Educate All Students, Support Public Education

December 18, 2015

Students at Chicago’s Urban Prep Shout “16 Shots!” During Rahm Emanuel Visit

Filed under: Chicago — millerlf @ 8:09 am

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) – There was a very dramatic moment Wednesday morning during what was supposed to be a routine event for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

During the launch of a new program called “Chicago’s My Brother’s Keeper Cabinet,” which is aimed at helping teens in need, students at Urban Prep began chanting “16 shots!”

The chant was in reference to the number of shots fired by a Chicago Police officer when Laquan McDonald was gunned The chant broke out twice during the event, but Mayor Emanuel had no visible reaction to it. The Mayor’s Office released the following statement regarding the incident Wednesday afternoon:
The Mayor recognizes that Chicagoans are understandably frustrated. He has called for systemic reform to bring safety to every community and rebuild trust where it has been lost. As part of that process he will continue to engage with residents, police, and community leaders to address their specific concerns.

December 11, 2015

Planned Parenthood Terrorist: Should All White Guys Who Love Guns Be Rounded Up?

Filed under: Fascism — millerlf @ 8:29 am

Why hasn’t the media run stories on the background of the Planned Parenthood terrorist? Where did he get radicalized? What does the inside of his house look like? What groups and individuals has he associated with – why aren’t they on watch lists? This is a critical teachable moment: After the Oklahoma federal building bombing, after Columbine and Newtown and Charleston and so many others, no one suggested rounding up all the white guys who love guns.(Facebook posting by Ellen Bravo)
Organization in religious tolerance campaign:

Donald Trump: Crypto-Fascist, Neo-Fascist= Fascist

Filed under: Fascism — millerlf @ 8:27 am

Dictionary definition of a Demagogue: A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.

Donald Trump is using familiar demagoguery to appeal to a sector of the American population. They are white. They cut across class: rich, poor and middle class. They are angry and they blame Mexican immigrants, Muslims and a Black President for their rage. They have grown out of the “tea-party” movement. And they are open to fascist steps by leaders willing to take them there.

This makes Donald Trump dangerous.

White supremacists (fascist) groups and leaders have lined up behind Trump.
See StormFront website on call for fascism:
See David Duke on Trump immigrant policies:

Fascism comes in many forms. But central to its advancement is diverting people’s anger and fears into blaming the “other.” For Hitler it was the Jews. For Trump its immigrants, first focusing on Mexicans and now focusing on Muslims.

The world is in chaos; government failure, joblessness, loss of income, inequality, demands of communities of color, global warming. Trump’s response is to offer simple solutions: lock the borders and deport millions.



StormFront, U.S. Nazi group, Endorses Trump

Filed under: Fascism — millerlf @ 8:07 am

Fascist and White Supremacist website advocates for Trump. The following is from their website:


Anyone who is in-tune with the average American knows that, if any nation will declare that it’s “Reich Time,” it’s America for a multitude of reasons.

>Americans view their nation similarly to the way that Germans used to view their nation. They saw Germany as “above everything in the world.” Hell, that proclamation is literally the title of the German national anthem: Deutschland über Alles.

>Americans tend to be xenophobic whether most want to openly admit it or not. The massive hordes of third world immigrants only increases this sentiment.

>The Left is increasingly losing control of the SJWs. This wouldn’t be a problem if people outside of SJWs actually liked SJW. As more millennials graduate college, more SJWs will enter the ranks of the Left. As they grow in numbers, more people will turn away from the Left and into the embrace of this “charismatic figure” that Chomsky talks about.

>If America decided to go full-on Reich mode domestically, literally nobody could stop us. The American military, when unleashed, is the most lethal killing machine in human history. Our military wasn’t cucked by a World War. You can be sure that this “charismatic figure” would use our military to its full potential if the American people were ever threatened.

December 6, 2015

James Causey: In wake of teen’s murder, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel must go

Filed under: BlackLivesMatter — millerlf @ 4:45 pm

James Causey MJS 12/6/15

In Causey’s opinion piece he compares his call for the removal of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to Milwaukee and the Dontre Hamilton killing. He states, “Many called for the heads of Manney(the police shooter), Police Chief Edward Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett. In the case of Flynn and Barrett, it didn’t happen. Maybe it should have.”

Rahm Emanuel has to go. The Chicago mayor must resign immediately to restore trust in a city still reeling from the public execution of a teenager by a police officer more than a year ago.

Emanuel demanded the resignation of Chicago Police Superintended Garry McCarthy because he said police officers are only effective when they have the trust of those they serve.

But what about Emanuel? Who can trust him? Was he silent because this incident occurred during an election cycle? He should do the next right thing. He should resign.

It should not have taken 400 days — and a court order — to get video footage of the shooting of Laquan McDonald released. What was going on? A coverup?

Chicago minorities had little confidence in their police department and the city’s leaders even before they watched the video of Laquan, 17, shot 16 times in the middle of the street by an officer who claims the teen lunged at him with a knife.

Chicago has had more than 400 homicides this year, earning it the nickname “Chiraq,” and its leaders are clueless on how to end the violent deaths of blacks. That’s reason enough to question top leadership.

The video shows Laquan walking away from officer Jason Van Dyke in the middle of the street during the October, 2014 incident. Van Dyke had his weapon pointed at the teen — who was carrying a knife — when he opened fire from about 15 feet away. He appeared to continue to shoot the teen while the boy lay dying in the middle of the street. Laquan did not appear to lunge at Van Dyke.

The former officer is charged with murder. Van Dyke was released from jail hours after posting 10% of his $1.5 million bond.

Citizens are upset over the video, and they should be. But they are mostly upset at how they could be kept in the dark for more than a year. There is little doubt that even a cursory review of the video would establish sufficient probable cause for Van Dyke’s immediate arrest. Where was Emanuel in this?

I’ll tell you where: MIA

A group of retired black Chicago police officers on Wednesday called for a federal probe of the department because they claimed that the alleged misconduct “had been going on for years.” The only difference now? It was caught on camera.

Minority citizens have known this for years. The fact that it is now being validated by retired officers doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it’s disappointing that they chose not to speak up when the crimes were happening.
Did they trade their conscience for their careers? It appears, sadly, that they did.
There are striking similarities between the shooting death of Laquan and that of Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park. Hamilton, 31, was shot 14 times in broad daylight in April, 2014, by officer Christopher Manney. Many called for the heads of Manney, Police Chief Edward Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett. In the case of Flynn and Barrett, it didn’t happen. Maybe it should have.

Flynn fired Manney for violating police department

rules, and the Fire and Police Commission upheld that decision although Manney receives duty-disability retirement. That doesn’t sit right with me.

Last month, Flynn asked for a formal review of his department by the U.S. Department of Justice. He believes this will show the department is trying to be transparent and wants to improve. Federal and local leaders who have gone through the review process said it has helped to reduce the use of force within police departments. So fine, do a review.

But what the public mostly wants is respect. They want to know that when they call the police the cops will be there to help them, not harm them. Flynn’s request will not fix the distrust that exists between police and the black community in my town. Some people will never trust police, and some police will never trust some of the people they are sworn to serve. That’s just an ugly reality. But they need to coexist.

Nate Hamilton, the older brother of Dontre said some officers will never respect certain people because of their income, status or color. He said things may have turned out differently in Milwaukee had there been a video.
“This incident happened in broad daylight, downtown. There were more than 60 eyewitnesses, and no one captured it on their cellphones,” Hamilton said.

A final point on the death of the Chicago teen: There clearly is a “no snitching” culture in the police force in that city — a blue wall of silence. There were a number of officers on the scene at the time of the shooting and yet they said nothing.

Van Dyke, who had a history of complaints before he gunned down the teen, turned himself in to authorities a few hours before the video of him gunning down Laquan was made public.

Emanuel needs to go. The citizens of Chicago should demand it.

James E. Causey is a Journal Sentinel columnist and blogger. Email Facebook: Twitter: jecausey

Alarming Provisions of NCLB Re-authorization

Filed under: NCLB — millerlf @ 4:44 pm

The disturbing provisions about teacher preparation in No Child Left Behind rewrite

By Valerie Strauss December 5 Washington Post Blog

There has been loud applause in the education world for the new Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor to No Child Left Behind that has passed the House and is expected to become federal law soon. It has been hailed as a fix-it to the broken NCLB law, and it does indeed moderate some of NCLB’s biggest problems. But, perhaps because the legislation was only made public a few days before the House voted, there has been little time to look at the details in the bill.

In this post, Kenneth Zeichner, a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle, does just that in regard to how the bill approaches teacher preparation programs — and he reveals some deep concerns. For example:

* Provisions in the legislation for the establishment of teacher preparation academies are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs such as those funded by venture philanthropists.

* The legislation “oversteps the authority of the federal government” in several ways, including by declaring that the completion of a program in an academy run by an organization other than a university results in a certificate of completion that may be recognized by states as “at least the equivalent of a master’s degree in education for the purpose of hiring, retention, compensation, and promotion in the state.” The federal government absolutely has no business in suggesting what should and what should not count as the equivalent of a master’s degree in individual states.

* The legislation seeks to mandate “definitions of the content of teacher education programs and methods of program approval that are state responsibilities.” As a result, it lowers “standards for teacher education programs that prepare teachers for high-poverty schools … by exempting teacher preparation academies from what are referred to as ‘unnecessary restrictions on the methods of the academy.’ ”
Here’s the piece by Zeichner, who is a member of the National Academy of Education and professor emeritus in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and who has done extensive research on teaching and teacher education.

By Kenneth Zeichner

The fundamental tenets of the Every Student Succeeds Act – the successor to No Child Left Behind – are now well known. It lessens the latter’s focus on standardized test scores and shifts much policy-making power from the U.S. Education Department back to the states. But many educators may be surprised to learn what it includes about teacher preparation. There are provisions in the bill for the establishment of teacher preparation academies – and they are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs.

In October 2013, I criticized a bill called the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, known as the GREAT Act. It was initiated in March 2011 in conversations between leaders of the New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF); Norm Atkins, founder of the Relay Graduate School of Education; Tim Knowles of the University of Chicago; and several members of Congress.


The purpose of this bill was to provide public funds for promoting the growth of entrepreneurial teacher education programs such as the ones seeded by New Schools Venture Fund (for example, Relay, MATCH Teacher Residency and Urban Teachers) that are mostly run by non-profits. At the time, the CEO of NSVF was Ted Mitchell, who is now the U.S. under secretary of education.


Is Alan Borsuk doing a victory lap for the MPS loss of enrollment?

Filed under: Borsuk,Privatization — millerlf @ 4:42 pm

Borsuk has written, argued and worked for the privatization of public education. Read how he frames the loss of enrollment in MPS. See his MJS “commentary” at:

December 2, 2015

Walton Foundation Grants for Milwaukee: 2014

Filed under: Charter Schools,Privatization,Vouchers — millerlf @ 9:20 pm

The following schools and organizations received money in 2014 from the right-wing Walton Family Foundation.

See the Walton Family Foundation funding report at:
Educational Enterprises, Inc. $896,658
Hispanics for School Choice Educational Trust Fund $210,000
Milwaukee Charter School Advocates $87,611
Milwaukee College Prep $333,333
School Choice Wisconsin Inc. $400,000
Schools That Can Milwaukee, Inc. $850,000
St. Marcus Lutheran School $429,640
United Community Center, Inc. $89,000
Wisconsin Lutheran College $250,000
Highland Community School $91,790
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, Inc. $268,500 (This is a right-wing tea party “institute”.)
Nativity Jesuit Middle School $125,000
Tamarack Waldorf School $375,000
Total $4,406,532

NY Times: The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover

Filed under: New Orleans,Recovery District — millerlf @ 9:19 pm

News Orleans is now a caste system of schools. The data is often manipulated. The Cowen and Credo studies, giving high marks to the reforms,  have shown to be flawed.

By ANDREA GABORAUG. 22, 2015 NY Times

WAS Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,” as Education Secretary Arne Duncan once said? Nearly 10 years after the disaster, this has become a dominant narrative among a number of school reformers and education scholars.

Before the storm, the New Orleans public school system had suffered from white flight, neglect, mismanagement and corruption, which left the schools in a state of disrepair. The hurricane almost literally wiped out the schools: Only 16 of 128 buildings were relatively unscathed. As of 2013 the student population was still under 45,000, compared with 65,000 students before the storm. Following the storm, some 7,500 unionized teachers and other school employees were put on unpaid leave, and eventually dismissed.

Two years before the storm, the State of Louisiana had set up a so-called Recovery School District to take over individual failing schools. After Katrina, the district eventually took over about 60 local schools; about 20 well-performing schools remained in the Orleans Parish School Board, creating, in essence, a two-tier system. Nearly all the schools in both parts of the system have since been converted to charters.

Last year, 63 percent of children in local elementary and middle schools were proficient on state tests, up from 37 percent in 2005. New research by Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance shows that the gains were largely because of the charter-school reforms, according to Douglas N. Harris, the alliance’s director. Graduation and college entry rates also increased over pre-Katrina levels.

But the New Orleans miracle is not all it seems. Louisiana state standards are among the lowest in the nation. The new research also says little about high school performance. And the average composite ACT score for the Recovery School District was just 16.4 in 2014, well below the minimum score required for admission to a four-year public university in Louisiana.

There is also growing evidence that the reforms have come at the expense of the city’s most disadvantaged children, who often disappear from school entirely and, thus, are no longer included in the data.

“We don’t want to replicate a lot of the things that took place to get here,” said Andre Perry, who was one of the few black charter-school leaders in the city. “There were some pretty nefarious things done in the pursuit of academic gain,” Mr. Perry acknowledged, including “suspensions, pushouts, skimming, counseling out, and not handling special needs kids well.”

At a time when states and municipalities nationwide are looking to New Orleans, the first virtually all-charter urban district, as a model, it is more important than ever to accurately assess the results, the costs and the continuing challenges.

New Orleans has been trying to make the system more fair. It replaced its confusing and decentralized school application process with one in which most schools accept a single application. In response to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of special education students, the courts recently tightened oversight of charter schools.

But stark problems remain. A recent report by the Education Research Alliance confirmed that principals engage in widespread “creaming” — selecting, or counseling out, students based on their expected performance on standardized tests. In a forthcoming study, the alliance expects to show that lowest-scoring students are less likely to move to higher-performing schools.

The rhetoric of reform often fails to match the reality. For example, Paul G. Vallas, the superintendent of the Recovery School District from 2007 to 2011, boasted recently that only 7 percent of the city’s students attend failing schools today, down from 62 percent before Katrina, a feat accomplished “with no displacement of children.” This was simply false.

Consider Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School, one of the city’s last traditional public schools to be “taken over.” Most of its 366 students declined to re-enroll when it reopened under new management in the fall of 2011. During its first year under FirstLine, a charter management organization, Clark had only 117 “persisters,” or returning students, according to a study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, known as Credo. FirstLine could not account for where the students went after they left Clark. However, Jay Altman, its chief executive, told me in an email that before FirstLine took over, a similarly low proportion of students, about 35 percent, were returning. (The school district did not respond to my queries about Clark.)

One problem is that in the decentralized charter system, no agency is responsible for keeping track of all kids. Two years ago the Recovery School District, acknowledging that it was “worried” about high school attrition, began assigning counselors to help relocate students from schools it was closing. Louisiana’s official dropout rates are unreliable, but a new report by Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council, using Census Bureau survey data from 2013, found that over 26,000 people in the metropolitan area between the ages of 16 and 24 are counted as “disconnected,” because they are neither working nor in school.

Ironically, schools like Clark actually feed the New Orleans success narrative because when bad schools are taken over their “F” grades automatically convert to a “T” — for a turnaround. Thus, in the 2013-14 school year, the four schools with “T” grades wouldn’t be counted as “failing” schools, nor would the 16 schools that received a “D” grade. About 40 percent of Recovery School District schools were graded “D,” “T” or “F” that year.

Adding to the difficulty of assessing the New Orleans experiment is the fact that Louisiana education data has been doled out selectively, mostly to pro-charter researchers, and much of the research has been flawed. Last fall, the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives was forced to retract a study that concluded that most New Orleans schools were posting higher-than-expected graduation rates and test scores.

Last spring, Credo produced a study of 41 urban charter districts, including New Orleans, that purported to show that charters outperformed urban public schools on standardized test scores; but this study was also highly flawed. The methodology was based on comparing each charter student to a virtual “twin,” a composite of as many as seven public-school kids who attend “feeder” schools and who match the charter students on demographics and test scores. The problem in New Orleans was that there are virtually no local feeders left from which to draw comparisons.

Andrew E. Maul, an assistant professor of research methodology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, found that Credo’s report “cannot be regarded as compelling evidence of the greater effectiveness of charter schools compared with traditional public schools.”

Meanwhile, black charter advocates charge that the local charter “club” leaves little room for African-American leadership. Howard L. Fuller, a former Milwaukee superintendent, said the charter movement won’t have “any type of long-term sustainability” without meaningful participation from the black community.

A few school leaders agree that the model needs major change. For example, a new open-enrollment charter school, Morris Jeff, is working to integrate both the student body and its teaching force, and even backed a unionization effort — one of the city’s first since the hurricane.

A key part of the New Orleans narrative is that firing the unionized, mostly black teachers after Katrina cleared the way for young, idealistic (mostly white) educators who are willing to work 12- to 14-hour days. Patricia Perkins, Morris Jeff’s principal, says the schools need the “wisdom” of veteran black educators.

Morris Jeff is benefiting from one of the most important post-Katrina reforms: a big increase in both government and philanthropic funding. It recently moved into a new bright, air-conditioned building.

For outsiders, the biggest lesson of New Orleans is this: It is wiser to invest in improving existing education systems than to start from scratch. Privatization may improve outcomes for some students, but it has hurt the most disadvantaged pupils.

Andrea Gabor is a professor of business journalism at Baruch College, the City University of New York.

December 1, 2015

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service: MPS expected to shift how it approaches new charter schools

Filed under: Charter Schools — millerlf @ 3:30 pm

November 20, 2015 by Jabril Faraj Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) administrators have signaled that they soon will take a major step toward becoming more proactive and intentional in chartering schools.

The administration is expected to bring an item before the board in January that would create a process to solicit proposals from potential operators for schools that meet specific needs, particularly for at-risk students.

“I’m sick of people coming with their dream ideas that may not benefit this district, overall,” said at-large board member Terry Falk at a retreat held last month to review the district’s charter school program. He noted that these types of charter proposals often compete with existing programs. “I’m done with that … The question is: what does the district need?”

President Michael Bonds said the board had been talking about making changes to its chartering process for the last two or three years. But MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver acknowledged that, given the context statewide, MPS needs to clarify its philosophy and process for chartering schools.

Recent state legislation created the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP), expanded the controversial voucher school program and now allows charter schools to take state money for transporting students. The law, Act 55, also created five new independent charter authorizers, three of which can charter schools in Milwaukee.

According to Chris Thiel, a legislative policy specialist with the MPS Office of Board Governance, “there are not substantial changes, in terms of what we necessarily have to do” as a result of the legislation. Nevertheless, Board Vice President Larry Miller called the legislation “a move against public education,” adding that it calls for “flooding the market with charters” and that the board needed to figure out a way to respond.

“This is not just a friendly adjustment by the state legislature,” he said in an interview.

Driver suggested the need to define a process to allow MPS-chartered schools to petition the district to expand. She said five or six of the district’s charter schools are interested in expansion. MPS charters 20 of the 42 charter schools operating in Milwaukee.

“Expansion is something that we’ve needed to do a better job of articulating,” Driver said. “We have a number of successful charters in our portfolio who wish to expand … and, so, I think this gives us the opportunity to be able to address that need in a way that can yield some positive and clear steps and outcomes for schools and for kids.”

Board members questioned whether expansion for the sake of increasing funding is the best strategy. They raised concerns about students returning to traditional MPS schools — from MPS or other charter schools — after the third Friday in September when per-head funding is determined. While MPS receives the same amount of state funding for all students in the district, it pays a negotiated amount to charter operators for students enrolled in charter schools. If students transfer from a charter to a traditional school after that date, MPS does not recover the amount paid to the charter operator.

MPS’s goal in chartering schools is threefold: to provide “new, high-quality innovative” programs for traditionally underserved or at-risk students; to institute programs that reduce dropouts; and to offer autonomy to schools that improve student achievement.

District 1 Representative Mark Sain questioned whether any of the district’s charters serve at-risk students or address the issue of dropouts.

While Driver initially responded that, “technically, they all do because our district is categorized as serving underserved children,” when pressed she said, “Currently, no,” adding that the schools that serve at-risk students are all partnership (alternative) schools.

Sain said, “It seems like those numbers (of at-risk students) are increasing, not only for our middle and high school kids but even for our elementary school populations.” He indicated that MPS could bring more charter schools under its umbrella that address those needs.

Driver said the administration is already pursuing the idea of a virtual school, which would serve “a number of different categories of students” and is an option “we really, desperately need in MPS.” The administration plans to solicit potential operators through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process.

According to Katie Polace, of the Office of Board Governance, experts have told her, “District authorizers should aim to be as ‘active’ as possible because [they] are in a unique position to be keenly aware of the needs of their community and their district.”

Polace added that it is to MPS’s advantage to use an “active” model of authorizing — which solicits proposals based on need — instead of a “passive” model — which allows operators to submit unsolicited proposals — or trying to “toe the line” between the two approaches.

The first step in an active model would be to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to identify areas in which MPS students need more support. MPS would also need to set up a process and timeline for approving charters that is clear and consistent, according to Driver. MPS currently allows potential operators to submit charter applications on a rolling basis.

The active approach would “give us control over what we want and what we need for the district,” said Bonds.

Miller and Falk noted the solution to meeting student needs may not always be a charter school. “If you look at the history of innovation coming from within the district … historically, it’s come from all sorts of places,” said Miller, claiming that teachers, principals, vice principals and administrators have all contributed “incredibly creative, innovative” ideas.

Board Clerk Jacqueline Mann added, “It may be beneficial to look at a process for replicating and expanding schools within the district, not just charter(s).”

District 2 Representative Wendell Harris said implementing the change would be good for the district. “All too often, MPS has been accused … that we don’t do enough to bring about change, that someone else or some other entity has to come in.”

Carol Voss, who represents District 8, said the decision is about “taking the bull by the horns,” adding, “It allows for predictability for scheduling, it allows for predictability for budgeting, it allows for predictability for board decision-making.”

Calling the new direction, “very healthy,” Voss said it is beneficial to the district, “and most importantly, to our children in the city of Milwaukee.”

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