bad.  I know this.  I may put this in a contract, too.  

I’m trying to see it not as a true loss, trying to see that I still have game, that this is still my playground, that I’m still good at it, that this was a tremendous learning opportunity.  

…but, I don’t lose often.  And, my confidence is shaky.  And I need to put my resume together for future campaign opportunities.  That’s difficult to do, when you’ve been knocked down.  

(@zephforHCC1)
Zeph Capo for HCC District 1
I’ve known Zeph for a few years now.  There is no better candidate for this position.  When I think of him, I think of a bridge.  He stood up for the American people, the middle class, and was arrested on one once, something he does not shy away from, much like Congressman Al Green does not.  
He bridges the union world to the education world to the community organizing world.  Always building, Zeph.  Relationships, ideas.  You name it.  In fact, he’s almost too busy with too many bridges.  Almost.  
It’s been such an honour to work with him on this campaign, as little as I have done.  I wish I had the opportunity to vote for him, but I don’t live in the district.  Even more heartbreaking, my sister’s family lives just one street or so away from delivering two more votes for him. 
Zeph will do amazing things, not just for HCC, but for any community that is lucky to have him.  He’s dedicated his life to building, to ethics, to work, to education, to fairness, and to honesty.  
And if you live in HCC District 1, he deserves your vote (close to the bottom of the ballot… long way down, but make sure you get there?). 
(The above photo is Zeph’s, taken earlier today, when he voted.)  
October 21st, 2013

(@zephforHCC1)

Zeph Capo for HCC District 1

I’ve known Zeph for a few years now.  There is no better candidate for this position.  When I think of him, I think of a bridge.  He stood up for the American people, the middle class, and was arrested on one once, something he does not shy away from, much like Congressman Al Green does not.  

He bridges the union world to the education world to the community organizing world.  Always building, Zeph.  Relationships, ideas.  You name it.  In fact, he’s almost too busy with too many bridges.  Almost.  

It’s been such an honour to work with him on this campaign, as little as I have done.  I wish I had the opportunity to vote for him, but I don’t live in the district.  Even more heartbreaking, my sister’s family lives just one street or so away from delivering two more votes for him. 

Zeph will do amazing things, not just for HCC, but for any community that is lucky to have him.  He’s dedicated his life to building, to ethics, to work, to education, to fairness, and to honesty.  

And if you live in HCC District 1, he deserves your vote (close to the bottom of the ballot… long way down, but make sure you get there?). 

(The above photo is Zeph’s, taken earlier today, when he voted.)  

September 3rd, 2013

College enrollment declined by nearly a half million students in 2012, U.S. Census Bureau says

sosodeb:

The trend will continue if the tuitions stay as high as they are. Sad part is, is that it’s mostly the poor and lower middle class kids that are declining in numbers. Further widening the gap of opportunities between the lower and upper middle class.

Yes… and no.  

Trending right now is talk that not all children should go through the college prep route in school.  Instead, apprentice programs are educating in trades that will allow people that do not feel that college is for them to earn a living salary.  In Texas, this talk was covered in much of the education debate 83rd Legislative Session, especially in regards to teaching kids just to test them.   And you’ll see increased chatter about this during the 2014 elections and the 2015 Legislative Session, if programs are not put in place at the local level.  

The fact is, too many kids go onto college because it’s what they’re supposed to do right out of high school, but no one sits down and asks what they want to do and working in the trades is often discouraged, but plumbers - skilled plumbers, make far more than teachers, as do electricians, with far less debt, as well.  

We’re not doomed and there is hope, but yes, you raise an excellent point that college is getting to be too damned expensive.  A 2-year Community College degree is expected to set back a family over $10k, according to a report from the AP this past weekend.  That’s the average cost, but still… 

(Source: nbcnightlynews)

June 5th, 2013

Judge may re-open school finance case, which equates to bad news for Texas school districts

How Texas finances public education is difficult to explain.  It’s a labyrinth that very few can explain and even seasoned legislators have a difficult time understanding.  

But, essentially, if you don’t have any large businesses in your school district paying taxes, you’re screwed.  

When the Lege cut school financing by $5.4 BILLION in 2011 (our legislature only meets every two years, because that’s all Texans can actually stand of their debauchery), school districts like Cy-Fair suffered greatly.  (Cy-Fair being the school district I live within.)  Seen as a middle to upper class suburban foothold, Cy-Fair has largely been distorted as a school district that should be able to maintain its wonderful traditional and excellent school reputation within its own borders.  However, because it is a suburb of Houston and very few large business exist within its boundaries, the burden of taxes to pay for public education falls mostly to homeowners, especially as the Texas Legislature keeps cutting how much the state will help.  

(Texas is also one of the few states without a state income tax.) 

So, what you have is a very red Republican, Tea Party area that hates taxes, because it is a little overtaxed at the local level to pay for the school district, because the state won’t pay its fair share.  Yet, they don’t comprehend or even attempt to understand this, and therefore, they keep voting for Dan Patrick and Rick Perry, while I keep hitting my head on my desk and against the wall, really any solid structure I can find.  

I should remind you that the state of Texas also declared in its Constitution that education was a right, being necessary for an “educated citizenry”.  So, the state of Texas by not funding education properly is actually not doing its due diligence under its own Constitution.  

Sorry… I had to vent and get my Political / Education geek hat on… This is very, very bad news, though.  

anoncentral:

Public Education Fights for Its Life

Austerity measures are eroding America’s public school system.  With massive increases in school closures and class cancellations, advocates say educational opportunities for students of all ages are increasingly being diminished.
This is not a new problem, per se.  It is, however, an escalating one, and one that is being resisted.
Currently in Chicago—under the auspices of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, the former chief of staff for President Obama—it was announced in March that 54 public schools will be closed, with 61 schools scheduled to be closed before the 2013–2014 school year begins.  Emmanuel says that the closings are a “done deal.” Not everyone agrees with Emmanuel, and countering his assertion Karen Lewis says ‘it’s pretty much indicative that he [Emmanuel] has no respect for the law.”  Lewis is president of the Chicago Teachers Union, and says that there are supposed to be hearings for each school, and that Emmanuel’s unilateral actions show “the depth of his contempt for people” in the community, especially those who are not “wealthy” and well-connected.
Right now in California, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is on the verge of losing its accreditation as a direct consequence of a $53 million dollar loss in state funding.  Because of this, many classes are no longer being offered.  Additionally, the cost of [in-state] tuition at CCSF has risen 25% in the last 2 years, and to boot, student enrollment is way down.
KQED reports that California’s community colleges have dropped to a 20-year enrollment low, and in a video report at the Real News Network, Alisa Messer, President of CCSF Faculty Union, says that “what happened in California in the last several years is that we’ve pushed a half million students out of the community college system.”  And though the faculty had agreed last year to a voluntary 2.8% pay cut towards assisting in alleviating budget woes, the district cut faculty wages by nearly 9%.
Elsewhere, like in Michigan, for instance, the Public Schools Emergency Manager,Roy Roberts, announced last year that “underperforming” schools will be targeted for closure, with 130 schools having been closed there since 2005.
In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg is attempting to close 17 schools, which are said to be low-performing.  However, the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Coalition for Educational Justice have filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging the city’s school closures disproportionately affect “students of color and students with disabilities.”
Author and activist, Tolu Orlorunda, shared his findings on how race factors in on public school closings in an article entitled “Journey for Justice: Mass School Closings and the Death of Communities,” stating that:
From 2003-2012, in New York City, 117 schools were closed. Twenty-five more closings are scheduled for 2013. Sixty-three percent of the students affected are black.
Since 2001, in Chicago, 72 schools have been closed or phased out. Ninety percent of the students affected are black.
In 2008, 23 schools were closed in Washington, DC. Ninety-nine percent of the students affected were black or brown.
Since 2005, in Detroit, 130 schools have been closed. Ninety-three percent of the students affected are black.
Curiously, while public schools are rapidly closing, charter schools—using public funding for privately-operated schools—have sprouted and expanded to take their share of budget dollars.
Many find this educational shift troubling, including a public school teacher of 30 years, Stan Karp, who is director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center, and the editor to Rethinking Schools.  Karp wrote in a March 8th commentary about charter schools, saying “nearly every teacher dreams of starting a school…[b]ut the current push for deregulated charters and privatization is doing nothing to reduce the concentrations of 70, 80, and 90 percent poverty that remain the central problem in our urban schools.”  He says a more “equitable” approach to school reform can be seen in Raleigh, North Carolina, where efforts “were made to improve theme-based and magnet programs at all schools, and the concentration of free/reduced lunch students at any one school was limited to 40 percent or less.”  That simple plan, Karp says, resulted in “some of the nation’s best progress on closing gaps in achievement and opportunity.”
Further making his case in the article, Karp says:
Significant evidence suggests that charters are part of a market-driven plan to create a less stable, less secure and less expensive teaching staff…working to privatize everything from curriculum to professional development to the making of education policy.
[C]harter school teachers are, on average, less experienced, less unionized and less likely to hold state certification than teachers in traditional public schools.
As many as one in four charter school teachers leave every year, about double the turnover rate in traditional public schools.
Charter schools typically pay less for longer hours. But charter school administrators often earn more than their school-district counterparts.
It’s past time to refocus public policy on providing a deserved quality education for all Americans, says  Shawn Fremstad, an attorney and Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).Because inevitably, he believes, a good education leads to a good career and thus economic security.Fremstad says that actually the funding issue “goes to the larger issue of are we creating good jobs, and what happens when you don’t do that.”  Fremstad says there “are all sorts of people who want to start a career, but if there aren’t good paths—what’s available for you—then I think that lacking those resources, the criminal justice system ends up trapping a lot of people in its net.”  More and more, he says “the criminal justice system has become the dragnet that is replacing our safety net.”  This trend, he says “is a failure to invest in people,” causing undue harm to students, teachers, local economies and communities.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 16:46By Max Eternity, The Eternity Group | News Analysis
April 22nd, 2013

anoncentral:

Public Education Fights for Its Life

Austerity measures are eroding America’s public school system.  With massive increases in school closures and class cancellations, advocates say educational opportunities for students of all ages are increasingly being diminished.

This is not a new problem, per se.  It is, however, an escalating one, and one that is being resisted.

Currently in Chicago—under the auspices of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, the former chief of staff for President Obama—it was announced in March that 54 public schools will be closed, with 61 schools scheduled to be closed before the 2013–2014 school year begins.  Emmanuel says that the closings are a “done deal.” Not everyone agrees with Emmanuel, and countering his assertion Karen Lewis says ‘it’s pretty much indicative that he [Emmanuel] has no respect for the law.”  Lewis is president of the Chicago Teachers Union, and says that there are supposed to be hearings for each school, and that Emmanuel’s unilateral actions show “the depth of his contempt for people” in the community, especially those who are not “wealthy” and well-connected.

Right now in California, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is on the verge of losing its accreditation as a direct consequence of a $53 million dollar loss in state funding.  Because of this, many classes are no longer being offered.  Additionally, the cost of [in-state] tuition at CCSF has risen 25% in the last 2 years, and to boot, student enrollment is way down.

KQED reports that California’s community colleges have dropped to a 20-year enrollment low, and in a video report at the Real News Network, Alisa Messer, President of CCSF Faculty Union, says that “what happened in California in the last several years is that we’ve pushed a half million students out of the community college system.”  And though the faculty had agreed last year to a voluntary 2.8% pay cut towards assisting in alleviating budget woes, the district cut faculty wages by nearly 9%.

Elsewhere, like in Michigan, for instance, the Public Schools Emergency Manager,Roy Roberts, announced last year that “underperforming” schools will be targeted for closure, with 130 schools having been closed there since 2005.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg is attempting to close 17 schools, which are said to be low-performing.  However, the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Coalition for Educational Justice have filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging the city’s school closures disproportionately affect “students of color and students with disabilities.”

Author and activist, Tolu Orlorunda, shared his findings on how race factors in on public school closings in an article entitled “Journey for Justice: Mass School Closings and the Death of Communities,” stating that:

From 2003-2012, in New York City, 117 schools were closed. Twenty-five more closings are scheduled for 2013. Sixty-three percent of the students affected are black.

Since 2001, in Chicago, 72 schools have been closed or phased out. Ninety percent of the students affected are black.

In 2008, 23 schools were closed in Washington, DC. Ninety-nine percent of the students affected were black or brown.

Since 2005, in Detroit, 130 schools have been closed. Ninety-three percent of the students affected are black.

Curiously, while public schools are rapidly closing, charter schools—using public funding for privately-operated schools—have sprouted and expanded to take their share of budget dollars.

Many find this educational shift troubling, including a public school teacher of 30 years, Stan Karp, who is director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center, and the editor to Rethinking Schools.  Karp wrote in a March 8th commentary about charter schools, saying “nearly every teacher dreams of starting a school…[b]ut the current push for deregulated charters and privatization is doing nothing to reduce the concentrations of 70, 80, and 90 percent poverty that remain the central problem in our urban schools.”  He says a more “equitable” approach to school reform can be seen in Raleigh, North Carolina, where efforts “were made to improve theme-based and magnet programs at all schools, and the concentration of free/reduced lunch students at any one school was limited to 40 percent or less.”  That simple plan, Karp says, resulted in “some of the nation’s best progress on closing gaps in achievement and opportunity.”

Further making his case in the article, Karp says:

  • Significant evidence suggests that charters are part of a market-driven plan to create a less stable, less secure and less expensive teaching staff…working to privatize everything from curriculum to professional development to the making of education policy.
  • [C]harter school teachers are, on average, less experienced, less unionized and less likely to hold state certification than teachers in traditional public schools.
  • As many as one in four charter school teachers leave every year, about double the turnover rate in traditional public schools.
  • Charter schools typically pay less for longer hours. But charter school administrators often earn more than their school-district counterparts.

It’s past time to refocus public policy on providing a deserved quality education for all Americans, says  Shawn Fremstad, an attorney and Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).Because inevitably, he believes, a good education leads to a good career and thus economic security.Fremstad says that actually the funding issue “goes to the larger issue of are we creating good jobs, and what happens when you don’t do that.”  Fremstad says there “are all sorts of people who want to start a career, but if there aren’t good paths—what’s available for you—then I think that lacking those resources, the criminal justice system ends up trapping a lot of people in its net.”  More and more, he says “the criminal justice system has become the dragnet that is replacing our safety net.”  This trend, he says “is a failure to invest in people,” causing undue harm to students, teachers, local economies and communities.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013 16:46By Max EternityThe Eternity Group | News Analysis

(via occupywallstreet)

April 10th, 2013

DOJ wins injunction against Beaumont ISD

texasredistricting:

At the request of the Justice Department, a district court in Washington has at least temporarily blocked upcoming May elections for the Beaumont ISD board of trustees. 

Lawyers for the Justice Department sought the emergency stay yesterday, citing the school district’s plan to proceed with the election using a redistricting map and modified election procedures, which, though ordered by a state court of appeals, had yet to be precleared under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

The TRO, signed by U.S. District Judge Richard Contreras, remains in place until the entire three-judge panel in the preclearance case filed by the district in late March can hold a hearing on DOJ’s request to convert the TRO into a preliminary injunction.

The school district, however, issued a statement today saying that the election had been cancelled.

A copy of the TRO can be found here.

A detailed outline of the Beaumont ISD saga can be found here.

This is why the redistricting battle is so crucial - and there are off year elections, and a lot of local municipality elections scheduled for May.  

Think school boards don’t matter?  Get one full of Tea Party members and see how things go..