Main Content RSS FeedRecent Articles

What’s happening with higher education in the US? »

Higher education in America is terribly expensive, period.

Unless the student receives large amounts in grants, which only can be achieved by having an extraordinary brain (and a family financially able to allow their use) or a body capable to bright in any athletic competition, middle class people can’t afford higher education for their sons. A complex system of government aids, loans, college scholarships and grants from the private sector are interwoven, like words in a crossword puzzle, engaging most of the students in a debt trap from which escape is impossible. It is not just a problem of private universities: 69% of graduates in 2013 in public and nonprofit universities had an average debt of $ 28,400.

The idea of a free public university is new and radical for most Americans. Students ask for a college that does not require consider selling their internal organs on the black market. On this subject, in each presidential election, some democrat candidate with limited chances of being elected advocates openly for free public university. Clinton reforms raised slightly more accessible to the university, while the Republican candidates yell only criticism of the system of public grants while defending the full privatization of the education system.

Man with university degree

While a wide sector from the academic world wants to be just an educational problem centered in the secondary edication, the majority of society assists impassive to the rising costs of higher education. It may be true: there is a segment of the youth who are not quite interested in studying. They are unable to find most crossword puzzle answers but do not have the slightest embarrassment to go on Youtube and upload a video where they give their opinion about the strange language spoken in the United Kingdom, and which is different from American. Girls like this become popular precisely they are the exception and do not represent the average youth who does study every day and still have dreams and desire to improve his life and his country.

The problem of college tuition has only worsened. It has long been customary in private and public universities, annual price increase rates, which has led to an increase in protests demanding a freeze of tuition. Higher education is increasingly a privilege for those who can afford it, and a burden to those who struggle to pass between odd jobs to pay for college debt (mainly working-class students, often PoC-people of color).
Many candidates choose college campuses as a place of his rallies, while students continue their protest for free education, progressively longer a distant dream to become a real political demand with candidates who have incorporated it into their ideology.

From an economic point of view, growing prices could be reasonable if a university degree could guarantee an employment with growing salaries, but it does not seem to be the trend in the US job market in recent years. Only the best ones of their colleges and those related with a few careers (IT, surgery) can find a job with sufficient remuneration to cancel their debts … in less than ten years.

Los Angeles Times Comes Out Against “Teacher Jail” »

View the article’s original source
Author: dianeravitch

This is a welcome editorial in the Los Angeles Times, criticizing what is known in that district as “teacher jail.” The suspension of Rafe Esquith brought this issue to the fore. John Deasy suspended the entire staff of Miramonte Elementary School after two teachers under investigation for sexual abuse, and eventually almost all of them were returned to the school. Los Angeles seems to have an unhealthy culture of suspecting the worst of teachers.

The Times writes:

In 2012, the entire 110-member staff of Miramonte Elementary School was pulled off campus after accusations of molestation were leveled at two teachers. Mark Berndt pleaded no contest to charges involving feeding semen-laced cookies to blindfolded students; charges against the second teacher were ultimately dropped (and he has since left the district). Everyone else spent the rest of the school year cooling their heels in a new, not-yet-opened school.

John Deasy, who was then superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, justified the move by saying he was concerned there might be a culture of sexual abuse at Miramonte. All staff files were scrutinized. But in only a couple of cases were there previous allegations of abuse; a few other teachers were found to have broken minor, unrelated rules, and most of the staff returned to Miramonte the following year.

At first this looked like nothing more than an honest effort to protect children, after Miramonte administrators had rebuffed earlier complaints. But it was the start of a troubling series of teacher suspensions at other schools that disrupted students’ education and that notably did not involve their safety. These suspensions with pay during often lengthy investigations are known as “teacher jail”; teachers largely spend the time at home while substitutes who often are less qualified take their places.

With classes beginning Aug. 18, the many admirers of Hobart Elementary teacher Rafe Esquith are wondering whether he’ll be there to greet a new batch of fifth-graders after four months in teacher jail. His case, and those of others before him, raise troubling questions about whether the teacher investigation system is causing too much disruption at L.A. Unified schools.

LAUSD seems to treat teachers as guilty until proven innocent. The editorial recommends:

By all means, investigate when necessary. But L.A. Unified should not overreact by removing teachers over allegations that have nothing to do with student safety. The district must put student welfare first, and their welfare is not served by disrupting the school year. It’s time for an independent examination by the district’s Office of the Inspector General.

Why the SAT Might Replace PARCC and SBAC »

View the article’s original source
Author: dianeravitch

We learned a few days ago that Connecticut will require all juniors to take the SAT instead of the Smarter Balanced Assessments. This is a solution to the problem that most students fail the SBA, and that creates a dilemma: what will the state do with the majority of students who won’t graduate? The SAT doesn’t have a passing mark, no one “fails,” and schools can really use multiple measures.

States will replace PARCC or Smarter Balanced with the SAT because:

1) David Coleman is president of the College Board (salary: $750,000), and he aligned the SAT with Common Core. So, no difference.

2) More than 800 colleges and universities no longer require the SAT, which is a threat to its income.

3) if more and more states require all juniors to take the SAT, it is a huge bonanza for the College Board.

SAT scores are closely correlated with family income, so states will get a close measure of affluence and poverty.

Researchers have. found that high school Grade Point Average and course taking were better predictors of college success than the one-shot SAT. That’s why many colleges have become test-optional.

Question: when did the SAT become a measure of career readiness?

D.L. Paulson: Who Is Buying and Selling Public Education? »

View the article’s original source
Author: dianeravitch

D.L. Paulson is a reader who has commented before on the entrepreneurs who are investing in privatization and disruption in public education. Here he comments again on GSV (Global Silicon Valley), a leading edge investment company in the education sector.

GSV is a syndicate of financial/investment companies. GSV Advisors is where some of the trouble lies, at least in terms of conflict of interest and self-dealing. The management team invests personally in charter schools which in turn buy the products of its other portfolio companies. GSV (Advisors or Capital, it’s not altogether clear) also supports, which serves as a faux-journalistic voice for this “reform” movement. And all this goes on while GSV Advisors dispenses its advice to its “sister company”, GSV Capital, which makes the big investments, including the bad ones in Coursera and Chegg. (The jury is still out on U2 and Declara.)

GSV Advisors operates in a way that probably makes its management team rich—and possibly at the expense of GSV Capital, because of the personal investments mentioned earlier. Why GSV Capital stockholders put up with this situation is baffling, because this publicly-traded company has never performed very well. It has made up for its bad decisions in the education market by smarter decisions with companies like Twitter and Dropbox. Apparently GSV’s very smart management team can’t quite grasp why its expertise in one area, growing high tech companies, doesn’t carry over to student learning. Nevertheless, its poor decisions in education substantially worsen the condition of our schools, because of all the propagandizing, “disruptive technologies”, and siphoning of taxpayer money.

You should look at this page which shows the management team for GSV Capital:

Notice anything? It’s hard to miss: no women, no color, not a hint of educational experience. Yet this small group, *unelected* and cloistered in a corporate boardroom, is making hugely important decisions about the education of our youth. Americans need to be aware of what’s happening here. We *all* need to rise up and reclaim our schools before it’s too late. And we need to understand this goes way beyond the false notions of “choice” and “student performance”. It’s not the government that’s doing something wrong here; it’s the corporations that are meddling where they don’t belong. Please, let’s not allow a 19th century-type oligopoly to destroy public education in America. It would be worse than railroads and oil; it would mean a diminished future for our children, our communities, our nation.

Fareed Zakaria: Why We Still Need Liberal Education »

View the article’s original source
Author: dianeravitch

Fareed Zakaria warns that fears about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are greatly overblown.

Zakaria comes close to acknowledging that the “crisis” rhetoric of so-called reformers is a myth,or as Berliner and Biddle called it years ago, “a manufactured crisis.”

The demand fo expand STEM is often accompanied by disdain for liberal education, writes Zakaria:

“If Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country’s education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills. Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science — and about new initiatives from companies, universities or foundations to expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities. From President Obama on down, public officials have cautioned against pursuing degrees like art history, which are seen as expensive luxuries in today’s world. Republicans want to go several steps further and defund these kinds of majors. “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?” asked Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott. “I don’t think so.” America’s last bipartisan cause is this: A liberal education is irrelevant, and technical training is the new path forward. It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. The stakes could not be higher.”

But, he writes, to de-emphasize the humanities would be a huge mistake:

“This dismissal of broad-based learning, however, comes from a fundamental misreading of the facts — and puts America on a dangerously narrow path for the future. The United States has led the world in economic dynamism, innovation and entrepreneurship thanks to exactly the kind of teaching we are now told to defenestrate. A broad general education helps foster critical thinking and creativity. Exposure to a variety of fields produces synergy and cross fertilization. Yes, science and technology are crucial components of this education, but so are English and philosophy. When unveiling a new edition of the iPad, Steve Jobs explained that “it’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”

Zakaria then makes a point I have made again and again to those who lament international test scores:

“In truth, though, the United States has never done well on international tests, and they are not good predictors of our national success. Since 1964, when the first such exam was administered to 13-year-olds in 12 countries, America has lagged behind its peers, rarely rising above the middle of the pack and doing particularly poorly in science and math. And yet over these past five decades, that same laggard country has dominated the world of science, technology, research and innovation.”

Sweden and Israel have poor scores on the same tests, yet are high on investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation. There are characteristics that are more important than test scores:

“They are flexible. Their work cultures are non-hierarchical and merit-based. All operate like young countries, with energy and dynamism. All three are open societies, happy to let in the world’s ideas, goods and services. And people in all three nations are confident — a characteristic that can be measured.”

The defining characteristic if a successful society, he concludes, is its ability to hone creativity and critical thinking skills. And for that, both the sciences and liberal arts are necessary.

“Turning Suburban Tysons [Corner] Into a Walkable City Will Take Time” »

View the article’s original source
Author: Brian

Eric Jaffe discusses the slow transformation of Tysons Corner, Virgina from car-dominated edge city to walkable city:

Last week marked the Silver Line’s first birthday, and with so much riding on it, so to speak, attention naturally turned to the lower-than-expected ridership numbers. The Washington Post reported that the Silver Line is serving about 17,000 daily riders during the work week, well off the pace of 25,000 riders that planners had set by this time. The “bulk” of this ridership aren’t even new users, according to the Post, but rather people who used to take the Orange Line instead…

But while it’s far, far too soon to declare the great Tysons shift a failure, it’s not too early to point out some of the little failings that still need to be addressed.

Poor walkability is one. Citing an internal analysis, Martin Di Caro at WAMU reports that Metro officials believe a lack of “sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes” is a key reason behind the low ridership numbers…

But the neuroscience of driving habits clearly shows that mode choice is most susceptible to change in the early stages of a major life event, such as moving homes or starting a new job. Insofar as Tysons developers have been slow out of the gate when it comes to encouraging transit, walking, and biking, they might be missing a critical opportunity to change commuter behavior…

A third setback might fall more on Metro itself. The Post’s Dr. Gridlock reports that the biggest problem facing Silver Line ridership isn’t the stations—it’s the service. A delay on new rail cars forced Metro to stretch the existing fleet thin. The proposed fix involves running fewer eight-car trains during rush-hour twice a week so the older cars can get maintenance; given the strong ties between transit service and transit ridership, that’s not an encouraging proposition.

Transforming an exemplar of suburban sprawl is not easy: the community has to respond with corresponding infrastructure (improving walkability), changed mindsets (getting people into new patterns and perhaps this requires newer residents), and adequate service to make it viable alternative.

However, we might ask how much time is needed before we could properly evaluate the impact of the Silver Line. Five years? Twenty years? A couple of generations? And it matters who is doing the evaluating and for what reasons. Is this about seeing a financial impact (paying for the construction of the new line plus measuring new development prompted by the new line)? Assessing the decisions of politicians? Trying to reach a magic number of daily users? It will be interesting to watch the ongoing analysis and who gets to take the credit or blame.

Two Views: Why Is There a Teacher Shortage? »

View the article’s original source
Author: dianeravitch

The Huffington Post has a new education editor, Rebecca Klein. She is clear-thinking and apparently sees through the reform narrative. Welcome, Rebecca.

In her latest post, she gives a recipe for “How to Create a Teacher Shortage,” using Kansas as an example. The ingredients of her recipe will not surprise readers of this blog. The same tactics have been adopted in most states.

Read the entire post. Here is the recipe:

The How To Create A Teacher Shortage Recipe


1 cup of rhetoric against teachers

2 pounds of bills and programs that attempt to de-professionalize teaching (specifically, a proposed bill that would make it easier to jail teachers for teaching materials deemed offensive and a new program that lifts teacher licensure requirements in certain districts)

3 tablespoons of a lack of due process rights for teachers

½ cup of finely diced repeated budget cuts amid a state revenue crisis

1 stalk of a new school funding system that is currently being challenged in state court

2 grinds of growing child poverty throughout the state

3 tablespoons of low teacher pay

1/3 cup of large numbers of teacher retirements

Within a day, the most important newspaper in the nation, The Néw York Times, published a story by Motoko Rich about a national teacher shortage.

She writes:

“ROHNERT PARK, Calif. — In a stark about-face from just a few years ago, school districts have gone from handing out pink slips to scrambling to hire teachers.

“Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

“At the same time, a growing number of English-language learners are entering public schools, yet it is increasingly difficult to find bilingual teachers. So schools are looking for applicants everywhere they can — whether out of state or out of country — and wooing candidates earlier and quicker.

“Some are even asking prospective teachers to train on the job, hiring novices still studying for their teaching credentials, with little, if any, classroom experience.”

According to the latter story, the shortage is a matter of supply and demand, with barely a nod to the rhetoric of Michelle Rhee, Campbell Brown, and Bill Gates about our “bad teachers” and “broken system.” Nothing about the states that banned collective bargaining. Nothing about the campaign to eliminate due process rights. Nothing about teachers’ disdain for test-based accountability. Nothing about the profound disrespect that reformers have showered on teachers, the false accusations of greed and laziness.

It is hard not to see the demoralization that has caused many veteran teachers to resign and caused a sharp decline in new enrollments in teacher prep programs.

Motoko Rich is a smart reporter. I am hoping she will talk to teachers who are leaving.

Here are some more views, from teacher bloggers. See Chaz here;

And see PerdidoStreetSchool blogger, who correctly says that the Times’ story says there is a teacher shortage without explaining why.

Perdido writes:

Yes, it’s true that a rebounding economy leads fewer people to go into teaching – there are more opportunities available for other kinds of work with “better pay and a more glamorous image.”

But unexplored in the Motoko Rich Times piece is one big reason why teaching isn’t a job with a glamorous image. – the consequences of 10+ years of corporate education reforms.

Every day you open the newspaper or turn on the TV, you see or hear some teacher-bashing crap, some politician like Christie saying he wants to punch teachers in the face, some rag like the Post blaming teachers for destroying the lives of children by using the Three Little Pigs as a DO NOW exercise to teach POV and bias.

Then there are the new “accountability rules” – the constant observations, the evaluation ratings tied to test scores (as high as 50%), the increased work load and stress for the same (or less) money, the decreased benefits, gutted pensions, and diminished work protections like tenure (Kansas is an emblem of this, but it’s happening nationwide too.)

I’d say if kids are looking around at the job landscape and saying “Hell, I can do better than be a teacher!”, they’re right – and smart for saying it.

I teach seniors and I tell the ones who say they want to be teachers to think twice about the major – that teacher bashing and odious accountability measures (most of which simply add more work to a teacher’s load without making them better teachers) make the job miserable these days.

I also tell them that teaching isn’t really a career anymore, that the politicians and educrats and oligarchs who fund education reform see it as a McJob that can be filled by untrained temps who do it for a couple of years and move on (or get moved on by accountability measures) to something else.

And this too:

Mission accomplished for education reformers – a cheap untrained temp workforce is soon going to be commonplace in schools, this will lead to an even bigger “teaching quality crisis” and allow reformers to promote privatization as the answer to the “education crisis.”

Indiana Has a Teacher Shortage: Is Anyone Surprised? »

View the article’s original source
Author: dianeravitch

Indiana has a teacher shortage.

Is it surprising? State after state has teacher shortages. This is the outcome of a dozen years of phony “reform,” which demonizes teachers, bust unions, takes away teachers’ right to due process, and ties salaries and evaluations to test scores.

Congratulations, “reformers”!

Dave Bangert of the Journal & Courier writes:

What sort of gymnastics will state lawmakers try to pull off at this point to remedy a looming teacher shortage after years of running off potential, young candidates by convincing Hoosiers that public schools were essentially broken?

And will they actually be willing to shoulder some of the blame?

We’re about to find out.

Last week, the chairmen of the Indiana House and Indiana Senate education committees asked House Speaker Brian Bosma for a summer study into the creeping ambivalence to the teaching profession. It’s a situation that has depleted the ranks of undergrads studying education in state universities and put some districts on their heels when it comes to recruiting for open positions.

In their letter to Bosma, Rep. Robert Behning and Sen. Dennis Kruse laid out numbers that have pricked up ears in recent months. New data from the state show that “licenses issued to first-time teachers (have) declined from 16,578 in 2010 to 6,174 in 2014.”

“We think,” Behning and Kruse wrote, “it would be wise for the Indiana General Assembly to proactively address this issue.”

No kidding.

Where to start?

The biting commentary came right away from teachers, who have been bristling under state-pushed reforms — the killing of collective bargaining, the rise of private school vouchers, pay raises tied in part to student performance on standardized tests and more — put into high gear in 2010.

Was “reform” intended to make teaching an undesirable profession? Was its purpose to drive good teachers out of their classrooms and discourage many from entering teaching? If so, “reform” is working. But it isn’t reform. It’s destruction.

Thugs To My Left, Terrorists To My Right: A Victim No More »

View the article’s original source

I see that Ferguson marked the anniversary of  the “murder” of the Gentle Giant with another “protest” of sorts.

One speaker, Yonasda Lonewolf, declared: “Mike Brown was murdered here. This was the epicenter of the movement of ‘black lives matter.’ We still cannot get justice.” She added, “It’s time for us to not seek justice but to demand justice.” 

So it appears that Big Guy’s job is indeed done here: he has fundamentally transformed America back to 1967.

67 riotsDetroit Riots, 1967

Since our country continues is besieged by both domestic and international thugs and terrorists it seems wise to acknowledge that we live in dangerous times and plan accordingly. To that end, I turn today’s post over to  MOTUS’ Chief Security Officer, Little Mo, to discuss situational awareness and self defense techniques. Take it away, Little Mo.

Mo Range 1Thanks MOTUS

I am certain that everyone reading this is aware that on July 20, 2012, James Holmes violated Cinemark Theater’s “No Gun Fish-In-A-Barrel” policy (a topic for another day) and opened fire in the crowded Aurora movie theater, killing 12 and wounding 70. I am also certain that everyone reading this article would agree that no one in that theater imagined that something like that could ever happen to them. Bad things happen to good people in “safe” places every day.

This post is a reminder to stay alert to the potential danger around you, especially in places where you feel safe. We don’t want you to be paranoid, we want you to be prepared.

Let’s get started.

The first tool of safety and self defense is situational awareness:

Situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice. And while it is taught to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and yes, government-trained assassins, it’s an important skill for civilians to learn as well. In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe. (Art of

Your situational awareness kicks in automatically if you walk down a dark alley, but shuts off when you are in a “safe” familiar place like the grocery store parking lot at noon and you are talking to the kids or texting on your cell phone. This video sent to MOTUS by Blonde Gator effectively demonstrates how to apply situational awareness to the everyday occurrence of returning to your car in a parking lot. The lesson begins at about the 2:30 mark:

Simple, easy techniques which everyone can use to improve your situational awareness and safety with “alertness, time and distance.” If you don’t have one, a good self defense keychain is the Safety Cat,

safety cat

introduced to the MOTUS family by NoellesBootcutKittenpants. NOTE: The current Safety Cat offer on Amazon is $5.00/Safety Cat with flat rate shipping of $3.99 no matter how many Safety Cats are ordered. MOTUS bought them for all her friends and family. NOTE 2: Don’t take it with you to the airport.

This next video is an actual car jacking captured by a surveillance camera at a Detroit gas/convenience store.

The victim of this violent attack did everything right and lost nothing that can’t be replaced. Even if you are armed and well trained (topics for future posts), your best defense option is often retreat to safety.

US Concealed Carry Association who produced the second video is an excellent resource for those who carry concealed weapons and those who are trying to decide whether of not to carry. Here’s a link where you can sign up for US Concealed Carry Association Free Resources including a downloadable preview issue of its Concealed Carry Magazine, its weekly Concealed Carry Report and a 21 page Concealed Carry Guide . If you don’t want to sign up with your email address, you can download the preview copy of Concealed Carry Magazine here and the Concealed Carry Guide in pdf format here. NOTE: while MOTUS and I belong to the Concealed Carry Association, we have no financial interest in it and receive no compensation from it.

And remember…

H/T Sergeant Esterhaus

Linked By: BlogsLucianneLoves, and Free Republic, Thanks!

Cross-Posted on Patriot Action Network

Black Lives Matter Disrupts Another Sanders Rally »

View the article’s original source
Author: paulsimmons

From KOMO News (Seattle):

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was shoved aside by several Black Lives Matter activists and eventually left a Social Security Works rally at Westlake Park without giving his speech.

Sanders was just starting to address several thousand people gathered shoulder to shoulder at Westlake Park when two women took over the microphone.

“It’s about the people, it’s about grassroots movements,” Mara Jacqueline Willaford, Black Lives Matter member said after taking the microphone. “The biggest movement right now in the country is the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Organizers couldn’t persuade the two to wait and agreed to give them a few minutes, prompting boos from some in the crowd.

As Sanders stepped back, the women passionately spoke about Ferguson and the killing of Michael Brown and held a four minute moment of silence.

When the crowd asked the activists to allow Sanders to speak, one activist called the crowd “white supremacist liberals,” according to event participants. Participants also said a Black Lives Matter activist confronted Sanders, stating he needed “to be held accountable”.

Several chants could be heard from members gathered. “I can’t breathe” was chanted out as a Social Security Works rally organizer tried to calm the crowd.

After waiting about 20 minutes, Sanders himself was pushed away when he tried to take the microphone back.

Social Security Works rally organizers pleaded with Black Lives Matter activists to leave the stage and allow Sanders to speak, but the activists remained on stage until the event was forced to end.

Sanders waved goodbye, left the stage with a raised fist salute and waded into the crowd. He shook hands and posed for photos with supporters for about 15 minutes, and then left.

Here’s where things get interesting. From the Daily Kos:

4:36 PM PT: Black Lives Matter has now begun using the hashtag #BowDownBernie

Further quote from activists’ Facebook page:

“The problem with Sanders’, and with white Seattle progressives in general, is that they are utterly and totally useless (when not outright harmful) in terms of the fight for Black lives.”

4:43 PM PT: Update from BLM’s Seattle on Facebook:

Black Lives Matter Seattle
17 mins ·

To the people of Seattle and ‪#‎BernieSanders‬ I am so sorry for what happened today in Seattle. I am a volunteer who just runs this page and I am only just starting to get into the movement. I was unaware of what happened and now that I’ve seen the video I would like to say again that I am sorry. That is not what Black Lives Matter stands for and that is not what we’re about. Do not let your faith in the movement be shaken by voices of two people. Please do not question our legitimacy as a movement. Again I would like to apologize to the people of Seattle and I will be trying to reach out to Mr. Sanders.

5:04 PM PT: To clarify:

The statement by BLM Seattle is not directly affiliated with the national movement. The national movement is proud of its new hashtag, #BowDownBernie, which I for one unequivocally denounce.

And so it goes…