Thursday, September 18, 2014

Deasy didn't start L.A.'s school militarization, but he didn't end it either.

Fred Klonsky
Readers have begun to ask me about LAUSD's acquisition of machine guns, grenade launchers and armored military vehicles and its connection with current embattled Supt. John Deasy. Deasy is already up to his ears, and ought to be, over his discriminatory suspension policies, the district's wild expansion of privately-run charter schools, and the ongoing ipad scandal.  But some have suggested that Deasy should get a pass on the militarization scandal because most of the combat equipment came to the district back in 2001, back when Deasy was still trying to scam a phony doctorate from the University of Louisville. I don't agree.
Adm. David Brewer III

In 2001, the district was led by former Governor of Colorado and Democratic Party chairman Roy Romer. It was Romer, himself a former U.S. Air Force legal officer, who made the original deal with the Pentagon to accept used military battlefield equipment under the 1033 Program, created by Congress in the early 1990s. The program was originally intended to bolster the crowd control capacities of local police departments in the face of impending civil unrest. But soon public school districts' security departments joined in the arms race.

Romer left L.A. in 2006, replaced by David L. Brewer III, a former Navy Vice-Admiral who served as head of the Navy's Education and Training Division and was in charge of the SeaLift Command. With no previous educational management experience, Brewer lasted only a year and a month. Then came Ray Cortines who was appointed acting superintendent after the school board decided to buy out Admiral Brewer's contract. And so it went right up to Deasy. The point being that L.A.'s school district has spent the past dozen years accumulating weapons of mass destruction. Deasy is only the latest to keep and build the stockpile. 

Deasy didn't start the militarization of L.A. schools. But he hasn't ended it either. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New school supplies from the Pentagon. Deasy in L.A. grabs some M16s and grenade launchers.

All San Diego schools got from the Pentagon was this one lousy armored vehicle.

But the Wall St. Journal reports that LAUSD did much better. Supt. John Deasy has stocked up 61 M16 assault rifles, three grenade launchers, and a mine-resistant vehicle from the Pentagon.
But the district is getting rid of the grenade launchers, which it never intended to use to launch grenades or use in a school setting, said Steven Zipperman, chief of the Los Angeles Schools Police Department. The launchers, received in 2001, might have helped other police in the county disperse crowds by shooting rubber munitions, he said.
Hollywood High in L.A. 
As for the massive MRAP armored vehicle. Mr. Zipperman said his department thought it could be useful for evacuations and to save lives in a "sustained incident." Maybe like an ISIS attack or a sharp decline in test scores.

In Texas, near the Mexican border, the sprawling Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District has 34,700 students and operates its own SWAT team, thanks in part to military gear it received in recent years from a federal program. The gear included two Humvees and a cargo truck, as well as power generators, said district Police Chief Ricardo Perez. The district applied for weapons, too, but wasn't given any, so instead purchased its own M4 and AR-15 assault-style rifles, he said.

The weapons are given to schools through the 1033 Program, created by Congress in the early 1990s to allow law-enforcement agencies to obtain excess Defense Department supplies, paying only for shipping. The program has transferred $5.1 billion in items, including $4.5 million worth in 2013.

Granite School Dist. Police Chief Randy Johnson checks out new school supplies. 
At the Granite School Dist. in Salt Lake County, Utah, spokesman Ben Horsley said the security department carefully thought out its request for a handful of M16 rifles. "It would be irresponsible to send our officers into an active shooter situation with just a handgun," he said.

ARMING TEACHERS?...Speaking of Granite School Dist., a Taylorsville, UT elementary school teacher somehow shot herself in the leg last week while in a school restroom.
"Student safety is our primary concern and we are grateful that the injuries sustained by this teacher are not life threatening and that no students or other faculty were injured," the district said in a written statement.
Granite School District policy requires concealed weapon holders to have their guns on their person and "in their control" at all times.

Rahm Love and the Mess at CPS

GOOD READ...And at home I found a separate culture of intellectual achievement. This is the tradition of Carter G. Woodson, Frederick Douglass, and Malcolm X. It argues for education not simply as credentialism or certification, but as a profound act of auto-liberation. This was the culture of my childhood and it gave me some of the greatest thrills of my youth. -- Ta-Nehisi Coates, "Acting French"

RAHMLOVE...If you're an alderman looking to win Rahm's love, the Reader's Ben Joravsky shows you the way. All you have to do is kiss his ass and answer all the questions right on (former CPS liar-in-chief) Becky Carroll's Chicago Forward questionnaire.
Chicago Forward is run by my old pal Becky Carroll, who used to be the mayor's chief spokeswoman at the Chicago Public Schools. In the last few months, it's raised more than $1 million from some of the mayor's closest and richest chums, including Michael Sacks, Kenneth Griffin, and other gazillionaires.
THE MESS AT CPS..."Aramark’s top priority is to make sure that CPS students, faculty and staff have clean, comfortable learning environments." -- Company spokesperson Karen Cutler

One way to win RahmLove is to shut up about the whole filthy mess at CPS caused by the mayor's privatization of custodial services, including the firing of hundreds of janitors. Principals and parents are outraged by the conditions schools are in. After hiding under his desk for a week and leaving the hemming and hawing over the privatization deal to Byrd-Bennett, Rahm is all of a sudden talking tough  to his buddies at Aramark, the company he funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to in his privatization frenzy (like he played tough guy for a day or two with Chicago Parking Meters LLC). He tells them, "if you don't clean up that mess by next month, why I'll, I'll, I'll..." What?

Aramark can't keep the schools clean because their custodians are spread too thin. Only real solution is to end the contract with Aramark and SodexoMAGIC ("Magic my ass" as I call them), apologize to the fired workers and rehire them. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis,says the privatization isn’t working, and that both contractors, Aramark and SodexoMAGIC, should be fired.

There it is.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The rats are having a field day at CPS

Dead rat, one of many at a Southwest Side elementary school having problems with rodents and roaches since janitorial services were privatized.
Aren't the 476 custodians being thrown out of their jobs by Rahm and his Aramark subcontractors, represented by SEIU Local 1? Can't help but wonder, where the hell is the union in all this? Why has it taken an all-out principal's and parent's revolt to push back on the mass firings which have left schools ratty filthy dirty? Rahm's mayoral opponents, Karen Lewis and Bob Fioretti, have each spoken out forcefully against the firings and the privatization of custodial operations. Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere and other principals are also raising some hell. But hardly a peep out of Local 1. Why?

It was SEIU Local 73 leader Christine Boardman who first signed onto Rahm's $340 million sub-contracting deal with Aramark and SodexoMagic (magic, my ass) in the first place. These two contracts combined make it one of the largest privatization moves of any school district in the nation. Under the agreements, SodexoMAGIC oversees 33 schools, while Aramark oversees the remaining 500-some district-run schools.

Boardman then put icing on her sell-out with a $25,000 contribution to Rahm's campaign war chest. Ugh! She's dirtier than a a CPS bathroom.

But what about progressive SEIU Local 1 Pres. Tom Balanoff? Why so quiet, Tom?

WBEZ reports:
CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley sold the idea to board members as making schools cleaner with new equipment, such as “zamboni-like” floor cleaning machines, and making principals’ lives easier, with “Jimmy John’s-like” customer service when supplies run low.
But so far, the outsourcing seems to have led to dirty schools, property damage, poor communication and janitors being laid off. Those complaints came to light in a survey of more than 230 principals conducted by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.
Chicken-Poop Rahm who always seems to disappear in times of crisis, has once again dumped everything on Byrd-Bennett's plate. All a sputtering BBB can say is:
“Obviously it has not been as smooth as we would like. We have met with principals. We continue to do so and I think in a very short time, you will see a change.”
A change? What change? How about dumping the contract with Aramark, apologizing and hiring back the fired janitors for starters?

The bloody shirt. 
The holes are from 'natural wear and tear'...Count on Urban Outfitters to try and cash in with a faux-vintage blood-spattered sweatshirt with bullet holes that appears to reference the May 4,1970 shooting of unarmed anti-war protesting students at Kent State. Ads for the shirt, priced at $130, caused such an uproar that the company had to first list the shirt as "sold out" and then pull it from their website and offer a public apology, claiming--
 "The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray." 
Now some are popping up on eBay for as much as $2,500.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Bethlehem, Pa. NAACP President Esther Lee 
"We could end up with segregation in another form," [Esther Lee] said of charter schools. "It's not 1909, but it's close." -- Express Times
Chicago principal, Troy LaRaviere
The [custodial] cuts mean “residents of Chicago lose out, and the corporations profit from our losses." -- Chicago Public Schools to lay off 476 custodians
Karen Lewis meets Ras Baraka.
Karen Lewis
Lewis, a former chemistry teacher, pointed to Newark as a learning lab for the right formula for political victory. "Money doesn't vote, people do. I believe a lot of hedge fund folks dumped money into [Newark mayoral candidate] Shavar Jeffries' campaign. Baraka was outspent, but he won," Lewis said. "The key is how do you connect with people and the others that are important to them. That's what elections are about, ultimately." -- Chicago teachers union leader and mayoral hopeful comes to Newark to learn from Mayor Baraka
Bob Fioretti
“Our current mayor promised so much, and like many of us, I hoped he would deliver. But our schools are being gutted, our streets are not safer and so many are missing out on economic opportunities and jobs.” Fioretti promised to listen to teachers and make CPS class sizes smaller while striking against school closures that were “against the will of our citizens.” -- Ald. Bob Fioretti announces run for mayor, attacks Emanuel

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lesson from Teachout: It won't be as easy for Rahm to buy the next election

You've really got to go back to Bloomberg's narrow escape in his 2009 victory in the NY mayor's race over relative unknown, Bill Thompson. Bloomberg poured $90 million of his own fortune into the race, a sum without equal in the history of municipal politics that gave him a 14-to-1 advantage in campaign spending. He won by only 5%.

Without Bloomberg's billions in the race, money wasn't a big factor in Bill de Blasio's landslide victory last year. BdB won because he ran as a progressive and had strong organization on the ground in the form of the Working Families Party.

Teachout a winner.
ZEPHYR TEACHOUT just ran a strong race for governor against Republicrat Gov. Cuomo despite the fact that she was outspent 100-to-1 by Cuomo's Wall Street patrons. Cuomo raised $40 million to Teachout's $40,000 and political neophyte Teachout sill got 35% of the vote.

The New York Times described Teachout's strong performance as "an embarrassing rebuke to Mr. Cuomo, and it could put a dent in any national aspirations he may hold." I have no doubt that Cuomo, the favorite of the charter school hedge-funders and school profiteers like Eva Moskowitz, could have been beaten had Teachout received support from N.Y.'s chicken-poop teacher union leaders who are tied to Cuomo and the Democratic Party leadership by a thousand threads. Her defeat was also a defeat for the WFP which lost credibility when they endorsed Cuomo.

Lincoln Mitchell writes in the New York Observer:
Ms. Teachout’s strong showing, however, demonstrates the enduring relevance of the activist wing of the Democratic Party, reinforces the ability of a smart but poorly resourced candidate to use social media and less expensive forms of communication to significantly balance out a huge fundraising disadvantage, and shows that establishment Democratic candidates would be well served to run with clear and compelling messages, rather than simply on inevitability and incumbency.
In Illinois...The more of his own money billionaire Bruce Rauner pours into his campaign for governor, the worse he seems to be doing. Latest polls show him blowing his lead and now trailing incumbent Pat Quinn. It seems that the more money Rauner spends on TV ads, the more people remember how much they dislike him and what he stands for. Quinn's biggest problem isn't lack of money. It's the fact thousands of the state's rank-and-file union members and retirees (who all vote) still remember his sellout on the unconstitutional pension-robbing bill and want to punish him for it. He can still squeeze out a win simply because so many IL working people righteously fear devil, Rauner.

Similar problems exist for Rahm Emanuel even with his $11 million war chest and his huge army of professional media spinners. The more press he gets, the more his ratings suffer, especially in minority communities. Even as he tries to slide to the left, cut last-minute deals with ministers, the police union, and his few council opponents, Rahm seems vulnerable in the face of two likely credible, progressive opponents, Karen Lewis and Bob Fioretti -- no matter how many TV ads he buys.

A REVOLUTION OF VALUES...With the latest run-up to war, I'm remembering to words of Dr. Martin Luther King who spoke continuously about the "triple evils" of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM
“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war- ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” -- Dr. Martin Luther King (1967),  “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Byrd-Bennett promised not to close any more schools. But that doesn't mean she can't militarize them.

Study war no more...?

No teachers teach in this school. No students are enrolled. It has nearly no budget. The principal sits miles away in another school’s office. Yet, Chicago Public Schools insists that the Marine Math and Science Academy High School isn’t closed, so it hasn’t violated any state laws or reversed a promise not to close more schools by merging Marine’s students and staff into the former Ames Middle School building.
Chicago already leads the nation in its militarization of public schools. Ames was turned into a Marine academy despite months of protests and public outcry.

Today, Chicago has the most militarized public school system in the nation, with Cadet Corps for students in middle-school, over 10,000 students participating in JROTC programs, over 1,000 students enrolled in one of the five, soon-to-be six autonomous military high schools, and hundreds more attending one of the nine military high schools that are called “schools within a school.” Chicago now has a Marine Military Academy, a Naval Academy, and three army high schools. When an air force high school opens next year, Chicago will be the only city in the nation to have academies representing all of these branches of the military. But Chicago is not the only city moving in this direction: The public school systems of other urban centers with largely Black and brown low income students of color, including Philadelphia, Atlanta and Oakland, are being similarly reshaped. -- Erica Meiners

Why does the San Diego school district need this armored vehicle? I have no freakin' idea. This isn't Ferguson. Possibly preparing for ISIS invasion?

A ray of hope in Chicago

While the mayor and his City Council minions argue over which IG should investigate their own bad behavior, it's pretty clear now that there will be two viable, progressive opponents running against Rahm and his machine in next year's election -- CTU President Karen Lewis and the council's Progressive Caucus leader Bob Fioretti.

The Ward Room's Erin Carlson writes:
Should both Lewis and Fioretti challenge Emanuel, there's a chance the political progressives—who appeal to different segments of anti-Rahm voters—could together draw down the incumbent Democrat's percentage of the vote.
I hope she's right.

REFRESHING... Mayoral politics aside, it's important to know that out in the schools, teachers are still focused on teaching their kids. For most, it's not about Common Core, Charlotte Danielson, or which battery of tests is being imposed on them this year. Don't miss Chicago science teacher Phil Cantor's excellent piece in today's S-T on the work he and his colleagues are doing at North Grand High School (not a charter nor a selective-enrollment school). Phil and fellow teachers are focused on the social-emotional side of learning as opposed to current CPS testing madness.
When teachers get to know students’ lives, it’s easier to understand where a student’s bad mood or overreaction to a social slight might come from. When a teacher finds out a child is homeless and sleeps on a different couch each week, that teacher is more likely to take a problem-solving approach to student tardiness than a punitive one.
By scheduling weekly team meetings to compare how our students are doing emotionally we’ve been able to shift our school culture to be more holistic and more successful, even as standardized tests and impersonal data play a larger role in how schools are measured. 
There's hope.

Mighty Girl/Timeline photos
Happy 60th birthday to Ruby Bridges, As a six-year-old, Ruby became the first African American child to desegregate an all-white elementary school in the South. When the 1st grader walked to William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960 surrounded by a team of U.S. Marshals, she was met by a vicious mob shouting and throwing objects at her. #Courage

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A real-estate and hedge-fund concern that happens to have a college attached

Annie Lowrey writes in NY Mag:
There's an old line about how the United States government is an insurance conglomerate protected by an army. Harvard is a real-estate and hedge-fund concern that happens to have a college attached. It has a $32 billion endowment. It charges its rich students — and they are mostly from rich families, with many destined to be rich themselves — hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition and fees. It recently embarked on a $6.5 billion capital campaign. It is devoted to its own richness. And, as such, it is swimming in cash.
If it wanted to maximize its $32 billion worth of utility, it could, say, admit more students, especially poor ones, reduce its focus on property development, and double down on its focus on research, which currently makes up $800 million of its $4.2 billion in annual operating expenses.
Harvard alum include a gaggle of current corporate school "reformers" and ed profiteers, including Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, TFA's Wendy Kopp, John Schnur, Geoffrey Canada and Joel Klein. This group alone may be reason enough to yank Harvard's non-profit status.

But it has also produced some of our best old (W.E.B. DuBois, Ted Sizer...) and current thinkers, researchers and progressive ed activists like... Well, I'm sure there are some (just kidding). There are some great and distinguished education faculty in the Graduate School of Education. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot comes to mind as does Linda Nathan, Eleanor Duckworth, Marshall Ganz, Howard Gardner, Patricia Graham and others too numerous to mention.

Susan Moore Johnson
Here's a good one. Harvard GSE Prof. Susan Moore Johnson has produced several studies showing the positive effects of teacher unions on school practice. At Harvard, Johnson directs The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, an ongoing research project addressing critical questions regarding the future of our nation’s teaching force. Since 1998, The Project has examined a range of issues related to attracting, supporting, and retaining skilled, committed, and effective teachers in U.S. public schools.

She dedicated much of her early career to the study of teachers unions, collaborative bargaining, and teachers’ working conditions. A modern pioneer in these areas, Moore Johnson has drawn attention to the contexts in which teachers perform their work, specifically highlighting the importance of schools’ collaborative culture in teacher retention.

Writes Johnson:
Many people think that national unions dictate school practice. They don’t realize how much is determined at the local level when contracts are negotiated. Contracts, each of which is locally negotiated, establish pay and working conditions — hours, class size, and evaluation — for teachers. Collective bargaining provides a legal, structured process in which local unions and management can develop reforms, such as peer review or performance-based pay.
Speaking of Kopp and TFA,
Members of  the Urban Teacher Education Consortium,  is a national consortium of teacher educators, have just released a position paper on the training of teachers, releasing it at a time of “encroaching dehumanization and disempowerment of both teachers and their students.”
The paper blasts some alternative teacher prep programs, including (though not by name) Teach For America, which gives newly graduated college students five weeks of summer training and then places them into high-poverty schools. -- Washington Post
WaPo's  Valerie Strauss has republished the statement in full including a list of signers:

Kenneth Zeichner – University of Washington
Esther Ohito – Teachers’ College, Columbia University
Lori Chajet – CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn College
Robert Lee – Illinois State University
Heather Johnson – College of the Holy Cross
Ann Burns Thomas – SUNY Cortland
Dale Ray – University of Chicago
Joseph Featherstone – Michigan State University (ret.)
William Kennedy – University of Chicago
Thomas DelPrete – Clark University
Victoria Trinder – University of Illinois at Chicago
Karen Hammerness – UTEC Coordinating Committee
Helen Featherstone – Michigan State University (ret.)
Jennifer Robinson – Montclair State University
Bernadette Anand – Banks Street College of Education
Cecilia Traugh – Long Island University, Brooklyn
Klaudia Rivera – Long Island University, Brooklyn
Sheila Resseger – Coalition to Defend Public Education (Rhode Island)
Sandy Grande – Connecticut College
Lisa Gonsalves –UMass Boston
Amy Millikan – San Francisco Teacher Residency
Jonathan Osler – San Francisco Teacher Residency
Les Blatt – Clark University (ret.)
Sharon Feiman-Nemser – Brandeis University
Andre Perry – Davenport University
Kathy Schultz – Mills College
Anna Richert – Mills College
Marvin Hoffman – University of Chicago (ret.)
Kavita Kapadia Matsko – University of Chicago
Kate Bielaczyc – Clark University
Eric De Meulenaere – Clark University
Ricci Hall – Clark University partner principal, Worcester Schools
Sarah Michaels – Clark University
Patti Padilla – Clark University partner principal, Worcester Schools
Jie Park – Clark University
Heather Roberts – Clark University
Nastasia Lawton-Sticklor – Clark University
Thea Abu-El Haj – Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Dirck Roosevelt – Teachers College, Columbia University
Beth Rubin – Rutgers University, New Brunswick