Earlier this month I traveled to Austin, Texas for the Network for Public Education (NPE) National Conference. Spring was definitely in the air in Austin, but it had less to do with the weather than with the NPE conference attendees. The spring they were referring to is the upcoming “education spring,” which we are hopeful will play out over the next few months.
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There has been a significant shift toward expanding online schooling and modifying existing regulations, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has played a major role in this effort. This is noteworthy because a number of corporations seeking to profit from online schooling have influenced ALEC’s policy agenda. A major virtual schools report found full-time virtual schools significantly underperformed compared to traditional brick-and-mortar public schools. The authors urge policymakers to slow or stop the growth of these schools until accountability measures can be put into place.
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ALEC, which stands for American Legislative Exchange Council, is the most influential corporate-funded political force operating in America today, one that has worked to dilute collective bargaining rights and privatize public education. Yet ALEC is more or less unknown in teacher circles. ALEC creates legislation for elected officials to introduce in their states as their own brainchildren. ALEC’s strategy: “spread the unions thin ‘by playing offense’ with decoy legislation.” Spreading the unions thin has resulted in radical changes to classroom teachers’ everyday lives. Continue reading →
Thirty two of my colleagues will box up their personal items this June. Even though Issue 2 was defeated, the toll it has taken on teachers is evident. We get into the profession because of the noble work we can do for children, not because we consider teaching a great way to earn a buck or two. Issue 2 caused people to change the way they think about teaching. It’s a job now, not the rewarding career they used to know. They will have some cake and a few laughs, as they reminisce about the things they experienced throughout their careers. They’ll make jokes about how they never have to attend another in-service or proctor another test. It will be a bittersweet farewell in so many instances, as I consider how much my colleagues, my students and I will lose, with the departure of these exceptional educators. Continue reading →
Despite the attacks on public education over the past year, teachers are still as committed as ever to helping all their students succeed. Read how one teachers shows his commitment through his lessons and by forging relationships. Continue reading →
There is no doubt that literacy is important in today’s world, yet we still live in a nation where more than 20 percent of adults read below a fifth grade level. The statistics in our correctional institutions are eye opening. Almost 85 percent of the children who enter the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, while 60 percent of the adults in prison are considered illiterate (Ellis, 2011). We cannot allow this to continue to happen in our nation. Illiteracy is a viscous cycle and we as a nation need to stop the cycle. The question is where do we begin? It is because of statistics like these that programs like Reach Out and Read are so important. Reach out and Read is a program that promotes early literacy and school readiness. Continue reading →
In tough economic times, fine arts education courses are among the first on the chopping block. For some of my at-risk students, the arts sometimes are the sole reason they come to school. My students like music and they love art. The arts are integral to learning; you can infuse the arts into the curriculum […] Continue reading →
For three decades, I worked in public education—dedicated to making a difference in the lives of my students. As a 30-year classroom veteran, I know what it takes to help our children achieve and succeed. I also know that if Issue 2 is approved this November, it will have a negative impact on public schools—and […] Continue reading →
Debate is good—it often yields innovation. Debate is the cornerstone of an educated modern society. Collective bargaining is just that—a debate. Collective bargaining allows educators to have a discussion about what we need to help ensure that our students are prepared to succeed. And what happens in a debate? Both sides come to a table, […] Continue reading →
Judith Krug2011 © American Library Association Another school year has begun and before you know it will be time to celebrate Banned Books Week (BBW), Sept 24-Oct 1. BBW was started in 1982 by American librarian and anti-censorship activist, the late Judith Krug, in response to the number of books that were being challenged in […] Continue reading →